Chicago’s soda tax repealed, in blow to ‘nanny-state crusade’

The Cook County Board voted Wednesday to repeal the Chicago-area county’s controversial soda tax, after a public backlash to the penny-per-ounce charge.

Low-tax proponents cheered the decision as a jolt to the “nanny-state crusade.” Cook County, which includes Chicago, was the largest jurisdiction in the country with a soda tax.

“If there is one city America’s tax and spenders should be able muscle through the most recent taxation fad, it would be Chicago. And yet in this tax and spend, Democrat-run city, consumers forced the city council to cough up their recent taxation hike and repeal the soda tax, ” Grover Norquist, president of the anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform, said in a statement.

Wednesday’s vote would nix the soda tax — which most recently went into effect — by December.

Proponents of the tax claimed it would improve public health by discouraging the acquisition of sugary beverages, which have been connected to health issues including obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

But critics argued it hurt retailers and reached low-income residents especially hard.

“Nothing good has come from Cook County’s beverage tax. Residents and customers have been forced to pay more on over 1,000 everyday liquors, including diet beverages, ” the anti-tax Can the Tax Coalition said in a statement on its website.

After postpones related to a lawsuit from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the tax on sugary beverages went into effect this past August.

David Goldenberg, a spokesman for the anti-tax alliance, told Fox News that one problem with the tax was that similar liquors would be treated differently depending on how they were packaged. For instance, he said, a sweet bottled drinkings would be taxed while a similar liquor from a barista would be exempt.

“It had nothing to do with health — everything to do with revenue” Goldenberg said.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the American Beverage Association and store owneds expended millions pushing for repeal, while soda taxation crusader Michael Bloomberg backed an even more expensive advertising campaign to preserve the tax.

Revenue was a factor. In her 2018 budget address last week, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, a supporter of the soda tax, reportedly argued that an estimated $200 million a year from the tax would help avoid budget cuts.

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