Behind every seemingly good deed in the Obama White House, there's a deep-pocketed, left-wing special interest. Take first lady Michelle Obama's crusade against childhood obesity. Who really benefits from the ostensible push for improved nutrition in the schools? Think purple -- as in the purple-shirted army of the Service Employees International Union. Big Labor bigwigs don't care about slimming your kids' waistlines. They care about beefing up their membership rolls and fattening their coffers.
Mrs. Obama earned a State of the Union address shout-out from her hubby for taking on the weighty public policy issue of students' physical fitness. The East Wing is now in full campaign mode -- leaning on the nation's mayors, traveling with the surgeon general and meeting with Congress and cabinet members to reauthorize the Lyndon Johnson-era Child Nutrition Act, which provides government-subsidized meals to more than 30 million children. It's part of the Obama administration's self-proclaimed "cradle-to-career" agenda for America's youth.
For decades, school administrators have criticized this Great Society relic for outgrowing its initial conception. The program was originally created to use up post-World War II food surpluses. In the late 1970s, New York principal Lewis Lyman skewered it as a federal "boondoggle" in a seminal essay for the education journal Phi Delta Kappan. But Democrats demagogued the GOP's responsible attempts at financial reform during the Clinton years as "starving the children." While spending on youth nutrition and wellness have ballooned, so have the kids. Nearly one-third of U.S. children are now overweight or obese. The feds spend $15 billion a year on nutrition in schools; the White House wants at least a $1 billion increase this coming fiscal year.
The well-intended program to feed poor kids has morphed into an untouchable universal entitlement with a powerful school-lunch lobbying coalition of Department of Agriculture bureaucrats, food-service industry executives and union bosses. Enter the SEIU. Headed by the White House's most frequent visitor, Andy Stern, the powerful labor organization representing government and private service employees has an insatiable appetite for power and growth. Working alongside the first lady, the SEIU unveiled a major ad campaign this week demanding reauthorizing and funding increases in the Child Nutrition Act.