The Americans Against Food Taxes coalition released two new ads this week designed to remind lawmakers that taxing groceries like sugar-sweetened beverages (which would include juices, teas, sports drinks, vitamin waters and flavored waters, along with soft drinks) would be a swipe at middle-class families during what are still tough economic times. To take the message of these ads a step further, it would also break a promise not to raise taxes on the middle-class.
The television ad features a mom and her family expressing concern about a tax during tough times. A second print ad, which appeared in the Washington Post this past Sunday and will make future appearances, shows the breadth and depth of this coalition. The coalition includes ethnic organizations like chapters of the NAACP, LULAC and other minority groups. It includes local unions, including Teamsters' locals. It includes the Illinois chapter of AARP. It includes health organizations, including the Hispanic Medical Association. And it includes numerous businesses and industry groups. (For full disclosure, the American Beverage Association is spearheading the AAFT coalition.)
All members of the coalition are concerned about the direct impact of a discriminatory and regressive tax on juice drinks and soda. But they're also worried about the slippery slope this tax would create.
Folks don't like government telling them what to eat or drink to begin with. But when government uses the tax code to start reaching into the grocery cart, there won't be any stopping them. First beverages, next snacks, desserts, cereals, red meat or chicken that's not free-range. Basically, whatever some activist determines you shouldn't be consuming.
For government, the issue isn't necessarily about public health. It's about money. The public health advocates just give them the cover to grab it.
And for skeptics who think the slippery slope argument is overblown? Well, the activists started their vendetta by just calling for a tax on soft drinks. That didn't get them enough money or enough attention. Because guess what? Soft drink sales have been declining over the past years while obesity rates have risen - that kind of undermines their argument that soft drinks are a unique contributor to obesity.
So they started broadening their target list to all beverages with even a smidgen of sugar. It gets them more money - and, it starts the slippery slope. First soft drinks, then teas, then juice drinks, then sports drinks, then waters, etc., etc., etc. They just keep grabbing for more.
Anyway, the AAFT has a nice new television ad with a message from a mom about the impact of a soda tax on families during a recession. And a coalition ad shows that there’s a whole lot of people and groups backing her up.