March 23/Washington/American Beverage Association via PR Newswire -- A national poll released recently by Rasmussen Reports shows that 56% of Americans oppose a tax on soft drinks, strongly believing that lawmakers are far more interested in raising money for more government than in using tax revenue for public health.
The Rasmussen research underscores that Americans are weary of more taxes, highly skeptical that the revenues would go to anything other than bigger government, and extremely leery of the government using the tax code to tell them what to eat or drink. Accordingly, the survey found that only 33% of respondents support an additional tax on soft drinks.
"This poll reinforces that people don't want one more penny in taxes, especially on their groceries," said Susan K. Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. "In this troubled economy, it's the wrong time to raise taxes on hard-working families, particularly when the revenue would simply pay for more government."
The well-regarded Rasmussen survey found that 73 %of respondents believe that lawmakers who support a tax on soft drinks are more interested in raising additional funds for government. Only a meager 17% believe that the same lawmakers are interested in improving public health.
"Americans are smart. They know a money grab when they see it," Neely said. "The public doesn't buy that a tax is going to solve a problem as complex as obesity. Taxes like these are highly regressive, hurting the most those who can least afford it. It's time for lawmakers to bury this ill-conceived tax once and for all."
Importantly, the Rasmussen survey found a staggering 86% of people say that it is not within the government's realm of responsibility to dictate what their constituencies eat or drink -- a clear and strong rebuke of a tax on soft drinks or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
The Rasmussen data is reinforced by real world actions where soft drink taxes are being rejected. Last year, Congress chose not to pursue a soda tax to pay for health care reform. In 2008, the state government in Maine imposed a tax on soft drinks and other beverages to pay for the state-run health care program. In a November ballot initiative, angry Maine voters rejected the tax by a two-to-one margin. In New York, the governor publicly scrapped his idea to levy a major tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2009 after angry New Yorkers strongly revolted. After proposing it again this year, the governor is feeling the heat once again from constituents fed up with taxes and the nanny state.
For more information on the survey, visit: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/taxes/march_2010/56_oppose_sin_taxes_on_junk_food_and_soft_drinks
From the March 29, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition