California lawmakers are considering imposing a $1.5 billion “soda tax” on the economically beleaguered residents of that nearly bankrupt state. State Senator Dean Florez (D-Fresno) has proposed to tax sweetened drinks at the rate of a penny per teaspoon of sugar in an ill-guided attempt to control obesity rates. That would add an extra 9 to 10 cents to the average can of pop.
Florez claims his new tax would help address obesity-related health care problems that cost California $41 billion each year. Not surprisingly, “Twinkie Tax” activist Kelly Brownell lent his so-called expertise to this unfounded alarmism. At a November 2009 hearing attended by Florez, Brownell testified that science has established a definite link between obesity and sugar-sweetened beverages. Florez himself even bellowed that “I would like to end the Pepsi Generation.”
But as we’ve explained, there is no conclusive evidence supporting a link between soda consumption and obesity. In a statement yesterday denouncing the foolishness of the Florez soda tax that was picked up by several California newspapers, we noted, “It’s only the overconsumption of calories, whether from soda or other foods and drinks, that leads people to put on extra pounds.”
Politicians, though, are oblivious to the science. Their real motivation is to find another source of revenue to subsidize reckless government spending. What California needs isn’t “fat taxes,” but for its so-called leaders to go on a spending diet.