Pepsi has been taking advantage of the similarity between its red, white and blue color scheme -- and the iconic red, white and blue "O" that the Obama campaign used through last years' presidential contest.
It may be rethinking that strategy pretty soon. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that taxing sodas and other sugary confections is one of many possible ideas on the table as Congress tries to figure out ways to pay for President Obama's ambitious health-care plan:
The taxes would pay for only a fraction of the cost to expand health-insurance coverage to all Americans and would face strong opposition from the beverage industry. They also could spark a backlash from consumers who would have to pay several cents more for a soft drink.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based watchdog group that pressures food companies to make healthier products, plans to propose a federal excise tax on soda, certain fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and ready-to-drink teas. It would not include most diet beverages. Excise taxes are levied on goods and manufacturers typically pass them on to consumers.
Opposition to this trial balloon will come from more than just the beverage industry. As ridiculously popular as the president remains -- a fact that savvy conservatives are starting to admit publicly -- taxes on sodas can start building a backlash. This is a bad idea that the American Medical Association has been pushing for a few years now -- with limited success.
Congress might take note that the last person who floated this is currently the least popular governor in the country? He ended up backing down. The soda tax wasn't the main reason New York Gov. David Paterson's job approval rating has fallen through the floor -- but it is one of them (along with proposals for an iTunes tax and 130-plus other taxes and fees)!
Simply put, moves like this help make the argument of the conservative "Tea Party" folks. Opponents of the early spring protests asked why were protesters complaining about "taxation" when Obama included a tax cut for 95 percent of taxpayers in the stimulus package. To paraphrase the old '92 Clinton presidential campaign: "It's the spending, stupid." All the spending -- completed and proposed -- which the Obama administration has unleashed is unsustainable. Especially, when so much of it is borrowed money. The current deficit is already at $1.8 trillion -- borrowing nearly fifty cents for every dollar spent. Raising taxes is inevitable to cover current spending. And, as the proposed soda tax shows, new policies equal new taxes.
The president had better proceed very carefully. Higher taxes on the little guy could be just the thing to take the fizz out of the president's "pop"-ularity.