The Tobacco Temperance League

Last week, the House of Representatives approved legislation to empower the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the tobacco industry — and impose yet another tax on the American people.

The legislation would give the FDA broad authority to regulate tobacco products and to treat tobacco manufacturers similar to drug manufacturers. If approved by the Senate in September, this legislation would represent a big victory for anti-smoking zealots.

This legislation is being pushed by arch-liberal Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), but it has the bipartisan support of 326 House members who voted to pass the bill and at least 56 Senators who have cosponsored it, including John McCain and Barack Obama.

The House debate was highlighted by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) yelling at House Republican Whip John Boehner (Ohio), a Camel smoker, that “(t)his legislation is on the floor because people are killing themselves smoking these evil cigarettes. And the distinguished gentleman, the minority leader, is going to be among the next to die.”

So tobacco companies would be taxed $5 billion to fund the work of FDA bureaucrats. Higher prices would hit the poor disproportionately, because smoking is more prevalent among low- income adults. Tobacco prohibitionists are one step closer to criminalizing the possession of a good cigar or a flavored can of dip.

Progress in Iraq

Sixteen months ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the surge in Iraq “is not accomplishing anything.” Today there is almost unanimous agreement that the surge has been a tremendous success. Violence is down to the lowest level since spring of 2004; Iraqi forces are taking the lead in combat operations, including successes in Basra, Amarah and Sadr City; and Iraqi leaders have passed several substantial pieces of legislation (more than our own Congress can claim) as they prepare for elections.

It seems, though, that Sen. Obama is still following Reid’s 16-month-old playbook by refusing to acknowledge the surge was the proper strategy. In early 2007, in a presidential debate, Obama stated, “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there; in fact, I think it’ll do the reverse.” When Obama was confronted with this statement on Meet The Press on July 27, he stammered, “As I said before, our troops made an enormous contribution, but to try to single out one factor in a very messy situation is just not accurate, and it doesn’t, it doesn’t take into account the larger strategic issues that have been at stake throughout this process.”

The success of the surge has given the Iraqis hope that they will have a stable and independent country in relatively short order. Here’s hoping that Obama heeds the advice of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. If not, his 16-month timetable for withdrawal could jeopardize that progress, pulling Iraq back to the brink of civil war.

Liberals and American Energy – Like Oil and Water

Those who thought sky-high gasoline prices would force liberals to recognize the importance of American energy production gave them too much credit. Two weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared she had no plans to allow a vote on American energy exploration. Last week, Senate liberals were outraged that their leader, Harry Reid, drafted legislation that could allow additional exploration. While the Reid bill is unlikely to pass and will merely provide political cover to vulnerable Democrat Senators on the issue of high gas prices, the legislation is an acknowledgement that the American people favor more drilling domestically.

While environmentalists and their liberal congressional allies continue to oppose any production efforts to lower gasoline costs, they are ridiculing the Bush administration’s proposal to raise the nation’s fuel efficiency standard 25% in the next seven years because it isn’t enough of a change, in their view. Yet never before has such a dramatic increase been proposed, and the rule could cost the auto industry $46 billion, as domestic auto manufacturers are hemorrhaging money.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) claims that the standard should be set even higher, despite the high cost of compliance and warnings issued by auto companies, including Toyota, that the current proposal is more than expected and could result in further industry job loss. Even Ford, which is in the process of revamping its product line to meet consumers’ demand for fuel efficiency, believes it cannot meet the proposed standards. By keeping domestic supplies off limits and forcing expensive technology and product changes on the auto industry, liberals are limiting choices and driving up costs for the American people.