John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Common Thread Between the Soda Tax and the Yoga Tax

Posted on October 9, 2014
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On one side of the country, in the People’s Republic of Berkley, the city council there is trying to raise taxes on soda pop.

On the other side of the country, in the People’s Republic of Washington D.C., the City Council raised taxes on people doing Yoga.

So what is the common thread linking the Soda tax and the Yoga tax?

Taxes, of course.

The politicians in Berkley are looking for a way to raise revenue off of largely poor people, while the politicians in DC are looking for ways to raise revenue off of rich people.

Poor people drink more pop than rich people, while rich people do more yoga (or at least can afford to pay for the yoga sessions) than poor people.

My favorite statement on taxes comes from the famous Louisiana politician, Huey Long.  “Don’t tax you.  Don’t tax me.  Tax that fella behind the tree.”

Politicians are becoming increasingly clever on how they tax people to pay for essential government services.

Before the Yoga tax, the number one way that the District raised taxes was through parking tickets.  When that didn’t raise enough revenue, they installed red light cameras.

Most States raise revenue through Lotteries.  When that proved to not raise enough money, they decided to build casinos.   Some, like the District, have approved measures to allow for Internet gambling, which is somewhat problematic, since the Federal government still thinks that Internet gambling is largely illegal.

That Justice Department is quite the buzz kill.

Talking about buzz kills, several states (including, once again the District, which isn’t technically a State) have taken steps to legalize pot.

They want to tax the sale of weed to raise revenues.

The problem there is that it is still technically against the law to sell marijuana and even though Eric Holder has told his team to stop prosecuting drug sales, financial institutions don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law, no matter how long the Justice Department decides not to enforce it.

One place that politicians won’t go to increase revenue is with the gas tax, despite the fact that the Highway Trust Fund is going broke.

A gas tax shouldn’t be seen as a tax, in my estimation.  It’s a user fee.  But that’s not how the voters see it, which is why lawmakers have gone through all kinds of contortions to keep the Trust Fund solvent while not bumping up the gas tax.

There is already a pretty big tax on booze, beer and wine.  That was the price that politicians extracted to make drinking alcohol legal again.

Talk about a dark period in our history.  Prohibition.  I spit on the mere mention of your memory.

We also have a pretty big tax on smoking.   And since I don’t smoke, I am pretty okay with that (thank you Huey Long).    The trick is that the more you increase taxes on smoking, the less people smoke, which results in less revenue.   So policy makers have to find a true balance there.

I don’t think I will ever become a billionaire (I am 50, and while I like money, I don’t have the obsession with it to ever amass that kind of coin).  So, once again, employing the Long principle, I am totally fine with sharply raising taxes on billionaires.

If you can spending hundreds of millions of dollars buying inane campaign commercials, you can afford to pony up some more to that Treasury.

Which brings me back to the Soda (or the Pop, if you are from Chicago, which I am) Tax.

Don’t you think that the rich liberals in Berkley can find some other way to raise taxes than to make poor people shell out 200 bucks a year (or whatever it costs) to buy their Diet Cokes?

Got to love those liberals.  Always talking about sticking it to the rich, just as they stick it to the poor.