Soda Taxes

Bernie Sanders Calls Out Hillary Clinton for Supporting Soda Taxes

Nanny tendencies overcome promise not to raise taxes on the less wealthy.


Credit: JeepersMedia / photo on flickr

Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is proposing a soda tax, a regressive three-cents-per-ounce fee on sugary drinks. Given its flat nature, such a tax would obviously impact the poor more that the middle class and certainly the rich. In the nanny state world of progressive health management, this is actually part of the intent of these taxes. It is a not-very-subtle nudge to try to steer the poor away from consumer goods that the municipal government management class has decided is bad for their health. See also: cigarette taxes.

Kenney wants to use the money the city gets from the tax to help fund preschool programs for Philadelphia. A government program for the children? Sign Hillary Clinton up immediately! She declared her support for the soda tax this week as a way to achieve this end.

Bernie Sanders, for at least once in his life, knows a tax for what it is and that this soda tax is going to obviously be passed down to consumers (why he doesn't realize his protectionist trade policies will result in the same harmful outcome is another question). Yesterday Sanders blasted Clinton for supporting a tax on the poor. Via the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge. A tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families in Philadelphia."

Kenney's response to Sanders' critique of soda taxes has been very much in the "I am shocked—shocked!—to find gambling in this establishment" vein. This wasn't a tax on poor people, nosireebob! It was a tax on rich corporations. They were supposed to just give us more money and accept lower profit margins!

"I'm disappointed Sen. Sanders would ignore the interests of thousands of low-income —predominately minority children—and side with greedy beverage corporations who have spent millions in advertising for decades to target low income minority communities," Kenney said. …

"It is immoral and completely hypocritical for these vested corporate interests to pass this tax on to the very people they have profited from for decades," Kenney said in a statement.

Does anybody actually buy this nonsense? Again, I bring up cigarette taxes, and sin taxes in general. They are deliberately put into place to try to push citizens away from spending their limited income on things that government functionaries have deemed harmful. The point of soda taxes is for manufacturers to pass along the costs to consumers and consumers to drink less of the sugary drinks and thereby have fewer health problems. Nanny-minded researchers are even studying the effects to see if they actually reduce consumption and improve public health.

I'm not sure what's worse about this sorry response from Kenney: His incredibly phony disbelief that this tax would largely be paid for by poor and middle class citizens, or the way he completely erased the agency of poor citizens and treated them as though their consumption choices are due to mindless responses to corporate advertising.

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  1. Excellent reasoning. Now about that carbon tax that Bailey supports…

    1. And of course taxes everything .Even ‘organic’ foods.It’s an economy killer.Baily should know this.Anyone who wants a carbon tax is a fool.Production chain,what is it?

  2. Given its flat nature, such a tax would obviously impact the poor more that the middle class and certainly the rich.

    This trope pisses me off. 3 cents is 3 cents whether you’re poor, rich, or somewhere in between. The idea that anything but a progressive income tax impacts the poor more than anybody else is emotionalist hokum.

    The only way this impacts the poor more is if you presuppose that the poor are entitled to pay less for things because they’re poor.

    1. Us 1%ers drink soda by the truckload!!!

    2. It is 3 cents an ounce which is YUGE! If you add a 3 cents/oz tax, that’s 36 cents per can. I typically buy soda via 12 or 24 packs, and I stock up when they are ~20 cents/can. If the tax is 100% passed on to the consumer (because of course it will), that can of soda now costs 56 cents: more than double what I was paying.

      1. wow, been a while since I drank coke (used to drink a shitload but then doc said stop or die…I chose stop). I was only 15-15 cents a can in the grocery store. Hell Sams could back a tanker up to your house for 12 cents a can.

        1. I choose violence.

        2. I choo-choo-choose you!

      2. Yeah, this would be 2 bucks on a 2 liter bottle of soda, which would more than double the price in some cases. I see black market soda coming down the road.

    3. Proportions. Ever heard of them?

      1. Yes, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense to apply a proportion in a voluntary transaction. What impact does the 3 cent soda tax have on a poor person who doesn’t drink soda? What about a millionaire who drinks a case of diet coke every day?

        The only place that disparate impact on the poor seems to be applicable is income tax, and generally that argument falls in favor of more progressive income taxes.

        1. Those regressive nickles and dimes add up to a greater proportion of a poor person’s income than a middle class or wealthy person’s income. That’s all. Like Scott S said, it’s a mathematical statement, not a value judgment.

          1. Perhaps it’ss not a value judgement but the word ‘regressive’ is a loaded word. Do we say that grocery stores are regressive? They are by the same definition.

            1. re?gres?sive
              adjective: regressive

              becoming less advanced; returning to a former or less developed state.
              “the regressive, infantile wish for the perfect parent of early childhood”
              of, relating to, or marked by psychological regression.
              (of a tax) taking a proportionally greater amount from those on lower incomes.

              1. (of a tax) taking a proportionally greater amount from those on lower incomes.

                As i mentioned below, this ignores the agency of the poor (for voluntary transactions). The only way it makes sense is if soda is perfectly inelastic, which it isn’t.

                Let me broaden out a bit. I completely understand the purpose of the argument. It’s throwing a common statist plea back in their faces. I get it. I just think using the argument puts into place a bunch of implied assumptions that favor the statist over the libertarian.

              2. Congratulations on avoiding the question. Is a grocery store regressive? I suppose we can hide behind the “it only applies to taxes” but that’s a little unsatisfying don’t you think?

                  1. Your mom is regressive.

    4. Acknowledging that a tax mathematically has a greater impact to people the less money they have is not a value statement about that impact. (Indeed, supporters of the soda tax actually LIKE that it’s regressive)

      1. a tax mathematically has a greater impact* to people the less money they have

        *per unit soda

        There’s still something about this argument that rubs me the wrong way. It seems to ignore the financial agency of the poor. It would seem that the poor, being strapped for cash, would be all the more wary of buying soda if the price increased. The rich, having extra money to blow, would seem to be impacted more, because they can absorb the extra cost and are less inclined to reduce their soda consumption based on a tax.

        Sure, if we assume that soda is perfectly inelastic, and the poor are going to buy X amount of soda no matter the cost, the impact is a greater on them. However, soda isn’t a perfectly inelastic (or even remotely inelastic) good.

        The side effect of framing it about impact on the poor is that it puts us on the Marxist class warfare battlefield before the first shot is fired.

        This isn’t so much about your article (which is overall pretty good) but about this specific argument which is getting used more and more by non-statists to their eventual peril.

        1. Pointing out that such taxes have a (potentially) greater impact on the poor than on those who are better off illustrates the hypocrisy of Democrat politicians who claim to be champions of the very people who will (potentially) be most affected by this.

          1. Not really because this is for their own good which clearly trumps how much of the government’s money they get to keep.

    5. 3 cents out of a dollar is 3%. 3 cents out of $100 is .03%, 3 cents out of $100,000 is 0.00003%.

      1. 3 cents for one ounce is 3 cents for one ounce, whether you make a dollar, a hundred dollars, or a hundred thousand dollars. Ability to pay doesn’t really seem to impact the effect of the tax on the price of soda.

        This emotional argument tends to leave the door wide open for all sorts of nasty class warfare crap (You’re burdening the poor with your obscene profits!!!).

    6. But everyone must pay exactly the same proportion of their income on all items. Except income taxes. It wouldn’t be fair if those were proportional.

  3. William . I can see what your saying… Raymond `s article is surprising, last week I bought a top of the range Acura from making $4608 this-past/month and-a little over, $10,000 this past month . with-out any question its the easiest work I’ve ever had . I began this five months/ago and almost straight away startad bringin in minimum $82 per-hr

    1. can we get a better class of bot around here? Where is anon bot when you need him?

    2. boobs, vukamu, we wants boobs!

    3. oh yeah, more people agreeing with him. exactly what william needs

  4. Why believe that a tax on sugar would drive down demand for sugary drinks but a tax on employment (e.g. $15 minimum wage) would have no effect on the demand for unskilled labor? Those progs who have a bit of economics nevertheless claim that labor is an inelastic good unlike a discretionary item like a Coke. I wonder if they still employ nanny when she tells them her wage and benefits must be doubled?

    1. Also ignore the sugar subsidies we push on the industry. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!

    2. Why believe that a tax on sugar would drive down demand for sugary drinks but a tax on employment (e.g. $15 minimum wage) would have no effect on the demand for unskilled labor?

      The magic of good intentions is so powerful that it can negate the laws of economics. That or it paves the road to hell.

      1. The first role of politics…

    3. They just go to Home Depot and pick another nanny up.

    4. A higher minimum wage will likely increase revenues at many companies who employ minimum wage workers. A soda tax by contrast does not put more money in peoples pockets. Secondly, the government is already essentially subsidizing companies’ labor costs by providing welfare for people on minimum wage. They could stop doing this, but as a society we would not allow this. Raising the minimum wage to a basic living wage is simply removing the subsidy and shifting the burden to companies where it belongs.

      1. Derp, derp, derp, derpity derp derp…..

      2. How does a higher min wage put more money in their pockets when demand for said jobs go down due to their increased costs? And not sure revenues will go up….what is this based on?

        Also aren’t most min wage jobs by people with supplemental incomes?

        And not buying your argument that companies are paying less due to welfare benefits seeing how they are drastically cut when you have some income. Walmart would not being paying more if no welfare.

        I am curious if illegals make 15 an hr…how do they live if not?

        What is a basic living wage exactly and can you define how you determined that?

      3. The last half of your paragraph is contradictory. You said welfare allows for lower pay….cause and effect. Also we won’t allow to get rid of it. But yet you say we need higher wage to rid ourselves of that susbsidy which is welfare. The welfare you just said we won’t allow to get rid of? That makes no sense

        Also if welfare is allowing for lower pay, doesn’t it make sense to address the welfare and get rid of it? Provided what you say is true that it is subsidizing labor cost….the companies will then have to raise their pay. So why do you need a mandate?

  5. Poors are poor because they are stupid, so they need smart people to tell them what to put into their bodies. Stupid poors.

    1. They sure do tell them how to vote, don’t they? And, just like Gruber so aptly pointed out, they do what they are told.

    2. This.

      It always amazes me that Progs believe the poor are poor simply because they’ve been prevented from getting ahead due to their race, or ethnicity, or social background. If they can’t hold a job, or acquire skills to lift them beyond minimum wage — it’s because of the horrible institutional barriers put in place by the white patriarchy. Why, remove those obstacles and their intelligence, wonderful talent, and superior drive would make them all millionaires!

      And then the very same Progs also adamantly believe that the poor are too damn stupid to make simple decisions about how much soda to drink, how much trans fat to eat, whether or not to smoke cigarettes, and even whether it’s a good idea to give their children plastic bags to play with or household cleaners as beverages.

      So which is it? Are the poor brilliant but unfairly downtrodden, or are they such dunces that they will need a government daddy to make all their decisions throughout their lives to prevent them all from winning Darwin Awards?

      1. “So which is it? Are the poor brilliant but unfairly downtrodden, or are they such dunces that they will need a government daddy to make all their decisions throughout their lives to prevent them all from winning Darwin Awards?”

        The answer is either one depending on which claim would advance the left’s relentless desire for power over the lives of others.

        That is, after all always the real reason for anything they advocate.

  6. Hey, don’t knock pumpkin pie soda until you’ve had it with a poutine with turkey, dressing, and baby peas. (I passed on the cranberry sauce.) I’m never cooking for Canadian Thanksgiving again!

    Someone also needs to point out that maybe it’d just be more efficient to reroute the corn subsidies to children’s feelgood cause directly, rather than tax the thing you subsidize. Someone do that for me.


  7. consumer goods that the municipal government management class has decided is bad for their health

    things that government functionaries have deemed harmful

    At least be honest; these in fact ARE harmful. But it is their choice 100%, not Big Daddy Gubmint.

    1. None of those things are harmful.

    2. At least be honest; these in fact ARE harmful.

      So is water, in a high enough dosage. Let’s not kid ourselves, soda is not, in and of itself, harmful. The abuse of soda is what’s harmful.

    3. On a related note, WTF with using the tax money for schools? Didn’t they used to swear that they would use the tax money for healthcare because that was actually related to the behavior that was being taxed? The logic was that they would create the tax to discourage your unhealthy ways. But, if you proceeded anyways, at least they would get the tax money to pay for your eventual medical problems that resulted from those unhealthy ways.

      I guess they decided that they no longer needed to entertain that fantasy and now they’re just blatantly taking your money so they can give out party favors.

      1. It’s the same fantasy that the state lotteries have been spinning for decades.

    4. I don’t think my body is harmed by the occasional Coca Cola.

      1. You may be right, but then the tax should be negligible to you. If everyone started drinking soda less than they do now, I think the proponents of the tax would say mission accomplished.

        1. Dead thread-fucking, how does it work?

  8. “This wasn’t a tax on poor people, nosireebob! It was a tax on rich corporations. They were supposed to just give us more money and accept lower profit margins!”

    Progressive economics + politics as an inseparable ruse.

    And if [when] they do pass the the government imposed cost [tax] on to consumers, it will of course be the greedy corporations who are taking advantage of the poor, who are “predominantly minorities.”

    So, you get corporate greed AND racism as talking points. And it goes every, every fucking time, and they all go to the fucking polling booth and vote for Hillary Fucking Clinton.

    Gruber called it right.

  9. ” In the nanny state world of progressive health management, this is actually part of the intent of these taxes”

    There’s also another problem, which is that people are always going to want to find vices so people will just take their money and pump it into other vices.

    They’ll probably just substitute some other unhealthy behavior for the one we’re now taxing.

    1. State lotteries are important!

    2. Like crab juice. Does that count as a soda?

  10. For those interested in peak derp, the quickest way to get there is to pit two idiot progs against each other. The derp can then grow at a geometric rate, as evidenced by the exchange quoted in this article.

  11. Subsidize fat fuck food. Tax fat fuck food. Employ 10x more officials than necessary to administer each end. Profit.

  12. Ah yes, another one of those magical taxes that will simultaneously stop people from doing something “bad” and raise enormous amounts of revenue.

  13. “Bernie Sanders Calls Out Hillary Clinton for Supporting Soda Taxes”

    The revolution always eats its own.

  14. It’s something that always boggled my mind about “sin taxes” — that they are simultaneously intended to stamp out an undesirable activity while also directly benefiting from that undesirable activity.

    If you add $5 a pack in cigarette taxes, and then you use that money to fund, say, subsidized healthcare — what do you do if your tax actually succeeds in driving the sales of cigarettes so low that the dwindling tax revenues threaten to shut down your pet healthcare project?

    I don’t doubt these same people would start handing out free smokes for a while in hopes of getting new smokers hooked so they could re-energize their tax scheme.

    1. It’s pretty easy to adjust the tax for maximum revenue. That’s all they’re doing. And inflation makes sure the tax just keeps going up and up.

      1. Easy?! The knowledge problem makes it impossible. People can’t predict their own behavior, let alone other people’s.

  15. Cigarettes really are bad for you, and so is soda. Both are products that nobody needs to consume, and people can choose how much this tax will affect them by altering their consumption accordingly.

    1. Nobody needs choices.

    2. Fuck off, slaver.

      1. Don’t you mean suck off flavor?

    3. Yea fuck off slaver. Who are you to make decisions on what is best for me?

      1. Well nobody’s taking any products off the market, you can still partake as much as you want. Also, the people elected the representatives who are making this tax. You may not agree with the tax, but probably a majority of people in Philly do.

        1. Why does it need to be taxed? Who are you to decide what is best for others?

  16. My wealthy friend asked me to pick up a 2 liter of coke once when I announced I was making a trip to the store. He thumbed past a few singles and a five, and handed me a twenty. “This should do it” he said.
    My other friend had an incredibly tight budget when we moved across the country while his student loans kicked in.
    Which one of these people will feel a soda tax? The one who budgets for penny candies, or the one who puts what they want in the cart, no thought at all.

  17. This wasn’t a tax on poor people, nosireebob! It was a tax on rich corporations. They were supposed to just give us more money and accept lower profit margins!

    The story goes that that’s exactly what Coke & Pepsi did when sugar costs increased. Instead, Moxie cut down their advertising, & never recovered their market share.

  18. No! There should not be a tax on “sody-pop”…..but you should throw the tax book at High-Fructose Corn-Syrup.

  19. That fucking Mayor should die in a horrible accident, one that disembowels him slowly, makes him chew on his own dick and vomit out his heart. Seriously, I am sick of these nanny state fuckwits that think everybody is a victim, no scratch that, they know what their doing and its all about control and nothing to do with helping the por.

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