POLITICS

Obama’s 2009 stimulus chief says taxes and rules on junk food are coming

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Larry Summers, chair of the White House National Economic Council when the 2009 stimulus was developed, suggested that President Obama will eventually tax and regulate junk food to drive people to eat more healthily — although he dinged First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy foods initiative.

“I think there is no question that the way Americans eat and what Americans weigh is a big contributor to health problems and it’s a big contributor to health costs,” Summers said on Morning Joe today.It’s not the agenda now, but I think at some point you’re going to see tax measures and regulatory measures that are going to be directed at helping people be healthier. That’s just going to happen and I think it’s probably a good thing when it does.”

Summers this agenda to anti-cigarette policies. “[J]ust as we have over time done things with respect to tobacco that are very constructive and that are saving hundreds of thousands of people’s lives, that kind of agenda is going to come to other aspects of public health, including the way people eat,” he said.

Curiously, though, Summers took an oblique shot at the results of Mrs. Obama’s overhaul of the school lunch menu as part of her effort to fight child obesity.

“Should kids be going hungry at lunch because they can’t have any good food — any food they like in the schools?” he asked rhetorically. “You can obviously take it too far and you have to be careful.”

In September, Kansas students released a Youtube video parody of the song, “We are Young,” called “We are hungry” that protested the new federal guidelines for school lunches.

 

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