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Philly.com - March 31, 2016

Giordano: If we tax Big Soda, is Big Cheesesteak next?

HILLARY CLINTON famously espoused the mantra, "It takes a village to raise a child."

Mayor Kenney's mantra is "It takes a village tax on sugary drinks to raise a child." As Kenney sees it, his villagers don't have to fear the Big Bad Wolf, but rather Big Bad Soda. The wolf is not huffing and puffing. The villagers are huffing and puffing because they are made fat by Big Soda.

Kenney has not spoken as much about the health benefits of this new tax in recent days. Instead, apparently bristling at the argument that this tax will affect poorer people the most, he has launched attacks on evil corporations making money off everyday Philadelphians. When the mayor launched his campaign at a recreation center in Olney, Philly.com reported that Kenney said, "I don't think I can fail based on the people who are standing behind me, because they are Philadelphia. They're not corporate America, they're not Big Soda, and this is not personal toward Big Soda, but there's a lot of money being made off the backs of poor people. And the argument they'll make is that this is a tax on the poor. Well, they've been taxing the poor for generations, and what we're looking to do is take some of that profit and put it back into the neighborhoods."

I know that when extreme liberals such as Kenney want to tax something, they are allowed to abandon reality. However, how have soda companies taxed the poor? How have they made lots of money off the backs of poor people?

Apparently, Big Soda is the new Big Tobacco. In Kenney's view, they are outsiders selling a harmful, addictive product to unsuspecting villagers, and now their bill is due with a new sheriff in town. This should be a warning to Big Scrapple and Big Cheesesteak, two other favorite Philadelphia foods that Kenney and his gang of real Philadelphians might target next.

Kenney needs to demonize Big Soda because there is no reason why it should be singled out for harm, even if he is focusing on the damage caused by sugar. Former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell made this point recently when he appeared on the Rich Zeoli Show on WPHT (1210-AM).

"Do I think the soda tax is a good idea?" he said. "I said when Mayor Nutter proposed it, that it singled out one industry. While it's true that sugary drinks are a health problem, so are cheeseburgers. So are doughnuts. Are we going to do a tax on sugary doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme?"

In fact, Kenney's proposal for a 3-cent tax on every ounce of soda is so extreme that when I interviewed the head of the Berkeley, Calif., coalition that got a 1-cent tax on every ounce of soda, he was stunned. Radical Berkeley is the only other American city with a soda tax.

It also is the city that most embodies liberal utopian fantasies. I think Kenney shares these fantasies.

One of these fantasies is that universal pre-K is the silver bullet that will remove many of the problems caused by the breakdown of the family structure in Philadelphia. Pre-K is fine, but it is not the great equalizer. Policies that celebrate and strengthen the traditional family are a better formula for success. However, creating those families is much harder than pursuing a utopia fueled by taxation.

In the upcoming fight, watch for the Kenney people to cite a poll they commissioned during his mayoral run that showed that 57 percent of Philadelphia voters supported a soda tax to fill a budget gap. However, as Philadelphia magazine reported, 68 percent of respondents said they would support making universities and large nonprofits pay property taxes.

The magazine reported that Kenney's people think this is an area worth pursuing, but not this year. These are the very people who do support the village raising the child rather than strong families. They should be happy to be taxed.

Big College, watch out, you're next.

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