Here are hte plans for another big money, big industry bailout in Congress:
Joined by senators from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, Mr. McConnell and his fellow Kentuckian Jim Bunning in late July introduced a $13 billion proposal to retire the vestiges of the program created seven decades ago to fix the tobacco supply and guarantee a minimum price. The buyout money, to be paid over six years, would be tied to the prices paid for tobacco last year and come from an assessment on importers and domestic manufacturers of tobacco products.
An industry bailout of this magnitude is certain to be greeted skeptically by lawmakers from outside the tobacco belt, some of whom will view it as a reward to longtime producers of a product with substantial health consequences.
Its sponsors acknowledge that the only way the plan can pass is if it is tied to F.D.A. authority over the manufacture and distribution of tobacco, a longtime goal of public health advocates. Mr. McConnell, who describes the F.D.A. prospect as a “bitter pill” he is willing to swallow, said Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, plan to advance a companion F.D.A. measure early in September.
Growers hope that the marriage of the buyout and F.D.A. regulation can attract enough votes in Congress to cause a breakthrough, since they say many are tottering financially. In Kentucky alone, more than 4,000 tobacco farmers have given up since 1998. Farmers have watched the amount of tobacco they are allowed to grow under the system decline steeply as the tobacco companies have begun buying more overseas