Sunday, December 10, 2017
Politics

Drop that Twinkie, because Sen. Ronda Storms knows best

Up in Tallahassee, the irrepressible Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Ronda Knows Best, wants to peek into the grocery carts of poor people and tell them what they can't buy with food stamps — a push that's getting the not-shy Storms attention from National Public Radio to the New York Times.

Should Senate Bill 1658 become law, food stamps could not be used in Florida for "nonstaple, unhealthy foods," as in sugary drinks, sweets from Jell-O to candy to Popsicles to muffins, anything with trans fats, or salty foods including chips, popcorn and pretzels.

And maybe you're saying: Well, why not?

First, a clarification here, so we don't get distracted by red herrings: This law is not about people using food stamps for prime rib and crab legs while the rest of us worry over the price of ground beef. (The average monthly benefit in Florida, by the way, is $167 per person.) It's also not about people using food stamps for alcohol, cigarettes or hot food, which already are not allowed. It's about banning snack foods like Pepsi and Oreos to poor people on government assistance. Storms calls it "No Twinkie Left Behind."

No question, we need to eat healthier. Childhood obesity is alarming. Pushing education, exercise and smart food choices starting with kids are excellent trends.

But I am fascinated when tea party types argue for more government interference, so long as they are not the ones interfered with. You won't likely see the same enthusiasm for, say, a push like one in Massachusetts to heavily tax candy and soda and use the money for nutrition education. (Imagine the rallying cry: "You'll get my Mountain Dew when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!") Because this would be Big Government! A nanny state! And also not just against the needy.

And I haven't noticed our government trying to save us from all that sugar and salt loaded into vending machines at rest stops along our state's highways, either.

And no, the No-Duh Senate ethics bill in the news this week wasn't about telling people what to eat. But wouldn't it be nice to think the effort to keep lawmakers from influencing legislation that could benefit themselves had a shot? Apparently your average lovebug approaching a fast-moving bumper has a better chance of survival.

Storms knows similar attempts to regulate food choices have been shut down in other states by the federal government, but hopes enough jurisdictions wanting this will be a "tipping point." When another senator, a fellow Republican by the way, said it seemed unfair a poor kid couldn't get a birthday cake under this bill, Storms shot back that parents can make their own like she does. Baking a cake from scratch still requires time, and money, by the way.

But there's a much bigger point here: It's easy to demonize people on welfare when the economy is this bad, just as we already have with a new (if embattled) law requiring drug testing for welfare recipients.

Buried in this bill is a bit of common sense and even dignity in a requirement for "culturally sensitive campaigns" to help people on food stamps make better choices. We could even come up with creative ways to reward those choices.

But it's easier to shake your finger and say government knows best, so long as government's not talking about you.

Comments
As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive br...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Same income, but not taxes, in GOP plan

In most places, a dollar is a dollar. But in the tax code envisioned by Republicans, the amount you make may be less important than how you make it.Consider two chefs working side by side for the same catering company, doing the same job, for the sam...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Renegade Republican Roy Moore may be plagued by scandal, but it will take more than that to convince the voters of 44th Place North to show up for Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday. In a state where Democrats are used to losing, the m...
Published: 12/09/17
 ‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

WASHINGTON — Around 5:30 each morning, President Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to "Fox & Friends" for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s "...
Published: 12/09/17
Why Democrats decided Sen. Al Franken had to go

Why Democrats decided Sen. Al Franken had to go

  It seems like a distant memory now, but Al Franken’s arrival in the U.S. Senate eight years ago marked the very moment when Democrats’ control of Washington reached its highest point in a generation. After an eight-month recount, the ...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Rep. Trent Franks to resign after broaching surrogacy with subordinates

Rep. Trent Franks to resign after broaching surrogacy with subordinates

WASHINGTON — Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, said Thursday he would resign his seat in a statement where he acknowledged discussing surrogacy with two former female subordinates.Franks...
Published: 12/07/17
Sen. Al Franken says he’s resigning amid fresh accusations

Sen. Al Franken says he’s resigning amid fresh accusations

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced Thursday he will resign from Congress in the coming weeks following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations and the collapse of support from his Democratic colleagues, a swift political fall for a once...
Published: 12/07/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Romano: Like him or not, Latvala deserves a fair hearing

Romano: Like him or not, Latvala deserves a fair hearing

At some point, the truth has to matter, right? Evidence, due process, all of that? No matter how you feel about Sen. Jack Latvala personally (and I’ve never been a huge fan) or how you feel about the overzealousness of his defense (which I cr...
Published: 12/07/17

New Port Richey takes steps to outlaw drug paraphernalia

NEW PORT RICHEY — The city has taken the first step to outlaw the sale of drug paraphernalia in its downtown, and leaders hope to establish stricter rules citywide for businesses selling pipes and other gear that can be used to consume illegal drugs....
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17