Two articles yesterday about raising beer taxes:
One, an editorial from the State Journal. I almost didn't dignify this with a response since it reads like little more than a press release from some pro-tax lobbyist. But there's a couple of point that I want to make that I haven't, or maybe have?, made before.
"A higher tax on beer — as well as wine and booze — would simply charge a small user fee on drinkers to help pay for all the costly damage a small yet significant number of them cause."
First, let's get one thing straight here. This is a raise on the excise tax. The proposal does not include wine or spirits (more on that later). It is not a proposed sin tax. To the extent the customer would see any increase, yes, it would be minimal. But, we aren't the ones that pay the tax to the state - the breweries do. Right now the beer tax is $2, with a 50% rebate for small breweries. Let's say the proposed tax raises the barrel tax to $3 and eliminates the rebate. If you are brewery that makes 10K barrels per year, you were paying $10K in taxes. You will now pay $30K in taxes. A 300% raise in taxes!!!! How easily do you think Ale Asylum could absorb a 300% increase in taxes? Of course, this assumes that the small brewery rebate is eliminated.
I haven't heard anything to suggest that this rebate would be eliminated. In which case, we keep the small brewery rebate. Do you know how many breweries this tax would effect, then? Three. Miller, Leinies, and New Glarus. I can't imagine Deb Carey will be too happy see her margins decrease against Ale Asylum or Furthermore or Pearl Street or O'So. For these three breweries, they couldn't raise prices, they would have to absorb the "pennies per bottle" because they need to remain competitive against the other breweries who aren't affected by the tax increase.
"Just a couple pennies more per bottle could raise tens of millions of dollars to combat Wisconsin’s drunken driving scourge."
Who wrote this? Sally Struther? Are we funding laptops in Africa? You know what will fight the "drunk driving scourge"? Tougher laws on drunk driving. First time DUI is a ticket?!? No sobriety checkpoints. No Dram Shop Act. If the state isn't going to take drunk driving seriously, why should anyone pay for it? Maybe instead of paying for the consequences, we should focus more on preventing it from happening in the first place? How's that?
"The beer tax should not become just another way to balance the budget on the backs of ordinary people. The beer tax should only be raised if the money will be used specifically to prosecute and prevent drunken driving, which would benefit ordinary people."
Why should it fall only on beer at all!? Why not tax wine and spirits, too? Heck, raise taxes across the board and base it on the amount of alcohol in the bottle. If the problem is with drunk drivers, hit 'em where it hurts - in the cheap vodka and brandy.
Article Number Two from Wisconsin Radio Network.
"The Governor wants to increase the tax on cigarettes by 75-cents a pack. He says beer, when used responsibly, can be a perfectly safe product. Governor Jim Doyle says he doubts [the tax] will happen ...."
Finally, some sanity.