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Forbes reports that a compelling argument is being made in some Washington corridors for a “fat tax” that would both raise needed revenue for the government and promote greater wellness among US citizens.

Here’s the pro argument:

“According to a study released Monday by experts at the Urban Institute and the University of Virginia, a 10% excise or sales tax on fattening foods could raise $522 billion over the next 10 years. A 20% tax could raise $937 billion. Among its other uses (like paying down the deficit), that money could be used to defray the costs of health care reform or to curb the rise in obesity.

“Unless consumption patterns change, 40% of American adults will be obese by 2015, the study says. Obesity-related issues account for more than $200 billion in health care spending annually, it says.”

On the other side is a coalition of industry groups and private companies known as Americans Against Food Taxes, which is “waging a multimillion-dollar media campaign in the Washington, D.C., area to stomp out any thoughts of food or drink taxes.”

One ad, seen on cable television, has the following narration: “This is no time for Congress to be adding taxes on the simple pleasures we all enjoy, like juice drinks and soda, but that's just what some in Congress are talking about … We all want to improve health care, but taxes never made anyone healthy. Education, exercise and balanced diets do that.”
KC's View:
The general consensus seems to be that taxes are going to be raised…and that Congress is seeking the most politically palatable way to generate more revenue without its members losing their jobs.

There are ways in which I think that people who don't take care of themselves can and should be penalized; I do believe, for example, that people who behave irresponsibly in terms of their own health ought to pay more for health insurance…just like people who are lousy drivers pay more for auto insurance.

But you can't just heap all of these taxes and fees on people ad infinitum… Eventually, the system will break down.