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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - May 14, 2016

Another soda tax: Philadelphia ignorance

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney cannot be any more of an economics ignoramus. He suggests that a proposed city tax on sugary drinks will hit beverage makers, not consumers.

“Let me make this very clear. My proposed sugary beverage tax is a corporate tax — plain and simple,” Mr. Kenney wrote for The Huffington Post. Why, it would be “immoral and completely hypocritical” for big business to pass the tax along to customers, he said.

More's the pity that Philly's leftist mayor isn't grounded in reality: A study by University of California researchers found that up to 70 percent of the soda tax in Berkeley, Calif., is passed along to consumers.

Kenney's tax proposal is projected to add $2.16 to the cost of a six-pack of pop. That's incentive enough for mobile Philly shoppers to buy their soft drinks in nearby New Jersey. So, who'll get tapped the deepest? Most likely low-income residents.

Among beneficiaries of the estimated $400 million in new revenue will be the city's pre-school cheerleaders. Never mind that the benefits of universal pre-school are, at best, mixed, according to a study by the American Enterprise Institute. (Kids in pre-K programs show no significant gains by third grade compared with their non-preschool peers).

But whether it's a tax on soda — or just about anything else — a liberal and his “logic” tend to fizzle like flat soda.

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