Proving that once liberal Democrats find a revenue source they can exploit with minimal complaint from the public, they will mine that vein until its dry, Cook County, Illinois is slapping a new penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. This will be on top of Chicago’s already-record setting sales tax of 10.25% as well as the city’s 3% tax on all non-alcoholic drinks. As a result of this new sugary-beverage tax, soda in Chicago will cost a pretty penny. A 12-pack of soda, which costs $4.00 in reasonable territory will now cost residents a whopping $5.97, making the total sales tax close to 50% of the total base price of the product.
The tax is aimed at soda, tea, coffee, energy drinks, juice that isn’t 100% fruit juice, and even diet soda that uses artificial sweeteners to approximate sugar.
The initiative was originally scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association led to a temporary block of the tax. The IRMA claimed the tax was unconstitutional and unreasonable, and they argued that it would unfairly target grocery stores and convenience stores through its uneven enforcement. For instance, a sugary drink from Starbucks will not be taxed through the new law but the same basic drink, pre-packaged in the grocery store, will be subject to the tax.
On Friday, however, Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak dismissed the lawsuit and dissolved the restraining order, allowing the tax law to go into effect this week.
“We applaud today’s decision,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “We believed all along that our ordinance was carefully drafted and met pertinent constitutional tests.”
In implementing this tax, Cook County follows a path forged by several other American cities, including Philadelphia and Seattle. When Seattle’s city council was preparing to vote on that city’s version of the soda tax, it was met with fierce resistance from a coalition of local business owners who practically begged them to reconsider:
“Your tax stands to increase wholesale costs by more than 60 percent, which wipes out any money we might make and need to survive,” they wrote in June. “Many of the products covered by this proposed tax are products that contribute considerably to the daily revenue we rely upon to help our employees live in the communities where they work, and allow for an equitable lifestyle for themselves and their families.
“If we pass on this regressive tax to our customers, it will dramatically raise the cost of groceries for working families who are already spending a large portion of their paychecks on increased rents, property taxes and car tabs,” they continued. “Under this proposal, the $.99 two liter bottle would increase to $2.35. This is a huge hit to anyone’s budget and ultimately makes Seattle even less affordable, especially for those located in minority communities.”
Ah, but liberals have a trump card for those minority communities, don’t they? Among the exemptions in Cook County are any products purchased with food stamps.