By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
There's more proof that the administration is high on soda taxes as a way to curb obesity and fund healthcare reform. Two pro-free-market groups have discovered a $1 million stimulus grant to the University of Illinois to fund a study of the relationship between fat taxes and food consumption, diet quality, and obesity. Of concern is that the study results might be preordained.
According to the university's press release, "Previous economic studies suggest that food prices do change consumption. However, the researchers want to determine if, for example, consumers will seek out another high-sugar drink such as Kool-Aid if, say, soda is too expensive. If they do, then a tax on soda may reduce soda consumption but will not necessarily reduce weight, improve diet quality, or reduce overall sugar intake."
The makers of the target products—sodas, juices, and sports drinks—have been warning that the administration wants to raise the tax on their products. They also say that higher soda taxes in some states have not led to a drop in obesity, calling into question the societal benefit of such taxes.
The Illinois Policy Institute concluded that "taxpayers are in essence funding a study that will likely call for even higher taxes on the products we consume every day. This isn't change we can believe in." And the Club for Growth's Andy Roth tells Whispers, "The stimulus-financed study about fat taxes proves that the fat cats in Washington show no restraint when it comes to spending our hard-earned tax dollars. Is there any project that would fail to meet Congress's unbelievably low standards? I doubt it."