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Obama May Take Soda Tax National

"It's an idea that we should be exploring," the President said. "There's no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda."
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The President, in an interview with Men's Health magazine released yesterday, said he thought taxing soda and other sugary drinks is worth putting on the table as Congress debates health care reform.

"It's an idea that we should be exploring," the President said. "There's no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that's been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else."

Early this year, a public uproar forced Paterson to abandon his plan for an 18% state tax on soda and other sugary drinks. With Obama having a hard enough time selling health care reform, the White House tried after the interview appeared to put the cap back on the bottle.

White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said a soda tax is "not something we've proposed." And an administration official went further, saying he "is not going to do so."

Still, Obama was willing to at least float the idea. Congressional lawmakers have considered soda taxes as one among many ways way to cover the cost of revamping the health care system, estimated at up to $1 trillion over 10 years.

Thomas Frieden, who Obama put in charge of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also has spoken up for the idea. In his previous job as Mayor Bloomberg's health commissioner, Frieden played a key role in promoting healthy habits, including the smoking ban in bars and calorie counts on fast-food menus.

As in Paterson's case, Obama's comments drew the immediate wrath of industry and consumer-choice groups.

"The tax code should not be used as a method for social engineering, and that's what this is," said Justin Wilson, senior research analyst for the Center for Consumer Freedom, which gets money from food and beverage companies.

Obama acknowledged that the idea could lead to charges that Uncle Sam is trying to dictate personal diets, but he hinted the benefit may be worth it.

"Look, people's attitude is that they don't necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, and I understand that," Obama said.

"It is true, though, that if you wanted to make a big impact on people's health in this country, reducing things like soda consumption would be helpful."


Added: Sep-9-2009 
By: Songun
In:
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Tags: soda tax, tax
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