Stop Subsidizing Obesity

HOW TAX DOLLARS BECOME TWINKIES—Since 1995, $17 billion in subsidies for big agribusiness have gone to common junk food ingredients including high-fructose corn syrup.

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 $17 billion in the last 15 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 1 in 3 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:

    • Diets high in saturated fats impair learning and memory.
    • Once an adult problem, diabetes associated with obesity is growing among children.
    • One in three school-age children is overweight or obese.
    • The rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years.

Issue updates

Report | NJPIRG | Budget, Public Health, Food

Apples to Twinkies 2013

At a time when America faces high obesity rates and tough federal budget choices, taxpayer dollars are funding the production of junk food ingredients. Since 1995, the government has spent $292.5 billion on agricultural subsidies, $19.2 billion of which have subsidized corn- and soy-derived junk food ingredients. These subsidies are all the more egregious at a time when America is facing an obesity epidemic. Children are three times more likely to be obese than their counterparts three decades ago.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

Reduction in Driving Likely to Continue

As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from the NJPIRG Law & Policy Center finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue. Baby Boomers are moving out of the phase in their life when they do the most commuting, while driving-averse Millennials move into that phase. These demographic changes will likely keep driving down for decades, according to the report, “A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future.”

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

A New Direction

The Driving Boom—a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States—is over. Americans drive fewer total miles today than we did eight years ago, and fewer per person than we did at the end of Bill Clinton’s first term. The unique combination of conditions that fueled the Driving Boom—from cheap gas prices to the rapid expansion of the workforce during the Baby Boom generation—no longer exists. Meanwhile, a new generation—the Millennials—is demanding a new American Dream less dependent on driving.

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Report | NJPIRG | Budget, Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2013

Some U.S.-based multinational firms and individuals avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes. They 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 | NJPIRG | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average NJ Taxpayer $1,260 a Year, NJ Small Business $3,941

With Tax Day approaching, it’s a good time to be reminded of where our tax dollars are going. NJPIRG and NJ Citizen Action were joined today by Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6), Mayor Ed Johnson of Asbury Park, and Jerome Beckman, owner of Beckman’s Newsstands, to release a new NJPIRG study on offshore tax dodging. The report revealed that the average New Jersey taxpayer in 2012 would have to shoulder an extra $1,260 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

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News Release | NJPIRG | Budget

Supercommittee Squanders Opportunity to Cut Waste

After the Congressional “Supercommittee” announced its failure to agree on at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), who jointly authored a report on deficit reduction earlier this year issued a response.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

Caution Ahead

A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

NJBIZ: High potential for abuse in N.J.'s incentives to developers

Efforts to promote commercial development has put New Jersey at high risk for misuse of tax revenue, and has created a growing trend in which cities borrow against future growth, according to a report released today by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget

New Report Shows That New Jersey Has High Risk for Misuse of Developer Subsidies

A new research report today shows that New Jersey is at high risk for misuse of tax revenue thanks to a problematic system of funding commercial development.  The report outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to borrow against future growth and divert tax revenues as a way to attract economic development. 

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Media Hit | Budget, Food

newjerseynewsroom.com: Report: Federal agriculture subsidies pay for 19 Twinkies per N.J. taxpayer

Have you received your 19 free Twinkies and quarter of an apple from the federal government yet?  Well ok, it doesn’t exactly work that way but federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 19 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to the report "Apples to Twinkies" made public Thursday by New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.

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Report | NJPIRG | Budget

Toward Common Ground

To break through the ideological divide that has dominated Washington this past year and offer a pathway to address the nation’s fiscal problems, the National Taxpayers Union and U.S. PIRG joined together to identify mutually acceptable deficit reduction measures. This report documents our findings.

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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Democracy

Following the Money 2011

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, and promotes fiscal responsibility.  This report is the second annual ranking of states’ progress toward new standards of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

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Report | NJPIRG | Budget

Analysis of H.R. 1, House Continuing Budget Resolution

It’s difficult to imagine how cuts to Pell Grants, food safety or clean drinking water come before subsidies to BP or advertising for fast food and underwear. And yet, that’s exactly what the House resolution has done.

The attached compares a sample of spending cuts in the House budget resolution with recommendations from three reports produced by U.S. PIRG.  The reductions detailed in any one of the reports amount to more than the reductions called for in the resolution passed by the House.

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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

Do Roads Pay For Themselves?

Highway advocates often claim that roads “pay for themselves,” with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering – or nearly covering – the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.

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Report | NJPIRG | Food

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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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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