But what struck me most was the assertion that the Congress would prefer to generate revenue to pay for reform by taxing the rich (incomes over $250,000) than by levying a tax on soda and other sugary drinks, as the latter is thought to be "politically unpopular". Nothing about this discussion strikes me as being more absurd than this logic. Slapping a tax on the rich is like smacking the wrong puppy on the nose for making a puddle in the house -- the action and reaction are completely divorced from each other and therefore no behavior change can be expected.
Here are some facts. Between the 1960s and the millennium, the caloric consumption from sweetened beverages has doubled, adding over 200 empty calories to our daily diet. Since the intake of extra 50 calories/day results in a 1 kg/year weight gain, it does not take a Nobel laureate to connect the dots between sweet drinks and our much lamented obesity problem. And if you believe that obesity is the public health scourge that it is purported to be, as our legislators seem to, is it not then illogical to take off the table a measure that will result in not only restricted exposure to the problem, but also in improved access to the solution?
Perhaps the Congress is thinking that taxing the richest 1% of the American people will reduce their consumption of sweetened drinks enough to mitigate the overall societal obesity epidemic and reduce healthcare costs. If so, they need finance experts even more urgently than the FDA!