A national poll by Rasmussen Reports shows that 56% of Americans oppose a tax on soft drinks, strongly believing that lawmakers are far more interested in raising money for government than in using tax revenue for public health.
The Rasmussen research underscores that Americans are weary of more taxes, highly sceptical that the revenues would go to anything other than bigger government, and not pleased about the government using the tax code to tell them what to eat or drink. Accordingly, the survey found that only 33% of respondents support an additional tax on soft drinks.
"This poll reinforces that people don't want one more penny in taxes, especially on their groceries," says Susan K Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. "In this troubled economy, it's the wrong time to raise taxes on hard-working families, particularly when the revenue would simply pay for more government."
The Rasmussen survey found that 73% of respondents believe that lawmakers who support a tax on soft drinks are more interested in raising additional funds for government. Only a meagre 17% believe that the same lawmakers are interested in improving public health.
"Americans are smart," says Neely. "They know a 'money grab' when they see it. The public doesn't buy that a tax is going to solve a problem as complex as obesity. Taxes like these are highly regressive, hurting those who can least afford it. It's time for lawmakers to bury this ill-conceived tax once and for all."
Importantly, the Rasmussen survey found a staggering 86% of people say that it's not within the government's realm of responsibility to dictate what their constituencies eat or drink, which is a strong rebuke of a tax on soft drinks or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
The Rasmussen data is reinforced by real-world actions where soft drink taxes are being rejected. Last year, congress chose not to pursue a soda tax to pay for healthcare reform. In 2008, the state government in Maine imposed a tax on soft drinks and other beverages to pay for the state-run healthcare programme.
In a November ballot initiative, Maine voters rejected the tax by a two-to-one margin. In New York, the governor publicly scrapped his idea to levy a major tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2009 after New Yorkers strongly revolted. And after proposing it again this year, the governor is feeling the heat once again from constituents fed up with taxes and the nanny state.
Source: American Beverages Association
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