During my lifetime, I’ve seen some pretty grotesque, obscene, and over-the-top political campaigns. But there’s something particularly offensive and disgusting about the high fructose syrup soaked campaign to pass Initiative 1634, Big Soda’s shameless attempt to strip cities in Washington (except for Seattle) of the freedom to impose a sweetened sugary beverage tax down the road.
A recent Elway Poll hilariously showed the initiative losing, even though the opposition coalition (which includes NPI) has almost no money and has done little campaigning. Big Soda’s response to this was to open their wallets and pump millions more into the coffers of the I‑1634 campaign. Much of the money is going to deceptive mailers that are flooding into mailboxes all over the state.
A grand total of ten — yes, ten — almost identically-designed mailers have showed up in my mailbox thus far, and I’m guessing more are on the way.
All of these mailers contain outrageous falsehoods, like “Close the grocery tax loophole” and “Stop politicians from taxing groceries”. Of course, there is no grocery tax loophole and no elected leader is proposing that groceries be taxed. But facts are not important to Big Soda and their allies — profits are.
One of their mailers depicts a black woman holding a carton of what appears to be milk. Another has stock photos of toast, bananas, meat, cheese, broccoli, and noodles on it. None of these groceries are currently taxed in Washington — not by the state, nor by any of its local governments — and there is no chance of them being taxed in the future, either, but Big Soda wants everyone to think otherwise.
This is self-serving propaganda at its worst.
If Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Red Bull could buy your vote… say, for five bucks… they most assuredly would. It’s not legal, which is why they’re doing TV media buys and these pathetic, fraudulent mailers instead.
But if it were legal, it’s not hard to imagine Big Soda offering ten bucks in return for proof of a “Yes” vote on their stupid scheme to rob local communities all over Washington of their freedom to consider raising money for public health purposes from a sugary sweetened beverage tax like the one Seattle has.
Consider that Big Soda and their comrades have already spent $15,817,596.55 in an attempt to pass I‑1634. That’s $3.71 for every registered voter in the state as of September 13th, when there were 4,252,913 active voters. Big Soda isn’t going to get everybody’s vote, so if you figure that forty percent of the voters vote no, then that means they’ll have spent around $6.20 to acquire each “Yes” vote.
Of course, they’re not done spending money — and if the percentage of Washingtonians who see through their con is anywhere close to what the Elway Poll and our own polling suggests it might be, then they will wind up having spent somewhere close to $10 in pursuit of each “Yes” vote.
Measure 103 is a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit state and local governments from enacting any taxes on groceries. Oregon does not currently levy a state sales tax at all, and only two cities — Ashland and Yachats — levy a sales tax of five percent on prepared food and non-alcoholic drinks, which aren’t groceries.
As in Washington, there is no effort afoot in Oregon to levy a tax on groceries. No elected leader is talking about one, and no local government is proposing one.
But again, facts do not matter to Big Soda. Reality is irrelevant.
“Yes! Keep Our Groceries Tax Free” is the name of Big Soda’s operation in Oregon, which is very similar to the name of Big Soda’s aforementioned Washington scam, “Yes! to Affordable Groceries”. The American Beverage Association, the corporate trade lobby for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Red Bull, is by far the top contributor to the Oregon Measure 103 campaign, followed by Albertsons Safeway, Costco, and the Northwest Grocery Association.
To date, the ABA has donated $2,988,595.71 to the effort.
A survey conducted by DHM Research for Oregon Public Broadcasting in early October found that despite Big Soda’s big spending, Oregonians are just not enthused about Measure 103. 47% of those surveyed say they’re leaning towards voting no or certain to vote no, while 33% were leaning yes or certain to vote yes.
NPI has taken positions opposing Initiative 1634 and Measure 103.
We emphatically urge all our readers to take a stand against greed this autumn by saying NO to these self-serving schemes from Big Soda to change the laws of Washington and the Constitution of Oregon for their own benefit.