New York Governor David Paterson’s proposal to slap a penny-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sweetened beverages is running into a buzz saw of bipartisan opposition. On March 8, nine Democrats and two Republicans in the state senate announced their opposition to the soda tax. Indeed, senators from both parties are saying the tax is “dead on arrival.”
Paterson argues the tax is necessary to fight obesity, especially in children. But like all the other soda tax advocates, Paterson doesn’t get the science right. As a study published in the October 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded, “We showed no association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, juice consumption, and adolescent weight gain over a 5-year period.”
Yet Paterson continues to ridiculously argue that soda is a “dangerous substance” like cigarettes or firecrackers.
The real motive behind the Paterson soda tax isn’t a concern for children’s health but a desperate desire to raise revenue. And that doesn’t sit well with many New York legislators who are keenly aware of how such a tax would negatively affect their constituents during a recession. “The soda tax, the beverage tax, the fat tax, whatever you want to call it. I’m calling it a bad tax and we’re doing everything we can to defeat it,” noted Senator David Valesky. Likewise, Senator Joseph Robach said, “This year, my rule is I’m not voting for any new taxes. None at all, at any time.” Senator Andrew Lanza denounced the tax as “absurd” while Senator Diane Savino said it would hurt “average families and local businesses.”
These lawmakers have legitimate concerns. According to some estimates, the soda tax could kill as many as 6,000 jobs in New York State.
We weighed in on the New York soda tax debate yesterday, pointing out the unfairness of using the tax code to dictate people’s lifestyle choices. “They’re punishing people for enjoying a little life once in a while,” our senior research analyst told the Agency France-Presse. He added that if “the city or state is out of money, then they should own up to it, rather than trying to hide taxes in a whole slew of new fees.”
Yesterday, our analyst also commented on Philadelphia’s proposed soda tax. In an interview with WTXF Fox 29 in Philadelphia, he dismissed comparisons between soda and tobacco which are often made by soda tax advocates. “Tobacco causes cancer,” he pointed out. “Soda doesn’t cause anything.” Except for putting dollar signs in the eyes of tax-happy politicians, of course.