The health police attack food stamps for soft drinks.
Note the nouns. Soft drinks are "products" and "items." Not food.
Is Bloomberg turning libertarian? Not a bit. At the press conference, he argued that in addition to educating people about sugary drinks, the government has
a responsibility to use other tools to reduce excess consumption of these beverages, like targeted taxes and elimination of subsidies to industries that contribute to serious health problems, such as obesity-related illnesses that cost New York State residents nearly $8 million [sic] in medical costs each year. *
That's how Bloomberg really sees the food-stamp initiative: It's a tool to reduce consumption, just like the failed tax proposal. But it stands a better chance politically. And if it becomes law, it will join the Women, Infants, and Children program and the National School Lunch/School Breakfast Program in distinguishing soft drinks from sustenance. It will reinforce those precedents, helping to push soda out of the food category and into a category with alcohol and tobacco, where it can be taxed and restricted more easily. Chew on that.
Video: Iliza Vie Calls Out Bloomberg on His Soda Tax
Clarification, Oct. 19, 2010: At his news conference, Bloomberg said obesity-related illnesses cost New Yorkers nearly $8 million per year. However, according to his press release, the correct estimate is "nearly $8 billion." (Return to the sentence.)
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.