by Katherine Mangu-Ward
Coca-Cola Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent said the idea of a federal tax on soft drinks, under consideration by the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama, is “outrageous.”
“I have never seen it work where a government tells people what to eat and what to drink,” Kent said today, responding to an audience question at the Rotary Club of Atlanta. “If it worked, the Soviet Union would still be around.”
The Coke CEO was responding to a quote from Obama in the October issue of Men's Health, about the president's openness to anti-obesity soda taxes.
‘‘I actually think it’s an idea that we should be exploring. There’s no doubt that our kids drink way too much soda.”
In fact, this seems to be a bit of a nothing-burger (which has no calories!), since Obama follows up on the quote with this:
"Obviously there is resistance on Capitol Hill to those kinds of sin taxes....Legislators from certain states that produce sugar or corn syrup are sensitive to anything that might reduce demand for those products. And look, people's attitude is that they don't necessarily want Big Brother telling them what to eat or drink, and I understand that."
In his heart of hearts, Obama would clearly love to tax soda. And he may yet get his wish. But for the moment he is worn down, beaten by uppity legislators and people who like fizzy, corn syrupy* drinks. Having the CEO of an all-American/massive multi-national company compare his administration's policies to those of the Soviet Union should be good for another few weeks of presidential despair.
Keep it up, Mr. Kent, and you too might earn the coveted Presidential Jackass Medal.
* Apologies to readers who get upset about a mention of corn syrup without the mandatory we-must-end-corn-subsidies disclaimer. You are very right, my brothers. We must end corn subsidies. They make no sense and cause an impressive array of negative unintended consequences. Down with corn subsidies!
I will be more vigilant in the future. But just in case: Henceforth, please read every instance of the words "corn syrup" within the reason.com domain as "corn syrup, which should really, really not be subsidized by the federal government." Thanks.