The Senate Finance Committee is meeting today to hear proposals for how to pay for President Obama's proposed universal health care plan, which is expected to cost $1.2 trillion. One idea is a 3 cent tax on soda and sweetened drinks, which could generate some $24 billion over the next four years. Here in New York, a proposed 18% tax on sugary drinks was dropped by Governor Paterson after pressure from the beverage industry; Susan Neely of the American Beverage Association insists "taxes are not going to teach our children how to have a healthy lifestyle." But Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is one of the experts appearing before the committee today to push for the soda tax, because, as he puts it, "soda is clearly one of the most harmful products in the food supply, and it's something government should discourage the consumption of." According to the Wall Street Journal, Jacobson also wants the government to "sharply raise taxes on alcohol, move to largely eliminate artificial trans fat from food and move to reduce the sodium content in packaged and restaurant food."