ObamaCare’s Hidden Tax on Fast Food
posted at 11:12 am on March 25, 2010 by Howard Portnoy
If you thought the monetary pain associated with ObamaCare will be limited to increased medical costs, think again. There is language in this new law that will effectively add a tax on Big Macs, Whoppers, and other fast food.
Oh, it’s not worded as an out-and-out tax. That would be too honest for this administration and Congress. Instead, the item in question is a mandate requiring that restaurant chains with at least 20 outlets post calorie counts for all the food items they sell.
The estimated 200,000 restaurants nationwide that will be affected by this edict will entail the up-front costs of paying for nutritional analyses of their products, plus the not-inconsiderable costs of reprinting their menus and/or signage to reflect the new caloric information. Those costs will be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices.
You may be saying to yourself that at least some good will come out of this decision. Americans will eat more healthfully, even when they eat junk food, and the costs associated with the obesity epidemic in this country will decrease. Margo G. Wootan, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, certainly thinks so. “People could cut hundreds, thousands, of calories from their diet,” she is quoted as telling the Wall Street Journal.
Yes, people could cut calories–but will they? Don’t count on it. In 2008, New York City passed a law mandating the inclusion of nutritional information on fast-food restaurant menus. A study of the effects of the new law on the eating habits of customers in poor neighborhoods was carried out by a team of researchers at New York University and Yale. Their findings? About 10 percent of respondents reported that the nutrient information made any difference at all in what they ordered.
It is possible that taxing fast food will deter regular consumers of greasy burgers and fries from eating this stuff. It is also possible that these people are so set in their ways, their fast food addictions so deeply ingrained, that they will spend their last dime on junk food and become even more of a financial burden on the new taxpayer-funded public health care sector. Lots of things are possible as a result of this mandate and other aspects of ObamaCare. The real question, however, is are they American?
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