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May 12, 2009

Senate Finance Committe: Hey, Let's Tax Soda to Pay for Health Care

I am a big soda drinker. (Coke Zero rocks, especially the vanilla version.)

But the difference between soda and iced tea isn't all that great. I make a lot of iced tea. I can make more of it.

Whenever these guys want to tax something into oblivion -- like coal plants -- they recognize that taxes change economic behavior. (A long-ago Marshall-penned Supreme Court decision was emphatic on the matter: "The power to tax is the power to destroy.")

But when it comes to just old-fashioned revenue theft, they imagine they can tax income and goods to their hearts' content without changing behavior, and destroying their revenue stream.

This is going to be far worse for Coca-Cola than it is for me.

Senate leaders are considering new federal taxes on soda and other sugary drinks to help pay for an overhaul of the nation's health-care system.

The taxes would pay for only a fraction of the cost to expand health-insurance coverage to all Americans and would face strong opposition from the beverage industry. They also could spark a backlash from consumers who would have to pay several cents more for a soft drink.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee is set to hear proposals from about a dozen experts about how to pay for the comprehensive health-care overhaul that President Barack Obama wants to enact this year. Early estimates put the cost of the plan at around $1.2 trillion. The administration has so far only earmarked funds for about half of that amount.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based watchdog group that pressures food companies to make healthier products, plans to propose a federal excise tax on soda, certain fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and ready-to-drink teas. It would not include most diet beverages. Excise taxes are levied on goods and manufacturers typically pass them on to consumers.

In related news, 95% of the public will not pay an extra dime in taxes of any kind. Obama said so.

Thanks to Martin.



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posted by Ace at 04:22 PM

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