To be fair, it's usually both, so maybe they can't help themselves. Philadelphia mayor blames "price gouging" for citizens' outrage over his new soda tax.
Mayor Jim Kenney, who proposed the soda tax and championed its passage through city council last year, told reporters on Tuesday it's not the new 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax that's making it more expensive to buy a can of Coke in Philly. No, according to the mayor, those higher prices are caused by city businesses price gouging their customers in order to stir up opposition to the tax.
"They're gouging their own customers," Kenney said, KYW News reports.
Newswork's Katie Colaneri visited Carbonator Rental Services in Philadelphia to break down the math.
The distributors sells five-gallon boxes of syrup that can be used in soda fountains, and each box costs a retailer about $60. Thanks to the city's new tax, though, retailers have to pay $57.60 in taxes for each of those boxes of syrup.
"We're not talking about a couple of bucks on a $60 item," Andy Pincus, who owns Carbonator Rental Services, told Newsworks. "We're talking about $57.60 on a $60 item. It's too big not to pass on."
It's another story to file under the old adage, proven true again and again, that businesses don't pay taxes, people do.
In Philadelphia, Kenney either never learned that basic rule of economics, or else he's pretending he didn't.
What neither the article nor the mayor himself mentions is that these soda taxes are supposed to raise the price paid by consumers, because if they have to pay more, they'll drink less, and won't get so fat, and that will be good for them and good for the government, which has to pay the increased medical costs for all those fatties on Medicaid. If that wasn't the intention, then the sole purpose of the tax was, contrary to what the mayor and his progressive allies maintained, just another revenue grab. Oh, gosh.
Here in the Land of Steady Habits, we still pay the 7% "windfall profits tax" on gasoline, passed in 1981 (at 2% - our leaders have increased it steadily since then), with a provision prohibiting the oil companies from passing on the tax to consumers. Every single legal authority who addressed the question said that the no- pass-through provision was illegal and would be struck down by the first court to hear a suit on the matter, so our legislators bifurcated the bill, and made the tax itself separate from the illegal provision, then whooped the whole thing through under a claim that they were socking it to Big Oil. The provision was of course immediately struck down, as promised, so the tax stayed and the legislators' constituents have been paying it ever since,
So I'll climb back from that first proposition, and settle for concluding that politicians are just damned liars..