Action Alert:  OPPOSE the Beer Tax Rollback (H.R. 1305)

On March 29, 2001, Rep. Philip English (R-PA) introduced H.R. 1305, a bill “to reduce the federal excise tax on beer to its pre-1991 level.”  The bill had 219 co-sponsors as of June, 2002, and the beer industry is now pushing to have the bill tacked on to other tax policy legislation that may have a chance of moving to the House floor. 

Reducing the beer excise tax is bad fiscal and public health policy.  Cheaper beer would contribute to increased underage and heavy drinking.  Worse yet, current federal and state taxes on alcoholic beverages don’t come close to offsetting the public health and safety costs of beer consumption.  If anything, beer taxes should be raised to help meet prevention, treatment, law enforcement, and other costs associated with excessive and underage beer drinking.  CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project opposes reducing taxes on beer.  CSPI is joined by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and many other organizations in opposing the beer tax rollback.

Background:
Federal excise taxes on beer were raised in 1991 for the first time in 40 years. The tax was raised from $9 per barrel to $18 per barrel (or 16 cents per six-pack to 32 cents per six pack). The 1991 beer tax increase did not occur because of public health considerations, but was part of the overall budget deliberations between then-President George Bush and the Congress.  The legislation that was introduced in March, 2001 (H.R. 1305), would repeal the 1991 beer tax increase and roll the tax rate back to its1951 level. 

The beer industry is pushing hard for repeal of the 1991 tax increase. The beer industry argues that taxes comprise 43% of the cost of every beer. This “burden” actually includes sales and excise tax, federal income and payroll taxes, state and local income, payroll and other taxes. In reality, a six-pack of beer in some areas costs less than a six-pack of soft drinks.

Action Needed:
Beer wholesalers continue to lobby Congress to add new co-sponsors to this harmful legislation.  Please meet with or contact your Representative and express your opposition to H.R. 1305.  

1) If your Representative is a member of the Ways and Means CommitteeYour letter is especially crucial because the legislation must pass through this committee. [Link to sample letter]

House Ways and Means Committee Roster

William Thomas, Chairman (CA-21st)
Philip Crane (IL-8th)
E. Clay Shaw (FL-22nd)
Nancy Johnson (CT-6th)
Amory Houghton (NY-31st)
Jerry Weller (IL-11th)
Kenny Hulshof (MO-9th)
Scott McInnis (CO-3rd)
Ron Lewis (KY-2nd)
Mark Foley (FL-16th)
Kevin Brady (TX-8th)
Paul Ryan (WI-1st)
Charles Rangel, Ranking Member
(NY-15th)
Wally Herger (CA-2nd)
Jim McCrery (LA-4th)
Dave Camp (MI-4th)
Jim Ramstad (MN-3rd)
Jim Nussle (IA-2nd)
Sam Johnson (TX-3rd)
Fortney “Pete” Stark (CA-13th)
Robert Matsui (CA-5th)
William Coyne (PA-14th)
Sander Levin (MI-12th)
Benjamin Cardin (MD-3rd)
Jim McDermott (WA-7th)
Jerry Kleczka (WI-4th)
John Lewis (GA-5th)

Jennifer Dunn (WA-8th)
Michael Collins (GA-3rd)
Rob Portman (OH-2nd)
Philip English (PA-21st)
Wes Watkins (OK-3rd)
J.D. Hayworth (AZ-6th)
Richard Neal (MA-2nd)
Michael McNulty (NY-21st)
William Jefferson (LA-2nd)
John Tanner (TN-8th)
Xavier Becerra (CA-30th)
Karen Thurman (FL-5th)
Lloyd Doggett (TX-10th)
Earl Pomeroy (ND-At-Large)

2) If your Representative is listed as a co-sponsor of the legislation: Please express your disappointment that he/she is a cosponsor and urge him/her to withdraw  support immediately (note that two Congressman [Reps. Shows and Greenwood] have already  withdrawn from the bill). [Link to sample letter]  

3) If your Congressperson is not listed as a co-sponsor: Please thank them for withholding support and urge them to refrain from co-sponsoring this unwise bill.  [Link to sample letter]

PLEASE NOTE:  The quickest way to deliver correspondence to your Representative is by facsimile.  You can obtain your Member's fax number by calling his or her office (LOOK UP YOUR MEMBER BY ZIP CODE: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/).

 Talking Points:

Don’t be fooled by the Beer Institute and the Beer Wholesalers!
Beer taxes are popular and lifesaving – reject calls for a beer tax repeal.

June 2002