Oof. Seattle Sugar Tax Raises Soda Prices by 75 Percent

 

Seattle residents started the new year with a bad case of sticker shock followed by a sugar crash. A new tax of 1.75 cents per ounce was added to all sweetened beverages sold in the city. The move had public support in June when it was passed 7-1 by the Seattle City Council, but images of regret have been hitting social media as the bill came due Monday.

The prices at an area Costco showed that the tax increases the price of Gatorade by 65 percent and Dr Pepper by 75 percent. To avoid complaints from outraged customers, the discount chain posted an explanation of the steep price increase.

Where will all the new revenue go? Seattle officials expect a $15 million boost in the first year. Since this was sold as a health initiative, $2 million of that will expand a city program that gives fruit and vegetable vouchers to low-income families. Of course, only $400,000 will go to actual vouchers; the other $1.6 million stays with the government for “administrative costs.”

Philadelphia, which enacted a similar tax last year, overestimated the expected revenue. Sales of carbonated soft drinks fell 55 percent inside the city, while sales rose 38 percent in the towns that surround it. It achieved neither the financial goals nor the health goals.

When the Seattle tax was first proposed, a “racial-equity analysis” found that diet beverages should be included since they are more popular among whites and the wealthy people. The politicians shot this down since they know which constituents donate to and vote for them.

Like most of these beverage taxes hitting blue cities, what is and is not included are counter-intuitive. All meal replacement drinks, powdered mixes, and most sugary coffee drinks — such as those found at local mega-company Starbucks — are exempt.

So, if you buy a bottled lemonade, you pay the tax. If you buy Kool-Aid and mix it with water at home, no tax. If you buy a Venti Brown Sugar Shortbread Latte at Starbucks, the tax doesn’t apply. If you get a Tall Brown Sugar Shortbread Frappuccino, which has less sugar, it does.

Local convenience store owner Jong Kim is frustrated, to say the least:

“What can I do? I have no power,” he mused, shrugging his shoulders behind the counter at his store, Summit Foods. “Seattle is too expensive. Everything is a tax.”

Oh well, I’m sure this foolish new soda tax will turn out fine just like Seattle’s foolish minimum wage hike.

There are 224 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Let’s hear it for a crazy patchwork of state and local regulation!

    The problem with a patchwork of local regulation (from the progressive perspective) is that it’s too easy for people to avoid paying the soda tax by driving to the Costco just outside the city limit.  This is just a trial balloon, they won’t rest until they can enact soda taxes at the federal level.

    Mark my words: it will be one of the funding mechanisms for Oprahcare, which will be signed into law by President Winfrey in 2021…

     

    • #211
  2. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Let’s hear it for a crazy patchwork of state and local regulation!

    The problem with a patchwork of local regulation (from the progressive perspective) is that it’s too easy for people to avoid paying the soda tax by driving to the Costco just outside the city limit. This is just a trial balloon, they won’t rest until they can enact soda taxes at the federal level.

    Mark my words: it will be one of the funding mechanisms for Oprahcare, which will be signed into law by President Winfrey in 2021…

    Yes, that’s a problem for progressives. Let’s work hard to keep it that way!

    • #212
  3. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    rico (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    So at what point, @rico, do you argue in favor of personal liberty?

    I’ve tried to make it clear that I don’t view the soda tax as infringing on personal liberty in any meaningful way. In fact, many critics of the tax on this thread criticize the tax for its likely ineffectiveness (as demonstrated in Chicago) because consumers can easily bypass it. I think that they are mostly right.

    People in Seattle relentlessly vote into office a Far Left city council, so they are getting it ‘good and hard,’ whether you or I like it or not. But given Seattle’s serious infringements of liberty via ever-tightening central authority (e.g. minimum wage), I can’t get too worked up over this piddling soda tax. At least it offers a small degree of collateral benefit.

    See, that’s where I guess I take more of an ideological stance.  I lived in Seattle for 3 years before moving to Yakima, and every time I go back to visit, I’m almost immediately filled with a claustrophobic sensation and the desire to get the hell out as quickly as humanly possible.  Maybe it’s the Montanan in me, but a soda tax, just like the bag ban or mandated recycling, or any number of other things, just feels like it’s right up in my face.  Perhaps it is because politics in Seattle is right up in your face, on billboards, stapled to telephone poles, etc…  You cannot walk into a bar or a restaurant in Seattle without having leftist politics shoved in your face.  Maybe a .20c tax is piddling.  But so is the bottle deposit, and the bag fee, and all the toll roads that weren’t toll roads 6 years ago.  It is suffocating, and what it is choking out is my own liberty, so even though you could make the argument that I can afford it and I can certainly ignore it; that’s not the way I feel about liberty.  If I have to ignore it, then I’m not free.

    • #213
  4. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    There is also that little point that I’ve made a few times, which seems to be an elephant in the room.

    What do Seattleites literally depend on for their daily existence?  Coffee.  Sweetened coffee drinks.  But they wouldn’t tax that, because, well… people who drink coffee also ride bikes and play soccer, and they are staying pretty healthy, right?  And come on, we all love coffee.  Soda (like fast food and walmart) has taken on a class distinction (actually, I’m not sure why this is the case) so it is now ok to demonize hypocritically.  So it’s not about sugar, it’s about smug condescension.  Just like the bag tax.  The people who voted it in don’t drink soda.  The people who voted the bag tax already used reusable.  It is all a bunch of ice-bucket-challenge bull****, and it is what bored Seattleites absolutely live for.  They won’t stop until it is state-wide, and then they’ll all hold hands around Greenlake in a plea for it to go nation wide as well.  It reminds me somewhat of the bar association in Seattle.  I am one of the lucky few actually practicing lawyers who gets the pleasure of being regulated by a bunch of wealthy Seattle lawyers who have never spent 10 seconds practicing the types of law that they are absolutely convinced they know so much more than me about…  That is life in Washington State, and even if it only consists of a constant chipping away at the edges, in the end it is rather oppressive.

    • #214
  5. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    RushBabe49 addressed the sweet coffee drinks about a page back (they are taxed), and I’m not so sure that Progs don’t drink soda as a rule. But Seattle is full of us/them smugness. I live on the other side of Lake Washington where the socialist vibe is non-existent. Perhaps I’m not as sensitive to these things because I’m not living your previous Seattle experience. I’ve often claimed that if some benevolent force were to raze the east shore of Puget Sound for five miles inland, Washington would instantly become a red state. False comfort, perhaps, but that will have to do for now.

    • #215
  6. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    There is also that little point that I’ve made a few times, which seems to be an elephant in the room.

    What do Seattleites literally depend on for their daily existence? Coffee. Sweetened coffee drinks. But they wouldn’t tax that, because, well… people who drink coffee also ride bikes and play soccer, and they are staying pretty healthy, right? And come on, we all love coffee.

    Real men like me drink their coffee strong and black. Puts hair on yer chest I say.  Sugar in coffee is for wimps. Coffee without additives is actually pretty healthy.  Living in a Mormon state many do love coffee but they love it secretly.

    • #216
  7. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    thelonious (View Comment):
    Living in a Mormon state many do love coffee but they love it secretly.

    Google gives me the addresses of three Starbucks in downtown Salt Lake City, so someone must be out of the closet.

    • #217
  8. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    thelonious (View Comment):
    Living in a Mormon state many do love coffee but they love it secretly.

    Google gives me the addresses of three Starbucks in downtown Salt Lake City, so someone must be out of the closet.

    Salt Lake City is a bit of a heathen city.  At least in Utah.  Good Luck finding a coffee joint in Provo.

    • #218
  9. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    rico (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):

    People in Seattle relentlessly vote into office a Far Left city council, so they are getting it ‘good and hard,’

    Ehh… the problem I have with this logic is a minority of people who live there don’t vote for it and they’re getting it good and hard nonetheless…

    How can that be remedied? Progs have got a sizeable majority of the votes.

    It can’t be, I just don’t like it when it’s glossed over that they have a whole bunch of hostages, as if when there’s a vote, it’s equally the will of every person in that jurisdiction. A sizable minority don’t want these things and in an ideal world they wouldn’t have to move to avoid dealing with them.

    • #219
  10. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    So it’s not about sugar, it’s about smug condescension.

    First they came for my soda,

    then they came for my jam.

    But, Death to him who puts himself betwixt me and my cheese.

    ?

    • #220
  11. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    thelonious (View Comment):
    Living in a Mormon state many do love coffee but they love it secretly.

    Google gives me the addresses of three Starbucks in downtown Salt Lake City, so someone must be out of the closet.

    Everyone in Utah is not Morman.

    In Philadelphia, well, I can’t even count the Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts, and WaWa’s there are selling coffee.

    • #221
  12. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    rico (View Comment):
    RushBabe49 addressed the sweet coffee drinks about a page back (they are taxed), and I’m not so sure that Progs don’t drink soda as a rule. But Seattle is full of us/them smugness. I live on the other side of Lake Washington where the socialist vibe is non-existent. Perhaps I’m not as sensitive to these things because I’m not living your previous Seattle experience. I’ve often claimed that if some benevolent force were to raze the east shore of Puget Sound for five miles inland, Washington would instantly become a red state. False comfort, perhaps, but that will have to do for now.

    Haha – I think I’ve simply become more sensitive to it over time.  Maybe more sensitive due to the fact that I grew up in Montana and am now living in Yakima.  There are a few good things about Seattle, to be sure, but it is very difficult to ignore the bad.  And, over time, I’ve developed much less patience for the rampant immaturity, which is about the only way I can describe the basic Seattle attitude – a refusal to simply grow up and behave like an adult.  Kind of like Portland, if it’s “weird” for the sake of being weird, than it’s not really weird anymore, it’s just deliberately stupid…  things like the solstice-day parade just make me want to take a massive backhand to the entire city and say “grow the *&$! up, you idiots.”  Maybe because that perpetual-youth-syndrome is what leads to a great many of the problems we see, today; and things like a sugar-tax remind me of a bunch of kids who get together on a playground and decide that the slide is only for kids with snap-bracelets, today.  Much of regulation and democratic-behavior has that feel to it, really.  We’re making a little club, and we’re going to sit up in a tree drafting a book of rules, because we have nothing better to do.

    • #222
  13. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    Mike H (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):

    rico (View Comment):

    People in Seattle relentlessly vote into office a Far Left city council, so they are getting it ‘good and hard,’

    Ehh… the problem I have with this logic is a minority of people who live there don’t vote for it and they’re getting it good and hard nonetheless…

    How can that be remedied? Progs have got a sizeable majority of the votes.

    It can’t be, I just don’t like it when it’s glossed over that they have a whole bunch of hostages, as if when there’s a vote, it’s equally the will of every person in that jurisdiction. A sizable minority don’t want these things and in an ideal world they wouldn’t have to move to avoid dealing with them.

    As they say, democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.  That’s exactly the way it feels to live in Central Washington.  It is why the United States was designed in the way it was, to thwart democracy.  Which is kind of funny, when you think about it.  We are not supposed to be a democracy, but we’ve steadily moved in that direction, making us a tyranny of majority.

    The remedy, of course, is to have a constitution that “limits” (I say limits, but what I mean is “grants little authority,” as the starting point should be that a government is powerless) the state’s ability to act on its citizens.  A sizeable majority of the votes is much less harmful when you have a government that simply isn’t permitted to do everything that people want it to do.  People should not even have the option to do things like regulate or tax sugar through government action.  The whole point of our constitution was to protect minorities; the problem is that liberals have hijacked language in order to turn things upside down, so they fancy themselves “minorities,” because each individual can identify himself in some unique or protected class, so they become a collective tyrannical majority made up of hundreds of made-up minority classes.

    • #223
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    if it’s “weird” for the sake of being weird, than it’s not really weird anymore, it’s just deliberately stupid…

    … hey, wait a minute … that’s my entire schtick!

     

    • #224
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.