by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As Americans for Tax Reform’s Patrick Gleason told Carolina Journal last week, Chicago’s county leaders made big news by repealing a short-lived soda tax. Jonathan Tobin assesses the significance in a column for National Review Online.
It didn’t take long for Chicagoans to send the message to their legislators. Though the tax went into effect only on August 2, the general outrage over the one-cent-per-once surcharge on soda and sugary drinks was sufficient to force the Cook County Board of Commissioners to rescind it. Coming on the heels of the landslide defeat of a soda tax twice as large in Santa Fe, N.M., in a special referendum held in May, the Chicago vote may be a turning point in the effort by left-wing activists to force Americans to give up their guilty pleasures. If even liberal enclaves are saying enough is enough to the food-and-drink police, then it’s possible that the long march to the nanny state may be halted.
As with the 58–42 percent defeat for the Santa Fe tax, the 15–1 vote in Cook County illustrated just how unpopular the measure was. The law was billed as both a health measure to address a national obesity epidemic and a fiscal move to support the county’s hospitals, clinics, and intervention programs. In Santa Fe, as much of a liberal enclave as Chicago, the tax was slated to pay for pre-K education programs. But in both cities, the notion of elites seeking to change the dietary habits of middle- and working-class citizens by picking their pockets to fund pet projects, however well-intentioned they might have been, created a backlash.