Nutter's Best Case For Soda Tax? Lobbyists

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 3 | Posted Mar. 15, 2010

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There are lots of reasonable arguments against the proposed 2-cent-per-ounce soda tax. You’ve got experts who say sin taxes encourage switching to “more bang for your buck” strengthened sins (as is often the case with cigarette taxes), you’ve got some who think store owners will spread the tax around to all their food, and you’ve got those who don't think the tax will generate enough money to curb our budget woes.

But then you’ve got the arguments for it. It may curb weight gain amongst our city’s residents, government needs some extra cash, and, oh yeah, the Pennsylvania Beverage Commission’s lobbyists are total dicks. They’ve been openly lobbying to fight Nutter's plan “with outreach to City Council members who must vote on it,” according to KYW. Nutter is calling the lobbying efforts “A bit of a tragedy.” Which it is, and astroturf campaigns always are.

Americans Against Food Taxes and other, similar organizations argue that a soda tax will kill jobs at local soda factories, and the tax unfairly falls on the shoulders of working families (the oldest trick in the book followed by the second oldest). Dan U-A wrote on Young Philly Politics last Thursday that “Coca Cola bottles in Philadelphia, and sells to the region. People in Philly pay the tax, people outside don’t. It is not as if Coke would have an incentive to move out of the city--the same consumption tax would still exist.” And diet soda isn't taxed in the plan.

Americans Against Food Taxes' main rallying point is against a national soda tax--which it seems they've won, for now. Its coalition includes Pepsi, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Pennsylvania Beverage Association, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, and the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, among many others. Its website even quotes PA Beverage Association member Tom Crisci as saying a soda tax will impact those who can least afford to pay more for products and services they need or enjoy,” adding “there’s no evidence that new taxes will help reduce obesity.”  Except there is.

Mayor Nutter’s soda tax would have to be enacted almost perfectly to achieve its intended benefits to the city. Misinformation on the subject will only lead to a less effective policy if and when the law passes.

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1. Mike said... on Mar 15, 2010 at 05:26PM

“the problem is studies also show that obesity rates are inversely proportional to household income, meaning the less you make, the fatter you likely are to be. The reason? Sugary sodas and drinks, and highly processed unhealthy foods are generally more affordable than healthier natural foods. There is a reason McDonald's constantly promotes itself as a value eating option, and why it's customer's typically are on the lower end of the income spectrum. As such, a soda tax would be one of the most regressive taxes possible, and, as Crisci said, "impact those who can least afford to pay more for products... they need." A three liter bottle of non-name brand soda is MUCH cheaper than a gallon of milk. Rather than increasing the food bills of poorer families, maybe we would be better served by taking a closer look at food policy in this country and trying to find a way to make healthier foods more affordable instead of taxing the unhealthy ones to make them on par.”

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2. SJ said... on Mar 15, 2010 at 08:11PM

“i agree that healthy foods should be more affordable. putting "organic" on a label apparently means it can cost more, but that's not what this proposed soda tax is about. it's about generating much needed revenue for the city, and, given that another option (thankfully now discarded) was to close libraries and rec centers, i'd certainly rather see people pay a little more for their soda. (sidenote: soda isn't something anyone NEEDS. it is a luxury. drink water. you already pay for it and it won't make you or your kids lard-asses.)”

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3. Anonymous said... on Mar 16, 2010 at 06:10PM

“unsatiable hunger for tax dollars, maybe its the public employee unions that need to be put on a DIET!!!”

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