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

Could President Obama propose a soda tax?

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

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. Randy

    Why not just "outlaw" the things that he doesn't think is god for us?

    September 9, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Ian

    A burden on the middle class!? Then STOP DRINKING SODA! What a moron, soda is not a staple, do without it. If you are too weak and fat to say no to soda then I say we take some money from you. Just like if you are too weak to say no to alcohol or cigs we take money from you. Essentials and staples should never be taxed, but tax the hell out of things we dont NEED! This is common sense, squeeze money out of fat people who are too weak minded to put the sugar down and pick up some lettuce!

    September 9, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Chip

    Under this administration, I think everything is fair game for a new tax.

    September 9, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Jane/Seattle

    We do not care about Soda taxes. We care about health Care for all. you MSM think you are turning our jheads awy from the real point, but I assure you that many of us are awake and reading, paying attention, and speaking to our Reps in Congress and other places as well. Stop trying to turn our heads now to how Obama will need to tax our Soda, Depends, and every other thing as the Corporations Continue with todays ruling (which I know what it is to be) to consolidate their Fascist Power as the government feigns disbelief that they just could not get this thing done NOW! Wow! this is another re-encactment of the 1990's Ginrich "Contract ON America not for America. Wake up fellow citizens-the End is near and read this book now: naomi Wolf's "The End of America: Letter Of Warning To A (All-sic) Young Patriot:, Naomi Klein's "The Shock doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism", and finally, Thom Hartmann's, "Threshold". Peace

    September 9, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Delphine

    Oh, they certainly are. Insurance companies run them daily.

    September 9, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. Chip

    Oh, nice move, pull out the old "it's for the children" line. He should think about them with every expansion of government he's proposing and the massive spending that comes with it.

    September 9, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. Dylan from Pennsylvania

    I voted for Obama. As my President, he has my full support. However, I cannot accept such a proposal. Studies may indicate correlations between excessive soda consumption and obesity. However, this does not take away the fact that parents have a responsibility to raise their children in a manner that prevents such things from occurring. Kids get obese because they're stuck behind the television or computer all day, their parents don't get them involved or teach them how to enjoy outdoor activities, or otherwise introduce them to activities that equate to exercise.

    Americans don't do well with being told what to do or how to live. This is not Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, nor is it the other Orwell's Time Machine. We can do better than this. If you want people to be healthy, eat healthy and be active, try supporting organizations like local little leagues, boy scouts, girls inc. or other things that get them active. It's not just good for their bodies, but also good for social skills....

    September 9, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Mississippi Mike

    He could and he will if he thinks it will put more money at his disposal without alienating his core voters. Taxes=power. Obama wants all of the power.

    September 9, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    If he does he has broken his promise of not taxing the middle class or anyone making less than $250,000.00 a year.

    September 9, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. NH Independent

    Here come the new taxes......start small..... but what till the socialist is done. Middleclass will pay dearly........

    September 9, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Laura in KS

    I don't know about you, but I don't consider a tax on soda to be a tax on "groceries." Maybe it's just me, but last time I checked, drinking soda was a luxury, not a necessity. And it's kind of presumptive of Mr. Keane to say that the Middle Class would be "squeezed." Do the other classes not drink soda, too? Sounds like another political statement designed to get people all fired up about how the gov't is attacking the "middle class." Most of those people probably don't realize they aren't even in the "middle class."

    September 9, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Jane/Seattle

    Spelling atrocious below. I'm a bad typist, but you get the drift, friends and foe alike.

    September 9, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. SHIRLEY "61"

    We should put a large tax on all of these non-nutritious snack that have help this country to become the most obese of all countries. These fattening things are every bit as dangerous as cigarettes and achohol .

    September 9, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Byron in Minneapolis

    People also don't like Cigarettes being taxed. The fact is, High Fructose Corn Syrup, though delicious and amazing, is AWFUL for you!!! As a former smoker, part of what made me quit was the rising cost of my bad habit. If cola cost more, perhaps more people would consume it in moderation, as was the original intent of those who produced colas. Simply put: Soda is no substitute for Water.

    September 9, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Kitchen Police

    Tax soda and put dentists out of business!!!

    September 9, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Love how the lobbyist is quoted here. What do you expect him to say? We have a huge problem (no pun intended) with obesity in the country and a part of that is due to people drinking sugar in the form of soda. Getting Americans to drink less soda is a good idea no matter how you spin it.

    September 9, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. What's next on the socialist agenda?

    Can we tax the cheeseburgers that he and Biden eat for a photo-op or the burgers, onion rings, fries and shakes that we were not allowed to see Shelly and the wonderful girls eat?

    They are coming after your beef next, then you gum, beer and wine, coffee etc, etc as this is what socialists do.

    As ABBA once sang, one night Obama will meet his Waterloo, too late, the fraud has been exposed already.

    Gibbs will come out and say that he is only considering it and it doesn't have to happen or is not the whole picture and the media will clap and applaud as he is the greatest thing since sliced bread (not too many pieces though, Obambi is watching).

    2010 is going to be beautiful.

    September 9, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. Christina Wants Health Reform NOW

    I am 100% in favor of this. One major soft drink producer's website, for example, states that they sell over a billion servings of their beverages worldwide EVERY DAY – certainly a huge proportion of those drinks are sold to Americans, and a large portion of those must be the sugared (read, high-caloric, insulin-spiking, fat-storing kind). Even a 5 cent tax on each serving of these sugared drinks would pull in a huge amount of revenue to support costs such as those associated with health care reform, without overburdening customers – in addition, the best outcome would hopefully be that more people would choose to drink water or feed milk to their kids, keeping them healthier over their lifetimes. Such a brilliant, simple idea – how can people have serious objections to this?

    September 9, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. TOKYOTO

    If this is what has to be done to prevent parents from allowing their children to drink up to 6 sodas a day, or teach parents that colorless soda is not "healthier" that the rest, and therefore shouldn't put it in a baby bottle- fine by me! Kids shouldn't be fitted for dentures before they reach middle school!

    September 9, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. lee

    What is the old adage, "Say it often enough and loud enough and it will become the truth". Besides she can see the panels from her back porch.

    September 9, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Jimmy the Greek

    Sure Obama could tax soda.

    Why should he keep his campaign promise NOT to raise taxes on individuals making less than $250,000??

    September 9, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Jon

    What a truly horrible idea!!!

    September 9, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Ash in AL

    Taxing soda won't solve the problem.

    Solving the problem of childhood obesity starts with the parents. So let's work on them first.

    September 9, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    If he does, his daughters and their friends may never talk to him again.

    September 9, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Nagudcm Sugna

    This guy could do anything to increase the goverments control over your life and money.

    September 9, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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