Share the article: Soda Tax Backlash Grows as Repeal Vote Approaches

Chicago Democrats continue to turn a blind eye to the overwhelming opposition to Preckwinkle’s folly

Widely seen as a complete disaster, Toni Preckwinkle’s Soda Tax has squandered the confidence her constituents had in her. Citing public health as cover for her tax-and-spend policy, it remains to be seen if the soda tax has any effect on the community besides hurting Cook County families and small businesses. In fact, the tax has had a “disproportionate impact on people of low socioeconomic status.”

Meanwhile, Democrats running for Governor have yet to lift a finger for Cook County’s residents.  They appear to be just as clueless as Preckwinkle about what voters think of the soda tax, who was surprised that 7 in 10 county residents oppose the tax.

Now, with a repeal vote scheduled for next month, questions about the soda tax’s efficacy are rampant.

From the Chicago Tribune:

As political calculations go, this one backfired in a big way.

A botched rollout coupled with a huge public backlash fueled by general tax fatigue and the beverage industry’s well-funded pushback campaign has made the pop tax the biggest issue in county government in nearly a decade.

…While the tax was meant to apply to all sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages, pop drinkers demanded to know why diet beverages were hit. The rules also meant that some restaurants taxed free refills, which diners found particularly irksome.

In Philadelphia, a soda tax was applied to distributors, meaning it didn’t show up on store receipts. But here, county officials said the Illinois Department of Revenue ruled the pop tax had to be applied at the cash register. And so store owners opted to list the new tax on receipts, a reminder to consumers that the case of soda they’d purchased now cost an additional $2.88.

“From messaging to implementation to rollout, anything that could go wrong with this tax did go wrong,” said Commissioner John Fritchey, a Chicago Democrat and co-sponsor of the repeal ordinance.


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