May 14th, 2009
03:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Cafferty: Tax cigarettes, alcohol, junk food to pay for health care reform?

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Health care reform won’t come cheap, and that’s why lawmakers are considering higher taxes on everything from alcohol and cigarettes to junk food and soda as a way to pay for it. The Senate Finance Committee is looking into how to pay for this massive overhaul, which could cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Several experts are suggesting taxes on bad behavior, including a $2 dollar tax on a pack of cigarettes and a higher excise tax on alcohol.

Politico reports that the ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Chuck Grassley is nixing the idea of taxing soda and sugary drinks. But it’s easy to see why so-called sin taxes are appealing — taxing cigarettes, junk foods and alcohol could raise $600 billion over 10 years.

A recent poll found support among Americans for imposing such taxes to help pay for health care reform. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows 61 percent of those polled say they would be in favor of raising taxes on items that are thought to be unhealthy — like cigarettes, alcohol, junk food and soda. 37 percent are opposed.

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