The Washington, D.C. city council may have even more messed up priorities than the folks on Capitol Hill. After passing a unanimous bill Tuesday that bars city agencies and facilities from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, except when ordered to by a judge, the city will now consider the nation's highest soda tax on sugary beverages in hopes of keeping the city safe by keeping people from getting too fat. The long arm of the Nanny State wants to impose a whopping 1.5 cent-per-ounce excise tax on all drinks which use natural sweeteners -- this means Gatorade, sodas, juices, and more. This bill would pass the cost directly to the consumer, which is precisely what the city wants. The only problem is all the evidence suggests this is a horrible policy both for your health and for the economy.
"I am sick of children dying early and of people getting diabetes and suffering from the complications and I’m really sick of the negative health outcomes that have come with the mass consumption of sugary drinks here in the District of Columbia," Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau told media.
Nadeau introduced the bill which would replace the city's current nine percent tax on sugary beverages. The difference in this bill is that consumers would see the price increase before they go to pay for it, since the tax would be on the companies making the beverage, rather than after bringing it to the register as what currently happens.
At least one councilmember opposed the bill on Monday. Councilman Robert White said, "It struck me as a bit paternalistic...but I also see it as being a regressive tax."
Indeed, other parts of the nation have shown excise taxes to be ineffective. As Jared Walzack of the Tax Foundation reported in 2017, "After the city of Philadelphia adopted a 1.5 cent per ounce soda tax a few months ago, soda sales are reportedly off by as much as 50 percent, with predictable consequences. PepsiCo is laying off 80 to 100 area employees, a ShopRite franchisee with six Philadelphia locations anticipates laying off as many as 300 workers, and free refills are disappearing at some restaurants as their costs mount."
West Virginia has had an excise tax since 1951. One would think that with 60 years of the nanny state government cracking down on sugary beverages, the Mountaineer state would have low rates of obesity. Well, you thought wrong, buddy. West Virginia has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation.
So, in short, this tax will be a disaster for D.C. But hey District denizens, at least you can rest easy knowing that the city council has its hand in your beverage while turning a blind eye to illegal immigration. That's certainly reassuring. *sarcasm intended*