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.


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 | Budget

Testimony on Millionaires' Tax | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Group supports the passage of SB 249, increasing the State income tax rate for an individual to 6.25% of Maryland taxable income in excess of $1,000,000; requiring the Comptroller to waive specified interest and penalties for the 2012 calendar year; and applying the Act to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2011

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Blog Post | Budget

Testimony on Corporate Taxation | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Research Group supports the passage of SB 248, Imposing an alternative minimum assessment on corporations doing business in the State; providing for the computation of the alternative minimum assessment as a percentage of a corporation's gross receipts or gross profits, based on an election made by the corporation; limiting the assessment to $5,000,000 for any corporation and to $20,000,000 for affiliated groups of corporations; providing for credits against the corporate income tax under specified circumstances; applying the Act to tax years after 2011; etc.

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Blog Post | Food

Testimony in Favor of Arsenic Prohibition in Commercial Feed | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Group supports the passage of SB 207, prohibiting a person from using, selling, or distributing specified commercial feed intended for use as poultry feed that contains roxarsone or any other additive that contains arsenic.

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News Release | Budget, Democracy

Thirty Fortune 500 Companies Paid More to Lobby Congress than they Did in Federal Income Taxes

With the second anniversary approaching of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case – which opened the floodgates to corporate spending on elections – Maryland PIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice reveal 30 corporations that spent more to lobby Congress than they did in taxes.

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Report | Budget, Democracy

Representation Without Taxation

Marking the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case, this report takes a hard look at the lobbying activities of profitable Fortune 500 companies that exploit loopholes and distort the tax code to avoid billions of dollars in taxes.

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Fraud, Failure No Deterrent to Federal Contract Awards

Companies with immediate past histories of shoddy work and fraudulent practices still receive billions of dollars in federal contracts, according to a new report by the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

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News Release | Budget

Business Leaders and Owners Call for Closing Tax Loopholes

Business leaders from across the state are calling for closing of tax loopholes in support of Gov. O’Malley’s announcement to close tax loopholes as part of the larger budget proposal.

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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.

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