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EDITORIAL

First lady's school lunch plan will cost $4.5 billion

The question is — be honest — where will the money come from?

Monday, November 15, 2010 - 10:46 am

Government is chock-full of programs many people view as worthwhile — until the cost is added up. Then, many taxpayers decide priorities need to be set.

That is why liberals in government have become adept at concealing the cost of social programs. One example is currently in the news.

First lady Michelle Obama insists that healthier foods should be served in public school lunches. That will require a new $4.5 billion program, say the program's proponents. The federally funded school-lunch program feeds 31 million low-income American children a year and provides many with the bulk of the calories they consume each day.

Obama's plan is a comprehensive approach to dealing with the obesity problem. So she proposes commitments from the food industry to reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt in the products they supply. But upping the number of fruits and vegetables on kids' lunch trays is an expensive proposition, since these products have reportedly increased 50 percent faster than other foods over the last 20 years.

Some members of the House of Representatives have balked at the first lady's plan, already approved by the Senate. The complaint is that some of the money for it, about $2.2 billion, is to be taken from the government's food-stamp program.

This week, opponents of that approach signaled they may be ready to change their minds and approve the spending.

That came after President Obama promised he will help restore money taken from the food-stamp program.

Much of the controversy was for show, we suspect. Of course no one in Washington would slash $2.2 billion from the food-stamp program, particularly during times such as these. That should never have been in doubt.

But claiming the $2.2 billion would be taken from one program to pay for a new one allowed liberals to maintain at least part of the school lunch initiative was “paid for.”

That strategy, used often in Washington, is blatantly dishonest — and the liberals know it. It is one reason our national debt has topped $13.7 trillion.

We trust newly elected conservative lawmakers will demand more honesty about government spending.