The Spectacle Blog

Obama Floats Soda Tax

By on 9.8.09 | 9:20PM

In an interview with Men's Health published Monday, President Obama suggested that a tax on such items as soda and sugary drinks should be put on the table, saying "I actually think it's an idea that we should be exploring."

Obama then acknowledged the political reality of enacting such taxes while providing a glimpse of where he personally stands on the issue:  "Look, people's attitude is that they don't necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, and I understand that. It is true, though, that if you wanted to make a big impact on people's health in this country, reducing things like soda consumption would be helpful."

Putting aside the fact a soda tax would violate Obama's central campaign promise not to raise "any form" of taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year, his statements indicate his support for use of the tax code as a tool to reward and punish certain behaviors as he sees fit.

This incident also reminds us of Obama's habit of giving a verbal head-fake to Americans' innate limited-government sentiments while simultaneously pushing to expand the role of government.

Exhibit 1: On February 24, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, Obama claimed he doesn't believe in "bigger government":  "As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President's Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets, not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't -- not because I'm not mindful of the massive debt we've inherited -- I am." 

Two days later, Obama released his budget, which not only doubles the debt in the next ten years but calls for a government-run "cap and trade" energy regime.

Exhibit 2:  On March 30, in a speech on the state of the auto industry, Obama said:  "Let me be clear: the United States government has no interest or intention of running GM."

But just the day before, Obama fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner.

Exhibit 3:  On June 16, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Obama said:  "I think the irony ... is that I actually would like to see a relatively light touch when it comes to the government."

But just the day before, in a speech to the American Medical Association, Obama called for a government-run "public option" as a pillar of healthcare reform.

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