Are soda taxes the answer to the fiscal cliff?
One activist group says yes, though it won't do much to curb obesity.
Give the Center for Science and the Public Interest credit for being creative. The group, which has long advocated levying taxes on sugary sodas as a means of reducing the nation's soaring obesity rates, argued in a press release Friday that it could help solve the nation's fiscal woes. The group also wants to raise taxes on alcoholic beverages.
"A penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugar-based beverages would raise $160 billion over 10 years even as it would make a modest dent in consumption," according to CSPI. "Even smaller soda taxes of just a penny per can could raise $10 billion over 10 years."
The economic argument that CSPI raises certainly is compelling during these trying fiscal times, as investors fret about the imposition of draconian tax hikes and government spending cuts being imposed if Congress fails to take action before the end of the year. The proposal, though, raises more questions than it answers, and doesn't stand a chance of passing Congress given the political clout of the beverage industry.
First, the case that soda is a threat to public health that some, such as New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, make is far from iron-clad. Per-capita soda consumption has been on the decline for years. CSPI itself cheered this trend in a 2010 press release. The non-profit also has a restrictive definition of "sugary beverage" to include ice tea and fruit-flavored drinks with little or no juice, according to spokesman Jeff Cronin. Pure fruit juices, which are full of sugar, would not qualify, he told me in an email.
"Unlike orange juice, say, which does have nutrients, soda and juiceless fruit-flavored drinks have no redeeming nutritional qualities," he writes in an email.
While that's true, fruit juice has its problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages parents from giving these beverages to babies under 6 months of age unless it is needed to alleviate constipation. There are plenty of other loopholes too. Diet soda may lack calories, but its consumption has been linked to increased risk of stroke. Why should Starbucks get a free pass given the caloric heft of some of its beverages? A 16-ounce Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte packs a whopping 380 calories, 120 of which come from fat. A 12-ounce can of Classic Coke seems healthy by comparison because it has 140 calories, none of which come from fat.
Making it more expensive for people to get their caloric fixes won't make them thinner, but it will make them poorer. People, including this writer, become overweight and stay that way for many reasons, ranging from the genetic to the sociological. Declaring "war" on some foods and not others is bad science and even worse public policy.
--Jonathan Berr does not shares of the listed stocks.
More from Money Now
Higher taxes on cigarettes were just the beginning, but those that voted for them were too stupid to see that. You have now opened the door to all out attacks on anything and everything they can make an extra tax dollar on.
Never gonna happen! The obese in this country, far outweigh the congress. We are already taxed through the nose on everything as it is. Cut spending, thats the one answer. Our tax rates may be low, but we are taxed on everything else. Payroll taxes, income taxed, excise taxes, cigarette taxes, booze taxes, everything you buy, TAXES!!!!
Enough with the taxes, stop spending money you don't have. Hear that congress? STOP SPENDING!!!
Is there anyone left who remembers what the BOSTON TEA PARTY was all about? Taxes on a popular beverage implemented by a tyranical government. The concept of using taxes as a tool to control social behavior should OUTRAGE every true freedom loving American.
Yet people buy into it for the stupid reason that it will help lower the deficit. Shurley there isn't anybody that stupid. Oh wait........obama was re-elected by those same people.
Just tell the da in washington.. to pass the FAIR TAX ACT.. that way EVERY ONE would pay their fair share.. that includes the rich, government officials, and even the illegal's in this country...
It would do away with the IRS.. that should free up some money right there..
we all are working about 128 days a year, just to pay for all the taxes that we do pay.. and know that does not include the tax if you do not have health insurance.. just so u know..
Just my humble thoughts on the matter...
Maybe I'm just abnormal, but to me fluid has nutritional value, I can't run without it.
I agree that products should be taxed to reflect their true cost to society. If the revenues of this tax were targeted to health care I would approve.
But what I'd rather see is me being able to put myself in an insurance risk pool with other people that take as good care of their bodies as I do.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market continued its strong start to the week with a broad-based Tuesday rally that sent the S&P 500 higher by 0.5%. Nine of ten sectors registered gains while the benchmark index extended its week-to-date advance to 1.4%.
Equities received an opening boost from a pair of economic data points that crossed the wires this morning. An in-line CPI report suggested inflationary pressures remain contained, while a better than expected Housing Starts report ... More
More Market News
Excitement is growing about the company's new iPhone, expected this fall.
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'