Reporters chronicle the death of a sugary drink tax

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

With a classic tale of powerful established interests, millions and millions of dollars and savvy lobbying, Chicago Tribune reporters Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger draw our attention to the news vacuum that has formed where debate over a sugary drink tax used to be. From its optimistic beginnings to its eventual slow strangulation, Hamburger and Geiger track the rise and fall of the push to tax sugary drinks in order to discourage poor dietary choices and help fund health care reform.

Photo by libraryman via Flickr.

The reporters do a wonderful job of chronicling every lobbying pressure point pushed by the industry, from faux grassroots to industry alliances to muli-million-dollar advertising campaigns. Here’s a small sample of their overview:

The White House has dismissed the idea, however, even after President Barack Obama had expressed interest last summer. A key congressional committee, though initially seeming receptive, ended up refusing to consider it. Several minority advocacy groups, including some committed to fighting obesity, lined up against the tax after years of receiving financial support from the industry.
Meanwhile, beverage lobbyists attacked several nutrition scientists, accusing them of bias and distorting available evidence. The beverage industry also financed research that reached conclusions favorable to its position.

(Hat tip to Audrea Huff of the Orlando Sentinel‘s Fitness Center blog)

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