The Senate Finance Committee is considering whether to levy a new federal tax on soda and other calorie-leaden drinks to help pay for the proposed remake of the nation’s healthcare system.
Early estimates for the cost of the overhaul are in the $1.2 trillion range. To date, team Obama has come up with about half that total.
A soda tax of, say, 3 cents per 12-oz. serving would contribute a bunion-sized $24 billion over the next 4 years according to the Congressional Budget office. Thankfully, it’s just one of hundreds of ideas being considered.
The proposed soda tax would exclude most diet beverages, but sugary beverages not normally considered to be unhealthy, such as Gatorade and Capri Sun would be dunned.
Soda tax advocates cite research pointing to a link between obesity and the consumption of sugary drinks.
They believe the tax would cut consumption and associated health issues, and thus contribute indirectly to reductions in medical costs.
A dozen states already tax sugar-laced drinks, according to Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
“Soda is clearly one of the most harmful products in the food supply, and it’s something government should discourage the consumption of,” Jacobson told the Wall Street Journal.
Jacobson also plans to propose increased federal taxes on alcohol, and wants to legislate the elimination of artificial trans fat from the US diet, not to mention the reduction of sodium content in packaged and restaurant food.
But Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association worried a soda tax would have a disproportionate impact on low-income Americans.
“Taxes are not going to teach our children how to have a healthy lifestyle,” she insisted to the Journal.