Northeast Times

Editorial: This tax has sizzle

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As the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia and the city gov­ern­ment’s treas­ur­ies come up short, May­or Nut­ter wants to plug the short­fall with a bit­ter pill that could leave a bad af­ter­taste in the midst of a dose of real­ity.

Mr. Nut­ter wants City Coun­cil to im­pose a tax on sug­ary drinks — an idea that fizzled when he tried it last year. Back then, he touted the health be­ne­fits of the pro­posed tax by pledging a por­tion of the rev­en­ue to help make Philly fit­ter. There’s none of that this time around. Now he’s say­ing the tax would go solely to the school dis­trict.

Still, the bever­age in­dustry is pour­ing tons of money in­to news­pa­per ads and in­cess­ant and very an­noy­ing ra­dio com­mer­cials to again kill the idea, and the lob­by­ing might just work.

Nev­er mind that op­pon­ents’ claims of un­fair­ness and eco­nom­ic dis­crim­in­a­tion are over­blown. Pay­ing a few cents more for a bottle of pop won’t kill Joe Av­er­age — heck, in the long run it in­dubit­ably will help to re­duce dia­betes, obesity and dent­ists’ abil­ity to buy a second yacht by get­ting Mr. Av­er­age to switch to wa­ter as his bever­age of choice.

Com­pared to oth­er sources of rev­en­ue for the city, however, the sug­ar tax would be a Band-Aid on a fin­an­cial abyss.

Wheth­er the sug­ar tax is en­acted or not — it should hap­pen, but it won’t — Mr. Nut­ter should look to an­oth­er area for a true “sin tax.” He should use his bully pul­pit to prod City Coun­cil to add a $10 sur­charge on each pack of ci­gar­ettes sold in Phil­adelphia. Such a move would gen­er­ate plenty of cash for pub­lic edu­ca­tion. Oh, and it would save plenty of lives, many more than those saved by re­duced con­sump­tion of sug­ary drinks.

Send com­ments to: pronews@bsmphilly.com 

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You can reach at staff@bsmphilly.com.

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