There could hardly be a worse way for government to raise money than by raising the price of one item on the typical American grocery list. Yet that is exactly what Cook County, Ill., is proposing - a beverage tax - as the answer to its deep budget woes. In an editorial, The News-Gazette out of Champaign is throwing cold water on this misguided idea.
For starters, Cook County’s proposed beverage tax – which includes low- and no-calorie beverages – would undoubtedly result in higher grocery bills. “A six-pack of the same size container would cost consumers an additional 72 cents. A case of 24 cans would set a consumer back nearly $3,” wrote the editorial board.
That may not seem like a lot to some, but to middle class families on a budget and low-income families trying to stretch their limited incomes, the extra cost adds up quickly. Why should people struggling the most have to fill government’s budget gap?
Additionally, there’s the detrimental impact such a tax would have on small, local businesses that operate on thin margins.
“If this proposal becomes law, it’s only a matter of time before consumers drive across the county line to a store in a neighboring county or across the state line to Indiana,” said the editorial board. “When they do, they’ll buy their soft drinks and everything else they want.”
Politicians may think raising the price of a common grocery item is an easy fix to a budget gap, but they should first consider the harm they cause to low-income families, small businesses, jobs and incomes. To learn more about the negative consequences of beverage taxes, visit The Truth About Beverage Taxes.