Washington, D.C.

Seattle Passes Regressive Soda Tax

The city will now tax soda at a rate eight times higher than beer.

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Soda
Rex Sorgatz/Flickr

Seattle's city council passed a new soda tax yesterday over the loud opposition of local business owners, teamsters, and other citizens. At 1.75 cents per ounce—that $2.52 per 12-pack—the new rate will be eight times higher than the levy on beer.

"I think after this tax my store is going to be closed," one business owner told the council before the vote. The storekeeper operates his shop on the edge of Seattle, and now will have to compete with neighboring communities that have no soda tax.

"It is going to be very hard on small businesses," said another shopkeeper. "I just want to let you know that we are barely surviving on the minimum wage increase." Seattle passed a $15 minimum wage bill in 2014.

The council was unmoved, passing the measure by a vote of 7-1. The tax will go into effect after Mayor Ed Murray signs the bill.

When Murray and Councilmember Tim Burgess introduced the tax in April, they presented it as a way to encourage healthier lifestyles among minorities and to fund programs that will help close Seattle's racial achievement gap. (Among the recipients: early childhood education and subsidies to farmers markets.) The original proposal also included a tax on diet beverages, on the theory that this would make a regressive tax more equitable. In the mayor's words, "the data showed that the diet drinks were consumed by more middle-class white people." But the ordinance that passed yesterday left out the diet drinks.

Several activists who spoke on behalf of the measure acknowledged that the tax is regressive but argued that this would be mitigated by the spending it will allow. "We understand this is a regressive tax," said a dietitian with the group Got Green. "We only support it because we know and are pushing for it to go back and serve the community." Mackenzie Chase of the Save the Children Action Network echoed the point: "Early learning is a smart investment. We have a dramatic need for an investment and this is a smart way to do that."

Yet 80 percent of the revenue from the tax will go straight into Seattle's general fund, with no restrictions on how it can be spent. For the other 20 percent, the spending will follow a weak and non-exclusive list of priorities, including the administration of the tax and, perhaps most insultingly, training for workers who lose their jobs as a result of the tax. So even if it made sense to tax low-income Seattleites so that supposedly smarter officials could then give the money back to them in the form of services the government thinks they need, there's no guarantee that the soda tax will do even that.

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  1. At 1.75 cents per ounce?that $2.52 per 12-pack

    Get a calculator, guy.

    1. If a 12-pack is 12 12oz cans then it checks.

    2. Maybe in where you live in Pinko-Commieville, they only have the 12 x 8oz. packs. Here in ‘murica we have 12 x 12 oz. packs meaning 144 oz. * $0.0175 = $2.52 per 12 pack.

      1. It figures that the people in Freakville where you live are still drinking from cans.

        1. You all disgust me, drinking out of the container like a bunch of savages. In civilized places, we have these things called glasses to drink out of.

          1. I do not know what this “soda” is but I can assure you that I do most certainly not drink it.

          2. I only drink from my hydration bladder.

          3. If it makes you feel better, I pour from arm’s length so my lips never touch the can.

            1. It makes me feel worse, actually.

        2. Better than toilets.

      2. Seattle hasn’t mandated metric?

  2. The council was unmoved…

    If small businesses are operating on such thin margins, maybe they should have thought about greasing some council palms.

    1. They can’t compete with SEIU money.

      1. It’s not the council’s fault if there’s no room for small business in the market.

  3. Yet 80 percent of the revenue from the tax will go straight into Seattle’s general fund…

    Now that right there is funny.

      1. That looks like my neighbor’s back yard. He can’t figure out the complex task of throwing garbage away either.

        1. Hey, the City of Seattle has figured out how to monetize that.

      2. Or clean themselves up.

    1. Yeah, they spelled “100” wrong.

    2. The other 20% is fungible.

    3. This is actually a surprising part. The key to getting this passed in Philadelphia was the promise that it would go to education and other things related to children. That’s why there was (and continues to be) such widespread support in Philadelphia.

      If you say something is going to fund education, people don’t care how much you tax them. Because Seattle didn’t do this, I’m surprised there was so much support for it.

  4. “It’s only 1 cent an ounce!”

    You fuckwits, do you know how to do math? That’s the same as saying increasing a tax from 2% to 4% is a 2% increase; no, it’s a 100% increase!

    How about you lefties tax your dam starbucks instead. Those sugar bombs are fine though, apparently.

    1. “Those sugar bombs are fine though, apparently.”

      Maybe if the sodas had a week’s worth of fat in them they could get an exemption.

      Which makes me think… what about coffee soda?

    2. Sweetened coffees are taxed.

      Only local makers are exempt.

      1. Yeah, and since Starbuck’s is a ‘local maker’…

        That makes total sense! I’m sure no lobby pressure was applied, or threats to flee the area with all those precious jobs.

  5. “It is going to be very hard on small businesses,” said another shopkeeper.

    For socialists, that’s a feature not a bug. They hate small businesses.

    1. Remember, SJW’s always lie. When they claim to care about small businesses, minorities, etc, all that other crap, they don’t mean it.

      All you need to do is look at their actions to see they don’t give a damn about any of that. They are ideologically possessed, and the soda tax will help them on their path towards utopia, so damn everyone else

    2. I mean, how dare those individuals think they should own their own means of production?

  6. Several activists who spoke on behalf of the measure acknowledged that the tax is regressive but argued that this would be mitigated by the spending it will allow. “We understand this is a regressive tax,” said a dietitian with the group Got Green. “We only support it because we know and are pushing for it to go back and serve the community.” Mackenzie Chase of the Save the Children Action Network echoed the point: “Early learning is a smart investment. We have a dramatic need for an investment and this is a smart way to do that.”

    Evil or stupid?

    1. Why not both?

    2. not mutually exclusive.

      1. If they’re evil, they’re not going about it in a stupid way.

    3. My first impulse, for the activists, anyway, is stupid, but then a name like “Save the Children Action Network” is so vague-yet-feel-goody that it could be a front for anything, really.

  7. “We understand this is a regressive tax,” said a dietitian with the group Got Green. “We only support it because we know and are pushing for it to go back and serve the community.” Mackenzie Chase of the Save the Children Action Network echoed the point: “Early learning is a smart investment. We have a dramatic need for an investment and this is a smart way to do that.”

    So these people want soda to cost more so the tax money can be spent on government programs aimed at making people stop drinking soda? Why not just put an $8.00/ounce tax on soda?

    1. Where is the peak of the Laffer curve for a soda tax, I wonder…

      1. Silly fellow – there’s no such thing as the Laffer curve. That’s why the Harrison Tax Act generated so much revenue.

    2. Ask Philip-Morris.

  8. When Murray and Councilmember Tim Burgess introduced the tax in April, they presented it as a way to encourage healthier lifestyles among minorities and to fund programs that will help close Seattle’s racial achievement gap.

    Because minorities are like the wild orchid, they need cultivating and shaping.

    BTW, Serial fabulist, Tim Burgess said that this was supposed to help the “food security gap”, whatever that is.

    1. fund programs that will help close Seattle’s racial achievement gap.

      So soda makes the blacks dumb…

      1. No, it’s stupid white people thinking not drinking soda will make them as smart as Asians. Should have had an Asian explain to them why that’s dumb, except that they’re too stupid to understand the explanation.

    2. encourage healthier lifestyles among minorities

      I would like to know if that was their original wording. Because if so… just wow. That’s like taking off the mask, stomping it to pieces, lighting the pieces on fire, and throwing the ashes into the sea.

      1. The condescension and paternalism tends to only be apparent to the next generation of activists. This has been going on at least since Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

      2. I would think someone could file civil rights charges for deliberately targeting minorities with a tax.

        I seem to recall that being frowned upon.

        1. Leftists are incapable of racism, you see, or at least that is the logic most often applied. The further to the left you are, the less capable of racism you are.

          This assumption is so basic to them that it’s essentially an unwritten rule that most people don’t even think about.

  9. “I just want to let you know that we are barely surviving on the minimum wage increase.” Seattle passed a $15 minimum wage bill in 2014.

    What part of “We can’t give them $15/hr. and just allow them to spend it on sugary beverages.” do you not understand?

    1. That’s why they need to be more expensive!

  10. “I only drink the blood of my enemies. And, occasionally, a Strawberry Yoo-Hoo.”

    1. And, occasionally, a Strawberry Yoo-Hoo

      Calm down there, nutcase.

    2. At least your armor isn’t pink…*ahem* I mean ‘light red’.

  11. the tax is regressive but argued that this would be mitigated by the spending it will allow.

    Of course. Now your money can be spent by smart people who know exactly what’s good for you! You’d only waste that money on silly things like unhealthy food and porn if you kept it.

    1. I can hear Amazon Prime Pantry’s staff partying from here.

      1. Amazon just discounted Prime membership for EBT holders…

        1. What is the strategy there? Piss off the customers who have jobs?

  12. First the Seahawks steal the design for the Philadelphia Eagle’s helmets, and now Seattle copies Philly’s soda tax.

    You west coasters are real originals, aren’t ya?

  13. Yes!!! Great job city council – – tax the poor!! Make them pay their fair share!

    1. Perhaps the proggies have misinterpreted the maxim that “you get less of what you tax”.

  14. When Murray and Council member Tim Burgess introduced the tax in April, they presented it as a way to encourage healthier lifestyles among minorities and to fund programs that will help close Seattle’s racial achievement gap.

    These two things cannot succeed at the same time.

    1. they presented it as a way to encourage healthier lifestyles among minorities

      Oh hell no! Whitesplain much Mr. Burgess, you racist sack of shit?

  15. early childhood education and subsidies to farmers markets

    This reads like a satire of what paternalistic white liberals would choose to spend other people’s money on.

    1. Yeah – at least “early childhood education” can theoretically help some poor people somewhere, but “I want my organic locally-sourced kale subsidized by a tax on the poor” crosses the line into naked absurdity.

      1. at least “early childhood education” can theoretically help some poor people somewhere

        Yeah, seems legit until you read all the reports that say it doesn’t do squat.

        1. It’s often a net negative, even, but at least it sounds well-intended.

      2. Seattle is a lesser known, but obvious, source of naked absurdity in these United States. California might lead the pack, but Washington somehow manages to veer further left than you would think possible in a sane world.

  16. $2.52/12 pack is more than I pay for a 12 pack. I regularly stock up at

    1. I can’t wait to find out where.

  17. This is clearly about social signaling. If they were serious about their stated intentions then they would also include other high sugar content drinks and foods; sweet tea, most sport drinks, such as Gatorade, Powerade, Glaceau Vitaminwater, grape and prune juices, drink mixes such as Kool-Aid, and many popular breakfast cereals.

    1. The cook county tax starting in a few weeks includes fruit juices. Not sure about Gatorade.

      1. Apparently sports drinks too. Oh, and also sugar/calorie free drinks. I’m lucky it will only add a minute or two to my drive time to change stores to lake county.

    2. Or, better yet — cut out the middleman and tax food in general. You will generally be healthier if you drink soda and eat well than if you drink water and eat poorly.

      The whole thing is like claiming that there’s a speeding epidemic on our highways and suggesting to fix it by taxing Kia’s. Sure, you can speed in a Kia, but it’s nonsensical to target just one car maker, and makes even less sense to select the one that doesn’t go particularly fast — unless what you’re really trying to do is target the group of people who you think are likely to buy Kia’s while shielding the ones who drive BMW’s. That’s the only way this soda tax makes any sense.

  18. The original proposal also included a tax on diet beverages, on the theory that this would make a regressive tax more equitable. In the mayor’s words, “the data showed that the diet drinks were consumed by more middle-class white people.” But the ordinance that passed yesterday left out the diet drinks.

    racist, or just proggie logic?

    1. racist, or just proggie logic?

      Yes.

  19. Think this will be enough to drive people to get soda siphons & syrup, & make their own at home?

    1. Depends how the law is written. Technically, the Philly tax is on the syrups, not the final product (which is why the mayor is screaming ‘price gouging’ to anyone who didn’t take Econ 101 their freshman year). In that case, buying the syrups directly probably wouldn’t get you around the tax.

  20. ” For the other 20 percent, the spending will follow a weak and non-exclusive list of priorities, including the administration of the tax and, perhaps most insultingly, training for workers who lose their jobs as a result of the tax.”

    If workers are losing their jobs due to the tax, it means that consumption has been significantly reduced. In that case, there is less and less tax revenue to go towards this training. If they were honest, they would just say that 100% is really basically going to the general fund, probably to support public pensions, but of course that honesty could cost them some elections.

    1. At least they’re acknowledging the negative economic impact of this tax. That’s refreshing for once. Which makes me think it was maybe a slip up on their part.

  21. For the other 20 percent

    That’s amusing, as 20% of 0 is 0. This will not raise much revenue. It’ll simply kill off all soda sales in the city limits.

    1. Next stop, King County – they are one of the wokest counties in the country after all.

  22. they presented it as a way to encourage healthier lifestyles among minorities

    Like stop-and-frisk?

    and to fund programs that will help close Seattle’s racial achievement gap.

    If that gap isn’t closed in, say, three years what will they do?

  23. Clearly Racist.
    Self contradictory. If the intent is to make those stupid darkies drink (buy) less soda, then success is zero dollars in tax revenue. What will they tax to pay for the administration of the tax that generates no revenue? I vote Starbucks.

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