Photo: Miss Shari (flickr)
Remember all the buzz about a new tax on soda several months ago?
President Obama pushed the penny-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages, saying it might not only be a good way to raise cash for expanded healthcare coverage, but could also help with the obesity epidemic.
If soda is a bit more expensive, maybe Americans won’t drink quite so much of it.
Well, the initiative fizzled out. Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger of The L.A. Times explained the sticky set of issues behind the soda tax failure that turns out to be anything but sweet.
The ABCs Of The Soda Tax Failure
A is for Americans Against Food Taxes. The AAFT is a coalition of soda-makers and junk food giants like McDonald’s and Domino’s that enlisted several prominent Latino and Hispanic groups. The coalition argued that higher soda taxes would burden poor minority groups.
B is for the beverage industry. The American Beverage Association launched a website campaigning against the soda tax that pointed to three scientific studies claiming there is no link between soda consumption and obesity. All three studies were affiliated with either a soda company or the top high-fructose corn syrup maker.
C is for Congress. Democratic Rep. John Lewis, in whose Atlanta jurisdiction thrives Coca-Cola headquarters, rallied against the soda tax under the premise that it would lead to a food tax – an unwanted financial burden during a recession. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) heard from Pepsi, Coke, and the National Milk Producers Association, who said the soda tax would also affect chocolate milk sales. Kind also did not support the tax out of fear that it would cripple his state’s main industry.
See also: this chart of beverage industry lobbying expenditures (also from the LA Times).