The Corner

But You Are the Pizza Police

To find what is wrong with what passes for opposition to Obama-style big government, look no further than this afternoon’s confounding post, “The Pizza Police,” authored by two Beltway Republican leaders, representatives Fred Upton (House Commerce Committee chairman) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (House Republican Conference chairwoman). It is especially precious to find Representative Upton complaining about the president’s “Washington-knows-best regulatory state” in light of his distinction as co-author of the incandescent-light-bulb ban, his enthusiasm for taxing Americans to underwrite Leviathan’s green-energy scam, his support for government bail-outs of favored private industries, and so on.

The two lawmakers’ dander is up thanks to the FDA’s new menu-labeling rules, promulgated pursuant to Obamacare. These rules compel restaurateurs, including pizza-makers like Domino’s, to disclose calorie counts and other “nutritional information” to consumers. So, are our two irate representatives arguing that the American people are sufficiently adult to make their own food choices without government-mandated advice? Are they contending that, in the unlikely event mandates are warranted, such matters are for state or local governments to decide (with the understanding that if they choose to make doing business too onerous, vendors may choose to do business elsewhere)? Perish the thought.

Mr. Upton and Ms. Rodgers are careful to explain that they do not oppose federal intrusion in principle. After all, “providing such information is an important customer service.” I obviously missed class the day they taught the Constitution’s “Important Clause.” Assuming for argument’s sake that customers (rather than busybodies) find nutrition information important (and pretending that they don’t have about a zillion ways to research it), why can’t vendors be trusted to provide what is in their interest to provide? Wouldn’t market pressures induce them to appreciate their customers’ supposed craving for this information? Does a nation that is on the fast-track to $20 trillion in (acknowledged) debt really need government mandates, costly compliance protocols, and an even costlier enforcement bureaucracy for calorie counts?

Apparently so. Upton and Rodgers do not argue that businesses and consumers can work out menu-labeling without government’s coercive oversight. And, naturally, that oversight should come from Washington since, the lawmakers write, “a thoughtful national standard in and of itself is not a bad idea, particularly when contrasted to the inefficiency of a growing number of different state and city requirements” — because, you know, we can see the unparalleled efficiency of Washington’s thoughtful national standards everywhere we turn, right?

So, as usual, what has Republican leaders grumbling is not the principle that free people ought to be at liberty to conduct routine business without federal mandates. What irks them is that Obama bureaucrats are marginally more domineering than, say, Bush-era light-bulb bureaucrats. (By the way, Daniel Horowitz of RedState reminds us that Representative Upton’s light-bulb ban “made its way into the 2007 energy bill [signed by President Bush], which turned out to be the Obamacare of the energy industry.”) Upton and Rodgers object to what they call FDA’s inflexible “‘my way or the highway’ approach” to the imposition of government standards. That the imposition itself, quite apart from its obnoxious manner, is offensive never dawns on them. And speaking of offensive, how’d you like this Upton-Rodgers line: “In fact, Congress has previously partnered with the restaurant industry to improve consumers’ access to information.” Michael Bloomberg and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz wouldn’t have written it any differently.

The message: Republicans would do big government much smarter than Obama is doing it. Now there’s a hill to die on! If you were wondering how Obama could lose 4 million votes from 2008 and still win in 2012 . . .


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