CEI Daily - The Tobacco MSA, Free Trade, and Property Tax Increases


Tobacco Master-Settlement Agreement


In 2005 CEI filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). Yesterday CEI filed for a Supreme Court review of the case.


CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman argues that the MSA violated the Compact Clause of the Constitution and essentially created a government-tobacco cartel.


“The tobacco settlement was hatched in a smoke-free backroom between tobacco companies and state attorneys general. The state AGs imposed a massive national sales tax on cigarettes, without a single elected legislator at any level of government voting for it. This was a major power grab by state AGs at the expense of citizens.”




Free Trade


Over the weekend, The Washington Post speculated about how the midterm elections will affect the future of stalled free trade agreements.


Adjunct Scholar Fran Smith urges the new Congress to make free trade agreements a priority.


"In Seoul, South Korea, today top U.S. and Korean trade negotiators are trying to resolve some differences relating to autos and beef so the negotiations will be complete before President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak meet Thursday at a summit before the G-20 meeting.  The trade pact would be the largest economic agreement since NAFTA and would substantially reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers on both sides.  Other countries have moved ahead in signing trade agreements with South Korea, most notably the European Union, and the U.S. would be at a considerable advantage if it backs away from its own Korea agreement."




Property Tax Increases


Northern Virginia homeowners may see massive property tax increases this year.


Senior Counsel Hans Bader explains that the EPA's costly proposed stormwater regulations are a reason for the potential tax increase.


"The Washington Examiner reported on Sunday that these new regulations would cost Fairfax County alone nearly $4 billion, resulting in an annual property tax increase for a typical homeowner by $650. The EPA left open a glimmer of hope for homeowners, conceding that its plan is not 'the most cost-effective way' to clean up the Bay, and claiming that it would be open to 'cheaper alternative plans' submitted by the State of Virginia. Nevertheless, its plan 'could cost Virginia, Maryland and the District billions of dollars each.'"