In A Struggling Economy, Tax Advocates Bark Up The Wrong Tree

The nations economy continues to struggle. Many businesses are finding it hard to borrow money from banks that would enable them to begin hiring people again. Consumers remain cautious about spending.But tax fever continues to run high among career tax advocates, and soda taxes is their latest bandwagon. These advocates are not concerned about placing new burdens on consumers and businesses at a time when they can least afford them. To tax advocates, theres no such thing as a bad tax.The fact that tax advocates are ramping up their calls for more food and beverage taxes demonstrates how out of touch these individuals are with the concerns of most people.One of the most extreme examples I came across was a guest editorial published last week by the San Jose Mercury News in San Jose, Calif. from Harold Goldstein, executive director of the Davis-based California Center for Public Health Advocacy. Goldstein supports a state bill to levy a penny tax on every teaspoon of added sugar or other caloric sweeteners in commercial beverages to fund childhood obesity prevention and other children's health programs.Goldstein claims new research supports the rationale of the traditional Twinkie tax, which holds that taxing certain products will encourage healthier habits. This is a discussion unto itself. The nations biggest concern, however, is the economy, and the impact of taxes on jobs is less debatable than the role taxes play on consumer behavior. And nowhere is this evidenced more dramatically than in the state where Goldsteins organization is based: California.With unemployment above 12 percent, California has one of the worst economies in the nation. The governor declared a fiscal emergency in January that includes possible reductions in services and pay cuts for state workers.Tax advocates like Goldstein either dont make any connection between unemployment and taxes, or they dont care about the economic consequences that taxes create. Californias taxes have driven businesses out of the state, eroding tax revenues paid by businesses and their employees.Fixing the nations economy should be the top priority of our nations policymakers. Higher taxes will not help fix the economy.If youre interested in learning more about what you as an individual can do to fight food and beverage taxes, go to