I offered evidence last week that a one-penny-per-ounce tax on pop and other sugar-sweetened beverages could pump $61 million into South Dakota's state budget. But even a $150 million budget shortfall seems unlikely to scare our Republican majority away from their choice of faith in the jobs and growth fairy over pragmatic, targeted tax increases.
I therefore move to amend: instead of imposing a state tax on pop and other corn-syruped drinks, let's end the federal subsidy for corn. The Environmental Working Group finds that the average annual corn subsidy sent to South Dakota alone from 1995 to 2006 was over $175 million. Uncle Sam could transfer that money directly to Pierre to erase our deficit and still have $25 million leftover to support tax cuts. Or, for those of you who still want USDA intruding on the free market, we could direct that $25 million toward actual food for human consumption, like fresh fruits and veggies.
Today's statistical note: In 2007, 4.1% of the U.S. corn crop went to making high-fructose corn syrup. That translates into 1.2% of American cropland being turned into wasted calories. Just a little more cropland, 1.5%, grew veggies in 2007. 1.6% of U.S. cropland produced fruit.
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