The socialists are coming after our soda pop.
It’s an outrage. I’m going to waddle into the street and, as soon as I catch my breath, start chanting “Tax my pop? Where does it stop?”
OK, I exaggerate. It’s the high fructose talking.
The U.S. Senate is thinking about charging a 3-cent-per-12-ounce excise tax on soda and other sugary drinks as a way to help pay for overhauling the health care system.
Health groups, led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, also are calling for such a tax with hopes bulging Americans put down their Big Gulps.
This is the sort of thing that gets our attention. As I write, there are 11 empty soda cans and bottles sitting next to my computer. I like full-strength Coke — a lot. I feel positively more American with every syrupy sweet sip.
And the more I drink, the more American real estate I take up. Sigh.
It’s tough to argue with the hard reality that soft drinks are a bad nutritional choice. And if you don’t believe that obesity is an epidemic, take a look at some animated maps on the Centers for Disease Control Web site.
They show a nation that, in 1985, had no states with an adult obesity rate more than 15 percent but morphed into a bloated country where most states are now more than 25 percent.
Still, the soda tax is a bad idea. It could be bad for our nation’s health.
All this soda tax talk could harm uphill efforts to get health care reform passed this year. It’s the sort of side issue that can become a main event in the hands of opponents eager to paint reform as a big government power grab. They’ll have plenty of help from reporters eager for a “Joe Six Pack” reform narrative.
One problem is you can’t control do-gooders, even for their good.
Word of a soda tax barely had leaked when health advocates started talking about the feds cracking down on salt and trans fat. I can hear the TV ads now: “Barack Obama and liberals not only want to control your health care, they want to control what you eat.”
Handing opponents that sort of weapon just isn’t worth it. A 3 cent tax would raise about $24 billion over four years. Obama’s plan costs $1.2 trillion. It’s like tossing an ice cube into the Gulf of Mountain Dew.
And do we really want a pitched battle between food industry groups determined to feed us fattening garbage and health activists determined to treat us like children?
And don’t our Iowans in Congress have better things to do than spending time defending corn syrup?
Health reform is an issue affecting everyone and should be paid for by everyone. Congress must find a real strategy to cover the price tag, otherwise we’ll be kicking the can down the road yet again.