Neera Tanden, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), wants to impose a steep national soda tax.
Tanden endorsed the “Medicare for America Act,” legislation introduced by House Democrats that imposed a one cent tax per 4.2 grams of caloric sweetener in sugary drinks.
The Center for American Progress, which is currently led by Tanden, also called for a tax on sugary drinks as part of their “Medicare Extra for All” plan. This plan would impose several “public health excise taxes” including a tax of 1 cent per ounce to finance new spending on liberal priorities.
If one of these sugary drink taxes were imposed, it could result in a 55 to 67 cent tax on a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola. A single 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola costs anywhere from $1.25 to $1.70, so this tax could total 50 percent of the cost of the product. With the Tanden soda tax burden, the cost of a 12-pack of soda could increase by $1.11 to $1.44.
A tax on sugary drinks would also be extremely regressive and disproportionately harm low-income Americans. In fact, according to a 2018 report from the Tax Foundation, 47 percent of the tax collections from a sugary drink excise tax would come from households with income under $50,000.
Even Bernie Sanders came out against a soda tax.
During his 2016 presidential bid Bernie Sanders slammed Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of a soda tax. Sanders said:
“The mechanism here is fairly regressive. And that is, it will be increasing taxes on low income and working people.”
Sanders went on to note that Clinton’s embrace of a soda tax violated her pledge to the American people not to support any tax increase on Americans making less than $250,000 per year.
“Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge,” Sanders said.
Needless to stay, this tax would violate Biden’s pledge to not raise a single penny of any tax on any American making less than $400,000 per year.
The OMB Director is responsible for implementing the President’s policy priorities across the executive branch. If confirmed, Tanden would play a key role in shaping and implementing policy proposals under a President Biden.
Biden has already called for $4 trillion in new or higher taxes on American families and businesses. With Tanden as OMB chief, a sugary drink tax could be next.