And then they came for the Happy Meal toys

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Really. Just what will they think of next?

The latest target in the battle over fast food is something you shouldn’t even put in your mouth.

Convinced that Happy Meals and other food promotions aimed at children could make kids fat as well as happy, county officials in Silicon Valley are poised to outlaw the little toys that often come with high-calorie offerings.

The proposed ban is the latest in a growing string of efforts to change the types of foods aimed at youngsters and the way they are cooked and sold. Across the nation, cities, states and school boards have taken aim at excessive sugar, salt and certain types of fats.

Believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the proposal would forbid the inclusion of a toy in any restaurant meal that has more than 485 calories, more than 600 mg of salt or high amounts of sugar or fat. In the case of McDonald’s, the limits would include all of the chain’s Happy Meals — even those that include apple sticks instead of French fries.

Supporters say the ban would encourage restaurants to offer more-nutritious foods to kids and would make unhealthful items less appealing. But opponents believe it amounts to government meddling in parental decisions. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal Tuesday.

Even though it’s largely symbolic — the proposed ban would apply only to the dozen fast-food restaurants within the jurisdiction of the board — the proposal has caused a bit of an uproar on the Internet, where comments on YouTube and other sites say it is another example of the “nanny state” gone wild.

The California Restaurant Assn. has taken out full-page newspaper advertisements against the proposed ordinance in local newspapers. One shows a little girl with her hands cuffed behind her back as she holds a stuffed animal.

Another opponent wrote in a YouTube posting, “I want to know when the pitchforks and torches and rope is going to come out…. We need to run these Frankenstein politician monsters the hell out of town!”

Ken Yeager, the Santa Clara County supervisor who is behind the effort, says the toys in kids’ meals are contributing to America’s obesity epidemic by encouraging children to eat unhealthful, fattening foods.

Yeager, of course, is a Democrat.

Some Santa Clara residents weighed in with their thoughts:

“We went through a phase when my daughter wanted the Happy Meal just to get the toy,” said Kristen Dimont, 37. The Sunnyvale blogger said that once her child tasted fast food, it took years to coax her back to the healthful variety. Dimont likes the idea of the ban — and thinks the supervisors should consider extending it to the play yards that also attract children to fast-food restaurants.

Rebecca Wolpinsky, 32, a mother of two, says she can’t stand the toys that are included with fast-food meals for children. “The toys are crap, honestly,” she said. “We end up recycling them or they end up getting left in the car.”

But Wolpinsky opposes banning the toys — or blaming them for childhood obesity.

“To say that Burger King or McDonald’s is the root cause or that giving toys with children’s meals is a root cause is not right,” she said.

McDonald’s declined to comment on the proposed ban. But the California Restaurant Assn. has played a major role in the opposition.

If County Supervisor Yeager “wants to take away the toys that are making kids fat, take away Xboxes, take away PlayStations, take away flat-screen TVs,” said Daniel Conway, spokesman for the industry group.

And cell phones – especially Blackberries, laptops, desktops … and maybe we should ban mothers from working – at least until their children turn 18 – so they can stay home and make sure their kids are active enough after school that they don’t become overweight. Can you think of anything else?

Seriously, though, I’m sure it’s a possbility that some kids want that Happy Meal because of the toy, but I suspect it’s a minority. Kids love burgers and fries almost as much – if not as much – as they like toys. But the toys in the McD’s Happy Meals really aren’t anything to write home about. That said, if they’re really so offensive to the likes of Yeager, instead of mandating they stop why not offer tax breaks to the local McDonald’s restaurants for opting out of including the toy in the meal, or for maybe noting on the menu that the toy is no longer included with the meal but if you’d like one for your child, please ask for one?

Oh wait. We’re talking about the left coast, where liberal politicos have rarely ever met a tax break they liked.

McQ sums it up nice and neat:

This is just the beginning of what you can expect to see from the food nazis (the FDA and salt?) now that government health care reform is law.

Next thing you know, left coast nanny-staters will be calling for a mandatory tofu Happy Meal to replace the burger and fries.

Maybe one day they’ll actually end up standing against something that actually does have the potential influence young folks to engage in bad behavior, like Planned Parenthood groups using cartoons to both sell condoms as “fun,” and to “blow up” abortion opponents with a “condom gun.”

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

So now we know why WaxmanCo. called off CEO show trial

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The NYT reports today on the reason behind Henry Waxman’s decision to call off the CEO show trial regarding cost claims on Obamacare:

WASHINGTON — When major companies declared that a provision of the new health care law would hurt earnings, Democrats were skeptical. But after investigating, House Democrats have concluded that the companies were right to tell investors and the government about the expected adverse effects of the law on their financial results.

At issue is a section of the law that eliminates a tax break available to companies that provide drug benefits to retirees as part of their insurance coverage. The tax change, expected to generate $4.5 billion of revenue over the next 10 years, will help offset the cost of providing coverage to the uninsured.

Within days after President Obama signed the law on March 23, companies filed reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying the tax change would have a material adverse effect on their earnings.

The White House suggested that companies were exaggerating the effects of the tax change. The commerce secretary, Gary F. Locke, said the companies were being “premature and irresponsible” in taking such write-downs.

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California and Bart Stupak of Michigan, both Democrats, opened an investigation and demanded that four companies — AT&T, Caterpillar, Deere and Verizon — supply documents analyzing the “impact of health care reform,” together with an explanation of their accounting methods.

[…]

Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “From a financial standpoint, from a purely economic standpoint, many companies would be better off discontinuing health care as a fringe benefit, paying the penalty and pocketing the savings.”

In a memorandum summarizing its investigation, the Democratic staff of the committee said, “The companies acted properly and in accordance with accounting standards in submitting filings to the S.E.C. in March and April.”

Moreover, it said, “these one-time charges were required by applicable accounting rules.” The committee staff said this view was confirmed by independent experts at the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the American Academy of Actuaries.

Duh. How many conservatives were saying this after Waxman called for the hearings?

I refuse to believe that Waxman and Stupak simply ‘weren’t aware’ of the SEC’s requirement that companies file the very reports that Verizon and Caterpillar, among others, filed after the passage of ObamaCare. This was a coordinated attempt by Congressional Democrat leaders to try to “embarass” these companies by making them reveal their internal paperwork to the public, much like they’re doing now with Goldman Sachs.

Ed Morrissey writes:

As explained here repeatedly, Congress set the rules that required publicly-traded companies to make those statements. The Sarbanes-Oxley laws demand full and complete disclosure of changes to financial positions, especially negative changes. The CEOs would have broken SEC laws had they not announced the writedowns as soon as they were calculated and substantiated.

To some extent, though, this entire episode was a farce. Democrats knew full well that they had ended the tax credit for the subsidy that keeps retirees on private, employer-based prescription coverage. They did that deliberately in order to gain $5.4 billion in revenue to close the gap for the CBO analysis of ObamaCare. That money comes right off of the balance sheets of private industry — in fact, Democrats counted on it.

Now the private sector has $3.4 billion less to invest in new jobs and expansion (with more writedowns coming), plus Democrats have incentivized these companies to dump their retirees into the overextended Medicare Part D program. Small wonder Waxman’s colleagues convinced him to call off the hearing.

Interested in hearing an apology from Waxman and Stupak and all the other clueless wonders in government who get paid with your taxpayer dollars to know the things that apparently they have to conduct an internal “inquiry” about just to be sure about? Don’t hold your breath. Democrats never will apologize for their shameless attempts at naked power grabs, especially not this bunch, led by President Obama and the Axelturf/Rahmbo/Fibbs axis. In fact, “shameless” hardly scratches the surface of what this crowd is attempting to do to America under the guise of “helping others.”

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste … Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.” – Obama COS Rahm Emanuel to a WSJ conference of top corporate CEOs, November 21, 2008

Surprise: Young voters “not enthusiastic” about this year’s election

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Fix blogger Chris Cillizza reports on some alarming news for left wing politicos hoping to once again be able to depend on, in part, the ignorance of young liberal voters to help them win elections this year:

Less than 24 hours after President Barack Obama announced his plan to re-build the coalition that helped elect him in 2008, new numbers from Gallup suggest one of the pillars of that foundation is decidedly shaky.

Less than one in four voters aged 18-29 described themselves as “very enthusiastic” about the 2010 midterm election. Those numbers compare unfavorably to voters between 50 and 64 (44 percent “very enthusiastic”), 65 and older (41 percent “very enthusiastic”) and 30 to 49 (32 percent “very enthusiastic”).

“The fact that voters under age 50 — and particularly those under 30 — are less enthusiastic about voting this year is not a new phenomenon,” wrote Gallup’s Frank Newport. “Voter turnout typically skews older.”

While the data is in keeping with traditional voting patterns, it makes obvious the difficulty facing the White House as they seek to reconstruct the combination of young voters, independents and African Americans who helped propel Obama into the White House.

Looking back at exit polls from the last three presidential races, it’s clear that the story is not how young people comprised larger and larger segments of the electorate but rather how much more Democratic they voted between 2000 and 2008.

In each of those three elections, the number of young voters as a percentage of the overall electorate was remarkably similar: 18 percent in 2008, 17 percent in 2004 and 17 percent in 2000.

What changed was how they voted. In 2000, young voters split their votes with 48 percent choosing Al Gore and 46 percent opting for George W. Bush. Four years later John Kerry carried 18-29 year olds by a nine-point margin; Obama won them by a whopping 66 percent to 32 percent.

The Gallup data affirms the clear Democratic tilt of young voters. On a generic congressional ballot test, 51 percent of 18-29 year old vote opted for the Democratic candidate while 39 percent chose the Republican. In every other age group, the generic was either statistically tied or the GOP candidate led. (Republicans’ best age group was voters 65 and older who chose a GOP candidate by a 50 percent to 41 percent margin over a generic Democrat.)

Obama’s pitch on Monday makes clear the White House understands the necessity of motivating these voters to turn out. But, knowing that you need to turn out young voters and actually doing it are two very different things.

And more not so good news for the left: In poll after poll, Obama and his Democrat minions in Congress are losing their hold on independent voters, voters who are gradually shifting to the GOP.

I’m predicting modest gains for the GOP this fall, but if the Dems keep screwing up as spectacularly as they have over the first year + of the Obama administration, I could be underestimating what will happen in November. Jennifer Rubin comments on The Fix’s report, Obama’s caluculated attempt at “reconnecting” with black, Hispanic, female, and young voters, and weighs in with a prediction of her own:

Several things are noteworthy. First, so much for the post-racial presidency. We are back to naked pleas for racial solidarity. This comes from a man who told us that there were no Blue States or Red States, and that we should stop carving up the electorate into ethnic and racial groups. It was moving and appropriate and now it’s inoperative.

Second, this also suggests that just about everyone else in the electorate is a lost cause — whites, men, independents, and older voters. The Obama coalition has fractured — a little later than Hillary Clinton predicted, but it has. It seems he is reduced to the core left, not a recipe for successful governance or re-election.

And finally, the Democrats are in big, big trouble if they are banking on casual voters, especially young people, to turn out in large numbers in a midterm election. I’ll go out on a limb (I really don’t have to, because you can look at the turnout in New Jersey and Virginia) — the electorate in 2010 is not going to resemble the 2008 electorate. It will be older and more conservative. In other words, the Democrats are throwing a Hail Mary.

We shall see.