Idahoans have been wondering why, after all the promises by our governor and legislators to repeal the grocery tax, all such attempts have been stopped in committee. We did a little digging and found someone we consider a credible source who told us that allegedly Albertsons, AARP and Idaho legislative representatives from the Pocatello and Idaho Falls districts which border Yellowstone could be the culprits. We managed to get through to Albertsons and they said that they had no part in trying to stop the grocery tax repeal. AARP never got back to us.
Having spent 40 year on Wall Street I will tell you that many times I have seen corporate greed rear its ugly head and do some unthinkable things but I find it hard to believe that a company like Albertsons so entrenched in Idaho with its corporate headquarters here would stoop to the level of trying to hold on to such a regressive tax. We could see the possibility of an organization like AARP being involved but then they have a long history of taking care of themselves if you remember they pushed hard for Obamacare as they are involved with the insurance industry. What we are having a hard time wrapping our heads around is why someone is trying to stop the repeal of a tax that could help so many Idahoans? We understand why the eastern Idaho representatives are against the repeal of this tax as it means a lot of revenues to them.
We know there are many citizens in Idaho who live on fixed and low-income budgets and we have done our homework and will tell you that the repeal of this tax is going to benefit the lowest income families in our state. The only dislocation we see is for the banks because most of the food bought in Idaho is done on credit cards and that means a fee on every sale to them. The average person spends $2,792.00 a year on food of which 6% is tax (or $167.52). Multiply that by 1,754 million people living in Idaho equals $293,830,080 in sales for groceries. Multiply that by an average bank transaction fee of 2% and you have a loss to the banks of $5,876,601 a year. Could it be the bank lobby that is driving the legislature to keep the grocery tax?
For a family of four, the national average in the second-lowest income quartile would spend between $568 and $651 per month which is a very frugal budget. How can a family stay healthy on such a restrained budget? The answer in most cases is they can’t. The real question is do our legislators care about the health of the hard-working people who pay their salaries or are they more interested in placating the lobbyists who pay for their lunches, dinners, and campaigns? According to government statistics, bad diets filled with unhealthy foods along with low levels of activity lead to obesity and Idaho has a high level of obesity which affects as many as 28% of our citizens, of which 25% are between the ages of 10 and 17 years of age.
Could it be that our legislators are unaware of these statistics?
Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable life-years lost among Americans. Adults who have obesity compared with adults at a healthy weight are more likely to have a decreased quality of life and have an increased risk of developing serious health conditions including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease and stroke
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Some cancers
- Mental illness such as depression and anxiety
Healthy diets cost more money and the cost of removing this burdensome tax is negligible in the whole scheme of things as the legislature has extra revenue that could pay for this repeal. They should be considering the problems that develop from eating unhealthy diets. Our legislators have told us by the acceptance of Medicaid Expansion that they want a healthy Idaho yet they want to deny the people the tools to keep themselves healthy by not getting rid of this regressive tax.
A retired couple’s average food expense in the U.S. is about $500 per month which is low because most retired couples cook and eat at home. As we previously stated a family of 4 in the second-lowest income quartile would spend an average of $610.00 per month which is a very frugal budget. The retired couple will pay $360.00 a year in grocery tax and will recoup under current law $240.00 back while a family of 4 will pay $439.00 in tax and have to wait till the end of the year to recoup $400.00 of that tax. Does this really make any sense? Would the lost revenue from illegals and visitors to our state really kill our state budget? Has anyone thought that if we had no tax that illegals and visitors would spend more money in our state and those buying out of state would buy in Idaho enhancing the profits of our supermarket chains and food vendors?
Sometimes I’m amazed at the way legislators look at taxes, it is never how much they might gain from lower taxes is always how much they will lose by cutting. Maybe we should hold their salaries and per-diem till the end of the session and then decide how much to pay them depending on what kind of job we thought they did.
Economics is truly simple as we have all seen what happened when President Trump cut taxes. Our economy began to thrive because people had more money in their pockets, corporations were able to spend more on investments and the government began taking in more revenue from a growing economy. My major in college was economics with a minor in history. Economics taught me that the less you taxed people the more they had to spend helping more companies thrive from improved sales of their products and services. History taught me that it always repeats itself so don’t keep doing the same thing over and over because you will get the same result that is the definition of insanity. All we have to do is to train our legislators and governor to think the same way as our president. They got rid of the rules and regulations now how about cutting non-essential budget items and lower taxes because if you don’t cut them we will wind up like so many other cities that are heading down the slope of hope gobbled up by bad decisions and ultimately in decay.