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. Karen Satterlee

    Instead of taxing our foods it would be better for the U.S. Government
    to do a ongoing tv public service ad campaing about food and nutriction. Soda is only a small part of the problem. Fast food and
    poor choice of foods is the problem. Most people know very little about nutriction and how to feed their familties. Its all well in good
    to have the food pyramid and food labeling but most people don't
    know just what that means. I can safely say most of us watch tv
    that is were the information needs to the spread.

    September 9, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. rachel

    Soda is cheaper than Juice go ahead tax the poor people more.

    September 9, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Craig of LA

    I have worked in health care for 30 years. With the unprecedented number of American adults and children that are morbidly obese, this makes perfect sense. The tax will provide negative reinforcement to unhealthy behavior. Treatment for diseases associated with obesity are costly and raise everyone's premiums. I also think smoking should be banned as treating the heart attacks, cancer and emphysema of smokers raises everyone's premiums dramatically. Both sodas and smoking are personal choices, not necessities, as such a tax works to encourage better choices and a healthier society. Another method would be to charge smokers and the obese much higher premiums so the rest of us are not harmed financially by their bad choices.

    September 9, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. FL

    I wholeheartedly agree that soda is a bad choice for a person's health and I stopped drinking it completely about 5 years ago. The problem Obama faces here is with his faulty belief system of how the gov't should work. Here in America, we believe in the right to choose for ourselves on many issues, and what we consume is one of those areas where people do not want the gov't telling them what they can and can't do. Obama believes that the gov't knows best and should be able to tell everyone what they can and can't do. He wants the gov't to provide health care for all people, but once they do that, the gov't can then make rules about what you can eat and drink. Right now he is talking taxes, to make soda less appealing due to the price, but have the taxes on cigarettes reduced smoking? Taxes don't reduce consumption, but educating people about the health risks can.

    September 9, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. bozo the obama

    "i will only tax the wealthy"...signed hugo obama

    September 9, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Connie in Tennessee

    All the taxes on cigarettes amount to a tax increase on the middle class but that didn't stop the Representatives from raising them. It has decreased the amount of smokers which is a good thing. People need to take responsibility for their own health but they will not do it so it is time for Government intervention!

    September 9, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. bella

    Soda is right behind alcohol in the damage it can do to a person's body. There is a substantial high level of sugar, as well as fillers, herbs, etc. in Soda. All are dangerous to one's health. And it is researched and documented that DIET SODA with aspartaime and other artificals sweeteners is the cause of MANY osteopenia, osteoporosis, and lumbar back and other spine medical conditions. I would support a tax on Soda! We really need to get real and take control of the many health issues that affect millions of people in this Country. Sugar/ Soda/Diet Soda/Fast Food, high fat content!! It is time to promote a healthy diet in America! FORGET ABOUT THE JUNK FOOD! It is literally killing us!

    September 9, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. a 25 year old independent

    good we have to many unhealthy overweight americans in this country anyway, a tax may help the person think before the buy soda, expecialy if they drink it all the time. People that live more healthy should recieve tax benefits to encourage our population to be more healthy, and get made fun of less by othre nations

    September 9, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Kay in WA

    This kind of tax is ridiculous. Since when did my waistline become the government's business!? As long as I am still on my own healthcare plan – which I pay for myself, no employer subsidy – the government does not get to say what foods are or are not for me.

    September 9, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. A different George W.

    If someone is eating McD's and guzzling sodas and frozen foods
    I would see no problem in that food being taxed – just as we tax
    cigarettes and other 'bad for you' ingestibles in order to pay for a
    wide-spread access to healthcare.

    Despite what pundits say, it is quite easy to make 'healthy' food
    decisions, and by the looks of the masses gorging themselves on
    fast food inside massive, expensive gas guzzling SUV's I don't believe for a single second that the majority of fast food chompers 'choose' to
    eat fast food because it is more affordable in a rough economy. You're
    spending wrecklessly on gas and cars so it makes sense you'd do the
    same with fast food.

    September 9, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. Biff

    I agree and it should go further. We should only eat corn and rice and only wear white plain clothes because those are easier and less expensive to make. Anyone that eats a restaurant meal that cost more than $100 should have to pay 100% tax on said meal because that is indulging.

    September 9, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. Dan

    This would assure him a 1 term president. Ask the former governor of NJ who tried to outlaw sunny side up eggs. It literally is the bread and butter issues that get the biggest response from voters.

    September 9, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Bips

    Good for you Mr. President its time that the kids stop eating and drinking junk. This is why we are the most obese country in the world.

    September 9, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't like new taxes, but this is one way to get people to pay attention to what they need to consume and what should be done in moderation. I hope that people understand that very sugary drinks shouldn't be the primary consummed drink. If this is the only way to reduce the amount of soda consummed by tweens and teens, then it is a good thing.

    September 9, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  15. Scott, Tucson

    This has nothing to do with children obesity period! It's nothing more than feeding the governmental obesity of our tax hungry politicians by allowing them to further stick their thieving hands into our wallets.

    We the American people need to purge any and all incumbents out of office for the next 3-4 election cycles to really have the change we are asking for. Only than maybe our representatives will listen to us.

    September 9, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. cat

    Why are we The American people being punished for products that our government allows in our markets, instead of more taxing which is truly unfair just take the items out of our market, hey if they are not good for us, then no one should benefit from there sale.

    September 9, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Kate

    I am old, retired, and disabled. "Disabled" is putting it mildly. I do good to get out of the bed every day. I do not smoke, drink, or do drugs. I nor my kids are not overweight. Therefore, I feel compelled to speak out on this one. I have very few pleasures left in life. I have paid taxes all my life. And I do not want to pay more tax on about the only pleasure I have left...a good, cold diet coke. Personally, I think President Obama needs to take a very long vacation. Does this man ever sleep? He seems intent on forcing his beliefs and wants on the entire American public. Obama...take a rest please!

    September 9, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. Jeff in FL

    No much for no new taxes on the middle class Mr President...

    September 9, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. southerncousin

    It would be another tax increase on those who make less than $250K per year just like he said he would not do (of course that was so he could get the votes, liberals always do that) Remember the first bill he signed when he took office was a cigarette tax increase to fund health care for the children of illegal aliens. Sorry dope smokers, liberals lie and Hussein Obama is the absolute worst liar to ever take an oath of office, even beats Clinton (both of them).

    September 9, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Kick the bums out

    I really wish Big Brother would get out of my life.

    September 9, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Mark

    He'll try to tax EVERYTHING!!!

    September 9, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. Steve (the real one)

    Once again the government proposes to parent the nation's consumers! We are just not smart enough to make our own decisions. Still have not met a tax they did not like! We are expected to just trust the government but the government has a huge problem trusting the people! Parents just need to be parents and NOTtheir children's friend! Once again, not the responsibility of government!

    September 9, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. E.J. Guerrant

    Perhaps Obama should have said "People's attitutude is that they don't necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, BUT when they end up with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases which are often attributable, at least in part, to what they eat or drink then Big Brother is often the one who foots the bill through Medicare, Medicaid, and other health and welfare programs."

    September 9, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. Barry In Las Vegas

    Show me a tax the Democrats don't like. Of course they will go for a soda tax. Wait until the complete details come out on the "penalties" we will have to pay in the Senate Bill.

    Also under strong consideration – a Value Added Tax like they have in Europe.

    I can't wait for 2010 so we can elect some common sense people back into office.

    September 9, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. Idiot_Pelosi

    Here we go, Obummer's socialist agenda is starting to kick in. If you don't do what I believe in, I'm going to tax you or have some fee / fine.

    Obummer, Time for you to RESIGN.

    September 9, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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