For the past few days, I’ve been planning on writing a piece about the hearing before the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week. The hearing was in regards to financing comprehensive health care reform. However, I couldn’t do any justice to the topic beyond the writeup at the Brookston Beer Bulletin as well as his subsequent call for action.

In case you haven’t been following this end of the news much, it was recommended by 3 of the panel of 13 “witnesses” that a significant increase in taxes on cigarettes and beer would be the best way to pay for Obama’s proposted health care reform. Holy moly. Like beer needs any more taxation. I’ll sum up the expert opinions here, but you should go read the Brookston articles to have them broken down. They’re fantastic.

The expert opinions sum up to:

Alcohol is bad for you. If you tax it heavily, not only do you recoup costs but you also create a prohibitive barrier to over-consumption.

The interesting thing there to me is that there are known health benefits to moderate alcohol consumption. On the other hand, there are no benefits to consumption of high fructose corn syrup, unless, I guess, you really love being fat. In fact, it is considered to be one of the leading causes of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. because it’s in freakin’ EVERYTHING. Walk down the grocery aisle sometime and see how many foods you can find that don’t have high fructose corn syrup in them – especially foods marketed to kids. It’s pretty damn educational.

As far as I’m concerned, if you really want to recoup costs and put a prohibitive barrier on over-consumption that will affect a positive health change in our society, increase the taxes on everything that includes a sweetener and increase taxes on fast food (which is also really high in high fructose corn syrup!). Is it still a tax on the lower class? Unfortunately, but if part of your taxation plan is actually creating a prohibitive barrier to one of the roots of the problem, it’s the way to go.

Beer is a luxury and is already one of the most taxed and regulated products in the country. Raise the taxes on it, and I think you see less income, not more, since you will essentially be on your way to shutting down hundreds, if not thousands, of small businesses and putting tens of thousands of people out of work.

I’ll point you again at BBB’s call for action. Contact your representative, especially if you’re in the beer industry, but also if you just like beer. Let them know that this is the wrong target.

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Categories: industry, news, taxation
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 15 May 2009 @ 08 56 AM

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