Illinois’ bubbling soda tax rebellion

By John Ruberry

“And it was inevitable that some of these people pushed back…”
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles.

Could it be that the deep-blue residents of America’s second-most populous county, Cook County–Chicago is the county seat–have had enough?

Probably not, at least yet. But serious dissent may be bubbling as the effects of Cook County’s unpopular soda tax sink to the bottom of the glass.

Cook County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle, a former Chicago alderman who represented the University of Chicago area–the Obamas were among her constituents–touted that tax as a public health measure. The new tax covers not just soda but also many other sweetened beverages including those with corn syrup, such as diet sodas, some iced teas, and bottled sweetened Starbucks coffee–but not, for instance, cavity-causing Frappuccinos prepared at a Starbucks location by a barista. Even “free refills” are taxed now. But Preckwinkle, a hardened leftist, exposed her true colors by suing a retail association that delayed collection in a legal challenge of the tax for a month for $17 million of what she claims is lost revenue. That is how thug states such as Venezuela and Russia are run. Dissent will not be tolerated–enemies will be punished.

Preckwinkle defeated a Democratic incumbent in a 2010 primary election vowing to repeal an unpopular one-percent county sales tax. She phased it out, yes. But last year Preckwinkle brought it back.

And the soda tax was never about health. If it was, then why the lawsuit? Taxwinkle is a liar. Besides, federal law prevents taxing food stamp recipients–there are nearly 900,000 of them in Cook County–on their sweetened beverage purchases. Poor people consume larger amounts of sweetened beverages than wealthier folks and the health problems blamed on these drinks, such as diabetes and obesity, are more prevalent among the less wealthy.

The soda tax is a penny per ounce. That doesn’t seem like much, but the cost of a case of Diet Coke, as you seen in this Tweet, soars by 5o-percent after the Taxwinkle tax is figured in.

My friends and co-workers–and yes, there are some liberal Democrats within that group–are furious about the soda tax, even the ones who don’t drink what most people here call “pop.” Yesterday one man told me, “I live just south of Lake County, I’m going to buy all my Coke there,” adding, “There is a big sign outside the Target there, ‘No county sugary drink tax here.'” And of course he won’t only buy soda there–he’ll probably buy most, maybe all of his groceries there. Why wait in two long check-out lines? Grocers on the wrong side of the county line not only will face lower sales, some may be forced to close down and of course lay off their employees. Oh, I forgot to tell that new Lake County shopper that he should top off his gas tank up there, as there is also a Cook County gasoline tax.

And there are so many other taxes Cook County residents, particularly Chicagoans, have to endure. In an example provided by the free market Illinois Policy Institute, the base price of a two liter bottle of pop is $2.49. But when the 67 county soda tax is added, on top of the nation’s highest 10.25 percent sales tax, and an additional 3 percent Chicago soda tax, the true cost of that soda jug is $3.49. And if you accept a bag, paper or plastic, when you buy that sugary drink in Chicago, there is an additional 7 cent per bag tax. Unless you are paying by food stamps, formally known as SNAP–the “N” stands for nutrition–with your Illinois Link card.

When was the last time you devoured a grocery bag?

Keeping track of all of these taxes are a nightmare for retailers. That extra cost of course is passed on to consumers.

Last month Illinois’ income tax rate was hiked by 32 percent. Illinoisans are burdened with among the highest property rates in the nation. Yet, Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago are functionally bankrupt, which exposes another left-wing lie–fiscal stability in Democratic-run sinkholes is always only just one more tax hike away.

Why does Crook County need the soda tax, and yes, the next tax, what ever that one is going to be? To pay for lavish but woefully-underfunded county worker pensions and the Cook County Health System.

Chicago is a sanctuary city and Cook is a sanctuary county–Cook County health facilities are often the health care provider of choice of the area’s large population of illegal immigrants. No, I’m not saying we should cut off care to illegals with health concerns, but as a Cook County taxpayer, it’s fair to know what that care costs me.

Liberalism is very expensive.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

Next year Taxwinkle will face voters. She’ll probably be reelected. Rebellions take time to build, after all, it took ten years from the passage of the Stamp Act until the first battle of the American Revolution to be fought.

How did Preckwinkle fare in her last election? She ran unopposed.

Shame on you, Cook County Republican Party.

Meanwhile Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago continue to lose residents.

Quietly, the rebellion has begun.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Report from Louisiana: A $750 Million Budget Shortfall Will be First Problem for New Governor, Almost

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – In just over a week, John Bel Edwards will take over the gubernatorial reins from Governor Bobby Jindal in what is being called a “low key” inaugural event. In the face of budget woes that are reportedly worse than anticipated, Edwards is keeping things simple on January 11.

The inaugural will include morning Mass, cannon fire, and a black tie ball, but he will forego any of the extra events of his predecessors; no free children’s festival or statewide BBQ this go around. Many pol-watchers are hoping that this signals an austerity approach from this administration and a real desire to attack the looming budget deficit.

Conversely, one of the first things Edwards will be doing is to halt Bobby Jindal’s policy move to seek a federal waiver in the SNAP benefits policy; back in October, Jindal declined to seek a federal extension for food stamp benefits for able bodied adults without dependents unless they have sought workforce training. To be clear, this is a group of about 31,000, able-bodied, non-disabled, low-income adults that do not have children or dependents in their household; people who should be able to work. The number of people affected was initially twice that, but since what they refer to as “Jindal’s starvation plan” was announced, over half have met the requirements or found work.

Jindal’s position was to offer workforce training to help them become employed – as long as they did that, they could continue SNAP benefits.  Edwards will terminate this policy and for about two or three weeks, these people may have SNAP benefits interrupted. Perhaps they too will find work in those three weeks.

As to the budget woes now facing Edwards, it appears that Louisiana must figure out a $750 million shortfall that must be filled by the end of June; of course tax hikes are on the table. At this point, it’s safe to say that all options are on the table. The blame for this falls on the Jindal administration who relied on short term, one time, budget fixes and refused tax increases. Jay Dardenne, chief financial advisor for Edwards, says of lower than expected state revenue collections for November, for example:

“I don’t have any explanation for why November was so dramatic, but it was. And those numbers have come in, and it’s been shocking to us to see the degree of shortfall in expected corporate income tax, the decline in sales tax revenue and the steady reduction in the price of oil,” Dardenne told reporters.

That decline in revenue, across months, combined with Jindal’s one-pot-to-the-other budget fixes over eight years explains, at least in part, why the state is in a budget free-fall.

John Bel Edwards has his work cut out for him. I would suggest that he start with looking at the tax structure and figuring out a way to attract businesses to this area. As our young people graduate our universities, they leave. There are no jobs here; we have only two Fortune 500 companies in the entire state. Oil and tourism can no longer be our main economy.

There’s a lot of work to do.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Raising the Minimum Wage, Expanding Medicaid, and Re-instating SNAP: John Bel Edwards Prepares to Take Office

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  Governor-elect John Bel Edwards has declared that Louisiana has given him a mandate to do what he wants, what he promised during the campaign, and he intends to govern just that way.  Among his first steps, as I outlined last week, will be working to enact the Medicaid expansion that Governor Jindal has resisted.  Another high priority for Edwards is to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour.

Edwards vows that he will govern just as he campaigned and has no hidden agenda.  So far he is making plans to do just that.  I can’t help but think of Obama’s campaign where to too made promises that he vowed to keep, like destroying the coal industry.  Making and keeping promises isn’t always a good thing; one hopes that sometimes policy decisions may be re-evaluated.

Raising the minimum wage will only serve to force employers to pass costs on to consumers and in some cases will encourage employers to hire fewer employees thereby increasing the unemployment rate which is Louisiana is at about 6%.  But it’s okay if you lose your job because Edwards transition team is looking at reinstating SNAP benefits to 64,000 out of work people.

As Edwards works to get his teams and people in place, the question of who will be speaker of the House is drawing some interest.  Edwards has endorsed Democrat Walt Leger, citing in part the idea of bipartisanship.

“This time we’ll have a Republican president in the Senate (John Alario, R-Westwego) and a Democrat as speaker. I’m not asking for anything I didn’t agree to eight years ago. It’s entirely the same approach to bipartisanship.”

I’m pretty sure he said that comment about Alario being a Republican with a straight face, but it’s hard to tell.  Alario is about as Republican as Barack Obama is.

It remains to be seen how Edwards will govern and I know he has some plans toward education in the state that are positive, so I’m going to try to keep an open mind.  I would hope that rather than raising minimum wage and upping food stamps that Edwards would work to enact tax incentive policies and reduce government waste in efforts to bring jobs back to Louisiana.  Our bread and butter is the oil and gas industry and we need to keep those industries healthy and thriving which will also help support those small businesses which feed off of them.

Raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, and upping food stamp benefits is only a Band-Aid.  We need jobs.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

No Fried Chicken For You! Me Neither :(


Absolutely. I give everyone full permission to eat some fried chicken after they vote. Only after, if you haven’t voted… You make a good point. Because I am, I do talk about health. But I think that a good victory for Democrats on Tuesday, you know, should be rewarded with some fried chicken.

–Michelle Obama to interviewer Roland Martin on TV One, a cable network that targets Black Americans

So Mrs. Obama says that it’s okay for black voters to celebrate with some fried chicken after voting straight Democratic? You know, if I thought that the First Lady had a sense of humor, I’d say that she was having a little fun with the Social Media denizens, because that’s all people are talking about on my newsfeeds.

PPersonally, I haven’t had any fried chicken in months because I can’t afford a fryer (meaning an actual chicken). That’s what the real scandal should be.

I am eligible for food stamps, but I’m not ready to sell my principles for a mess of pottage–not yet, anyway.

But I can dream of fried chicken….


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 cups beer or water
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into


1. In one medium bowl, mix together 3 cups of flour, garlic salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, paprika and poultry seasoning. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 1/3 cups flour, salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, egg yolks and beer. You may need to thin with additional beer if the batter is too thick.
2. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Moisten each piece of chicken with a little water, then dip in the dry mix. Shake off excess and dip in the wet mix, then dip in the dry mix once more.
3. Carefully place the chicken pieces in the hot oil. Fry for 15 to 18 minutes, or until well browned. Smaller pieces will not take as long. Large pieces may take longer. Remove and drain on paper towels before serving.

Meanwhile, I guess the First Lady thinks that black persons who would never vote Democrat–and all white persons–deserve only gruel. Well thank God, she can’t force it on us yet.

Meanwhile, I’m firing up my backyard grill and eyeballing the pigeons. Enjoy your Election Day.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her second novel, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2014…maybe.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>







Food Stamp Nation

By Steve Egglestion

Earlier this week, CNSNews reported a record 20% of all American households, were part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the average month during fiscal year 2013, which ran from October 2012 through September 2013. The author, Ali Meyer, did a good job of explaining the unprecedented growth of Food Stamp Nation, but he made a couple of less-than-optimal mathematical shortcuts. First, he included those in Guam and the Virgin Islands who receive food stamps. In 2013, that was 27,054 households in the average month, knocking down the domestic total in the average month to 23,025,334. Second, while the number of households on food stamps was an average during the fiscal year, he used the estimated number of households in September rather than the average number of households during the year.

Making those corrections does not materially alter the point. In FY2013, the record 23,025,334 American households on food stamps during the average month represented a record 20.1% of the average monthly 114,606,583 households. That was an increase of 720,455 households from FY2012, when 19.6% of all households were on food stamps.

The good news, if there is some to be found, is that is the second-lowest rate of increase over the last decade. Of course, the Democrats don’t see that as good news; they insist on continuing unfettered growth in the use of food stamps in the completely wrong-headed belief that the success of a welfare program is measured by how many more people it enslaves.

The bad news is that represents a 124.3% increase in the number of households and a 109.5% increase in the percentage of households on food stamps since FY2004. It also represents a 51.3% increase in the number of households and a 48.05% increase in the percentage of households on food stamps since FY2009, during which the Great Recession supposedly ended.

On the individual side, a record 47,636,084 Americans were on food stamps during the average month of FY2013, or a record 15.1% of all Americans. The historical news is similar – it represents an increase of 1,027,012 from FY2012, when 14.9% were on food stamps, a 100.0% increase in number and 85.4% increase in percentage of the population from FY2004, and a 42.2% increase in number and 38.2% increase in percentage of population from FY2009. As was the case in the household increase, the yearly increase in individuals receiving food stamps was the second-lowest in the past decade.

Consequently, the amount of money spent on the food stamp program during FY2013, $79,641,880,000, is also a record. Actually, it is a double record, as, even adjusted for inflation, no other year saw more spent on food stamps.

Looking at the other food-assistance programs run by the US Department of Agriculture, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news, from a conservative point of view, is a couple of the other food-assistance programs shrank in scope this past fiscal year. The Women, Infants, and Children program shrank by 239,245 Americans to 8,451,524 Americans (not counting those in territories), which is also a drop of 445,526 from FY2009. The school lunch program shrank by 1,033,833 American children to 30,225,234, which is also a drop of 679,115 from FY2009.

The bad news is, like food stamps, the school breakfast, summer food, and child and adult care food programs all hit record high average monthly participation numbers in FY2013. The school breakfast program increased by 289,007 Americans to 13,006,229, the summer food program increased by 73,006 Americans to 2,386,256, and the child and adult care food program increased by 77,202 Americans to 3,596,153.