Obamacare is the Edsel of the healthcare industry

Earlier today, I spoke with Adam Shapiro of Varney & Co. on Fox Business about the FDA’s recent move that requires chain restaurants, movie theaters and pizza parlors to post calorie counts on their menus. To understand the whole picture, it’s important to note that menu labeling became law in 2010 as part of Obamacare.  And, just like Obamacare, the new menu rule is an example of nanny state overregulation. It’s an ill-conceived plan that demonstrates this Administration’s failure to understand American consumers, American business and the marketplace.

Caloric menu labeling doesn’t change eating habits.  Research to date has found that placing caloric content on menus does not have an impact on people’s eating habits.  Following are just a few articles outlining some of that research:

  1. Calorie counts don’t change most people’s dining-out habits, experts say, Washington Post, 7/6/11

  2. Menu labels don’t influence students’ food choices, Reuters, 7/1/11

  3. Posting point-of-purchase nutrition information in university canteens does not influence meal choice and nutrient intake, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 6/15/11

The FDA’s new menu rule will be expensive for restaurants and expensive for consumers. There are better ways to provide information to consumers.  For example, at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, we’ve had posters that list the caloric and fat content of our products in our restaurants for a number of years.  And, on our web site, consumers can check the fat and caloric content of our products with a nutritional calculator. For each of our products, we discloses serving size, calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, natural trans fat, artificial trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fibers, sugars and protein.  This format works for consumers and it works for business.  In fact, the appropriations committee that funds the FDA recommended that these types of posters could serve as adequate nutritional information inside restaurants.  Unfortunately, like the rest of Obamacare , the menu labeling law was put together hastily.

Another Obamacare loophole that’s bad for Americans. Before closing the interview, Shapiro asked my opinion about a new-found loophole in Obamacare.  According to this Washington Times article, “under the President’s new amnesty, businesses will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers because of a quirk of Obamacare.” If that’s the case, the math is astounding.  If American businesses hired just 2 million of the 5 million illegal immigrants affected by the President’s executive order, American business could save $6 billion.  The odds of any business not taking advantage of a $3,000-per-employee loophole is absurd.

Whether this is an intended or unintended consequence of the law, it proves once again, Obamacare is a poorly designed and poorly executed concept.  Obamacare has become the Edsel of the health care industry.

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