An Illinois state senator who once received high ratings from his state’s oldest Republican organization for promoting and protecting “individual freedom and responsibility” probably has his party leaders scratching their heads in bewilderment this week. Sen. Shane Cultra (R-Onarga), who was appointed to his seat by the state GOP late last year, wants to withhold a sizeable tax benefit to penalize parents whose children the state decides are obese.
Cultra floated the idea of denying parents of obese kids the state’s $2,000 standard tax deduction as an incentive for them to raise healthy children. The father of four children (presumably all sleek triathlon champions) pitched his plan to combat childhood obesity in the cash-strapped state:
It's the parents’ responsibility that have obese kids. Take the tax deduction away for parents that have obese kids.
This financial punishment is more stick than carrot. Fellow Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) called Cultra’s assault on parents’ individual freedom (and usurpation of their responsibilities) exactly how we see it: a misguided effort by bureaucrats who “go after the low-hanging fruit, where it’s easy to get.”
“Sin taxes” never helped anyone shed a pound. And parents certainly don’t need lawmakers pressuring them by withholding $2,000 per year. Those are dollars that could help feed their children healthy food for months, and help cover enrollment fees for youth athletic and fitness programs.
Cultra should consider the “trickle down” effect that his obesity guilt trip would ultimately have on obese kids, before making a big, fat mistake. His ridiculous idea is more about fixing the busted Illinois budget than helping overweight kids lead healthier lives.