PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Cook County Repealing Soda Tax

Published October 11, 2017

Today, the Cook County Board of Commissioners repealed the county’s penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages by a vote of 15 to two. The tax was incredibly unpopular, with polls showing greater than 85 percent of the public opposing the levy.

The following statements from budget and tax experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“Grab a pop and celebrate: A Chicagoland nanny state tax was just crushed by a taxpayer revolt.”

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

Dr. Huelskamp represented Kansas’ 1st District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017.

“Chicago-area consumers and taxpayers should smile and have a Coke today, because the county’s penny-per-ounce soda tax just went ‘pop!'”

“Study after study has demonstrated soda and sugar taxes are backdoor efforts to hurt people’s wallets in the name of improving health, yet lawmakers across the country continue to propose such taxes on ‘sin.’ The Cook County soda tax, like other sin taxes, assumes enjoying a cold drink is somehow vaguely immoral, a vice requiring government intervention to stop. But it’s not the people who have the problem, it’s the government.

“Contrary to the assumption everyday people are hopelessly addicted to sugary drinks, many lawmakers are the real junkies. In Cook County and elsewhere, government is addicted to spending, hitting up taxpayers for increasing sums of money to get their fix for more spending and more paternalism.

“The Cook County Board of Commissioners should be commended for doing the right thing for Chicago-area consumers, as well as the many hard-working small businessmen the tax would have harmed.

“Cheers to good, pro-prosperity policy!”

Jesse Hathaway
Research Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Budget & Tax News
[email protected]

“The repeal of the soda tax is great news. The tax is, at best, a blunt instrument. Individuals, based on the number of available alternatives they have, respond differently to these kinds of taxes. This is often overlooked when people discuss policy. Some regular soda drinkers are at the lowest end of the income distribution. We first need to consider why people drink soda before we try to gain more tax revenue from people whose preferences we don’t like.”

Michael D. Thomas
Assistant Professor of Economics, Creighton University
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
[email protected]