The selective (and problematic) nature of taxing sugary drinks

As the Rio Grande Foundation’s Dowd Muska predicted on this page, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales’s efforts to “explore active ways of reducing sugar intake among … residents” was simply a prelude to a sugar tax. Yesterday those suspicions were confirmed when the Mayor propose adding a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on soda, “sweetened teas and other drinks with sugar.”

Details are not clear on exactly what will be taxed, but soda is definitely on the hit list. Even diet soda will be taxed which makes absolutely no sense at all. Will sugary drinks like those from Starbucks be taxed? Good question. Also, you may not know that orange juice has more calories (153) per ounce than a can of Coke (140). Orange juice will NOT be included in the sugary drinks tax, however.

Rather than taxing at the point of sale, the proposed tax would be levied on distributors. In a shocking display of economic ignorance, Gonzales claimed that “distributors typically won’t pass costs like a tax on to the consumer.” I have no idea where he gets this stuff, but it is completely without basis in fact.

Also, the proposal calls for the funds generated by the tax to be used for that evergreen left-wing policy goal of pre-k/early childhood education. Unfortunately, these programs have proven time and again to be ineffective.