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Opponents Line Up to Fight Federal Tax Plan for Healthcare Reform

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Special-interest groups from labor unions to the alcohol industry are sending in lobbyists to fight plans to raise federal taxes to pay for national healthcare reform, the New York Times reported May 20.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. has sponsored a website, stophospitalitytaxes.com, to raise a public outcry against higher alcohol taxes, claiming that tax increases threaten manufacturing, wholesale, and retail jobs.

Meanwhile, union groups — including the National Education Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — are sponsoring radio ads opposing a plan by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Mon.) that would consider the value of employer-sponsored healthcare benefits as taxable income in some cases.

“Cadillac health plans should be treated as income, regardless of who is receiving them,” said Josh R. Kardon, a spokesperson for Wyden. “The overwhelming majority of American workers should not be asked to subsidize Cadillac health packages through tax breaks, whether it’s for a wealthy chief executive or anyone else.”

The American Beverage Association is opposing a plan to increase the federal excise tax on drinks sweetened with sugar or corn syrup. The drinks help cause obesity, tax supporters say, but industry spokesperson Kevin W. Keane said, “We agree with the need for health care reform. We agree with the need to address childhood obesity. But we do not support a soft drink tax.”

However, the Center for Science in the Public Interest says that higher taxes on sweet drinks and alcoholic beverages are appropriate ways to prevent illness and contain healthcare costs.

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