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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Single Donor Makes I-1107 Most Funded Initiative Campaign in State History

Posted by on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 8:30 AM

The American Beverage Association—the lobby for major soda pop manufacturers and distributors like Coca-Cola and Pepsi—has made another massive contribution to a state ballot initiative that would repeal a tax on junk food. They gave $4.2 million last week, according to reports released yesterday by the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, bringing the lobby's total contribution to $14.4 million.

It's now the most highly funded initiative campaign in state history (the previous record was $11.5 million spent to oppose Referendum 67 in 2007).

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Initiative 1107 would remove a temporarily increase on tax on soda, candy, and bottled water, and remove a negligible tax on food processors.

The folks behind Initiative I-1107 talk a good line about how this measure would repeal a tax on food, a tax that affects poor people. This is not about food and it's not about poor people*. Of the $14.4 million that the campaign has raised, only $310 has come from individual donors. This is about national soda conglomeration that has the resources to drop millions of dollars to prevent what they clearly perceive as a threatening trend of states taxing their subsidized, artificially inexpensive, unhealthy junk food as the unnecessary luxury that it is.

That said, there's no way this campaign will lose (the other side has only $304,000). It's outspending the opposition by a margin of 46 to 1.

* There is another discussion that this issue repeatedly brings up in comments. The regressive tax structure in Washington—the one that relies on sales taxes that disproportionately affect the poor, who spend much of their income on food and other products—needs to change (and we've criticized it repeatedly and lambasted the cowardice lawmakers have shown in fixing it). But political realities dictate that the legislature can't fix it anytime soon. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who presides over the state senate, has said an income tax requires a constitutional amendment and thus needs a two-thirds majority to pass. That majority isn't there in the senate.

If a progressive tax will be implemented, it will be done by initiative. The measure we have on hand now is I-1098 (which would impose an income tax on the highest wage earners). But the state's Office of Financial Management says it is "estimated to generate a net increase in state revenue of $11.16 billion over five calendar years to be used exclusively for education and health services." So none of that money goes to the state general fund.

So yes, temporary regressive taxes suck, but they are the only thing holding key services of the state budget afloat for the next few years. For instance, programs like Basic Health and higher education funding can stay in place because of the taxes we have now—programs that help the poorest people in the state. If we strike the soda tax, that money disappears. And it won't come back by yelling "income tax" and "stop regressive taxation" this election season because those are fights for another day. Preserving essential state programs is the fight actually on the ballot.


Comments (16) RSS

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TVDinner 1
Ow. Tiny print hurts old eyes!
Posted by TVDinner http:// on August 31, 2010 at 8:40 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 2
@1 The tiny print is tiny because Dominic is, dishonestly, wanting you to not notice that he is admitting to supporting a highly regressive tax system. He even says, in the tiny print, those are fights for another day, as if that fight will ever come during high times.

Dominic, your addendum is hollow and unapologetic. Fucking stand behind your position of taxing the poor, and admit that what you're doing isn't going to change the system, and even further supports a fucked-up, broke-ass, system that puts the hard times burden on the poor.

The only reason you're standing against this measure is because it's supported by the Big Evil Corporations, and you hate them. You hate them SO MUCH! They're just SO EVIL!
Posted by TheMisanthrope on August 31, 2010 at 8:49 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 3
Soda is fucking bad for you. If this was a new tax on fruit and veggies, I'd say no way. While I like a nice Diet Coke, Mexican Coke (with real sugar) or Weinhard root beer as much as the next guy on occassion, you have families that LIVE on the stuff. If this gets them to even consider a switch to something slightly more healthy like Propel, GOOD.

The revenue bonus to not let us fall into an absurd budgetless nightmare state is of course good too, in the short term.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 31, 2010 at 8:57 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 4
Also: I equate it to smoking. I say nothing has done more to make people quit smoking than taxing the holy hell out of cigarettes, moreso than even all health warnings. Once I began seeing $8.50 a pack, it certainly got me to quit. If soda starts being forced to sell at prices higher than things like fruit juices, then we'll see good things happening. And yes, I'm advocating shameless social engineering to adjust public health through taxation. There's nothing wrong with that and the long-term benefits of encouraging healthy diets and generations of Americans that aren't fat slobs outweigh the short-term alleged bad.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 31, 2010 at 9:00 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 5
@3 A lot of vegetarians live off of shit that is bad for you. A lot of veggie products are made with hexane. Why aren't we taxing all that shit? Hexane is an air pollutant that has caused chronic diseases in its factory workers...nevertheless what is consumed by people.

Where do you get the right to tax something that you deem "fucking bad" for you? Why the fuck are we taxing something that is consumed by the poor, taking a disproportionate amount out of their budget?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on August 31, 2010 at 9:02 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 6
@4 At least you're admitting to social engineering through taxation, which is more than the commenters in the original article have admitted to.

Who's to determine the limits of the social engineering? Are we all going to be forced into a diet of Nutraloaf?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on August 31, 2010 at 9:05 AM · Report this
@2 is right - the problem with this tax is that the tax system in this state is broken. The politicians refuse to fix it in any sensible way, so we're left with the initiative process. This process is being dominated by nuts like Tim Eyman, and big corporations like the ones supporting I-1100 and I-1105, and the soft drink industry.

This is shit lawmaking. But then we have shit politicians running our state house and senate who are unwilling to fix things, so this is what we get.

Posted by Meinert on August 31, 2010 at 9:07 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 8
@6 So lets reduce the taxes on cigarettes, then? What other ways can society encourage healthy behaviors? We're falling apart when you get 13 year old kids with Type 2 diabetes because they grew up on Coke and McDonalds and other shit like that.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 31, 2010 at 9:15 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 10
I have to agree with TheMisanthrope. If they were serious about trying to get people to reduce unhealthy behaviors (i.e., drink less soda), they wouldn't add a tiny tax increase to the price, they'd add an enormous increase that would make it next to impossible for lower income families to even consider.

By adding a tiny increase, those families will grumble about the price increase, but will very likely continue buying the product. The state only wants to dig into the lower income family's pockets a little bit more.

It's regressive taxation. Period. And it's a bad idea. There are other ways to get people to switch to healthier alternatives but the state would rather line its pockets instead.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on August 31, 2010 at 9:29 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 11
@8 To me, cigarettes and hard liquor (not beer or wine...anything under 35 proof, really) fall under the category of "drugs." And, I love vodka. I wouldn't consider that a "food." I'm all for taxing non-medicinal drugs. Tax the hell out of my liquor (so long as I can still afford it on occasion). But, don't touch my beer.

But, if we could get a system moving that puts a much larger percentage on the wealthier populous, I would be all for reducing the taxes on cigarettes and liquor...just don't smoke them near me in a crowd, asshats at CHBP.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on August 31, 2010 at 9:32 AM · Report this
Christ, this nation of lard-ass drug users gets what it deserves.
Posted by tiktok on August 31, 2010 at 10:07 AM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 13
"Tax the hell out of my liquor (so long as I can still afford it on occasion). But, don't touch my beer."



oh sloggers.....
Posted by Andy_Squirrel on August 31, 2010 at 10:44 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 14

Since prohibitive taxes are meant to discourage certain behaviors, they ultimately result in lower tax revenue over the long-term. Look at cigarettes for an example. State governments have to regularly increase taxes on cigarettes because, slowly but surely, smokers are quitting as a result of higher prices. A small tax is entirely about increasing revenue (on the backs of the poor) and has absolutely no relationship with improving people's health.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 31, 2010 at 11:15 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 15
A small tax is entirely about increasing revenue (on the backs of the poor) and has absolutely no relationship with improving people's health.
I think that's what I said @10, no?
Posted by Urgutha Forka on August 31, 2010 at 12:15 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 16

Yes, I was just adding the point that prohibitive taxes lower revenue.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 31, 2010 at 12:44 PM · Report this
elenchos 17
Oh, but it's temporary! That makes it all hunky dory. Funny how whenever there's a crisis it's the poor who are asked to make a "temporary" sacrifice.

And "now" is never the time to do anything about it. Somehow "now" is always a good time to fuck the poor a little harder but income tax? Oh, "now" is not the time.

Ask again later. Sucker.
Posted by elenchos on August 31, 2010 at 1:59 PM · Report this

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