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Kuster's half-measure

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire's 2nd District was in Henniker last week to promote a bill to cut taxes on beer. We will happily raise a pint to that, after we raise some questions.

Kuster has co-sponsored the Small BREW Act, a bill to halve the $7 per barrel federal excise tax on beer, sort of. It would apply only to the first 60,000 barrels and only to breweries that make fewer than 6 million barrels per year. Maybe we will raise a half-pint glass.

Kuster promoted the bill at Henniker Brewing Company, where owner David Currier said this: "Around 48 percent of the cost of making a barrel of beer goes to taxes. I pay $16.30 a barrel in state and federal tax. It's not cheap to be a beverage maker.

Half? Does Kuster find this tax rate excessive only for 1 percent of the barrels brewed by small breweries? The bill does.

Though it does not go nearly far enough, this bill would provide some relief. For that reason, Kuster gets some cheers for supporting it. Rep. Frank Guinta was a co-sponsor of an earlier version of the bill in 2011. Unlike Kuster, though, Guinta also supported a broad array of tax reductions.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (whose last name contains the name of a style of beer) has not signed on. How disappointing. Maybe she and Kuster can discuss it over a pint of New Hampshire-brewed beer. The Woodstock Inn Autumn Ale is really nice this time of year.

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