George Will | Why government needs a diet

Because the possibility of effectively supervising government varies inversely with government’s size, so does government’s lawfulness. This iron law of Leviathan is illustrated by a dispiriting story that begins with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a.k.a. the stimulus— that supposedly temporary response to an economic emergency.

Because nothing is as immortal as a temporary government program, Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), a creature of the stimulus, was folded into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working through the CPPW, disbursed money to 25 states to fight, among other things, the scourge of soda pop.

In Cook County, Ill., according to an official report, recipients using some of a $16 million CDC grant “educated policymakers on link between SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] and obesity, economic impact of an SSB tax, and importance of investing revenue into prevention.” According to a Philadelphia city Web site, a $15?million CDC grant funded efforts to “campaign” for a “two-cent per ounce excise tax” on SSBs. In California, an official report says that a $2.2 million CDC grant for obesity prevention funded “training for grantees on media advocacy” against SSBs. A New York report says that a $3?million grant was used to “educate leaders and decision-makers about, and promote the effective implementation of .?.?. a tax to substantially increase the price of beverages containing caloric sweetener.” The Rhode Island Department of Health used a $3?million grant for “educating key decision-makers to serve as champions of specific .?.?. pricing and procurement strategies to reduce consumption of” SSBs. In government-speak, “educating” is synonymous with “lobbying.”

 

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