Soda Taxes

Joe Biden's Pick for Top Economic Adviser, Neera Tanden, Endorsed Bill Creating a National Soda Tax

The national soda tax may be a small but telling example of how Tanden views policy making.


As the head of the progressive think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), Neera Tanden applauded and endorsed a Democratic proposal to implement a national soda tax. Now, she is one Senate confirmation vote away from becoming President-elect Joe Biden's top economic adviser.

Biden has tapped Tanden, who co-founded CAP in 2003 and has served as its president and CEO since 2011, to run the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Her potential confirmation hearing has become the first major lightning rod for the incoming Biden administration, as Tanden has a long history of public feuds with Republicans (and some Democrats too), some of whom are now in a position to block her appointment.

More important than Tanden's inflammatory tweeting, however, are the policies she has endorsed—ones that she will now be in a position to see implemented via executive order or incorporated into the Biden administration's negotiations with Congress.

The national soda tax may be a small but telling example of how Tanden views policy making.

In 2019, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D–Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D–Ill.) introduced the Medicare for America Act, a bill that despite its name would have expanded both Medicare and Medicaid to create a de facto universal health insurance program into which uninsured Americans would be automatically enrolled. The bill also created a series of new "public health excise taxes" to offset some of the costs of the new insurance program, including a national 1-cent tax per ounce on soda and other sugary drinks.

In a statement, Tanden praised the legislation—though not the soda tax, specifically. "This bold, affordable approach is overdue in America," she said at the time. "We applaud the progressive leaders today for introducing this landmark bill."

But the soda tax would actually be a regressive policy mostly burdening low-income households. And the cost is not insignificant. According to a review by Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that opposes tax increases, the proposed tax would add at least 55 cents to the price of a two-liter bottle of soda—hiking the final price nearly 50 percent in some places. A 12-pack of soda would increase in price by more than a dollar.

In places like Philadelphia, which has had a soda tax on the books since 2017, the main economic consequence has been a shift in where consumers buy their sugary drinks, not whether they buy them. A national soda tax would make it more difficult to dodge the cost by shopping somewhere else—it would sap consumers' wallets without much to suggest that it would make Americans healthier.

Philadelphia's soda tax has even been criticized from the left, including by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) who told NBC's Philadelphia affiliate last year that the tax was "fairly regressive" and counter to the progressive goal of asking "the people on top to pay more in taxes and not working people." He's correct. If there were a national soda tax, "about two-thirds of the revenues would be derived from middle-income households between $20,000 and $100,000," the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax policy think tank, found in 2018.

The Medicare for America Act was never passed, and Tanden would not be in a position to implement it, or the soda tax, by herself from the OMB.

But Tanden's past support for legislation that would enact a harmful soda tax serves as another useful illustration of how one of Biden's likely top advisers views the job of setting federal tax policy. Tanden has tellingly said that the purpose of the federal budget is to "expand opportunity for all Americans."

But using budget policy to socially engineer individual choices and write paternalism into the tax code does not expand opportunity for all Americans at all. Like with soda taxes, that's an approach that won't create better outcomes for anyone, but that will ask poorer Americans to disproportionately bear the burden of federal policy makers' mistakes.

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  1. totalitarian minds and regulated markets.

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    3. Dont worry. Trump is winning trump vs biden before the SCoTUS.

      Trumps second term with a majority in the US senate again should allow unreason to go back to their orangemanbad attack propaganda.

    4. That’s why Reason writers supported Biden, right??

  2. As the head of the progressive think tank Center for American Progress

    That’s really all you have to say.

    1. My thought as well. Just more and increasingly misguided government.

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    3. And support from Reason writers, since CAP is super libertarian right?

  3. I think the advisor roles are overblown.

    Congress has to pass a law and Biden has to sign it. She has no power. Thank god.

    1. Until they advise certain executive orders and regulatory decisions.

    2. What’s the point of being an advisor if nobody takes your advice? Either Biden trusts her, or had to pay back someone else who owed her one, or something like that.

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  4. Boehm and Reason were so busy campaigning for Biden during the past six months that they failed to realize just how disastrous a Biden presidency c/would be.

    1. At this point it’s more revealed preferences than failing to recognize the obvious.

      Their only consideration seems to have been that Biden would not be mean to the press. Of course the press also will not challenge Biden so he’ll have no reason to be combative with them. Everything else is only true if you jettison Biden’s entire legislative & executive history plus his campaign promises and instead only listen to the explainer in the media during the campaign.

      1. Thing is…in the few times he is held to the fire, Biden is just as much a dick to the press.

        Fuck, Obama sicced the intel community on members of the press who weren’t sufficiently obsequious to him.

        1. That’s the thing. Biden’s long been known for a sharp tongue, and it was only in comparison to Trump that that wasn’t noted in this election.

          1. it was only in comparison to Trump that that wasn’t noted

            Nah, the press would have given him a pass against anyone not stoking the narrative.

    2. Boehm was a “if I was in a swing state I’d vote for Joe Biden”

    3. It is pretty clear that Biden will get us one or two libertarian victories- immigration and maybe police reform.

      Biden has already doubled down on Tariffs- indeed adopting these tariffs got him the endorsement of the Steel Workers unions among other things and may have given him his margin of victory in the rust belt.

      Biden has shown no interest in a less interventionist foreign policy. He looks to be just as warmongery as the 4 – 5 presidents previous to Trump. This is especially evident because they haven’t had a warmonger GOP representative to denounce.

      Pretty much every single “socially liberal” policy under discussion in his administration is around FORCING a social good rather than making the government tolerant of all social values. This includes using Title IX to deprive college men of their due process rights, hate speech regulation, and the mainstreaming of “Anti-Racist” ideology which COMPELS people to do things like affirmative action.

      I look forward to the next 4 years pointing out how pretty much every one of Biden’s actions other than Immigration and drug regulation are 1) completely unlibertarian and 2) something that Trump was arguably the same or better on. *shrug*

      1. Trump was the first police reform President. Biden and Harris have a long history of locking people up.

        1. I tend to agree, and it could be that Biden and Harris are pulling the same con that Dems try to pull regarding foreign policy- that is, they like to denounce the GOP for their foreign policy|law and order hawkishness while counting on the Press to ignore the fact that they are just as bad.

          But on the other hand, it is clear that such lock-em-up attitudes have been completely shelved by the Dems. They are the party of Defund the Cops and BLM, now. So I would be unsurprised to see them happily pass all sorts of police and criminal justice reform while the press memory holes their previous records.

          1. “But on the other hand, it is clear that such lock-em-up attitudes have been completely shelved by the Dems”


            1. Well, this is accurate if you’re in the right group.

            2. Now it’s reeducation camps

      2. Your libertarian wins amount to increases in the welfare state and a fantasy given the past actions of Biden & Harris. Best case in police reform will be defunding cops for more social workers, so no spending reductions, with an increase in property and violent crime…so libertarian.

      3. You’re not getting police reform from Biden. You*can’t*. The federal government doesn’t have control over state agencies

      4. But Trump was the proper side on immigration under libertarian theory. And Trump was far more police reform than Biden.

        So really, no reason for a libertarian to support Biden.

    4. Just so you know who voted for Biden on the Reason staff, here is the breakdown:

      Boehm: Biden (strategic)
      Ciaramella: Biden
      Dalmia: Biden
      Riggs: Biden
      Slade: Biden (likely)
      Weissmueller: Biden

      Everyone either voted for Jorgensen or, one (1) Trump vote which was Robert Poole.

      It is my opinion that Reason did not “campaign for Biden”, they just vociferously campaigned against Trump (for reasons that I think Glenn Greenwald alluded to in his interview with Nick Gillespie) and gave tepid, doctrinaire arguments against Biden.

      1. Yeah, they’re hardly pro-Biden, but strongly anti-Trump.

        1. They’re pro establishment at all costs.
          Don’t know how they could make it clearer.

        2. Which in the end makes them pro-Biden.

    5. They knew and didn’t care. They just wanted an end to the mean tweets and a chance to get invited back to the right parties.

      1. You saw the Glenn Greenwald interview, too!


    Given how many times Neera Tanden insinuated if not outright stated that Bernie was the Kremlin’s candidate, if he does end up voting to confirm her, won’t that raise reasonable suspicions that she’s working on behalf of Putin or at least is a useful idiot for Moscow’s agenda?


      Biden’s OMB pick Neera Tanden once outed a sexual harassment victim | Just The News

  6. Gridlock; four years of it. And just wait until the current SCOTUS weighs in on the executive orders.

    1. Resist!

    2. No gridlock if the Democrats succeed in stealing GA too.

    3. Assuming Georgia Republicans don’t boycott the Senate runoffs.

      1. They can’t possibly be that aggressively stupid, can they?

    4. Faith in the system!

  7. Well you get this because you advocated against Trump and for Biden. All so you could have open borders.

    Have fun with the next decade of this kind of policy making.

    1. Open borders and legal weed. It’s all that’s left of Reason’s “libertarian” platform.

  8. The national soda tax may be a small but telling example of how Tanden views policy making.

    Yeah: Science! as a cover for FYTW.

  9. Neera Tanden applauded and endorsed a Democratic proposal to implement a national soda tax

    “Those people” need to be taxed because we know what’s best for them!

  10. Just curious Boehm, did you end up voting for Biden, or were you confident enough he was going to win Virginia?

    1. Boehm planned to vote for Biden in PA and Jo Jorgenson in VA, IIRC.

      1. Who do you plan to vote for this year? I am currently not registered to vote in Virginia, where I live. If I change that before the election, I will vote for Jo Jorgensen—unless I believe there is a chance that Joe Biden will somehow fail to win Virginia, in which case I will vote strategically and reluctantly for Biden.

        1. He didn’t deny it!

  11. The Biden years are going to be great for billionaires (especially’s benefactor Charles Koch), Wall Street, and multinational corporations. If I have to pay a little more for a 2 liter of Pepsi, that’s a fair tradeoff.


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  12. The national soda tax may be a small but telling example of how Tanden views policy making.

    More likely a large and telling example of what a drooling simpleton she is. Listening to a “keep your laws off my body” progressive argue in favor of sugar taxes and universal healthcare is a graduate-level lesson in abject hypocrisy.

    1. “Listening to a ‘keep your laws off my body’ progressive argue in favor of sugar taxes”

      False equivalence. The KYLOMB slogan refers specifically to access to abortion care, which is a Constitutional right. Access to cheap soda, in contrast, is not a Constitutional right.


  13. This is the worst thing Neera Tanden has done.

  14. Apparently the slogan “my body my choice” isn’t a general principle, it’s specific to only one particular decision that someone might possibly face. In all other things, Big Brother knows best, and he’s not to be questioned.

    1. And actually applies to someone else’s body.

      1. That part comes down to whether or not you consider it a “body” prior to the point that it can survive independently of the umbilical connection for any period of relatively significant duration. Since that distinction is unlikely to be determined one way or the other by objective measures that would convince 70% of people to agree, there’s not a lot to be gained in debating it here, though.

  15. “Now, she is one Senate confirmation vote away from becoming President-elect Joe Biden’s top economic adviser.”

    Actually no. As head of the OMB she would be a budget/finance advisor (and even then not the top one), not an economic advisor. These things are related, but they are not identical.

    Top budget/finance advisor would be the Secretary of the Treasury.

    Top economic advisor would be the Secretary of Commerce

  16. The Age of Biden will give us all a crash course in the ‘lesser of two evils’.

  17. Neera Tanden will not be confirmed. In fact, my advice to her would be to withdraw her nomination now before it is too late. She has a target rich history, and it will all come out. Depend on it. The hearings will drag on and on, and she will be dragged through the DC mud.

    Neera Tanden will receive exactly the same treatment as POTUS Trump’s nominees did. No better, and no worse.

    This Prog-tart will only ‘start’ with a national soda tax. I assure you, she will not end there.

    1. Who or what institution is going to challenge this “target rich” history?

      1. The republican senate?

        If you know anyone who was slightly embarrassed by Trump’s tweets, have them check out her twitter history. She posts more often and less diplomatically than Trump.

        1. I think that will be taken care of in January.

        2. You’re assuming there will be a Republican Senate. Reason’s crew has been helping destroy election integrity too.

          1. You’re assuming there will be a Twitter history.

            1. Someone’s staffers started making a full screen-shot archive the moment she was announced, unless the swamp actually did get drained in the last 4 years.

              Nothing can ever really be deleted from the internet, the only hope is for it to be too non-descript to come up on a keyword search.

        3. That’s not true. She went through her twitstream and deleted over 1000 tweets. The record is gone. It doesn’t exist. History has been updated.

      2. You’re kidding me, right? There are any number of news organizations who have tech savvy people that can retrieve old twitter comments. And publicize them widely. They will be.

        And you don’t think her personal life is fair game? As I said, she will receive exactly the same treatment that POTUS Trump’s nominees received. So when they call her a whore, a presstitute, and a serial liar…nobody should be surprised. When her children and her husband get dragged through the mud and the DC media slime….nobody should be surprised.

        She should withdraw now, and spare the country the spectacle.

        1. Oh, horse shit. Look at all the fans Charlie Manson had. No matter how bad the publicity, you’ll get some fans from it, and others will have sympathy for you, just on the principle of always believing the opposite of whatever “they” are saying. I’d kill to get accusations like that. Come to think of it, if I killed I could be accused of murder, couldn’t I?

        2. Nobody will ever face the same treatment as Trump and his appointments, because it worked – and the corrupt establishment will never have to face a threat like him again.

          1. I’m not so sure, Nardz = and the corrupt establishment will never have to face a threat like him again

            I would refer you to the elections of 1824 and 1828 as historical analogues of what we might see. History does not repeat, but I will say it rhymes.

        3. Right wing media. No one cares about them. The trusted sources will fact check their way to the correct narrative.

          Conclusion: Mixed/Mostly False.

    2. It’s both amusing and telling that she’s purged her twitter history.

      1. that’s not a story. The story is where she stands going forward. Past is not prologue. See: Biden/Harris, the most progressive, woke administration ever.

    3. Better to be infamous than unknown. There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

  18. Well I don’t bake, so I’m fine as long as she doesn’t want to tax pop.

    1. Will she tax Corn Pop next?

  19. Policy makers working hard for the people, busy busy busy!

  20. Relevant:
    The Dangers of a Soda Tax

    Has some gems relevant for coronavirus, as well.

    1. To those TDS victims who helped elect drooling Joe, they are irrelevant.
      She is NOT a Trump appointee, and is therefore wonderful.
      We thank you for your TDS-afflicted posts here.
      Fuck off and die.

  21. The soda tax is meant to be regressive. Like the taxes applied to cigarettes the tax is meant to punish the poor for engaging in choices these politicians don’t want them to make.

    1. No, these “sin” taxes apply to products progtards don’t use to fund programs for the little people. Notice that you never hear about tax hikes on red wine, La Croix water, or lattes? They might say they are meant to discourage bad habits, but if they really were that effective, you would not see anyone smoking anymore, or drinking soda. They know they will generate a reliable revenue stream.

      1. Red wine, dark chocolate and beer (in moderation) help you live a longer, healthier life. They should be exempt from all taxes forever, especially if we go to single-payer.

        1. If you do them for 100 years, you’ll live a long time.

      2. Seattle actually considered a “latte tax” back in the early 2000s. It would have taxed $0.10 per cup on any coffee drink made with espresso (drip coffee would have been exempt) to fund public day care for the kids of working single moms (which were a large demo in Seattle at the time); the logic being that “yuppies who pay $4.25 for a cup of coffee won’t mind paying $4.35 to support a good cause”, which wasn’t incorrect.

        Where it failed, was that someone pointed out that those yuppies generally just dump their change into the tip jar after paying for their expensive coffee, so the tax would actually fall onto the baristas (very often the same working single moms whose kids would have been in the city day cares) since that change would generally end up being reduced by that $0.10 per beverage.

  22. Instead of taxing soda, we should end corn subsidies.

    1. And cut sugar tariffs.

      1. That Mexican coca cola just tastes better. Real sugar. I avoid that corn syrup nonsense. That crap fake stuff they put in diet drinks is pure poison.

        1. A Mexican restaurant across from my office sells Mexican Coke (the drink). It really is noticeably better. Unfortunately they closed for lunch and only serve dinner now.

      2. Whoa… slow down, Spinach Chin, those tariffs weren’t passed in The Era of Trump. Those stand.

        1. NO!
          Trump blamed for something he didn’t do?
          Imagine my surprise….

    2. The fact that the proliferation of HFCS in everything has been driven by government subsidies is something the sugar taxers are hoping the public never figures out in large numbers.

      Excise taxes to reduce consumption of something that the government subsidizes the production of is quite possibly “peak government” though. Seems like it’s the kind of thing that libertarians should be forcing statists to recognize if we’re hoping to maybe change some minds once in a while.

  23. Tanden has tellingly said that the purpose of the federal budget is to “expand opportunity for all Americans.”

    That looks pretty good compared to what it’s usually for: reducing opportunities for all Americans. You guys sure pick some strange quotes to criticize.

    1. I hope you’re joking. The only opportunity she’s looking to expand for all Americans is the opportunity to pay off even more debt.

      Currently at 27.3 trillion dollars and counting.

      1. That may be true, but it’s not in that quote. Wouldn’t expanding opportunity for all Americans be an improvement?

  24. How bad could it be? Remember when Robert Reich, but not Barry Bluestone, got his job at Treasury? It goes only so far.

    1. I meant Labor. Whatever.


    Study Finds Most Americans Trust Dr Pepper Over Dr. Fauci

  26. What is soda?

    We just call it ‘pop’. Or where I am going to be living further south very soon it is ‘coke’ or ‘cold drink’.

      1. Interesting bit of history about Coca Cola and the Nazis.

  27. Reason for the next four years: Whaaaa happened?

  28. More important than Tanden’s inflammatory tweeting, however, are the policies she has endorsed[.]

    Unpossible. I’ve been assured that what one Tweets is far more important than one’s actual policy. Isn’t that what the entirety of the last 4 years collective whining is about?

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  30. Pray for gridlock.

  31. I only learned who this skank was two days ago, and I already rank her as my 2nd least favorite female-identifying swamp creature in DC. That escalated quickly.

  32. Where’s WK to tell us she’s wonderful, since she’s not a Trump appointee?

  33. Is this not the Biden you thought you were voting for?

    1. Those afflicted with TDS were not concerned with the results of any outcome, just so long as ‘bad orange man’ did not hold office. There was no comparative valuation calcs considered by the slack-jawed, drooling TDS victims; any alternative was preferable because Trump was .uh, UNCOUTH! And slack-jawed, drooling TDS victims, like white trash compared to blacks, see themselves as culturally superior to those who might look at Trump’s actions rather than his tweets.
      I’m sure Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Hitler would have the WKs of the world creaming their jeans so long as Trump lost.
      There are certainly levels of stupidity, but it seems TDS is a universal solvent; it dissolves any ability to make recognition finer than Trump/Not-Trump.
      And, unfortunately, it seems there were sufficient slack-jawed, drooling TDS-afflicted shits to deliver us such as Neera Tanden, right, slack-jawed, drooling TDS-afflicted shit WK?

  34. Is that better or worse than Canada’s Finance Minister, Chrystia Freedland, who needed her parents to cosign her mortgage in 2013.

    She’s also destroyed the only business she’s run. This is the person that PM Socks has chosen to manage the government’s finances.

    Personally, I think some shenanigans happened there – what mortgage company is going to offer a mortgage on a 1.3 million (Canadia) home to someone who needs a co-signer?

  35. If there’s a national soda tax coming maybe I should buy stock in companies like Sodastream and Drinkmate. I’m pretty sure Coke and Pepsi won’t have any real issue selling concentrated syrup refills, like Coke-Pods or Pepsi-Pacs, as long as the concentrate itself isn’t considered a “drink” and if done right it might be reduced to a solid tablet. Perhaps Keurig Kold will make a reintroduction.

  36. You think they would learn. I first thought of the Boston Tea Party as a response to the Tea taxes in revolutionary times. And then I recalled the snack tax in California years ago. People were pissed. It got repealed. And that was in California about 2 decades ago. This kind of tax would completely blow up on a national level. Which is a good thing. In any case, get ready for lots of this crap with a Democrat administration. At least there won’t be a whiny baby man in charge. But I do admit I liked many of his policies more.

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