Stop Subsidizing Obesity

OUR TAX DOLLARS HELP FUEL OBESITY EPIDEMIC—Since 1995, $18 billion has been given away in subsidies to Big Agribusinesses, this money gets used to produce common junk food ingredients, like high-fructose corn syrup. These giveaways are all the more absurd at a time when one-in-three kids is overweight or obese.

PUT JUNK FOOD SUBSIDIES ON A DIET

Almost anything you can think of would be a better use of our tax dollars than subsidizing the ingredients in junk food, but every year more than a billion taxpayer dollars do just that. Huge, profitable corporations, like Cargill and Monsanto, have pocketed $18 billion in the last 16 years and turned subsidized crops into junk food ingredients — including high fructose corn syrup.

These taxpayer giveaways are all the more absurd at a time when one-in-three kids is overweight or obese, and obesity-related diseases like diabetes are turning into an epidemic.

Many of these wasteful subsidies are set to expire this year, but industry lobbyists are urging Congress to keep them. In 2008 alone, big agribusinesses spent $200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions.

No one in Congress wants to be seen standing up for taxpayer giveaways to junk food. Cutting wasteful spending while attacking childhood obesity could be the perfect storm we need to push past the junk food industry.

Obesity Quick Facts:

  • High-fructose diets impair learning and memory.
  • For each additional can of soda drunk daily, the odds of a child becoming obese increases by about 60%.
  • Childhood obesity has quadrupled in the last 40 years.
  • Drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases the risk for type 2 diabetes by 25%.
  • Once an adult problem, diabetes associated with obesity is increasing among children.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Food, Tax

Maryland PIRG Advocate Jenny Levin on the Senate vote today to approve the 2012 Farm Bill: | Jenny Levin

Maryland PIRG is disappointed in the Senate’s approval of the 2012 Farm Bill, which will send tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to Big Ag. The Senate missed a golden opportunity to tackle the problem of wasteful agricultural subsidies, which have cost taxpayers $260 billion since 1995.  Instead, this bill recommits to taxpayer support for the largest agribusinesses. 

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Blog Post | Food, Tax

Senate Farm Bill Moves to Floor | Jenny Levin

The Senate is moving to vote on the farm bill, S.3240, that would continue the current system of agricultural subsidies to large, profitable, agribusiness. Taxpayers’ hard earned dollars will be handed out needlessly in the billions. And subsidies will continue for corn and soy, which is then processed into junk food ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup, accelerating the obesity epidemic in America. 

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News Release | Budget

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Maryland Taxpayers $459 a Year

With tax day approaching, a new study released by Maryland PIRG found that the average Maryland taxpayer in 2011 would have to shoulder an extra $459 tax burden to make up for revenue lost from corporations and wealthy individuals shifting income to offshore tax havens. The report additionally found that to cover the cost of the corporate abuse of tax havens in 2011, small businesses in Maryland would have to foot a bill of over $2,298 on average.

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Picking Up the Tab

Some U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals avoid paying U.S. taxes by transferring their earnings to tax haven countries with minimal or no taxes. These tax haven users benefit from their access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security; but they pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system and forcing other taxpayers to pick up the tab.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Budget

New Report: Maryland Receives a “C+” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Maryland received a “C+” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to Following the Money 2012: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, the third annual report of its kind by the Maryland Public Interest Research Group (Maryland PIRG).  

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News Release | Budget, Financial Reform

Maryland Earns “C” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Maryland got a “C” when it comes to openness about government spending, according to "Following the Money 2011: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data," the second annual report of its kind by the Maryland Public Interest Research Group (Maryland PIRG).

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News Release | Budget, Tax

Unlikely Allies Uncover Billions in Federal Government Savings

As a federal commission continues to debate recommendations for addressing future federal deficits, a new study released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) provides the panel with a great place to start: more than $600 billion of spending cuts with appeal across the political spectrum.

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News Release | Food

Recipe for Disaster

Last month’s nationwide recall of half a billion eggs was just one of more than 85 recalls involving 153 food companies since July 2009.  During this time, the U.S. Senate has failed to pass needed protections, according to “Recipe for Disaster,” a study released today by Maryland PIRG, Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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News Release | Budget

Maryland Earns “C” in New Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Maryland got a “C” when it comes to openness about government spending, according to FOLLOWING THE MONEY: How the 50  States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data” released on Tuesday.

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News Release | Budget, Tax

Maryland Taxpayers Footing a $100 Billion Bill for Tax Dodgers

While a lot of attention is given on Tax Day to how tax dollars are spent, one watchdog group is instead focused on the revenue lost every year – $100 billion – thanks to loopholes, tax avoidance and tax cheats.

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Recipe for Disaster

The recall of more than 500 million eggs from two Iowa egg farms is the largest but not the last of 85 recalls that have taken place in the year since food safety reform moved to the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) on July 30, 2009. However, the Senate’s version of the bill – the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) – has languished while waiting for time on the Senate’s floor schedule.

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Report | Budget, Tax

Tax Shell Game (2010)

The IRS estimates that individuals and corporations currently hold $5 trillion in tax haven countries and asserts that the United States is responsible for a large portion of these assets.

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Report | Budget

Following the Money

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Spending transparency checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government, and promotes fiscal responsibility.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Budget, Financial Reform, Transportation

Greasing the Wheels

In the wake of the Minnesota I-35 bridge collapse there was enormous public outcry and recognition of the need to repair our crumbling infrastructure. Americans expected public officials to respond to the tragedy with a large scale effort to address the nearly 73,000 structurally deficient bridges in this country. The findings in this report suggest that did not happen.

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Report | Good Jobs First | Budget

Show Us the Stimulus

Every state government now has a website reporting on its role in implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the $787 billion federal stimulus bill that is shoring up state finances, reinforcing the social safety net and funding job‐creating infrastructure and energy‐efficiency projects. Yet there are wide differences in the quality and quantity of the information the websites offer.

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You Can Help

We have a chance to cut billions in junk food subsidies this year. Your support will help us do the research, advocacy and grassroots organizing to convince our elected officials to act.

Priority Action

Given public concern about obesity and federal spending, your support can help us finally beat Big Ag and end subsidies for junk food.

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