Mayor Bloomberg’s “soda ban” has caused a stir and been met with objections from many Americans around the country, particularly conservatives. To this camp, the Mayor is a prime example of big brother government trampling the rights of individuals.
I believe that if the Mayor’s communications strategy had framed the issue through a conservative lens, he could have avoided some of the controversy and even gained allies.
The Mayor could speak about the soda ban and obesity in terms that galvanize conservatives – taxes. He could point out that the core of his proposal is fighting government spending, not obesity. He could note that according to one study, obesity adds $190 billion in health costs annually in America. In fact, if you think about it in the right way, some might say his ban has its roots in very conservative principals – fighting the meteoric rise in government health care spending.
A conservative message supporting the soda ban would go something like this: Who pays for treating obesity-related diseases? You and I. Medicare and Medicaid come out of our taxes. Even private insurance isn’t really private, since a collective of individuals pays for it. So if I stay fit, and someone else doesn’t, my premium goes up to pay for his healthcare.
In other words, Bloomberg could say, obesity-related medical costs are paid for by anyone who pays taxes or contributes to their own medical insurance. If the mayor’s communications campaign focused on the costs of obesity and described those costs as a tax scheme that some use to bankroll irresponsible living and that is bankrupting America, he might just quell some conservative angst.
If Bloomberg wants bipartisan support for his ban, attention to appropriate messaging is going to be key.
So, Mayor Bloomberg, cut the Obesity Tax! What conservative would argue with that?