I agree with every point they make, but there's a more fundamental problem with the measure. From the moment Wiener came to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board last November with a group of like-minded earnest folk to tout this scheme, a little voice in the back of my head kept repeating: Don't you people have anything better to do?
I thought voters elect officials to solve civic problems, not rummage through people's habits for an excuse to devise a "first city in the nation" nanny tax.
In that same headline-hunting spirit, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act of 2014, which would levy a 1-cent federal tax on every 4.2 grams of sweetener. She calls it the SWEET Act; the name alone could induce diabetes.
The San Francisco soda tax would levy a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sodas and other SSBs; that's the City Hall wonk abbreviation for sugar-sweetened beverages. The idea is to dissuade San Franciscans and tourists from drinking too many soft drinks. Choose Health SF -- the pro-tax political committee -- warns that in 2010, 32 percent of San Francisco children were obese or overweight. And: "Soda is the largest single source of added sugar in the American diet." A tax, say boosters, should slim the city's waistline and, hence, save the city millions of dollars in health costs attributable to sugar-sweetened beverages.
The San Francisco Office of Economic Analysis predicts that the new tax would bring in $35 million to $54 million. After administrative costs, 40 percent of the new revenue would go to the San Francisco Unified School District for nutrition classes and such; 25 percent would go to the Department of Public Health and the Public Utilities Commission for healthful-food initiatives; 25 percent would go to the Recreation and Park Department for sports programs; and 10 percent would go to community-based groups. Thus, representatives of these fields support the measure -- a necessary condition, as the measure requires a two-thirds vote to pass.
The city controller recognizes that less-educated and poor populations allocate "a larger proportion of their spending on sugar-sweetened beverages than other groups."