The push at the federal level for a tax on sugary drinks, sodas, and juices as a way to curb kiddy obesity took a hit in state elections, suggesting that plans for a federal tax are dead.
Voters in Washington State, for example, overwhelmingly repealed their legislature's tax on soft drinks and bottled water, following a pattern that took place in New York and Maine.
"Tuesday, Americans sent a clear message that government needs to stop telling them what to do and start listening to what they want," said Kevin Keane, senior vice president for public affairs at the American Beverage Association. "Americans don't want government telling them what to eat or drink by taxing common grocery items. People can decide what to buy without government help. What Americans want is for government to trim its budget fat and leave their grocery budgets alone," he added.
While the "soda tax" has been a state-level issue for years, President Obama opened the door to considering it the during 2009 healthcare reform debate, which Congress plans to revisit next year. It is unclear if the administration will continue considering the soda tax as it addresses larger tax issues such as extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
In it's bid to build the anti-tax fever, the industry sent around this election summary:
Soda Taxes Rejected in "Blue" States
• This week, voters in Washington State overwhelmingly repealed their legislature's tax on soft drinks, bottled water and other grocery items. In a "blue" state that re-elected Senator Patti [sic] Murray, more than 60 percent of voters rejected taxes that reach into their grocery carts.
• In New York, Governor David Patterson proposed new taxes on soft drinks in 2009 and 2010. Both times, the controversial proposal died in the legislature.
• Just two years ago, another "blue" state of Maine voted by a 64-36 margin to repeal a large tax increase in soft drinks passed by its legislature. This was on the same ballot where Maine voters overwhelmingly voted for President Obama at the top of the ticket.
Scientists and Doctors Reject Anti-Soda Arguments
• Last week, it was reported that New York City proceeded with an 'anti-soda' ad campaign over the concerns and objections of key health department staffers, including the city's chief nutritionist.
• Medical doctors have been critical of soda tax proposals, saying there is no evidence that a reduction in soda consumption leads to weight loss.
• Research suggests that taxes on beverages and grocery items fail to generate expected revenue, and ultimately leave governments in the same fiscal state as when they started.