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April 22 2016

More on the Soda Sin Tax: Bernie Won’t Drink What Hillary Swallows

Patrice J. Lee

Who knew that an ally in the fight against the soda sin tax would be a self-described socialist?

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders opposes a proposed Philadelphia soda tax which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supports. According to Sanders, the regressive tax would hit the poor hardest when they are already struggling.

Charlotte Allen has commented on Hillary's support for the proposed 3-cents per ounce tax on all non-diet sodas, sweetened teas, sports drinks, sugary drinks, and other beverages containing sugar that was introduced by Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney and is expected to raise over $400 million over the next five years. That money is supposed to fund universal Pre-K, but as we know, the intended revenue usually never gets to where it should go. But I'd like to compare Hillary and Bernie on this.

This is not the first time a mayor from a major city tried to stick residents with a soda sin tax. Former Mayor Michael Nutter tried unsuccessfully in Philadelphia and famous nanny-state former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tired as well.

While out at a forum on gun control, Clinton commented on the proposal:

“It starts early with working with families, working with kids, building up community resources -- I'm very supportive of the mayor's proposal to tax soda to get universal pre-school for kids," Clinton said. "I mean, we need universal pre-school. And if that's a way to do it, that's how we should do it."

Sanders calls the tax regressive. Philly News reports:

"At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it should be the people on top who see an increase in their taxes, not low-income and working people," Sanders said in a statement.

Sanders, who said he's for pre-K, went on to criticize Clinton for supporting the soda tax.

"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," he said. "This proposal clearly violates her pledge. A tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families in Philadelphia."

And later he said:

“It will be increasing taxes on low-income and working people and at a time of massive levels of income and wealth income inequality, our goal has got to be to ask the people on top to pay more in taxes and not working people,” Sanders told NBC Philadelphia of the three-cents-per-ounce levy proposed last month by mayor Jim Kenney.

“I think the mechanism here is fairly regressive,” he added.

Sanders is partly right. Sin taxes do affect the poor and working classes especially at a time when family budgets are squeezed with rising prices at the grocery store, rising gas prices, and high rents in urban areas but stagnant wages.

However, taxing the rich won’t solve the problem. As we discuss in the Working for Women, lowering taxes and regulations on employers will make it easier for employers to raise wages and give raises to workers.

Both Clinton and Sanders support policies that don't help a majority of working Americans except to the unemployment line. Drinking Pepsi should not incur a new penalty, not neither should working hard to be successful and earn more.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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