Don't think of it as another tax. Think of it as tough love from Uncle Sam.
That's how Melissa Healy tried to sell Los Angeles Times readers on the notion of junk food sin taxes in her July 27 entry -- "Tough love for fat people: Tax their food to pay for healthcare" -- at the paper's Booster Shots blog:
When historians look back to identify the pivotal moments in the nation's struggle against obesity, they might point to the current period as the moment when those who influenced opinion and made public policy decided it was time to take the gloves off.
As evidence of this new "get-tough" strategy on obesity, they may well cite a study released today by the Urban Institute titled "Reducing Obesity: Policy Strategies From the Tobacco Wars."
Key among the "interventions" the report weighs is that of imposing an excise or sales tax on fattening foods. That, says the report, could be expected to lower consumption of those foods. But it would also generate revenues that could be used to extend health insurance coverage to the uninsured and under-insured, and perhaps to fund campaigns intended to make healthy foods more widely available to, say, low-income Americans and to encourage exercise and healthy eating habits.
Yes, you read correctly. Healy envisions a future thinner, fitter America looking back through the history books to see the ever-so-enlightened liberal Urban Institute as the genesis of its fat-free paradise.
Of course Healy never explained the group's liberal political bent in her blog post, which concluded by suggesting that the American public is already sold on fat taxes -- ranging from 10 to 30 percent in order to be effective in behavior modifcation -- levied on "less healthy" foods -- as defined, naturally, by bureuacrats -- and that only self-interested business lobbies are incensed by the notion of fat taxes:
There can be little doubt that lobbyists for the food, restaurant and grocery industries would come out swinging on any of these proposals. But the report cites evidence of a turning political tide for proposals that would hold the obese and other consumers of nutritionally suspect food accountable for their choices. A recent national poll found that 53% of Americans said they favored an increased tax on sodas and sugary soft drinks to help pay for healthcare reform. And even among those who opposed such an idea, 63% switched and said they'd favor such a tax if it "would raise money for health-care reform while also tackling the problems that stem from being overweight."