Illinois legislators briefly consider, promptly dismiss soda-tax proposal

After first implying that he would rather pursue the ban through the city council than through top-down regulation, current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio suddenly announced earlier this month his intention to take up former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ridiculously unworkable big-soda ban, which a New York Supreme Court judge shot down as such last year. With any luck de Blasio won’t prove any more successful than his predecessor with that particular misadventure in nanny-statism, but in the meantime, if there are any other places you might expect to take up that sort of cause, Illinois would probably be at the top of the list.

Fortunately, however, state legislators looking at a similar type of proposal for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages felt rather disinclined, via the Chicago Tribune:

A panel of House lawmakers today voted down a proposal to impose a tax of one penny per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages, saying it would have cost consumers an extra $2.88 per case of soda.

Sponsoring Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, said she hoped the tax would generate up to $600 million a year in a state grappling for new dollars while steering people away from unhealthy drinks linked to obesity and diabetes.

Only two members of the House Revenue and Finance Committee voted in favor of the bill. Seven opposed it.

“This is a middle-class regressive tax,” said Rep. John Bradley, the Marion Democrat who chairs the panel. “This really hurts working people.”

The main Democratic sponsor of the bill made all of the usual arguments in favor of the levy, i.e. discouraging obesity and beating back rising healthcare costs, but I’m always bemused by progressives’ gravitation toward sin taxes: They can evidently readily recognize the general truth that, when you tax a certain behavior, you reliably get less of it. Why they persist in arguing in favor of taxes that effectively tax behaviors like job creation, then, remains a mystery.

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