The federal government heavily subsidizes corn production. Corn is one of the main ingredients in high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap sugar substitute used in soda. Now, some Illinois politicians want to tax their constituents for consuming these unhealthy drinks.
State Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, and state Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, reintroduced the Healthy Eating Active Living Act on Feb. 19 after sponsoring it last year, the Kane County Chronicle reported.
According to the Chronicle:
“The proposal would place a penny-per-ounce excise tax on high-sugar beverages – those with more than five grams of sugar per 12 ounces – and use the revenues to invest in expanded opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity.”
Under the act, any business that wants to sell sugary drinks – which are typically filled with high-fructose corn syrup – would have to apply for a permit and pay a fee of $250.
This is maddening logic if you’re a consumer.
Due in large part to government subsidies, it's less expensive to eat food that's bad for you; people eat more junk food because it's affordable.
This tax proposal would punish logical behavior that is only made logical by government policies that encourage production of an unhealthy product.
Are consumers supposed to be on board with this paternalistic tax just because the government wants to use the revenues to fight obesity?
The truth is this proposal is just another regressive tax, hitting low-income Illinoisans the hardest. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, “a soda tax would likely have a disproportionate effect on the less educated and poor groups.”
The federal government should stop manipulating what people eat through the subsidization of corn production. In the meantime, Illinois politicians should focus on drafting systemic reforms to remedy the state’s fiscal crises, not ginning up new revenue through punitive taxes on the poor.
To subscribe by email to Dewonked, type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button.