Monday, December 15, 2008

Fat Attax

So, in an effort to reduce the weight of New Yorkers, as well as the state's huge budget deficit, Governor Paterson's proposed a fat tax: "The Democrat also reportedly plans to increase taxes on insurance policies, on non-diet sodas under an "obesity tax," reviving the state sales tax on clothing, and changes in funding of hospitals and health care providers that could shift more health costs on individuals and employers."

It looks as if Mayor Bloomberg has a competitor in the nanny department: "Errol Cockfield, spokesman for Gov. David Paterson who is scheduled to release his budget proposal Tuesday to the Legislature, wouldn't deny the tax proposals first reported in the Albany Times Union Sunday. He said details of the budget will be released Tuesday. The obesity tax would raise $404 million, according to the report."

What's next? When will the state realize that taxing shouldn't be a methodology used for behavior modification-and as with all of these sin taxes, it is low income New Yorkers, who can least afford it, who bear the biggest burden. But the fat tax is just the tip of the iceberg. As the NY Times reports this morning: "Gov. David A. Paterson will propose a $4 billion package of taxes and fees on a range of items, from sugary soft drinks made by Coca-Cola and Pepsi to luxury items like furs and boats, when he unveils his plan to close a deficit that has ballooned to $15 billion, people with knowledge of the plan said on Sunday."

Everyone and every one's interests will be gored in this budget-so be prepared for an Albany Armageddon this session-especially for health care: "Hospitals, nursing homes and other health care centers, already pinched by the first round of budget cuts earlier this year, are bracing for a fight. “I expect it to be an unmitigated disaster for health care institutions in New York,” Kenneth E. Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said in an interview on Friday. “I expect we will see a significant downsizing of the health care delivery system, and it’s at a time when people can least afford the cutbacks.”

All of which is exacerbated by the absence of any senate leadership: "One of the biggest obstacles Mr. Paterson will have to overcome is a Senate narrowly divided between Democrats and Republicans that has yet to settle on a leader for next year, amid continued wrangling among Democrats."

This is all shaping up to be a bloodbath-with interest groups and political careers likely to become victims of the battle. In this climate, why anyone would want the mantle of leadership is the question.