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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Will Governor Paterson Wuss Out? Soda Tax...Again

In today's budget press conference, New York Governor David Paterson once again pushed for a "soda tax;" aka, Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax. Instead of going for the 18% tax like his last failed effort, this time Paterson is following the lead of experts pushing at the national level for a soda tax including UNC's Barry Popkin, Yale's Kelly Brownell, Harvard's David Ludwig and the CSPI's Michael Jacobson. The model calls for a penny-per-ounce tax on the ubiquitous, non-essential liquid candy.

On a national level, $15 billion annually is expected to be raised by the penny-per-ounce tax. Here in New York, we anticipate about $1 Billion annually in extra funds raised from taxing sugary soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit-like drinks, etc.

Beverage lobbyists are crying foul that the tax is regressive and disproportionately targets poorer, lesser educated communities of color. News Flash: Obesity/diabetes/soda marketers disproportionately target poorer, lesser educated communities of color. This soda tax will help those communities by curbing soda consumption, reducing obesity-related illnesses and setting aside funds to cover some publicly funded healthcare expenses associated with obesity/diabetes/soda consumption. Of the $7.6 billion (more than almost any other state) spent annually on adult obesity-related health issues in New York, an astounding 80% is covered by Medicaid and Medicare. Quick Translation: That's me and my fellow New Yorkers footing the bill..! And that's ALL OF US at the national level... Hello, Obesity Bailout.

But Paterson backed down before. Why? Pepsi threatened to pull its headquarters out of New York and head West to New Jersey or East to Connecticut. Will Pepsi bully Paterson into submission again?

Or will the desperate dollar needs of New York state prevail?

I much prefer a Soda Tax over paying more into this massive Obesity Bailout.

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