Bernie Sanders: “Soda Tax Will Hurt Poor People”
In the heated debate over soda taxes, traditional labels of conservative, liberal, progressive, and regressive just got a little more confusing. Bernie Sanders, the favorite of young, liberal voters is not backing down from saying that a Philly soda tax will hurt poor people and so he opposes it. In a Philadelphia town hall Monday night, on the eve of the Pennsylvania presidential primary election, he said:
It is absurd to go to some of the poorest people and raise their taxes. And by the way this tax, as I recall, is three cents an ounce. For a 12-ounce bottle of soda, that’s 36 cents, times five sodas a week, that’s two bucks, and a hundred bucks a year. If you don’t have a lot of money, that’s a lot.
Hilary Clinton drew this response from Sanders by first staking out her position on a proposal to fund universal preschool in Philadelphia by means of a soda tax:
I’m very supportive of the mayor’s proposal to tax soda to get universal preschool for kids . I mean, we need universal preschool. And if that’s a way to do it, that’s how we should do it.
This twist of events seemed to disorient the world of political stereotypes. Only Berkeley – officially the most liberal city in California – has had the gumption to actually enact a soda tax. Not even San Francisco was liberal enough. So how could our liberal hero and sworn enemy of big business let big soda off the hook? Paul Krugman and a host of liberal thinkers cried out.
Sanders has been resolute. He got a measure of support from fact checkers at PolitiFact Pennsylvania. They examined Sanders’ claim that the proposal is regressive and they ruled that it’s true.
Next, maybe someone can fact check for evidence that such a tax would actually put a dent in obesity. A decade of declining soda consumption hasn’t done much yet.
Perhaps a little more fact checking and a little less gut checking could move forward.
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April 27, 2016