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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The government is trying to fund health care reform. They are desperately reaching, ignoring the hypocrisy of their actions, and it will hurt America.

Taxing food and soda has been touted for months as a means to fund a government-controlled health care plan that is supposed to save taxpayers money. The hypocrisy does not end there.

The LA Times reported on the Urban Institutes's proposal to tax "fattening" foods to handle the "uncontrolled obesity epidemic." Take note of the word "uncontrolled." It is not the government's responsibility to control the eating habits of American citizens.

If you happen to be the 1-in-3 Americans who is neither obese nor overweight (and, thus, considered at risk of becoming obese), you might well conclude that the habits of the remaining two-thirds of Americans are costing you, big time.
If eating habits of other people are costing you, imagine how much taxing the food you eat will cost you. Most states exempt food for home consumption from sales tax. The federal government will take the opposite approach. This may cause states to follow suit, exacerbating the problem.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) supports taxing both food and soda. CDC chief Dr. Thomas Freiden testified that taxing fattening foods "would be effective" at reducing obesity. Freiden and others compare the proposed 3-cent soda tax to the excise tax on cigarettes. Let's talk cigarettes.

The Urban Institute reports:
Facing the serious consequences of an uncontrolled obesity epidemic, America's state and federal policy makers may need to consider interventions every bit as forceful as those that succeeded in cutting adult tobacco use by more than 50%
The federal tax on cigarettes now stands at $1.01 per pack or about $10.10 per carton. On top of this incredibly high tax, individual states apply their own tax on cigarettes, ranging from $.07 in South Carolina to a high of $3.46 per 20-pack in Rhode Island. With such excessive taxation, it is very understandable that people were financially forced by the government to quit smoking.

However, a 3-cent tax on soda will not cause people to change their drinking habits. If anything, it will cause soda prices to go up by at least 5 cents at vending machines to compensate for the tax and exclude the need for pennies. The government will fail at reducing obesity (a task with which it should not be worried) and increase the profit of vending companies and perhaps even soda companies.

Additionally, the Urban Institute ignores the changing social attitude toward cigarettes that greatly contributed to their tobacco use reduction statistic. There is no need to financially force U.S. citizens who want to engage in a certain activity to cease doing so. The social attitude toward healthy eating and drinking is changing now much as it has changed toward cigarettes. The government has no role in legislating morality (or eating habits).

The proposed taxation does not end there. The Senate Finance Committee has touted the idea of a 10% tax on plastic surgery. The tax would apply to procedures such a liposuction, which not only improve a person's appearance but also improves the body's health through reduced stress on joints.

Posted by Eleutherian

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