Congress moves to repeal slush fund used for anti-obesity campaigns

As Congress continues to battle over budget cuts, one House subcommittee took the first step toward defunding a slush fund of taxpayer money used for anti-obesity campaigns throughout the country. In a little-noticed hearing last Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee voted out legislation that would repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund that was created in the health care reform bill.

The fund is a permanently authorized and appropriated subsidy for the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative (originally funded through the Recovery Act) that gives grants that directly financed anti-obesity campaigns and soda-tax efforts in New York City and elsewhere.

But even more staggering is the rate at which the already-appropriated funds increase from year to year, per the language of the health care bill. The legislation authorizes $500 million for fiscal year (FY) 2010, then $1 billion by FY 2012, $1.5 billion in 2013, and finally, $2 billion from 2015 and “each fiscal year thereafter”.

That eventual $2 billion in taxpayer money would be controlled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“In the current fiscal environment, we need to ask ourselves several key questions,” said Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, in a statement.  “First, should the federal government be involved in health promotion and prevention activities? One could argue yes, but the more important (or relevant) question is whether the amount of money going to the Prevention and Public Health Fund is proper and responsible…”

The answer to that question is looking increasingly clear, as the CDC was also coming dangerously close to violating federal law by using taxpayer money to lobby for policy changes through the CPPW. That was never clearer than last December, when CPPW Director Rebecca Bunnell gave a slideshow presentation during a “webinar.”

One slide indicated the desire to establish policies that would limit the availability of sugary drinks. And in what would seem to be an endorsement for a soda tax, the slide included the suggestion of “changing relative prices” as a way to restrict intake of sugary drinks.

On another slide, a California town that banned the construction of new fast food restaurants is hailed as an “early success” of the program. Another slide celebrated the fact that in 2010, South Caroline raised its cigarette tax for the first time in 33 years.

But those “successes” could be stopped in their tracks if the full House votes to repeal the fund. The Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to take up the legislation on Tuesday.

“With our massive budget deficit and exploding national debt, it’s great news that a House committee is looking to defund the Prevention and Public Health fund which is nothing more than a slush fund for the CDC media campaigns,” Tom Borelli of the Free Enterprise Project told TheDC. “Giving billions of dollars to unelected bureaucrats to spend as they see fit is a waste of tax dollars.”

As The Daily Caller previously reported, the CPPW initiative so far has doled out grants to 31 states and cities. New York City got one of the largest grants, at $31.1 million that was used for anti-obesity and anti-smoking campaigns. Subsequently, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched an ad campaign alerting residents to just how unhealthy sodas can be.

Other cities receiving CPPW money include Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

  • Pingback: ObamaCare “Public Health Fund”: Federal Financial Support for State, Local Obesity “Sin Tax” Policies”? « The Legal Pulse

  • virginiagentleman

    Just wondering, but why are most of these off the wall, crazy bills tendered by democrats? You know the ones I refer to, those that restrict +your liberties to live your life as YOU see fit?

  • Tess_Comments

    The US Government needs to make cuts not double the amount put aside for a specific program.

    Using a slush fund of taxpayer money incorporating the following increases is Outragous. Going from $500 million for fiscal year (FY) 2010, then to $1 billion by FY 2012, and $1.5 billion in 2013, and finally, $2 billion from 2015 to fight Obesity.

  • bluechevy

    What should happen is fat people should pay more for their insurance. Its crazy that they don’t. I don’t see the need for tax dollars to do that but just allow for insurance companies to lower prices for good health and increase for the fat people who live so unhealthy. If someone smokes and I don’t, we shouldn’t both pay the same for health insurance. That’s not fair. Same for weight. Fairness should rule.

  • alpha_male

    I would really like to know why there is even a “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” receiving any federal funding. Exactly what does that have to do with the federal govt? All these BS “agencies” are just criminal.

    • bluechevy

      I would agree with that. But I also agree that the State would and should have the right to put that into action.

  • UncleDon

    $1B?? Man, that’s a lot of Pizza!

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  • Callie369

    Those funds SHOULD be “defunded.”

    I had a doctor appt today and there was 7 people in the waiting room. Of those seven, 4 weighed 300 to 400 lbs. One was so large, paramedics brought him in in a wheel chair. As he and his wife were leaving, he asked his wife for his soda, which was a litre size bottle of non-diet soda. Two weighed in the 200 to 250 lb area, and ONE PERSON was of a normal weight. Two had children with them. One of the kids set there drinking soda and eating a chocolate bar. He was about 12 years old and beginning to put on weight. His mother must have weighed 400 lbs. Her belly came all the way to her knees while setting. The mother of the other child was the one of normal weight and the child was pleasingly slender. Not skinny, but just right.

    The CDC can spend millions or billions. Until people give a damn how they look and feel, it won’t matter.