September 9th, 2009
01:41 PM ET
13 years ago

Could President Obama propose a soda tax?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama acknowledge he would likely get some pushback from legislators on Capitol Hill whose states produce high quantities of sugar or sugary products."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Grabbing a soda out of a vending machine could eventually come with a higher price tag, according to President Barack Obama, who says he would consider taxing the sugary beverages to benefit the nation's children.

"I actually think it's an idea that we should be exploring," President Obama recently told Men's Health magazine. "There's no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda. And every study that's been done about obesity shows that there is as high a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity as just about anything else," Obama said, adding that soda isn't the main cause of childhood obesity, but calling it a "major factor."

Obama acknowledge he would likely get some pushback from legislators on Capitol Hill whose states produce high quantities of sugar or sugary products.

Kevin Keane, Senior Vice President of The American Beverage Association, a lobbying firm which represents the producers of non-alcoholic beverages including Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi, says the president's proposal would amount to a new tax on the middle class.

"All it would do is further squeeze middle class families who are already struggling through a recession," Keane told CNN. "This certainly doesn't seem the time to be taxing people's groceries at a time when they are struggling to keep their health care, keep their house." Americans don't like being told what to do, he added - a point which Obama himself acknowledged.

"People's attitude is that they don't necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, and I understand that," Obama said. "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."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Florence

    Oh no, another issue that will raise hell with Reps. What do you think they’ll come up with this time? “Death Panel” is already over used. Sara stole that famous quote from Betsy McLiar, the drug company ex-employee, who already got fired from her job. Maybe Sara needs to hire her to write her bull on her Face Book for her.

    September 9, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Obama 2.0

    and a chips and snowcone tax 😉

    September 9, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. seebofubar

    We can solve all of our economic woes by taxing all of the moronic jiberish and lies that spews from this sorry excuse of a president's mouth.

    September 9, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Mike in MN

    This is the kind of over reaching government contol you get with liberals in control.
    In America we are free to live our own lives, decide what we want to eat, what we want to wear, were we want to live, what kind of auto we want to drive, what we want to do for entertainment, what we want to do for a living and on and on.
    Liberals like Obama don't want us to make those decisions. We might make some he personally does not like. So they do whatever they can through government to make us do what they personally want us to do.
    That's not freedom as we define it in America. America is different, it is better, it is not Europe or Cuba or Venezuela.
    It was decided over 200 years ago that the United States of America would founded on individual freedom never before seen in the world.
    If America is too free for people like Obama, there are other nations in the world that are more suited to his vision of government control. He sould resign and move to one on those nations and leave America to free Americans.

    September 9, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. SlowGun

    Soda = liquid calories

    Add it to the list of other sin taxes...I drink water!

    September 9, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Steph

    A new tax on the middle class??? What are all of us in the middle class required to drink unhealthy soda? Is there a right to cheap sugary beverages written down somewhere that I'm not aware of?

    Why is it that sugary sodas are cheaper than healthy drink options when I stop at the gas station or grocery store? If the healthy options were cheaper, we'd be a much healthier nation.

    September 9, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. Fancysmiley from Conyers

    He does have a point about the increasing number of fat kids. It's almost unreal. It's unnerving to see an 8 yr old who weighs more than me. Not only is it bad for their health, kids are cruel, emotionally it can't be easy at all. But then again, when you have fat parents who don't care about their weights, you'll have a fat kid. Fatties beget fatties.

    September 9, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. Mic

    Why not he taxes everything else and doen't call it tax. Is that what socialist do.

    September 9, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. Susan

    It isn't the soda, it's the high fructose corn syrup! We need to change the ag subsidies and stop producing so much of this crap.

    September 9, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. Travis In Colorado

    Tax Spend. And apologize to the world for America's sacrifice's, and release terrorists from Gitmo, that's all Obama's done since he got elected. Oh, and go on vacation every other week. And then there's that failed health care reform thing..........................................

    September 9, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. ran

    A Simple solution use less sugar in the soda. Everyone wins.

    September 9, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Scott L

    TAX TAX TAX. That is the liberal mindset. Penalize people for wanting to drink a soda.

    The Fiscal Conservative approach is to give them a tax credit by getting a gym membership. If you opt in, you benefit. If you opt out you get nothing.

    A soda tax penalizes EVERYONE even the people who only drink one or two sodas a month.

    Understand the difference?

    September 9, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Only if he imposes such a tax on those making more than $250,000 a year. Otherwise, it's just another example of him being an outright liar.

    September 9, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. chris

    WOW he wants to add a 35cent tax to each gallon of gas pumped PLUS a tax on F-ing soda.........WOW is he next going to want to tax the internet i use at home b/c i'm spending too much time on that? how about the flour, sugar, chocolate chips and everything else to make cookies? Hey HALLOWEEN is coming up. HOW ABOUT TAXING those big grab bags of candy. i mean if you are going after soda how about CANDY TOO!!!

    September 9, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. MrPragmatic

    Ya know, all the popular national brand sodas are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and if most people understood how HFCS affects the body they would be wondering why that sweetener isn't a controlled substance. I think a soda tax is a brilliant idea but I would also suggest it be limited to products that are not sweetened by pure cane or beet sugar. All the other products that are sweetened with HFCS, asparatame, saccharin, sucralose, etc. really should be labeled with more warnings and taxed. They're not healthy products and may actually be dangerous.

    September 9, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. shmeckel

    I don’t usually go with Obama, but this sounds pretty good.

    It will be funny to read the read these responses about the middle class tax. Which all you suckers will have to pay, but not me, i make less than 250k per year.

    September 9, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Enough

    Sure why not, another tax by Democrats. why stop there when there is so much more they can tax us on. Wake up people all Democrats know how to do is tax and spend, tax and spend.

    September 9, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. JES

    Why desn't the president and all of his wonderful, smart, and cheating people in DC just take all of our money and give us the real workers what they think we should have. I forgot that's what they are doing now.

    It's nice to see we have a government for the government run by the government that just screws the people who elected them into office.

    You wanted change well you got it just more of the self serving government servants as least that what they keep saying.

    Servants for them only the heck with us.

    September 9, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. Jefe

    Extreme Taxation already exists on tobacco and alcohol, why not for High-Fructose Corn Syrup beverages which contribute to obesity and diabetes? If pop drinkers don't want the government pressuring them as to what to consume through taxation, then they should stand up for fairness in taxes on tobacco and alcohol as well. Conversely, if we're going to tax to encourage healthier behavior, then we should add additional taxes to foods high in saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, and foods artificially altered through chemical means.

    September 9, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. Eat their Broccolli

    Brilliant, now give tax cuts to broccolli packagers for putting sponge-bob on the package to encourage our kids to eat right.

    Toothpaste companies can get incentives for making little Johnny brush his teeth, by putting a picture of a white toothed OBAMA telling them to 'Do this for ME'.

    Makes me want to pour sugar on top of my kids pot-roast...just to
    protest this Pompous President.

    September 9, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. stormerF

    Too much spending,too much debt,too costly. 500 Billion from Medicare to start a new program and not fix the existing one. Fix Social Security and Medicare,before we start another new Health care program,that we do not have the money for.

    September 9, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. John

    Outlawing tobacco would be even more helpful.

    September 9, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  23. Proud Member..Party of No

    "to benefit the nation's children" my rear end........this is just another way for our marxist president to pay for his policies and redistribute wealth.

    2012 can't come fast enough so we can kick this clown to the curb.

    September 9, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  24. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    If it moves, tax it.
    If it keeps moving, regulate it.
    And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

    - Ronald Reagan

    There's nothing Democrats love so much as the double-edged sword of taxation. It's not only a means of trying to force people to do what the I'm-smarter-than-you-are "Liberal elite" think you ought to be doing, it also sucks more money out of the pockets of people they think are too dumb to spend it properly–"properly" being defined as "the way government wants to spend it"–and gives it to government to waste on more welfare programs.

    September 9, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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