September 9th, 2009
01:41 PM ET
12 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. Peggy - TX

    Sugar laden sodas have directly damaged three generations of Americans who now suffer from in large numbers from chronic obesity. Likely Sodas are the predominate factor or all other influences. A tax on such an extremely harmful product will discourage wide spread use and also can help pay for the increased healthcare needed today.

    The American beverage corporation want us to think of sugar as an essential major food group like bread and meat, but it is not. Americans are better off drinking water rather then soda and this tax will help encourage the use of artificial sweeteners.

    September 9, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX, USA

    Good idea but not good politics!

    September 9, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. mouli

    It makes sense to kick this habit of addiction to unwanted sugar in the form of soda, for instance. What value does the soda drink offer for one's health? It is time we get serious about it. Tax it, by all means.

    September 9, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. 70 and fed up

    Come on folks who cares what the idiots in office are doing !!! WE HAVE A COMMIE IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND IT IS TIME TO IMPEACH !! send him and all his czars packing !!!!

    September 9, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Marcia Petty

    Palin is an idiot. One wonders how such vapid "wisdom" arises in an age when so much education and information is available. The real death panels are the insurance companies who take your money and then won't cover you; or won't insure you because you have a pre-existing condition. Now, to mimic her folksy (inane) style, there's a death panel for ya.

    September 9, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Carmen

    Would taxing sugary drinks stop people from buying? The answer is no. It is just another way to get more money from the people. Has the higher price in cigarettes stopped people from buying? No, it has not. It just gave the government more money after allowing them to have access to a product as hazardous as smoking. Who benefits, surely not the people. If we are looking to help the people, why not go after the "company's" that make these drinks, force them to change, to make healthier drinks. But, because these companies bring in a big chunk of taxes, they won't. This is just one person's oppinion.

    September 9, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Jilli

    Add a tax on soda to the other sin taxes like cigarettes and alcohol. Not a problem. In the long run this will help reduce health care costs – obesity facillitates all kinds of health issues.

    Go for it.

    September 9, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Sharon Northern Virginia

    We as American have a choice as to what we want to buy and do not want to buy. If we are grocery shopping and soda is to expensive then just maybe we wont buy it, drink water instead. I myself do not drink soda period, it is water only. The president should consider taxing cigarettes, cigars and many other products that are not good for Americans health.

    September 9, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Fan of Common Sense

    When the democrats get done, we are going to be paying tax on the air we breathe......unless of course you are a wealthy democrat or an Obama appointee, in which case you won't pay any tax.

    September 9, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Ralph

    The complaints against this are ridiculous. Previous information has suggested the tax would amount to around .03 per can. That's only 0.36 per 12 pack. I regularly see the price of name-brand sodas range from $2.50 to over four dollars a 12 pack, depending on the retailer and whether or not there is a sale. Likewise, sodas from a machine range from 0.50 to 1.00. The increase is minimal and it would be easy enough for consumers to compensate with wise shopping. Plus, to use the term "groceries" to refer to soda is a bit of a stretch. It's not exactly a staple.

    September 9, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Randolph Carter, the beer czar

    Soda is lame. Overpriced sugar water. No wonder so many Americans are big lumbering galoots. I'll stick with bottled water, beer and the occasional bourbon, thank you very much. have a nice day!

    September 9, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Tax and fees,Tax and fees and Tax again, where were you folks when taxing smoking was sold as the fix to the moral character of America? Now it going to be soda pop, gum, candy bars, chips, Big macs and Whoppers.
    But we need a big government that controls our every second of life here in the good old USA. Because doing right has no end.
    This is not what this country was founded as, I'm responsible for me, not everyone else or my Government.
    How about reducing spending and thus lowering taxes for a change?

    September 9, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. MJ

    What's next? Chewing gum tax because it could cause cavities? How about disposable diapers, candy, bottled water, toilet paper .... The possibilities are endless to pay for the 11 trillion debt. When does this bureaucracy stop$$$$. Here's an idea. Let's limit the number of children one can have. Tax the excess.

    September 9, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Liza

    A soda tax is a great idea. Isn't this how other countries help pay for healthcare? They tax candies and soda.

    September 9, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Kat Thomas

    Mabey he should worry about his smoking addiction and leave others alone to worry about their soda addiction.

    September 9, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Charlotte

    The Middle Class is not forced to drink soda, just like they are not forced to smoke cigarettes. In fact I will boldly suggest that the drinking of soda is far less "forced" than the smoking of cigarettes insofar as it does not contain a highly addictive drug, other than caffiene which can easily be obtained through coffee and tea.....thus taxing soda is no more onerous on the Middle Class than taxing tobacco. I am a soda drinker myself (only diet, though, I really hate sugared sodas, they don't quench my thirst) but if it is taxed I will either pay the extra or stop drinking it. There are other liquids available.....

    September 9, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Mark Cross Junction VA

    When will the taxes stop under this idiot. All you can eat buffets, pizza hut tuesday night 2 for 1 deal, are these included in the fat tax.? Create jobs, hell, he wants to keep everyone broke and not being able to afford something as simple as a drink. I'm wishing away the next three years and 5 months so this idiot will be voted out of office.

    September 9, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. now that is brilliant

    soda is just plain bad for you

    no one questions that

    if you are going to tax smoking, and tax you do in a big way

    then tax soda

    for that matter, all things sugar should be taxed, sugar is like a drug

    and other snack foods that just cause the U.S. to gain weight

    September 9, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |

    I think thats a great idea

    September 9, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Shirley In California

    Speaking as a person who loves sodas, I would not mind being taxed more. I'm open to just about anything that will help turn this economy around. Secondly, I don't want my children to develop the bad habit of drinking too many sodas as I have. While this won't stop people including, children from doing what they wish (we witnessed this during the prohibition) – it will help curve the appetite.

    Go President Obama! We support you 100%. The republicans have every reason to worry ABOUT you. They can't find an answer FOR you.

    September 9, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Johnny DC


    Please, please, please create a soda tax, Obama. The results would be excellent.

    September 9, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. kevin

    yes yes please do. com

    September 9, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. Lynne

    Best way to reduce health care cost is to reduce sugar intake, replace them with healthier beverages and to increase exercise. Once again it is the corporations that howl and all the elected officials receiving contributions from them will follow lock step.

    September 9, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. Robin in Tampa, FL

    Soda is bad for you anyways ...

    September 9, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. dgh

    People think with their stomachs-if they want it, they'll pay for it. Taxing soda won't solve the obesity problem any more than taxing cigarettes made people quit smoking.

    September 9, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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