A small example comes from AgWired's Tuesday post of a letter from Americans Against Food Taxes. At first I thought, "Cool! A national group ramping up to fight South Dakota's sales tax on food!"
Alas, sales tax is not on these folks' radar. Neither is food tax, really. Despite their name, they aren't really tackling food taxes: their collection of news and press releases hardly mentions so-called "fat taxes" on Cheetos and other junk food. This group is all about fighting beverage taxes, specifically the tax on sweetened beverages that is being considered as a mechanism for funding health coverage reform. Taxing pop and other sugary drinks at a penny per ounce would generate $14.9 billion annually—a small sip out of the budget, but a sip nonetheless.
But it would also hurt American families by eroding the economy and personal responsibility, say the Americans Against Food Taxes. We need to educate people to make healthy choices, not tax them!
So who are the Americans Against Food Taxes? They claim to be a "coalition of concerned citizens—responsible individuals, financially strapped families, small and large businesses in communities across the country." But look at their membership list:
- conservative lobbying groups like experienced astroturfers Americans for Prosperity and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform
- Coca-Cola and PepsiCo
- the increasingly in-credible U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- the South Dakota Beverage Association (which I can find nowhere online except in mentions of AAFT)
Not to worry: this summer, Senator Max Baucus said the soda tax was unlikely to make the final bill. As far as I can tell from the news, a pop tax hasn't made it into any of the bills, meaning the beverage industry is making a lot of noise over nothing.
Oh well. Now that Coke and Pepsi have their little lobbying group geared up, maybe they can live up to their name and turn their attention to regressive sales taxes on food.
p.s.: There is a difference between a blanket tax on food (that's what South Dakota does) and a targeted tax on non-essential products (that's what a soda tax would do). 33 states already have some sort of soft-drink tax. Travis does love his Cherry Coke, but he may have to chip in a dime a bottle to help solve South Dakota's budget shortfall.