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Klapp: American brewery and distillery businesses deserve fair representation


As a former member of the Scottsdale City Council, I know first-hand that our city has a burgeoning tourism, hospitality, entertainment and nightlife industry. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, sporting venues and hotels are major economic engines fueling our growth.

A fair and level playing field, one that evenly balances government regulations, tax laws and competition, must be advanced to keep our local and national economy moving. Yet Congress right now is considering legislation (S. 1781 and H.R. 4073) that favors large foreign distillers with unnecessary tax deductions and other advantages through backroom earmarks. This move blindly ignores the impact of the proposed law on domestic producers and U.S. taxpayers.

As a taxpayer, I object to federal attempts to sponsor advantages for foreign companies over our own local businesses. Representative David Schweikert and the rest of our state’s leadership need to stand up for local industry, oppose favoring foreign companies over our own, and reject these initiatives.

I say this even though I am an enthusiast for single malt scotch produced in Scotland.  I agree to pay more for this product in order to look out for the little guy producers in the United States. And some of these domestic producers are distilling U.S. whiskeys that compare well in taste tests and quality with some revered scotch labels.  These U.S. businesses deserve a fair U.S. tax system on their product and fair representation in Congress.

The details of these bills are insulting to all the hard-working people in American distilleries and breweries. The foreign hard liquor lobby wants our government to remove all duties, taxes, and fees when importing brown liquor from places such as Ireland and Scotland.  The bills would further expand trade and tax policy to create a zero percent effective tax rate for multi-national liquor companies that import certain foreign-produced products. Large international liquor companies would receive a tax deduction estimated to cost the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars over 10 years. Why would Congress want to expand our federal deficit while at the same time negatively impacting small domestic businesses?

These Congressional bills will disrupt and impede an already robust alcohol-producing industry here in the U.S. and in Arizona, benefitting a handful of global liquor companies through Congressional earmarks and reducing monies paid into the federal tax system. The international hard liquor lobby has received undue advantages already and it is time for Rep. Schweikert and his colleagues to object to the proposed House bill.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.