Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Excess

Crain's Insider (subs.) is touting the barnstorming tour of NYS Health Commissioner Daines on behalf of the soda tax: "State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines is criss-crossing New York to promote the sugary-drinks tax in Gov. Paterson's proposed budget. Its prospects are uncertain, with the governor reeling and even less respected by the Legislature than he was last year, when a similar tax was defeated. But Daines cites several reasons why this year will be different."

What's different is the strong support it's getting from our friends at 1199-who have developed a healthy turf protecting partnership with GNYHA. As Capitol Confidential has reported: "The Healthcare Education project, a joint effort by the Greater New York Hospital Association and 1199 SEIU, is backing up Gov. David Paterson’s proposal to tax sugar-sweetened soft drinks. But instead of a sales tax, the group is looking to impose an excise tax that would tax by weight – a penny-per-ounce."

But before you think that these folks are really drinking to your health, think again. Daily Politics nails the special interest pleading: "The campaign takes its name from the fact that Paterson has called for a penny-per-ounce excise tax on non-diet sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages and wants to use the resulting revenue both to fund anti-obesity programs and reduce the need for need cuts in state health care spending. (Which explains why SEIU/1199 and the GNYHA, among other health care interests that stand to lose from the cuts Paterson has proposed, are part of this coalition)."

And the governor, for his part, is playing the jester role admirably-as the Insider points out: "This year, the governor is threatening to cut specific funding lines in health care if the drink tax does not pass. That has mobilized institutions that would be hurt by those cuts to support the tax. Legislators, though, could decouple the drink tax and the health spending cuts."

With tax hikes becoming even more unpopular, it is left to the governing classes to devise some cleverer ways to disguise the fact that, once again, they are taking away your hard earned money. With the soda tax they can argue, disingenuously, that it's for your own good-when in reality, at day's end, someone else gets to count the receipts from the proceeds of your paycheck.