During this weeks AMA conference members debated various proposals aimed at improving the health of Americans. Among these proposals is a call for a small tax on all soda products that is expected to raise $1.5 billion per year to pay for newly proposed anti-obesity education and healthier school lunch programs. Obesity is a problem no doubt and may need addressing, but not at the federal level. Run at the federal level the proposal would become another bloated spending program and yet another stealth federal tax and surely would result in additional mandates to the states. I can hear the Democrats moaning already how the GOP is trying to starve kids with a leaner school lunch program, and god forbid we ever suggest not bumping up the budget.
Controlling the sugar intake of the public is not a proper role for government. Given however the slop we’re on toward public funded health care, I can see proposals like this are only going to get more and more prevalent as taxpayers continue to foot the bill. If we’re going to jump off the cliff and address this issue with public policy it should be attacked at the local or state levels. They are much better positioned to design and track educational and fitness programs with the added plus that local and state budgets tend to restrict bloat better then anything run inside the beltway. I’m not fond of the overall idea of taxing soda, mainly because I doubt the money will stay allocated entirely to it’s original purpose take a look at cigarette taxes for examples.
What concerns me more then my fellow Americans packing on the pounds is our government’s own obesity problem. So before we start taxing anything new perhaps the AMA could outline their proposals to help Uncle Sam with his own chubbiness instead of offering him up another cheeseburger.