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Editorial: Equal Justice--Or Hypocrisy as Usual

The go-to conscience of Congress, Tom Coburn (R-OK), has once again stepped on the toes of the politics-as-usual crowd by revealing the hypocrisy-as-usual that has come to define the Washington elite. And he did it by proposing an amendment he knew was dead-on-arrival.

The amendment, which went up for a vote in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, would have placed medical marijuana under the same US Food and Drug Administration regulation under which Congress is considering placing tobacco. In Mr. Coburn's own words:

“[A]ll this amendment does is say we're going to do the same thing with marijuana that we're going to do with cigarettes—we're going to run it through the FDA and if in fact we're going to utilize it, then we ought to make sure it's safe and efficacious.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Coburn, the Senate committee voted yesterday to move the bill (HR 1256) to the Senate Floor—without the Oklahoma Senator's amendment in tow. Despite its defeat by a 13-10 party line vote in the committee, the amendment did, however, succeed in another way: by revealing the Democrats' and Big Government bureaucrats' true intentions regarding heavy tobacco regulation. As Americans for Limited Government Bill Wilson said in a press release:

“This vote proves out and out that Senate Democrats are not concerned about health at all. Both tobacco and marijuana are weeds, both are smoked, both are carcinogenic, and yet the Senate Committee on Health has seen fit to propose placing tobacco under FDA regulation while shielding marijuana from similar government control.”

In other words, Big Government regulation of tobacco is not about genuine concerns for health—it's about fostering power and filling the purse. If it was about health and wellbeing of American citizens, there would be consistency across the board for all addictive substances. The only thing consistent about this picture, however, are posturing politicians seeking even greater power.

Wilson came strongly out against these latest Capitol Hill shenanigans, saying:

“The Coburn amendment has effectively revealed the Democrats at their most hypocritical. Congress and Big Government Washington bureaucrats are moving to criminalize tobacco while simultaneously legalizing marijuana…The real aim of placing tobacco under FDA control is ultimately prohibition. It's time we call this what it is—a move towards prohibition.”

The thirteen Senators who voted “No” on the Coburn amendment—thereby putting power and the purse before principle—are Chris Dodd (D-CT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). For them, tobacco was an easy target to tar and feather—so why worry about incidental issues like integrity, hypocrisy, and “equal justice under law.”

Thankfully, Mr. Coburn has the audacity to call a spade a spade and a hypocrite a hypocrite. And fortunately, the good Senator is preparing to give the hypocritical Baker's Dirty Dozen a chance to redeem their honor when he reintroduces the amendment on the floor of the Senate later this week.

ALG News urges its fellow editorialists and commentators nationwide to join in condemning the Baker's Dirty Dozen and encouraging them to take a rare stand for absolute integrity on the floor of the Senate. They can do so by either voting for the Coburn Amendment, or against HR 1256 to single out tobacco for “special handling.” Otherwise, their next vote should be on redacting “equal and impartial justice under the law” from the United States Constitution.


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