Class conflict in Cook County could cost Dems one of their favorite taxes
What? A tax may actually be repealed in a prominent stronghold of the Democrats? It appears that politics after Trump's victory may have changed at more levels than the federal government.
The ruling class cherishes its power to dictate to the lower orders how they live their lives, especially when the opportunity to impose new taxes arises. Thus, when someone thought up the idea of taxing soda pop to discourage people from consuming it, serious effort went into building such taxes into a national trend. A test market was selected: Berkeley, California, where voters will approve anything that sounds as if it has good intentions behind it, especially if a villain can be identified.
The campaign went off flawlessly, if not completely ethically, and the initiative, Measure D, passed. Once the precedent was in place, with the perfect excuse ("we care about your health!"), taxes started to be imposed all over the country, especially where Democrats are in control. The believability of that excuse was not enhanced by the failure of such measures to tax equally caloric natural fruit juices, or sweetened coffee drinks, such as those sold by Starbucks. In fact, this exemption revealed the class basis of the tax, because only drinks favored by lower-income and lower-education consumers were being taxed.
In Cook County, Illinois, the tax became a major issue, one we have covered multiple times. The primary force behind the tax finally admitted that the tax was really about the money it brings in, not health, as the county board faces a vote to repeal the tax next week.
Now it appears that the tax will be repealed. Dan Mihanopoulos of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:
John Daley on Thursday became the first Cook County commissioner to publicly switch sides on the contentious issue of the county's tax on sweetened beverages, telling the Chicago Sun-Times he now thinks the penny-per-ounce tax should be repealed.
Daley had been one of eight commissioners who voted for the tax when the county board approved it last year. The commissioners deadlocked on the issue, but board President Toni Preckwinkle cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the tax.
Daley, a South Side Democrat, said public opinion swayed his vote.
"I heard from my district, and I think we're elected to represent our district," he said. "I heard overwhelming opposition."
After Daley's flip-flop on the matter, the board could be poised to repeal the measure. Assuming the other eight opponents of the tax vote the same way again, the tax could be overturned as soon as next week. (snip)
Daley said he had never seen such voter opposition to a tax as the criticism that the pop tax has generated.
But Preckwinkle, who has threatened layoffs if the tax is repealed, could still veto the repeal, which means that another vote must be swung to make the repeal stick.
Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle, left, and Commissioner John P. Daley during a board meeting on July 15, 2015. | Saiyna Bashir/Sun-Times
All of a sudden, a populist tax revolt is springing up in the heart of the Democrat urban base, one fueled by class resentment against the party elites and by onerous taxes that penalize people because of lifestyle choices of which the elites disapprove.
This is a fight the Democrats ought to fear. When politicians appear in the pose of snatching food and drink from the mouths of voters, resentment is the natural response. The soda tax is but one comparatively small, but highly visible at the checkout counter, example of the elitism of the progressives. Michelle Obama's "healthy" changes to school lunches flopped as expensive food lined the garbage bins. People do not like being told what to eat or drink by people who they rightly suspect have contempt for them.
The long con of the Democrats, the notion that they are taking our money to make us better people and not line their own pockets, is wearing thin.