tagged w/ American Beverage Association
Washington lobbyists have been enjoying a multi-million-dollar sugar rush from the food industry.
Soft drink makers, supermarket companies, agriculture and the fast-food business have poured millions into campaigning against what they fear could be a burgeoning national movement to raise money for health care reform by taxing sweetened beverages.
During the first nine months of 2009, the industry groups stepped up their lobbying in Congress. They have spent more than $24 million on the issue of a national excise tax on sweetened beverages and on other legislative and regulatory issues, according to an examination of lobbying reports filed with the Senate Office of Public Records. The review shows that 21 companies and organizations reported that they lobbied specifically on the proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages - which among other things would include sodas, juice drinks and chocolate milk.
About $5 million of the money was spent on a national advertising campaign aimed at Capitol Hill lawmakers and promoting a newly formed coalition called Americans Against Food Taxes . The group bills itself on its website as a coalition of "responsible individuals, financially-strapped families, [and] small and large businesses" but its 400-plus membership list is dominated by industry heavyweights such as Burger King Corporation, Coca Cola, Pepsico and Domino's Pizza.
Many health officials and advocacy groups have argued for years that sugary drinks, particularly those with high-fructose corn syrup, have been key contributors to a rise in obesity rates in the United States, especially among children. Some argue that the time is right for a soda tax, which they say could not only cut consumption but also generate revenue to close state budget gaps and pay for new health care programs.
A proposal for a national excise tax on soft drinks surfaced in a May funding policy options paper during the Senate Finance Committee's deliberations on health care reform. Food lobbyists attacked then and continued their efforts in July when President Obama raised the possibility of a soda tax in an interview with Men's Health magazine. The proposal has not emerged in any of the health care reform bills still in play on Capitol Hill.
But the issue may be gaining traction in some key states. This week, California lawmakers are holding a high-profile hearing in Los Angeles to examine the link between childhood obesity and sugary drinks. In New York, Gov. David Paterson has revived the idea of a sugared beverage tax after a previous proposal was shot down by the legislature earlier this year in the face of industry opposition.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/04/soda-tax-mobilizes-food-l_n_345840.htmlWashington lobbyists have been enjoying a multi-million-dollar sugar rush from the... more