Letter to the Editor: Obesity Tax Would Bloat Fiscal Woes

Published March 22, 2010

According to your March 16 story, “Soda tax seems to be falling flat,” the proposal to levy a soda tax in New York is all but dead … for now.

Taxpayers should still be on guard because that pot of money is far too attractive for the self-styled public health advocates to give up on it for good. New York is among at least a half-dozen cash-strapped states considering “fat” taxes to fill parts of their budget holes.

States have shown a propensity for using discriminatory tax increases on everything from tobacco to candy to alcohol, instead of cutting spending or offering real reforms to address their budget deficits.

The targeted tax approach is regressive and reaps few if any actual public health benefits. Policies that rely on low, neutral and broad-based taxes are the best way to maintain a reliable revenue source that does the least damage to a state’s economy.

Until the Legislature gets its spending priorities in order and starts reforming the way the state operates, increasing taxes will only make the state’s fiscal mess worse.
John Nothdurft

[email protected]
The writer is the budget and tax legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute.

This letter to the editor was originally published in the Albany Times-Union.