Bernie Sanders Says Kenney’s Soda Tax Is “Regressive”

The Vermont senator came out against the tax one day after Hillary Clinton embraced it.
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign stop, Thursday, April 21, 2016, in Scranton, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Overnight, Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed soda tax has inexplicably become a presidential issue.

On Wednesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came out in support of the tax as a way to fund expanded pre-K. Now, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is weighing in. He announced on Thursday that he is opposed to the tax.

“Making sure that every family has high quality, affordable pre-school and childcare is a vision that I strongly share,” he said in a statement. “On the other hand, I do not support paying for this proposal through a regressive tax on soda and juice drinks that will significantly increase taxes on low-income and middle class Americans.”

Sanders claims that Clinton has broken a campaign promise by backing the tax.

“Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge,” he said. “A tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families in Philadelphia.”

Is this all just political? That’s certainly what the beverage lobby argued yesterday when Clinton threw her weight behind the soda tax. Back in February, Kenney, who ran a progressive mayoral campaign very much in the Sanders vein, endorsed Clinton for president. And Pennsylvania’s primary is Tuesday.

Kenney wants to create a 3-cents-per-ounce soda tax in order to fund expanded pre-K, community schools, an overhaul of parks and recreation centers, and other initiatives.

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