Facing repeal vote, backer of Cook County soda tax admits it's not about health; it's about money
One of the best progressive con games is the one where they tell you they are protecting your health by adding a new tax. The wave of taxes on so-called "sugary drinks" (that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup) – i.e., Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc. – was sold as a measure to "encourage" consumers to switch to (purportedly) healthier alternatives that remain untaxed, such as pure fruit juices, for instance, which are just as caloric but are "natural" and are the type of drink favored by the high-income and education class that runs things in this country. In other words, the Ruling Class imposes its culinary preferences on those whom it rules.
It is all for our own good, and only villains would dare oppose this high-minded mission:
Jim Krieger, MD, MPH, [is] the executive director of Healthy Food America. "For too long, the big soda companies got away with putting profits over their customers' health."
You know the drill. Just like global warming, a new tax is necessary to save ourselves from own decisions.
Unfortunately for the driving force behind the soda tax imposed on Cook County, Illinois, Board president Toni Preckwinkle, the voters caught on, the industry sued (and were threatened over it), and now county supervisors are to vote on repeal.
Suddenly, when push is to come to shove, Preckwinkle has dropped the health issue and admits that it's all about the money. Andy Grimm of the Chicago Sun-Times:
[A] day ahead of making her budget address to a Board of Commissioners said to be lined up for a close vote on pulling back the county's penny-per-ounce tax on sodas and sweetened beverages, Preckwinkle was not shy about saying what would happen without the estimated $200 million in tax revenue projected to come from the tax.
"(We will) make significant cuts to public health and public safety, because that's where 87 percent of our money goes," Preckwinkle told reporters, following an unrelated press conference on criminal justice reform.
Hey, it's Cook County, so it's all about the money.
As Grimm recounts:
The tax narrowly passed last year with the president casting a tie-breaking vote. Furor over the tax, stoked in part by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign by soda industry groups, reached a fever pitch this summer, when consumers around the county first saw the beverage tax tacked onto their grocery receipts.
Preckwinkle reminded commissioners of the financial implications for the county if the tax is pulled back in a fiscal note sent out Friday, which said the county health system and public safety funds, which were slated to receive 75 percent of the new soda tax revenue. The lost revenue would require an 11-percent cut to those departments' budget, according to the memo.
Hal Dardick of the Chicago Tribune reminds us how things always work in Chicago:
Preckwinkle sweetened the deal by giving each commissioner control over $500,000 in gas tax revenue to spend on transportation projects in their districts.
The repeal vote is next week.