According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), almost 40% of adults (93.3 million) and almost 20% of children (13.7 million) in America are obese. The rapid growth of obesity has made the issue a public health crisis, and the federal government has stepped in to help.
As part of the Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) “Healthy Lifestyles Initiative,” a community in Kansas City will receive two grants totaling more than $1.1 million to build a Dunkin’ Donuts and other fast food restaurants. According to Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), “The grants will support the construction of two buildings, a combination Wendy’s and Pizza Hut and a stand-alone Dunkin’ Donuts.”
While there are healthy options the restaurants provide, taxpayers will be hard pressed to find a good reason these fast food behemoths are being subsidized by their own tax dollars. Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, and Dunkin’ Donuts are three of the top ten most profitable fast food franchises, each averaging over $1 million in sales.
Fortunately, Senator Flake has offered an amendment to the Defense-HHS-Labor appropriations bill to end this unhealthy corporate welfare, prohibiting HHS from using funds to build fast food franchises. However, it is unlikely this amendment will be included in the bill, or even receive a vote. The same goes for other waste cutting amendments Sen. Flake has offered to the bill, such as cutting off funding for a $2 million DoD project creating robot bartenders*, or ‘beerbots’ and eliminating $650 million to buy a ship the Navy says it doesn’t need.
The Senate, supposedly the world’s greatest deliberative body, rarely allows amendments to any legislation anymore – even ones that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and include funding for ‘beerbots’. So while Senate leaders boast about processing spending bills through regular order, the end result is still business as usual. No spending item endorsed by an appropriation chairman, no matter how wasteful, can be reduced or stripped from the bill. The process may look different from the outside, but the end result remains the same. The Senate will gorge themselves in spending and unhealthy eating. Extra pork!
*The Senate adopted Senator Flake’s amendment to cut off funding for the DoD’s robot bartenders. However, his other amendments were not included.