Despite opposition from two-thirds of Americans, President Obama has latched onto exploring one proposal to raise billions of dollars for health care reform through “lifestyle taxes” on soft drinks.
However, evidence demonstrates that arbitrary taxes will not reduce health care costs, as supporters claim. Rather, lifestyle taxes represent just another “get rich quick” scheme by Congress.
The sudden rise of beverage tax endorsements is rooted in a “for your own good” social engineering dogma that injects the government further into vending machines, liquor cabinets and, ultimately, our private lives. It’s the kind of politics that thinks your decisions about what to eat and drink are better left to a few self-appointed activist groups in Washington.
The tax code shouldn’t be a tool for punishing companies who make beverages that some people choose to consume. Nor should it be an instrument for penalizing individuals who make “bad” food choices.
Here’s what proponents of these lifestyle taxes aren’t telling you: Taxing soft drinks isn’t going to cure America’s obesity “epidemic.”
There’s not a single compelling study that suggests taxing sodas at the level being discussed affects levels of obesity. An analysis this year concluded that, to actually make a dent in the obesity rate, Congress would need a 1,200 percent tax on soda. That means a 75-cent can of soda would be taxed $9. (Better hope the vending machine takes $10 bills.)
One group leading the soda tax crusade is the Center for Science in the Public Interest, champions of the government-knows-best attitude. CSPI’s leader, Food Police Chief Michael Jacobson, testified before a U.S. Senate committee in May in favor of soda taxes. CSPI is looking to the government to raid your fridge, and not in a good way. Consider that, in the past, Jacobson has endorsed taxes on meat, butter, cheeses and whole milk.
Today, it’s taxes on soda; tomorrow it’s the rest of your pantry (or beer fridge).
Americans know a scam when they see one. Along with widespread opposition to a soda tax, over 70 percent oppose such taxes on high-calorie foods, with half of respondents strongly disapproving.
It’s time to slam the door on the food cops before they get their foot in it. These taxes need to be stopped before they begin, or the only barrier between the government and our personal choices will be a politician’s imagination.