Sanders and Clinton Clash Over Soda Tax

Image Credit: George Frey/Bloomberg

In response to Hillary Clinton’s recent endorsement to tax sugary drinks, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke out against the regressive tax on Friday, asking why low-income families should be forced to pay more while large corporations continue to hide trillions in offshore tax havens. Although Sanders supports the mayor’s goal to pay for universal preschool in Philadelphia, he does not believe that the funds must be derived from a tax targeting impoverished people.

On Wednesday, Clinton announced that she is “very supportive” of a soda tax proposed by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney last month. Under the proposed tax, a 12-pack of soda would cost an additional $4.32 despite the fact that it typically costs between $3 and $6 at the grocery store. Besides soft drinks, the tax would also include juice drinks, sports drinks, and teas.

Due to the fact that impoverished people tend to purchase more soda and other sugary drinks, the tax appears to target low-income families in an attempt to obtain more money from them while providing a deterrent against obesity. On Friday, Sanders asserted, “I do have a serious disagreement with how you fund this. You don’t have to fund child care on the backs of the poorest people in this city. That is a regressive way to raise funds.”

Although Sanders supports Kenney’s intention to provide universal preschool throughout Philadelphia, he does not believe that the poorest communities should be forced to pay more taxes. With nearly 75% of Fortune 500 companies caught hiding roughly $2.1 trillion in offshore tax havens, the U.S. Treasury fails to collect an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes every year.

If elected president, Sanders plans to close these tax loopholes in order to create and maintain at least 13 million jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, water systems, railways, and airports. Sanders also plans to crackdown on corporate tax dodgers by closing loopholes allowing U.S. corporations to avoid paying federal income taxes by setting up a post office box in a tax-haven country, artificially inflating foreign tax credits, and using offshore subsidiaries to evade taxes.

“What our economic agenda is about is telling the wealthiest people in this country that they cannot have it all,” Sanders declared. “Yes, the people on top will start paying their fair share of taxes.”

Despite the fact that Clinton pledged not to impose any new taxes on households earning under $250,000 a year, she recently broke her promise by supporting Philadelphia’s proposed soda tax. Although the intention to fund universal preschool is admirable, Sanders disputes Kenney’s method of paying for child care.

“Making sure that every family has high-quality, affordable preschool and child care is a vision that I strongly share,” Sanders said, in a written statement. “On the other hand, I do not support paying for this proposal through a regressive tax on soda that will significantly increase taxes on low-income and middle-class Americans. At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it should be the people on top who see an increase in their taxes, not low-income and working people.”


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