In Final Spending Bill, Salty Food and Belching Cows Are Winners

The $1.1 trillion package that cleared the Senate over the weekend was, like many of its predecessors, filled with provisions to satisfy special interests.

Comments: 229

  1. But Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, blasted this as “corporate welfare.”

    “Last I checked,” Mr. Cruz said, “casinos were very profitable endeavors that didn’t need the taxpayers helping them out.

    Senator Cruz seems to be the only sane senator left in Washington.

  2. Sorry, but Ted Cruz is not sane. He may be right about casinos, but he missed the big one on corporate welfare - the weakening of Dodd-Frank by members of his own party. Casino welfare won't hurt you anywhere near as badly as bailing out Wall Street yet again will. He (and you) also missed the part that increases the amount that the 1% can pay out to buy elections. That takes ever more power away from you, but you don't notice it because you haven't yet realized the that the interests of Sheldon Adelson, the Waltons, and the Koch Brothers aren't your own interests.

  3. But he'll vote to give the Pentagon every dime it asks for, and more ???

  4. If Senator Cruz is the basis for your definition of 'sane', I am terrified by what you deem insane. While I agree that supporting travel to a major environmental drain in the middle of the desert is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, let's not let Cruz score any points with one reasonable sound point in the midst of his typically toxic rhetoric that has created another huge waste of taxpayer dollars: government inefficacy and gridlock.

  5. Omitted from the story is that the "let's blow some serious money" bill does not include the costs of entitlement programs. The real bottom line is over $4 Trillion spent to pay off their big-bucks campaign donors and appease their K/Wall Street masters.

    I understand Boehner and Reid also gave the federal government a nice raise - because we have so much extra cash in the Treasury and they've done so much to deserve one. /sarc

  6. I am getting pretty tired hearing about all the riders, and almost without exception, no information about specifically who was responsible for putting the rider in the bill. Who put the rider in the bill that weakens Dodd-Frank? Why is NYT unable to tell us who was responsible? Without information, it is impossible for the public to make the judgments necessary for a functioning representative democracy. We need transparency and the press has a duty and obligation to provide it. No more blah, blah, blah NYT, provide us with information.

  7. The attribution seems to have gone to the CitiBank lobbyists. Little mention in the MSM. So you may have to do some digging. Elizabeth Warren mentions them in particular on her website, www.elizabethwarren.com

  8. Absolutely agree. Without this information we are just dissatisfied with "government." We need to be directing our dissatisfaction at specific candidates or office holders.

  9. The funders of the GOP shop are responsible. They have offices on K Street and proudly identify themselves. Arranging riders and blocking regulation is their business. Their stooges, who sit in Congress, are merely hired hands. Get rid of one and they will simply hire or corrupt the replacement. Although I hate to say it, that is what I have come to believe.
    You and I are tired of it, but the majority among the 1/3 of our voting public who turned out to vote in 2014 apparently are not. One remains mystified if saddened.

  10. Pork for the well healed - the american way. The middle class - nothing except another for the banking casino.

  11. 1600 page, 1.2 trillion dollar package of pork and salt and no one, smarmy politician that is, has read the bill. Great.

  12. And democrats will rally behind it and approve it. When will people finally get fed up enough to fight back (hint fighting back does not equal getting out to vote democrat republican)

  13. Well, at least they've eliminated the permit requirement for cows to belch and pass gas. However, they've done nothing to address the disparity among cats, some of whom eat out of Waterford martini glasses while others have to chase mice. They need to step up and take the bull by the horns....

  14. The central issue of this mundane list of special interest riders is an overarching fact: its business-as-usual is destroying democracy. It places special interests beyond the reach of public accountability. It replaces Congress' fear of discovery with the cold glare of indifference, and while it claims to condemn government as the enemy of business, it deliberately hides the use of government for gifts to business friends.

    If government is the enemy, look again to find out who the friends are.

  15. The party that is so fond of saying government is evil and screws up everything it touches is devoted to making it so.

  16. Didn't we just have an election to "CHANGE HOW WASHINGTON" operates?

    Things had better change come first of year ... or some senators & congressmen better start packing ... and try finding such lucrative positions in the private sector.

    I would NOT HIRE a single one of these incompetents.

  17. Boehner I knew before Nov 4th you'd sell us out. If you remain speaker the GOP will regret it for a very long time.

  18. Thanks Mr. Pear and NY Times.

    Great, timely, reporting on a major piece of legislation (more than 1,000 pages within days of enactment). You helped the public understand when you wrote:

    "Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonprofit research group that tracks federal spending, said the bill bestowed favors on all sorts of constituencies.

    “Authors of the bill and lobbyists behind these provisions know they are in there,” Mr. Ellis said. “But the public will not find out about most of them for weeks or months, if ever.”

    Congress supposedly forswore spending earmarks several years ago, after federal largess led to several scandals. But lawmakers can still steer money in less conspicuous ways.

    For example, the 2015 spending bill authorizes additional money for an unnamed “heritage area” specified in Section 157 of title I of Public Law 106-291. That section of the law, enacted 14 years ago, established a national heritage area in Wheeling, W.Va., to celebrate the area’s role in American history."

  19. It did not bestow any favors on "every-day" folks with no interest groups in DC, or children who eat school lunches. In fact, it harmed the latter. American democracy has become a free-for-all shoot-out. Those with the biggest guns and the most pistols always get something. Just another manifestation of our moneyed and gun-slinging culture.

  20. And the sad thing is, BOTH parties were there to indulge at the pig-trough. The most principled members of each party voted "no," for different reasons (Cruz and Sanders, for instance), but it is hopeless, I'm afraid, if both parties are in league with each other to continue the spend-fest with other peoples' money and worse, our grandchildren's taxes. Doomed, I tell you.

  21. A national heritage area in Wheeling, West Virginia celebrating its role in American history--And what might that be? Last time I drove through this area it was pretty depressed and funky!

  22. So, who. who. who put those provisions in the bill? NYT does great graphics. Make one.

  23. Of course, if the democrats had their way, the chances of a new federal program, if not agency, funded by increased taxes, and federal borrowing, designed to monitor, and study, cow belching, would be most excellent.

    Said government program would provide many new jobs intended to replace current American jobs in the private sector that are departing, and soon to depart, for foreign shores due to the enormous cost of regulation and taxation in the US. Not to mention the growing number of unskilled American workers demanding easy work for top dollars. And, of course, such new government jobs would provide equal pay with the lost, and soon to be lost, private sector jobs, plus better benefits, and shorter hours.

    Lets hear it from all those unemployed MPA's out there.

  24. Government employment relative to total population has shrunk dramatically under Obama - I hope you voted for him!

  25. They contracted out the work. Government has not shrunk

  26. Last I checked, Mr. Cruz, Wall Street and big banks are also "very profitable endeavors that [don't] need the taxpayers helping them out."

    It's extremely dispiriting to realize that our "democracy" is one in name only; we have a completely corrupt system that has been hijacked by corporations and big money interests who enjoy a symbiotic relationship with corrupt politicians. The politicians, including the activist Republican majority on the Supreme Court, have created a legal framework for a system of uncontrolled legal bribery.

    The corporations and big banks buy politicians with huge campaign contributions that are nothing more than bribes in exchange for which these corrupt politicians allow lobbyists to write legislation that hands over tax-payer money to these same corporations and special interests. That is why we now have an economic system of privatized profits with socialized losses.

  27. You know how the markets report various commodity prices and their futures contract prices. Would it be too very much trouble to report the same data for politicians? Then maybe some of us could join together to buy a few of our own. I understand they are much more affordable than commonly thought.

  28. To be fair, the unions, too, are in the game - unions have owned politicians of one party for decades. And nowadays, the "corporations and big banks" buy politicians from both parties. Obama was bought and paid for by Wall Street bankers, after all.

  29. Interesting post. I guess you can't see Obama and Holder taking money from the banks and not prosecuting those crooks and thugs. They make 100s of billions, pay a few billion dollars in fines and make a few million in political donations to the democrats and you are OK with that. They truth is both parties are corrupt. The article makes that very clear. Just look at Reid's work for Nevada tourism. Our government is a total joke!

  30. A Republican bill indeed! Keep the salt content in school lunches higher to allow the businesses that supply such meals economically thrive. Forget about the health of our next generation! While stamping out the Affordable Care Act, the right adds to America's health woes. Representative Roger's of Kentucky calls government regulation "overreach." Yet, these reactionaries do not consider it intrusive to shut down women's health care clinics where women receive mammograms and other essential health care services. Talk about hypocrites.

  31. Is it really $550 billion for defense out of $1.1 trillion? Doesn't seem right. Also, I echo the responses of others that we need more. Please put up one of your great interactive features where we can see each provision with who it benefits, how much it will cost us, who put it in the bill, and who voted for it.

    Relate the part of the bill to how much money the beneficiary has given to Congress and to the person/people that put that part of the bill in.

    Maybe let's take a look at the race of the people that are to benefit too. Seems like people of color lose the most in these bills.

  32. I'll read it!

  33. NYT please. This is a great idea!

  34. Nothing will happen. We have legalized politician's bribing by process of lobbying!

  35. There is a big difference between a provision which affects thousand of ranchers in all the States who get a break in a regulation ( New York is a large cattle state though the Times may not be aware of the dairy industry there) and hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to benefit a handful of big casinos in Nevada. Harry Reid, his sons and his party should not be able to get away with this blatant corruption. Once again Harry Reid proves that the Democrat party is the party that puts the interests of wealthy companies ahead of the people.

  36. Blaming only one person or one party is ridiculous. They are all in it and all participate in the nonsense.

  37. Seriously? C'mon now, Un, you can't possibly be that uninformed. Both parties have jumped on the corruption train and it pulled out of the station a very long time ago.

  38. "hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to benefit a handful of big casinos in Nevada"
    I didn't see anywhere the amount that was attributed to the Nevada travel promotion program. Perhaps NYT could be so kind as to give us that amount?

  39. The old adage is true; people get the government they deserve. We had a viable grass-roots solution called the Tea Party whose main tenets are; 1) just like normal folks, the government shouldn't be able to spend money they don't have or ever will have, and 2) subverting our Constitution can only lead to disaster.
    The NYT was one of the leaders of the effort to marginalize and demonize the Tea Party. Enjoy the consequences.

  40. " We had a viable grass-roots solution called the Tea Party whose main tenets are".

    Calling the Tea-Party a "grass-roots" solution is the same as calling his crooked spending bill a "clean" bill.

  41. IF that were all the Tea Party stood for, that might have been somewhat acceptable save their rather narrow-minded interpretation of the constitution. You know as well as everyone else that they wanted something entirely different however. If you believe Cruz's comment about corporate welfare, then progressives are on the same page. However, he (and the Tea Party) are clearly being disingenuous when they say they don't like corporate welfare. They and their GOP relatives gladly "pay" those guys when it comes to getting elected and getting everything else they want.

  42. The final spending bill exposes Boehner, McConnell, and the RINO GOP for what they are....absolute frauds and liars. What this actually represents is the end of the republican party, and has guaranteed a democrat president. It is truly astonishing to see Boehner openly betray the voters, and somehow believe there will be no political consequences.
    Many who voted were handed the similar load by Boehner in 2012. Vote for the lesser of two evils, then hold them responsible? Really? It's the same evil, the same corruption. The party is over.

  43. I wish you were right.

  44. Using taxpayer funds to bail out Wall Street and poison our children. Ladies and gentlemen, your Republic Party proudly demonstrates its priorities.

  45. Yup so do the Dems, you may have overlooked Harry Reid's contribution to the bill, and he is a Democrat last time I checked.

  46. "...exemptions from whole-grain requirements for pasta and tortillas." This is what the founders created the Senate to debate? We have lost it when people like Reed and Boehner lead us.

  47. Why were there "whole grain requirements" for pasta and tortillas in the first place? Classic example of Big Goverment run amok.

  48. No, as usual with left winger, you have it completely wrong. Can
    left wingers EVER learn?

    We lose when people like Ms. Obama lead us into silliness.

    She and the Federal government have no business whatsoever
    telling schools what to put into lunches. If the Congress can't pass
    bills expressly for the purpose of stopping bureaucrats, its up
    to its members to find creative ways to do it. This is EXACTLY
    how a representative democracy is supposed to work.

    Good job, Republicans!

  49. I knew that Democrats in the Senate learned nothing from November's low turnout and losses when they again voted in Harry Reid as their leader. Reid has always been an uninspiring leader who has made influence pedaling a family business. KA

  50. The trick to getting bills passed that are laden with pork is to spread the pork broadly: I'll overlook your pork, if you overlook mine. I'll keep voting for a representative who supports a bill filled with pork, as long as I get my share.

    That was the trick the military used to prevent base closings and still uses to get more "support" than it even asks for: spread he money into every district, with an emphasis on those of key committee chairmen. It wasn't until Congress took the specifics of decision-making out of its own hands that progress was made.

  51. Democrats lose again. Vote to weaken middle class.

  52. All legislators must be required to eat the same school lunches they approve with lobbyists. If the food is good enough for our children, the adults that guide this process should eat the same as well. Every day.

  53. School lunches might taste bad, but that is not because of salt restrictions or use of whole grains. That is because they use cheap ingredients. If they hired nutritionists and cooks who understood food chemistry as well as good taste, none of this would be an issue. My sister in law was on charge of food service for a large private school in NY; she was creative and the kids loved her food as did the parents when they came to functions. It can be done -- and no, they did not pay her a fortune.

  54. There are goodness knows how many stay-at-home moms (and grandmas) who would be delighted to have a part time job in the school cafeteria, for a couple of hours a week.

    You don't need gourmet chef level skills -- just ordinary cooking ability. A lot of fresh healthy foods don't even NEED any cooking, just some simple prep or chopping -- salads, fruit, cold cuts and sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, carrot sticks, hummus, cheese sticks, etc.

    One thing we used to do -- cheap & effective -- give every child a subsidized HALF PINT container of whole milk each day. It can be free for poor children. Not skim milk, not sugary chocolate or strawberry milk -- just plain whole milk. And nothing else (except water). And it has to be ICE COLD.

    This alone would transform school lunches.

  55. Lulu of Brazil championed healthier school lunches for Brazilians AND helped local sustainable farmers by making sure that schools tried to get fresh vegetables and fruits from local farms. There is no reason this could not be done in the USA and make another step to add to local Farmer's Markets,
    Community Supported Agriculture and other campaigns to get our food closer to home from smaller farmers not just dousing everything with pesticides on factory farms.

  56. The wheels of the Government sausage making Congress cut both ways. The alteration in School Nutrition is a good thing. However, we waist again with more and more pork to the fat cats.

  57. Thanks to the GOP for halting the "nanny state's" efforts to require schools to serve healthy foods. After all, when it comes to choosing between profits for big foods and the health of our kids, the choice is an easy one. Who wants the state to stand between kids and their daily lunch of hot dogs, Fritos, and Coca Cola?

  58. Good. Now schools will not have to throw out tons of the "healthy foods" in garbage like they do now.

  59. A bunch of riders like this, individually, don't amount to much. So budget analysts should analyze them as a group, reporting the total tax effect and the total budget effect. Congress should then be required to vote the whole package up or down. That way, those who vote up can rightly be charged in the next election with raising the budget and/or taxes to pay for pork.

  60. Boehner has to go. I hope he is voted out of the leadership come January before he does even more damage.

  61. I would add Pelsoi and Reid to you very short list.

  62. i am sickened by what i read day after day after day of the staggering level of corruption that is disguised as governance.

    and even more insulting is when these pillars of representative government lecture on what an exceptionally awesome country this is. exceptionally corrupt ...

  63. Huh? Because of salt exemptions & keeping the government from regulating ponds? Hardly rises to the level of corruption...

  64. The taxpayers never win. Work hard, follow the rules and get laughed at by the House, the Senate, the White House, the Banks, the corporations and other assorted by actors. Congress and the White.House should be ashamed but they are beyond shame.

  65. What happened to government for the people, by the people.

  66. It is government of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation.

  67. Thank God we have the Citigroup lobbyists. God bless the Republicans and God bless John Boehner along with the co-opted Democrats. Long live the free market!

  68. It still is
    Corporations= People (US Supreme Court)

  69. The food barely edible in school cafeterias as it is. Google "Thanks Michelle Obama" for photos kids take of their lunches. Lowering salt content (since when is salt content a problem for most kids?) will make them even worse.

    And "healthy" whole grains is an expansive scam promulgated by the USDA and its farmer patrons. I ate regular spaghetti regular bread in school back in the 1970's. Kids today can also eat regular spaghetti and regular bread. Whole-grain spaghetti and whole-grain bread have just as many calories and just as many carbs, and therefore does nothing to fight obesity.

  70. There is a powerful, popular myth today that whole grain pasta, brown rice and whole wheat bread are so good for you, that they have less potential to make you fat (*despite identical calories to "white" products) and help people avoid Type II diabetes.

    This is false, and ANY diabetic specialist would laugh at it. Carbs are carbs; having some fiber with them doesn't remove their "carb-iness".

    You could have the identical effect by eating white bread and white pastas -- then having a teaspoon of wheat germ on your cereal.

    Fiber is wonderful for digestion, but it won't do a darn thing to make you lose weight and won't prevent "sugar spikes" (which most food nuts don't even properly understand).

    Children should eat a varied, healthy diet of fresh foods. Things that taste GOOD -- not horrid boiled veggies with no salt. There is no better way to ensure that another generation of kids will grow up HATING vegetables.

  71. "Whole-grain spaghetti and whole-grain bread have just as many calories and just as many carbs, and therefore does nothing to fight obesity."

    Regular spaghetti and bread lack the FIBER that whole grains have. They do contribute to obesity. I ate Kraft Mac & Cheese as a kid too. Velveeta Cheese and processed macaroni are not a pathway to health. We now have kids with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

  72. You are obviously neither a pediatrician nor a nutritionist. Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem for the nation's children. Whole grains and complex carbohydrates are more slowly digested keeping blood sugars at a more even level. Elevated sodium in foods is pretty much exclusively associated with lower nutrition foods like lunch meats, chips etc. Doctors are also reported evelated blood pressure trends children. And finally, the habits developed in childhood carry on into adulthood. It would be great if this generation of children grow up to raise children with a taste for less processed foods that have a higher nutritional content. I was raised in a household with two smokers who smoked In a car with 6 kids with the windows raised, smoked at the dinner table and even in the bedroom. That doesn't translate into AOK for me and good enough for me and my kids and grand kids.

  73. Surprising they didn't force schools to take milk out of the lunch menu.
    After all, Michelle Obama would be advocating for a good source of calcium in children's diets, and we wouldn't want Michelle Obama to have an upper hand in trying to make children's diets better, would we Republican Congress?

  74. Michelle and her pal/supporter Mark Bittman HATE milk -- it's "cow mucus". Bittman is allergic to it anyhow. It's fattening. People like it, so it must be bad for them.

  75. I think a lot of this is an inevitable offshoot of the form of government (535 state representatives most forced to seek reelection every 2 years and needing to raise funds to do that) combined with SCOTUS interpretation that money is free speech that has no reasonable limits. None of this will ever change without constitutional amendment (which means it is not foreseeable).

  76. No one should be allowed to donate money to candidates they can't vote for. Corps can't vote, no donations. Only voters in states can vote for reps and sens. Cuts down ending and stops outside interference.

  77. I'm actually glad to see this pork (and salt) filled bill finally pass.

    The curtailment of earmarks is one of the main reasons we have such intractable partisan gridlock. When earmarks went away, so did a powerful need to compromise. So if a little bit of pork is the price we have to pay for at least some semblance of governance, it’s worth it.

    And despite the fact that I label myself a progressive, I’m also a little tired of the creeping government micromanagement of every aspect of our lives. I mean, the “percentage of whole grains in pasta”? Give me a break.

  78. The food corporations love micromanaging your kid's pleasure center.

  79. It's not the cows that won. It's factory farm owners that won. Unfortunately everyone else loses.

  80. Unfortunately money is the lubricant that gets things done in Congress.,has been and always will be. As a matter of fact the ending of earmarks in the house has helped create the situation we have now. Used to be that politicians would bring gov't money and projects to their districts in exchange for tough votes. Now the money flows from lobbyists directly to the politicians who vote for the business groups instead of voting for their districts/states.

  81. Follow the money. My guess is that the NYTs could help our democracy by putting up one of their great interactive features in real time while the bill is being debated. That way we can react to the provisions before it becomes a bill.

  82. And why didn't they? Because some of the WORST pork and special interests, come from and benefit Democrats.

    Both parties should be ashamed here of a lousy bill, that was cobbled together like a Frankenstein monster (costs far too much anyhow).

  83. "Special interests" seems like a weak label. Why not use the use a more direct one, such as "big donors"?

  84. Well, it looks like "Back to business as usual" so we cal all suffer. The only good person in the lineup is Ted Cruz who calls them as he sees them for the true conservative.

  85. Elizabeth Warren has it right. But her right should be universal. We should have a spending omnibus bill which is singular to spending. All the other tack on items should be brought up in another bill.
    However, this will never happen and Congress will represent the loudest, richest, lobbyist and let the American people be damned.

  86. What is most important here is that the federalized government will continue to operate and all the federalized employees and contractors will not go without pay. That is the triumph of America!

  87. A reasonable person knows that there is much more important services provided by federal employees. Care for some e coli tainted beef? Hurricane heading your way? Space program? Medical research? Our beautiful National Parks?

  88. Support your "federalized" troops, boy.

  89. Given that Congress will not forswear the practice of "decorating" spending bills with unrelated amendments, it is necessary to provide the President with the line item veto. NJ, where i live, has provided its Governor with that power since 1947 and it has helped curb this type of budgetary nonsense...although other types of improvident practices have placed this state upon a slippery financial footing.

  90. It's The Best Congress Money Can Buy. What did you expect?

    The question is: Will the media lose interest in the story after 48 hours, or will they dissect the bill, and catalog every one of these giveaways, along with their principal sponsor? If THAT doesn't happen, there is no hope of ever fixing this problem.

    Federally funded campaigns for federal office, spending limited to that funding alone, with no contributions from anyone, and term limits on Congress. With out those, this irresponsible folly will continue.

  91. If we are to fix Congress, we need to understand what they have done wrong and then punish them. We need to do this on an individual basis. For example, let's pick out the person that amended Dodd-Frank and raise money to have him/her defeated.

    Groups can rarely be fixed by treating them as a group. You need to pick out the worst offenders and punish them.

  92. Do you mean "The bill that Citigroup helped draft"?
    "As The New York Times reported last year, lawmakers adopted nearly every word of Citigroup’s plan in drafting a bill. The bank’s recommendations are reflected in more than 70 of the 85 lines of that bill..." http://nyti.ms/134fDg7
    "Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)
    "...The lobbying campaign shows how, three years after Congress passed the most comprehensive overhaul of regulation since the Depression, Wall Street is finding Washington a friendlier place."

    In this case "the group" IS the worst offender:

    "The cordial relations now include a growing number of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, whose support the banks need if they want to roll back parts of the 2010 financial overhaul, known as Dodd-Frank." http://nyti.ms/1zfdJFf

    This system is corrupt to the core and is beyond repair.

  93. Sure...let's take all the flavor out of school lunches, since we know it's been an epic fail, and kids are throwing it in the trash bins. And, trying to force farmers of domestic farm animals to report levels of pollution that occur as a natural form of their body functions seems incredulous to me. But what's worse is that lawmakers are permitted to "hide and secrete" laws that we won't ever know about until it becomes mandated. That smells strongly of trickery, slight of hand, favoratism and collusion, and totally un-American.

  94. Throwing out the flavor? Or, throwing away their health? Just depends on how you look at it, eh? By the way, people CAN change the way they eat. They can recover from the S.A.D. In the 60's and early 70's we did not eat out as much, watch the food channel and Paula Dean's diabetic cooking, or eat as much salt, fat and sugar. Lessen these ingredients, and over time healthy food will taste better. Seems to me that school should be a safe place from hazardous food.

  95. This article is exaggerating the "horror" of some of these provisions -- like not forcing schools to lower salt content of meals. There is no evidence this would accomplish anything, and it is likely (as you say) to result in very bad tasting food in school cafeterias -- meaning kids don't eat the food, it gets thrown out and the money in the dumpster.

    However, the bill is a real hot mess, full of pork and giveaways. It should have never been passed as is. That it was, speaks poorly of both Houses of Congress, AND the President -- of BOTH political parties. Shame!

  96. Hey Louise, go down to your local Safeway, or whatever big grocer you may have out there and take a visual survey of the state of health of the average American kid. You will see a level of obesity that is shocking. These habits are learned in school and also by parents that are so overworked to make ends meet that all they have time for is to prepare processed food in many cases.

    Kids are literally taught now to be unhealthy. Someone has to guide them back to a future that is not spent in a series of insulin shots, or heart procedures or chemotherapy.

    It's basically like the dietary equivalent of watching nothing but Fox News.

  97. "Taxpayers for Common Sense"....? Ha. I actually got a chuckle from that name.

    There is nothing new about all the stuff jammed into a major spending bill. In days of yore, it used to be more about local pork (useless bridges and such). Now it's more about tax breaks and regulatory rollbacks to protect businesses that don't need protections.

    From a historical perspective, I suppose one could evaluate the changing nature of America by listing the hidden "bennies" in a bill. Thus it's revealing (or more, confirming) evidence that most special provisions today are pro-business protection clauses. Special interests are more financial than state centered. Horse trading for state pork projects has gone the way of the horse and buggy for state industry tax breaks.

    What's ironic to me is politicians no longer talk about "line item vetoes," that regular annual cry from Presidents from Reagan to Clinton. I don't think I've heard Mr. Obama ever use the term. it appears that passing anything in Washington is so rare, so novel that even with bloated breaks for flatulent cows, it's hailed as an achievement to avoid budgetary showdowns at least for a year.

    Charles Blow today asks, "what kind of country are we?. From this bill, the answer is abundantly clear: a country run by, and for, business. "Special interests" today only mean one thing: the return on investment of runaway political funding.

  98. Ah, "line item vetoes," a flash from the good ol' past when government, was slow and unefficient as expected, although at least still working. Now it seems a gaudy, colorful wrestling show under a white tent, showing some fake punches which were obviously scripted to give the crowd some faux entertainment. Back stage big business are busy greasing their palms awaiting their collective cash cows.

  99. The line item veto was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998.

  100. Really? The bill includes PROHIBITION of lowering salt limits for children's lunches??? It disallows a school district from voluntarily teaching healthy eating habits? A school district CANNOT choose to provide healthy foods? It requires us to create bloated, obese children with high blood pressure from the get go? Because too many healthy children can be a burden on the health care system.....?

  101. The bill is welcomed heartily by drug companies who can make fat profits from sick children though!
    Look at the bright side of life!

  102. I don't think you read the article correctly; it says that THE GOVERNMENT cannot require lower salt. An individual district can do anything it wants, including serving salt-free, sugar-free vegan food every day.

  103. The law prohibits requiring lower levels of salt; it does not not mandate new levels but leaves it to the schools. The old level is still in place, and lunches can have any lower level the school decides.

  104. Can the NY Times please publish a list of all the riders and their sponsors? In the interests of Democracy, I think it's important to know.

  105. Yes New York Times as subscribers we request ALL riders and their sponsors. Thanks

  106. Unfortunatly without advertisments, the print would be too small to read, and if big enough to read too heavy to sell.

  107. We are asked as voters to vote responsibly. It would help if the media would cooperate and provide us with the information that allows us to hold our representatives accountable.

  108. Congess must be the only place on earth where Santa gives all the naughty children everything they want for Christmas and then some.

  109. The land of the free and the home of the brave.

    This country does little more than spout phony slogans.

  110. "... This country does little more than spout phony slogans. ..."

    And the biggest phonies of all are our "representatives" in the Congress and Senate, who were elected by a small minority of voters, most of whom had to hold their noses while doing it.

  111. This article should remind us of what is really going on in Washington while we are passionately focused on the "issue of the day". I wish that "we the people" were more interested in these smaller issues so that the media could make money while reporting them. Also, while "Christmas tree" bills like this are nothing new, it seems like technology has gotten to the point where we should be able to know, and be informed of, more of these provisions BEFORE a bill like this is passed, rather than after. This article should have been written 2 months ago.

  112. The spending bill was introduced and passed in a very short period of time. 2 months ago, it may have been written, but not available for reading by the public.
    That's the way congress operates. No oversight, goodies buried in thousands of pages , many of the provisions written by the companies or organizations that will benefit from the bill. Nothing new here, move along.

  113. I called and asked my congressman to have the entire bill read on the house floor before the vote.

    He wouldn't even do that. He just got elected to the senate so he was not at risk politically.

    Politicians don't want the citizenry to know what they are voting for.

    Sit down, shut up and pay your taxes!

  114. We may know and be informed, but how can John & Susie Public compete with high priced lobbyists?

  115. The School Nutrition Association and it's cafeteria directors that take money from food companies don't have the children's best interests at heart, but rather their bottom lines it seems to be so happy with these results. This to me is outrageous. This battle that Michelle Obama joined is decades old and it's all uphill. Shameful.

  116. The system has been broken for a long time

  117. Makes the case for term limits, doesn't it?
    When representatives and senators no longer have to begin their re-election campaigns on the day the take office for the first time (read fund raise,) we will all be better off.

  118. Term limits won't solve this problem. Campaign finance reform is the only solution.

  119. There are other ways to extract money from elected office other than funding for future campaigns.

    A term limited representative might lard a bill with special interest favors that would lead to future employment for him/her and their family.

    This is the rotating door phenomenon.

    See the unjust servant of the Bible for an example of a term limited worker who planned for his future outside of the master's employ.

    Term limits are not the answer, limiting the economic scope and the economic favors the government can provide could work.

    But I don't see that happening as too many powerful people, in the government and outside, rather like the current system.

  120. Shame on Congress, but double shame on President Obama!

  121. Stating the obvious: the GOP has always been big supporters of capitalism... for the poor. We actually have a very well-developed and thriving form of socialism in this country: for the well-heeled and well-connected. It's socialism all right, just "reverse socialism," redistributing income from the poor and middle classes to the wealthy. We need another national motto for the people whose real wages have stagnated over the past thirty years. How about "I've got plenty of nuttin' and nuttin's plenty for me?"

  122. I don't know about you but one third of my very hard earned income goes to the gov. I'm not the one percent but I'm not middle class either. I'm really sick of hearing how I'm not doing enough. What is enough? Half my salary? None of this came easy or was given to me. Sure I want my money to go to social programs but I don't want it going to all this special interest garbage. When my credit card bills are high I cut out the frivolous spending to get back on track. It's a no brainer. Why can't our government do this? I think most people with wealth are not opposed to helping people less fortunate but are against having their money wasted.

  123. As someone who owns stock in agribusiness and casinos, I say thank you Congress! Another job well done!

  124. We continue to value profit over the health of the planet and ourselves. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  125. Where is the investigative journalism from the MSM like the NYT?

  126. What possible negative consequences for the economy can the reduction of salt in food provoke? And why do food providers fight it. Is it that they are afraid that less salt might drive customers away? This is the occasion for Democrats to go on the attack and accuse, properly, Republicans to endanger the health of all Americans and young people in particular. Accuse them of taking away money from education to fund particular interests. Accuse them of endangering the stability of the environment and our future by being in favor of gas emission. Take each provision of this bill and generalize its consequences. Use the Republican method of accusing the government of overreach to accuse them of endangering the health of the country for political gain.

  127. Dear God, where in this article was the blame laid at the feet of Republicans? The sole piece of pork singled out for political blame in this article is a product of the soon to be ex majority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid (see ya later Harry). Assumedly since the legislation passed the Democrats are equally complicit. Angry reflexive liberals will next be writing the NYT editorial board when Santa shows up on December 25th.

  128. "...endangering the health of the country for political gain" ?
    They've been doing that since at least the 50's, by subsidizing mechanization, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, undermining rural communities, and regulation that favors large food processors over small local operations.

  129. Who put in the bill prohibiting the reduction of salt, giving banks another get out of the jail ticket, or prohibiting the EPA from enforcing environmental regulations? One suggestion. It wasn't Elizabeth Warren.
    However, Harry Reid is an ineffectual leader who is covering his behind with another give-away. These omnibus bills are an open invitation to waste and political pay-back.

  130. This is democracy at work. I would hope that anyone who whines about what congress just did will reflect on whether they voted in the last election, and who they voted for. As I recall, most of the incumbents who ran were reelected. There is nothing wrong with a member of congress sponsoring legislation that helps members of his or her district. Watch the movie Lincoln and see how the government works to accomplish great things. The give and take necessary to appease all elements of our country, at least to some degree, can only be evaluated at the macro level. Without trade-offs there would never be any legislation passed.

  131. I suggest an edit: This is the last gasp of democracy at work.

  132. You are correct about the House, the House members are supposed to do just that as long as they are working for their constituents and not the special interest or lobbyist from elsewhere. But the supposedly elders of the Senate should know better. They had the power to sanitize the bill, which they did not and that the qualms we have are with the Senate.

  133. Trade offs? Uh, you will have to enlighten me about what the people got out of this bill. I think they got the short end of the stick, to put it more politely than what first comes to mind.

  134. No surprise - the DEVIL is always in the details.

  135. The telling line in the op-ed was made by Rep. Rodgers - '... riders were needed to halt wasteful spending and 'overreach' by agencies that generate rules harmful to the economy.' Really!

    I seem to remember some years back Congress made a big deal about getting rid of pork in bills. Apparently they did in favor of beef, or tourism, or ....

    I pine for the day when the public (voting and not) wakes up and stops sending all these self-serving, lobby controlled puppets to do OUR business. But alas, money obviously does talk and we the people can just walk.

  136. I am still hoping for the day when senators and congressmen wear NASCAR type uniforms with patches from all of their sponsors.

  137. Too funny! Prudent though.

  138. More harm than good to the voters. Business as usual. Let's remember who these puppets really work for. They work late a couple days a year for wall-street and big business hiding in plain sight of all the debt slaves and the former news media.

  139. Information like this shows without a doubt that a few lobbyists are the shot-callers who plan the agendas of congress. And by and large those lobbyists work for big monied special interests.

    They seduce congress; by and large the Republican congress, to turn their collective backs to the environment, children's welfare and education and the nations healthcare system. To name but a few.

    Is there clearer example of treason than those anti-democratic practices?

  140. I've heard of all this before. Hidden things in the bill that go against the American tax payer. Like the horrible school lunch standards. Where is the GOP hackers when we need them. They are doing a nice job of making Sony transparent. The same thing needs to happen to our overpaid stupid congress.

  141. I seem to recall that Republicans wailed into the night about the Affordable Care Act that, they claimed, no one had read. I wonder how many of them (Democrats, as well) knew what was in this massive spending bill? Not many, if any.

  142. America has to stop lecturing the world about human rights.
    It is obvious from this bill it could not care less about human rights. What it cares about is corporate privilege and power.

  143. Living in the Finger Lakes area as I do this water issue is actually quite a big to pooh. We have farms all around every lake and the topography is such that all that run off effectively will run down without clearly knowing what's really spilling into the water. I don't know if people, politicians realize this but water will soon be a hot commodity. I see that Chuck Schumer voted Wall St., and he's one of the Dem's be-moaning ACA, which I find loathsome, I can proudly say he's not my Senator well at least I don't have to vote for him I have Kristen on my side.

  144. Time for Schumer to be booted out, but I keep forgetting the sheeple are taken in by this phony. He's been in Washington for far too long.

  145. ...buried in the giant spending bill that cleared the Senate on Saturday ... were provisions that prohibit the federal government from requiring less salt in school lunches...
    Republicans like Representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, the committee chairman, said the riders were needed to halt wasteful spending and “overreach” by agencies that generate rules harmful to the economy.
    So Representative Harold Rogers demands America's school children eat more salt to satisfy corporate lobbyists. Plaster this across the state next time he's up for re-election. Seems like there ought to be an attack add in there somewhere.

  146. Or perhaps not.

  147. Left or Right doesn't matter. What is best for the entire country doesn't matter.

    What does matter is taking care of the folks who pay for you to return to your position of power, year after year, decade after decade. With less than half of eligible voters exercising their right to vote and many of those who do vote believing their member of Congress is good and all others bad, what else would you expect?

    In other words, same as it ever was.

  148. About half to defense! Is this really the best use of our tax dollars?

  149. How effective in battle will be these new high powered weapons be in gorilla warfare? Gorilla warfare helped our country become independent. Will it also be our demise?

  150. Notice how everyone got their say in except for us?

  151. We, the people did, last Nov. 4. We voted out the Left Wing.

  152. Congress is filled with clowns. A national shame and embarrassment on all fronts.

  153. Reid's outgoing pork plan, no surprise, I guess.
    The slop in the pigpen is less a mess.

  154. "And a government of the people, by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth." Hey suckers, its already gone. Shut up and move along.

  155. We voted for them...we're getting EXACTLY what we deserve.

  156. you get what you pay for, cash = rider, its that simple. The bill has zero to do with anything beyond the moment, the future is someone else's problem What a mess we have made for ourselves!

  157. So multi billionaires like Steve Wynn needs tax payer help to make even more money? Interesting move there Mr. Reid.

  158. The White mid-western Americans need to stop voting for these Republicans because soon the only jobs out there will be at Walmart and then they will have to receive these unhealthy subsidized lunches to feed their kids! Wake up people! Campaign Finance Reform should be our number one priority as voters. With the environment a close second, which would help address the some of the food issues. We need to stop these Corporations from destroying our nation.

  159. Yeah because so many repubs are just plain greedy? And the dems well they are to be admired...........NOT, they are cut from the same cloth. Why is it all you progs and dems failed to see Mr. Reid's contribution to this bloated bill???? Is it because he's a Democrat?

  160. When the farmer finally kills the goose who lays golden eggs, there will be no consumers left to buy the eggs and feed the goose. Do you see a third world country in our future?

  161. Spending bills to keep the government running should be that only. Every bill Congress passes has special interest amendments attached; amendments should be stand-alone bills so everyone can see what is passed. Debate will be on public record for every special interest "amendment turned into a bill." What a mockery: funding political campaigns but negating health issues and negating fiscal responsibility. All short-sighted; by the time damage is felt, this Congress will be long retired but we the people will be suffering.

  162. Years of congressional gridlock and all of sudden it's "Lets Make a Deal" with the taxpayers' purse. I'm glad Harry Reid considers his pork worth selling out over but the terms of negotiation are only going to get worse for the democrats.

    For the life of me, I don't understand a system where the holders of the public checkbook are allowed ( even encouraged) to spend money on shameless self-interest schemes to the detriment of public health and well-being.

    Where are the laws to prevent this nonsense?... Oh, right...

  163. This Cromnibus bill - as Gail Collins to correctly called this crooked spending bill - resulted once more from the all too well known blackmail of our GOP-TP to either pass it or shut the government down. No Democrat should have fallen for that game again.

    Fact that Harry Reid got his marbles, that other democrats helped to get theirs, helped this abomination of a bill over the hurdle, and that President Obama is willing to sign it lets me doubt that the Democratic party - which I considered my political home - no longer exists.

    As a naturalized citizen I have always considered voting my most important rights and voted in every election, even the one for dog catcher.

    Now, to my utter regret, I might just join the rest of those who think their votes don't make one iota of difference when big money buys itself a Congress, and sit on my hands come next election.

    We all know that the Republican party has marched in lockstep so far to the arch-right that there is hardly more space left.

    Unfortunately the Democratic party has followed that march to the right and would be considered a center-right, if not outright right party in any other advanced country.

  164. Omnibus spending bills invariably wind up like a 5-year-old's toybox--littered with the previous year's cast-offs, broken trinkets and once-favored shiny objects that have now lost their luster, all heaped into a single confused mess that gets pushed under the bed.

    We really need to require some kind of relevance when riders are added to bills like this. Otherwise, we'll continue to sit back and wonder where all those obscure regulations and giveaways originate.

  165. Please write which representatives inserted these harmful riders in the spending bill.

  166. They all did and they all do. And that is the problem.

  167. How about just assuming all of them. And if Joe Politician didn't do one special earmark, you can bet those that did owe him down the road for voting on it.

  168. not good enough--someone stuck these riders in. Who? And what can we do about this reprehensible behavior?

  169. "The lower sodium standards would have been “extremely difficult to achieve"

    I agree. Just 15 minutes ago I made my lunch and vowed to not salt my food as much but I just...couldn't...do...it! It was like the salt shaker had a mind of it's own! I tried and I tried but my hand kept shaking out more salt! Finally, sobbing, I managed to put down the salt shaker, my will broken. Will it never end?

  170. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, we want to exploit them.
    (And the government says it's legal)

    Sincerely,
    US Pharmaceutical and Agribusiness Corporations, Inc.

  171. "Nor can it require ranchers to obtain greenhouse gas permits for “methane emissions” produced by bovine flatulence or belching."

    There is nothing in this bill that would prevent the EPA from regulating methane emissions emanating from Congress.

    Bi-partisanship is highly over rated and gridlock is highly under rated. Legislation is not the same thing as getting things done and moving the country forward.

  172. What surprise me is that when lawmakers donot want to vote on a bill, they cry about length of that bill in no of pages. They still cry about 1900 pages of obamacare even after all these years. But if they want, vote on 1600 page bill in a single day. We have best politicians money can buy and money has become everything in this country including free speech and justice.

  173. While this story reports hidden, special-interest provisions, it doesn't identify who inserted those provisions in the spending bill or how they managed to evade public detection until they were passed. While obviously various U.S. Senators and Representatives were responsible, why didn't news organizations report these provisions before the bill was passed?
    Or did they?

  174. "The bill says the government cannot require farmers to report “greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.”

    Are you kidding me? Obama's federal government wanted farmers to report greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems? What next individuals filling a report when they pass gas? A tax on respiration? Thank GOD we have removed central planners from the house and senate, just one more to go.

  175. Well, if my memory serves me correctly, and it may not, cattle are the largest (or second largest) source of emissions. There are studies ongoing to reduce the gas and as the need for food increased, the gas will go up. And with the increase in the sport of cow tipping, gas explosions are definitely on the rise LOL!

  176. Of course you are aware the clean water act regulates BOD (biological oxygen demand resulting from the digestion of poop and other wastes by microbes) from hog farms discharging into waters of the state. Imagine, the federal government regulating hog poop in the water! It's as bad as trying to regulate methane releases from cattle operations. Why not roll back efforts to curtail water pollution as well as air pollution? I remember when you could toss a match into the Potomac and watch it burn for a week. That was before the federal government regulators messed things up.

  177. This is the government we get when citizens, on Black Friday, will camp out and storm a store opening to get a deal on their third television, but, on election day, won't show up to vote. We live in a nation of distractions. More people can name football players than Senate committee chairs.

    This budget process is designed for corruption. No hearings on major provisions, no identifiable authorship for several provisions and no backbone from those we elected to protect us.

  178. People don't vote because there isn't a choice. Both parties are composed of crooks. Look at Hillary and Jeb; she shakes down public universities and he is making obscene money with offshore private equity schemes.

  179. And to add to your comment, it's the same moneyed corporate/political interests who have enacted decades of marketing, propaganda, manipulations, and deregulation that have led the American population down this path of consumerism and apathy. This culture has been carefully crafted by the powerful wealthy who benefit most from a population of uneducated, distracted and downtrodden people.

  180. While this story reports important hidden, special-interest provisions, it doesn't identify who inserted those provisions in the spending bill or how they managed to evade public detection until they were passed. While obviously various U.S. Senators and Representatives were responsible, why didn't news organizations report these provisions before the bill was passed?
    Or did they?

  181. The real truth is not very few, if any read it! It is the way our government operates with money. A 1600+ page bill and 24 hours to digest it. No chance!! They will say it is the cost of freedom. I say it is abject corruption right in front of our eyes and as you say, no one doing anything about it!

  182. Our congress is an equal opportunity cheater of the American public. I don't know what it will take to make voters realize what is being done to them, with their permission. Shame on the President for promoting it and then signing it.

  183. So I ask myself, what’s in this bill for the people of the United States, and myself answers, don’t be ridiculous.

    Thank you, President Obama, for your usual (lack of) leadership in giving us this abomination.

  184. Ask yourself how he's supposed to lead when half the opposition considers him illegitimate.

  185. Somehow Harry Truman managed. You lead with fire in your belly and you transmit that fire to the people. And without the fire or the leadership quality, you don't offer yourself for the job.

    Great constitutional lawyers can be hired. True leaders are tougher to come by.

    I'm beginning to think Elizabeth Warren will run because I think she has the qualities we need and to heck with a lack of foreign policy experience. That too can be hired. I hope this is more than wishful thinking.

  186. One way he could lead would be to make his case for health care reform to the American; explain what it does and how middle class Americans benefit.

  187. There is somewhat of a saddening irony and contradiction here. If we are really this fed up, how come lobbying hasn't been banned? Is this really free speech (one overwhelming voice representing a narrow interest that is harmful to the larger well being of the population)? How come influence peddling - the glorious retirement plan of congressmen, is not abolished and made illegal? Why do we not regularly name and shame the sponsors of wasteful spending and corrupting compromises? A Google search on a politician should, first and foremost, list the pork s/he sponsored, legislation they opposed and favored.

    Outrage is cheap, resignation is easy. Putting money where our mouth is would require us all to be informed by fact (conspicuous by its absence in virtually every public discourse), be engaged (we are bowling alone together, absorbed in our chai lattes) vote (half of us don't), become knowledgeable about civics and government ("but the class on 'Aromatherapy and psychogeometry' is so much more fun and an easy A). It would likely require us to abandon our more relativist, anti-intellectual, anti-elitist beliefs that reason is an opinion, that we can agree to disagree about science, and that all issues have two opposing, equally meritorious, sides.

    Until we do, we will always be shafted by the well-organized, better educated, and more influential. Otherwise called a plutocratic, kleptocratic Imperial Rome or a Nigeria on the Prairie.

    Kalidan

  188. As far as I can tell, everything you are describing is all part of the grand scheme by America's class of oligarchs to consolidate their control over a nation of 300 million people. For example, public schools are being pushed into dysfunction through chronic underfunding and by turning people against them by bashing them in the media. The predictable result is generations of poorly educated citizens whose employment options enable them only to barely survive. They thereby pose little threat to the power of the oligarchs. Instead of having the resources and knowledge to collectively stand up to power, they instead work against their own best interests by buying into the myths created by the oligarch's propaganda and mass distraction operations. So, for example, rather then seeing the poor performance of public schools as mainly a consequence of underfunding, poor policy, and chronic social deterioration brought about by the smothering of the poor and working class by the oligarchs, they see it as a result of teacher unions.

  189. Line item vetoes should be brought back and permitted.

  190. There would not have been a shut down in years past if earmarks had existed. The only reason this passed now is there were enough members getting a little piece of the budget that they can show off at home to explain why they voted for the bill. That is how it has always worked and why it stopped working when earmarks were stopped. I disagree with many of the provisions that passed but realize a shut down is worse. I call it a cost of doing business.

  191. I voted for Obama and the only change I got was an Obama sticker placed over a Bush election t-shirt.

    Same can be said for you Tea Party folks. Feel abandoned yet by the GOP?

  192. Republicans pretend that they favor cutting government. So where is the beef? I certainly can smell the manure.

  193. The bill is clearly presented in a general fashion as a disaster for the people.

    Two comments -

    1. The Times should prominently link this article to a listing of the worst provisions (? Reimbursing banks for any losses they incur on their "investments" or loans comes to mind)

    2. If it is as bad as it is portrayed, "our" president should veto it.

    Steve Rinsler
    Arden, NC

  194. The law actually has to do with the structure of bank holding companies, which might influence investment decisions.....or might not.

  195. I think that people are missing the genesis of the problem. The reason these spending bills are 1000 pages long is that the Federal Government is doing a whole bunch of things that it should not be doing.

    Much of what this bill specifies should be decided by each individual state. That is what state governments are for.

  196. "Flatulence" sums it all up. This so-called Cromnibus budget bill stinks! But, the special interests got the government they paid for with all those now unlimited campaign contributions. If we ever want our government and democracy back, we're going to have to pay for it with public financing and a Constitutional amendment reversing Citizen's United, McCutcheon and the recent raise in private contributions in this new budget to rid corporate-financing or purchasing of political campaigns and the smelly votes they buy.

  197. It's true that this kind of last minute and hidden pork has along and infamous history. Everyone will likely find something they like or hate. However, can anyone put together a list of this type of legislating that has prodiced positive societal benefits for more than just special interests?

  198. Congress says high salt content and processed flours are okay for school kids. Once again Congress proves that they care about the unborn but once kids are out of the womb they are nothing but the pawns of big agribusiness.

  199. They just passed a bill not requiring it. That is not the same as prohibiting it. States, school districts, parents are free to regulate salt content and flour types if they decide they want to do so.

  200. That might be possible in affluent school districts, unless of course all the rich kids are going to private schools. For the rest of us, it's salt, fat, and processed foods for our children's lunch. Did they write in an exception for sugar and trans-fat? More arsenic in the water would also be helpful... for the bottom line.

  201. #SchoolLunch Yes, once again, the cost of doing business trumps the cost to human health. Those with the most are satisfied at the cost to people, leading to health issues that feed the Healthcare industry coffers. #MoneyOverLife

  202. The little children eat salty food at school. What do they eat at home? When with friends? How about all those times when adults don't supervise what they eat? Is it possible that salt consumed at school is a small part of the overly-salty diet they consume during the rest of the day? What education do they receive about foods? How do they develop the knack for self-discipline when choosing foods? For certain, that discipline isn't going to come from a budget bill.

  203. WE NEED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS to 1.) limit terms, 2.) limit campaign contributions to only registered voters in the jurisdiction the candidate is seeking to represent, and 3.) for government to balance the budget every year.
    All other political activity is of little consequence.

  204. NYT: This article would make an interesting interactive feature. Where does the money lead, etc.

  205. "The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association scored several victories that require the government to keep its regulatory hands off farms and ranches."
    The same group that years ago refused to allow a farmer to sell/raise his cattle under japanese standards for sale in Japan.
    Difficult to meet sodium standards? How is hard NOT to put something in?
    We wouldn't want to put the Food/Fertilizer/Chemical/Medical model at risk.

  206. Quote : "Republicans like Representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, the committee chairman, said the riders were needed to halt wasteful spending and “overreach” by agencies that generate rules harmful to the economy".unquote .
    Mark the ending words " rules harmful for the economy " . Question. "Whose economy ?" . The economy of the wealthy and not of America as a country. Riders are to stop the over reach of saner voices , voices that speaks of social sense of responsibility , voices of the poor and needy, which always get choked, stifled and suppressed under the heavy boots of the aggressive , greedy profiteers , the corporations that run America entirely to their benefit, never mind the 99% , who may cry their hearts out , but who listens ? Why should they listen . They DONT REPRESENT YOU, the non- tax paying benefit "scrounges" , as Mitt Romney spelt it out loud and clear in the last Presidential election speeches that got reported in the main- stream media too. No one in the government represents you , though they reach their positions of power with your votes. " we the 99%" are a generous lot , true Christians who show the other cheek too.

  207. The Congress needed to fulfill their Constitutional fiscal responsibilities. Specifically to pass a budget and appropriate the funding necessary to provide for continuity of government operations. But those wizards of the separation of powers between the Congress and the Executive just couldn't resist passing legislation that undermines the national well being aka the national security.

    By including special interest legislation they choose to follow previous Congresses support of the business sector at the expense of public health. The school lunch program was created to improve the national security of the United States following the Second World War. So many draftees had health issues relating to poor nutrition. Since then we have learned that obesity is as bad as malnutrition when it comes to individual and collectively the public's health.
    Research shows the relationship between nutrition, healthy brains and bodies and learning. A healthy educated workforce supports business competition, reduces health care costs and yes consequently supports national security.

    To all the members of congress who supported the anti-health and education interests in the spending bill, bah humbug. You are as much of a problem as terrorist organizations, countries who unfairly subsidize their nations businesses, and all other enemies of the Republic!

  208. It is not for nothing that they call the Republicans the party of special interests. I am an old man now but as a youngster my dad told me the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. They are both out for themselves but sometimes, just sometimes the Democrats throw the people a bone. The Republicans - NEVER.

    That has been true during my lifetime except not it is no lomger a case of Republicans not doing anything for the people but a matter of what they are doing to the people.

    Healthier lunches for school children? Stop it. Free market where people take risks and if they are right they profit and if they are wrong they lose. But if you are a too big to fail bank you get to gamble and if you win you keep the profits and if you lose, don’t worry all those contributions are paying off, the Republicans will pass those losses off to the public and balance the budget by repealing all social and safety net legislation. Social Security? Apply when you are 75.

    For every gift to banks, corporations, oil companies for every attack on agencies which protects us like the EPA and the FDA, we lose freedom and our lives are diminished. As democracy fails our liberty slips away.

    This article is an x-mas list of goodies all of which harm millions for the benefit of hundreds. This is the result of $ in politics. Now the rich can contribute $$$ to the GOP so the small contributor is out of the game. The GOP fears the people. More tanks for cops. They may need them.

  209. Salty foods and belching cows are NOT the most important things buried in the spending bill. The most dangerous item is the reversal of the Dodd-Frank requirement that banks separate activities that are funded by deposits (and thus eligible for FDIC insurance) from risky derivatives trading. Taxpayers will once again be on the hook when banks expose themselves to more risk than they can manage. Read Krugman's column from today, "Wall Street's Revenge" -- our much-criticized Nobel laureate is finally right about something!

  210. Not bad enough for Obama, Reid or Pelosi to oppose though. So, how bad can it be?

  211. So you're another one who blames the blackailed for giving in to the blackmailer.

  212. Actually, Pelosi (and Elizabeth Warren, of course) ARE opposing the reversal of this key Dodd-Frank provision. Humor me and consider this point of view: if the Democrats and Republicans are really two opposing sides, we would expect an MSNBC vs. Fox News war over this (in line with your comment). But, what if "Democrats vs. Republicans" has degenerated into a carefully-orchestrated puppet show to keep us distracted, and all the major politicians from BOTH sides have been bought and paid for several elections ago? This explains why Republicans despise (and fear) the Tea Party SO MUCH: most Tea Party candidates are not bought and paid for (yet), thus they refuse to follow the grand script, and they keep interrupting the puppet show with their off-script shenanigans. Read the news for a few months from that perspective and let me know what you think.

  213. Fiscal policy congressional style: Poison the kids. Let them eat salt and Maine white potatoes and grow up to serve in Congress.

  214. Good that belching cows won.

    93% of the farms in this country are family owned and operated - there is a myth of the "corporate farm" - while they exist, they are more for tax reasons and often are just "family farms."

    The larger farms tend to be better run with better management of grain and or animals - large farms have a stake in healthy animals and can and do spend on animal care. It is the 50-200 cow diary operations in the Northeast that struggle with even one sick cow.

    The less than 1% of people who list themselves as farmers, where only 1 in 4 farms produces more than $50,000 in gross revenues, don't need to be running around calculating the percentage of methane their cows are producing.

    Ludicrous and egregious rules need to be slapped down and it's good this one was.

  215. Pardon me sir but your wrong on this one. While you have Lake Michigan to worry your fanny about here in up-state NY we have lots of water to worry about. We like ours relatively clean, with fish in it. Acid rain killed plenty of lakes up north in the Adirondacks. On Cayuga lake one of the largest finger lakes we have a serious issue with cow crap running down hill, once it runs over the shelf our lake will become dead. Now I've heard that a dairy farm affiliated with Cornell has done plenty of damage to the lake. A friend of mine even went down state to testify years back. This is just one instance. We're surrounded by farms, and you know as well as I do you all stand together. It makes no difference if you're a mom and pop or a bloody 10,000 cow farm. I would guess that environmentalist in Idaho were worried about the rivers there as were the fishermen. Personally I'd like to know how this is going to impact us. Hey I have farmer's as friends but I have to say they get a lot money and they have a lot of toys as in big boats, nice cars, big giant farms. Oh and those dark S. American people work there lest us not forget that. I do approve of the immigration bill Obama made and signed by the way. What the heck we just got raped in all sorts of ways. But you be happy with your poop. I'm glad I live in a village at least and only have to put up with a little hint of cow poop. Fortunately NY's not known for pig poop maybe that's a down-state thing.

  216. Just imagine where public health will stand as a legislative prioroty next month with the Republican-majority Senate...

  217. Polluting streams with mountain top removal, never mind the destroyed mountain tops (everyone should go and see what that means in person), no regulation of filthy animal waste ponds, keeping lead in ammo so it kills unsuspecting wildlife that feasts on kill remains (lead poisoning is a terrible way to die), these and so many other 'gifts' to the corporate string pullers....nice increasingly polluted and wasted country to leave to our children, oh wait they don't matter either, can't even give them good lunches at school...

  218. Lead in bullets, poisoned grain to kill mice and rate. Both do great damage to our wildlife in a most horrible manner.

  219. As it was stated by another in the comments on this article, we have "democracy" in name only. But how can it be any other way when only 34% of the electorate even votes. Americans get the government they deserve when they don't vote.

  220. shouldn't it read: "Americans who don't vote get the government they deserve when they don't vote and the rest of us Americans have to suffer".

  221. "There is a law of Solon’s, which declared every man infamous, who, in any sedition or civil dissension in the state, should continue neuter*, and refuse to side with either party.”

    *neuter=who does not vote

    https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/45592

  222. Congress continues its assault on children, health and the environment.

    Fear not, the USofA is still the largest arms merchant in the world.

    This is your country and your congress. This is what you have worked for.

  223. Not every pet issue can be supported. Frankly, Michelle Obama has some antiquated nutrition ideas that she's supporting. More *vegetables*, less processed foods would result in healthier school lunches, not lower fat and nominally lower salt. The rest of it is more pet issues that can be argued good or bad...little changes that really don't matter in the overall picture. Hopefully the demonstrations we've seen lately will be a step in the right direction towards REAL change.

  224. The time is long past due to put an end to all these outrageous Omnibus budget bills, with all their hidden benefits to the special interest groups. There is absolutely no good reason why each of the 13 appropriations bills can not be passed separately and on schedule. Congress that is hardly overworked; they only work 3 days a week and have too many "breaks". If it is too much for them to pass all 13 bills in one session, then they can split them into bundles of 6 and 7 staggered two year appropriations packages. Then, there would be time to give each bill the careful scrutiny that it deserves. Also, there should be no language/provisions in the bill that are not germane to that appropriation. In other words, there should be no proposals to modify Dodd-Frank regulations added to a defense appropriations bill. Tricks like that should be considered illegal and unlawful. If measures like this can be enacted, then we will begin to move in a direction that makes sense and truly have a government that works and is "by and for the people".

  225. You know a good chunk of the money going to casinos will be going into Reid's campaign.

  226. But from a Congressional perspective, the good thing about a childhood spent eating salty and chemical-infused industrial school-cafeteria food is that the number of Americans living long enough to qualify for Social Security is significantly reduced.

  227. Any bill with comprehensive or anykind of bus should automatically go down in flames! Zero based budgeting is the closest to an honest approach to spending taxpayer money available - but then congress would actually have to do their job.....

  228. I used to live and work in Wheeling, WV..... they already have a "heritage port". I wonder who out of their stellar congressional delegation managed to make that happen.....