Want to Reduce the National Debt, Climate Change, and Health Care Costs? Tax Meat.

When people purchase cigarettes and alcohol, they’re charged an extra tax because these products are considered undesirable and harmful because of their negative health consequences. It’s known as a sin tax. States recognize smoking and drinking as vices. These sin taxes provide the government with additional revenue and enjoy public support because people can escape the taxes if they choose to avoid these non-essential products.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Republicans’ tax proposal will add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the $20 trillion national debt–the same party that boasts about fiscal responsibility. It’s not an achievement to eliminate important regulations to allow corporations to run roughshod while ballooning the national debt with tax cuts for billionaires in order to inflate the stock market. This tax policy is a shortcut with consequences.

Given the reckless policies of the federal government, states should consider adding another product to the sin tax list: meat. In addition to causing health problems and diseases, eating meat drives up health care costs, pollutes air and water, releases climate-change causing greenhouse gases, and harms animals. Meat is sin personified. It’s even worse than tobacco and alcohol.

A new report by Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return predicts a tax on meat is coming because it is so harmful to society. The timing is perfect. As companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Gardein, Tofurky, and Field Roast offer more sustainable, humane, delicious, affordable, and healthier plant-based meat alternatives, and as clean-meat companies like Memphis Meats enter the marketplace, the government should stop subsidizing the animal agriculture industry and hold them responsible. These are common-sense reforms that reflect the time in which we live. Consumers and the government should embrace them.

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