Fox Falsely Claims Child Nutrition Bill Increases Deficit

On America Live John Stossel falsely claimed that the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act -- which aims to increase access to child nutrition programs and reduce childhood obesity -- will increase the deficit by $4.5 billion. In reality, the bill is deficit neutral.

Stossel Claims Child Nutrition Bill Will Add $4.5 Billion To The Debt

Stossel: “They Spend Another $4.5 Billion When We're Already Deep In Debt.” From the December 8 edition of Fox News' America Live:

MEGYN KELLY (HOST): The House has passed a bill. It was earlier passed in the Senate. Michelle Obama is the chief proponent of it. It costs $4.5 billion and it gives the Feds the ability to decide what kind of foods are going to be sold in the lunchrooms, and what kind of ingredients can be used, and what can be in the vending machines, and whether and how often bake sales can be held by children today. Good idea?

STOSSEL: Don't they have any sense of humility with trillion dollar debts that they shouldn't try to control everything from Washington? The agriculture secretary said, “Our national security and economic competitiveness will improve as a result of this bill.”


STOSSEL: It's just that they spend another $4.5 billion when we're already deep in debt on something that may bring some tiny result and will be circumvented. This isn't the end of the world. We've got bigger problems to worry about. [Fox News, America Live, 12/08/10]

In Fact, Spending Cuts In Other Programs Offset The Cost

Huffington Post: The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Is “Deficit-Neutral.” According to a November 30 Huffington Post article: “The deficit-neutral bill, which would provide $4.5 billion to school lunch and other federal child-nutrition programs, marks the first time since 1973 that Congress has increased funding for school lunch programs, beyond the usual corrections for inflation.” [Huffington Post,11/30/10]

USA Today: “The Extra Spending ... Is Offset By Cuts In Food Stamp And Agricultural Programs.” As reported by USA Today: “The new legislation, called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, expands the Child Nutrition Act, which first passed in 1966. The bill commits an additional $4.5 billion to child nutrition programs during the next 10 years, including school lunch and breakfast programs. The extra spending, which falls short of the $10 billion in added funding that President Obama sought over the same period, is offset by cuts in food stamp and agricultural programs.” [USAToday, 12/2/10]

House Education And Labor Committee: The Legislation Is “Fully Paid For -- At No Cost To Taxpayers.” A November 30 blog post on the House Committee on Education and Labor's website saidof the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act:

Fully Paid For -- At No Cost to Taxpayers

  • Saves $1 billion over 10 years by extending a provision that allows the Secretary of Agriculture to count commodities purchased for market stabilization toward the required level of federal support (in the form of commodity foods) for the National School Lunch Program.
  • Saves approximately $1.3 billion over 10 years by restructuring nutrition education in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a new grant program that distributes Federal funds by formula to the States.
  • Saves approximately $2.2 billion over 10 years by eliminating a temporary SNAP benefit increase provided by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). [House Education and Labor Committee, 11/30/10]

Stossel Suggests Nutrition Bill Will Impede Girl Scout Cookie Sales

Stossel Highlights Girl Scouts In Attack On Child Nutrition Bill. From the same edition of America Live:

KELLY: Well bake sales, pizza for lunch, Hershey bars in the vending machine -- all a common sight at most American schools, but they could soon be extinct if Congress and the First Lady have their way. John Stossel says the food police have been very busy.

STOSSEL [voice over]: Bake sales and Girl Scout cookies send the wrong message. They suggest that it's fine to eat cookie. Maybe the prohibitionists will sue the Girl Scouts next.

[Begin Video Clip]

MAN: You make them taste good on purpose, don't you?

GIRL SCOUT: I guess so.

[End Video Clip]

STOSSEL [voice over]: Of course, maybe eating cookies could hurt these kids. But my question is, who gets to decide what you eat? These kids' parents? You? Or someone else? [Fox News,America Live, 12/08/10]

During the segment, Fox ran b-roll footage of Girl Scouts.

Spokesman For Girl Scouts Of The USA: New Policy Should Not Have A Significant Impact On Cookie Sales. In a December 8 article headlined “Goodbye to Bake Sales? Nutrition Bill Subjects School Fundraisers to New Regs,” reported that “Michelle Tompkins, spokesman for Girl Scouts of the USA, said that because Girl Scout cookies are often sold during after-school hours, the new policy likewise should not have a significant impact on their sales.” [, 12/8/10]

Associated Press: Nutrition Bill “Wouldn't Apply To After-Hours Events Or Concession Stands At Sports Events.” According to the Associated Press:

The legislation, part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to stem childhood obesity, provides more meals at school for needy kids, including dinner, and directs the Agriculture Department to write guidelines to make those meals healthier. The legislation would apply to all foods sold in schools during regular class hours, including in the cafeteria line, vending machines and at fundraisers.

It wouldn't apply to after-hours events or concession stands at sports events. [Associated Press, 12/3/10]