[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 128 (Thursday, September 20, 2012)]
[Pages H6224-H6227]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         NANNY-STATE GOVERNMENT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 5, 2011, the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. 
King) for 30 minutes.
  Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, it is my honor and privilege to 
address you here on the floor of the United States House of 
Representatives and take up some of the issues that I think are so 
important to the dialogue before us here and the American people to 
consider as they listen to our discussion.
  A number of things weigh on me as I come to the floor tonight. And 
one of them is something that I think is emerging in the consciousness 
of the American people, Mr. Speaker, in a way that really wasn't there 
before this administration took office, and that is the massive growth 
of the nanny state here in the United States of America.
  We've watched as regulation after regulation have crept in on our 
regular lives, and some of the things that I've spoken about with you 
in the past fall down along those lines. For example, the curlicue 
light bulb. The idea that the Federal Government could ban our 100-watt 
light bulbs and prohibit us from buying our patriotic Edison light 
bulbs and require us instead to substitute for those curlicue mercury-
laden light bulbs.
  Now I'll point out, Mr. Speaker, that I have a good number of those--
I'll call them modern--light bulbs in my house. I put them where they 
make sense. And where they don't make sense, I put in the patriotic 
Edison bulbs. If I need quick light to walk into a room for just a 
minute, I want to have an Edison bulb there, not a curlicue, so it 
lights up right away. I can shut it off right away. It's not on much. 
It doesn't cost much electricity. If I'm going to have a bulb that's 
going to be on for quite a long time, then I want to have the energy-
efficient bulb. That's a simple decision that a consumer can make--and 
especially a well-informed consumer. But when you end up with a one-
size-fits-all that comes from the Federal Government, you end up with a 
lot of bad decisions so that it all fits into one formula. That's the 
light bulb.
  Another one is shower heads. Several months ago, the Federal 
Government fined three companies for selling shower heads that let too 
much water out. Think of that. Too much water. One size fits all. The 
water supply in let's say Buffalo, up by Niagara, is different than the 
water in someplace like Tucson; different than someplace like New 
Orleans or Florida or Iowa. And so we have one-size-fits-all on shower 
heads. And here's the brilliant presumption on the part of the nanny 
state Federal Government: the conclusion that in all cases water is 
going to be more valuable than time. So people can stand under that 
shower head and wait for their feet to get wet because over the broad 
calculation of 300 million people you will save some gallons of water 
that are more valuable to the mind of the nanny state--certainly, more 
valuable in the mind of the nanny state--than the time that it takes 
for someone to stand there and wait to get wet.
  Here's another one. The 55 mile-an-hour speed limit that was imposed 
a long time ago in this country under the belief that if we all drove 
55 miles an hour we would save gas and that would help our energy 
independence and keep us less dependent upon foreign oil. So the 
Federal Government dialed the speed limit down to the ``double 
nickle,'' as we called it, and everybody in the country drove 55 for a 
long time, even on the interstates, with the misguided idea that gas 
was always worth more than time.
  So one day, Mr. Speaker, I was driving down the road in Iowa at 55 
miles an hour and I came through this intersection on a county road and 
I could look in my mirror and see a mile in my mirror, not a car in 
sight. A lot of cornfields. Looked right, looked left. I could see a 
mile in either direction. I could see a mile ahead of me. I could cover 
4 miles of road by looking out three windows and into a mirror.
  And there I am driving down the road looking at cornfields, which I 
love to look at, at 55 miles an hour. I thought, Why am I doing this? 
Well, it must be the nanny state that has imposed this on me. And I 
picked up my phone and called--now there's a law against that in the 
nanny state--but I called my secretary in one of our offices and said, 
I want to know how many passenger miles are traveled on the rural roads 
in Iowa each year. Can you get me that number? She came back to me a 
little later and said, I can't give you the passenger miles but I can 
give you the vehicle miles on rural roads.
  So I did one of those little calculations on my calculator that works 
out like this: if we all drove 65 miles an hour instead of 55 miles an 
hour, that's 10 miles an hour faster. You calculate how much sooner you 
arrive at your destination by driving 10 miles an hour faster.

                              {time}  2020

  Then you calculate that each one of us on the day we were born was 
granted the actuarial number--at that time I figured it at 76 years--
when you figure those hours that you have in your lifetime at 76 years 
and then you figure out how many hours you spend unnecessarily looking 
out the windshield at 55 miles an hour, and you calculate the lifespan, 
and you divide it into the time saved and the miles that are traveled 
on rural roads in Iowa each year. And it came down to this: that if we 
drive 65 instead of 55, we will have saved 79.64 lifetimes of living, 
in other words, getting to our destination, doing something productive. 
That has value too.
  That calculation wasn't made by the nanny state. The nanny state only 
calculated gas is always worth more than time.
  Not so in Germany where people get out on the Autobahn and drive as 
fast in some locations as they have the nerve to drive under the idea 
that you get them out on the highway, you get them off the highway, you 
get them out of the way where they're not going to be congesting 
traffic, and you get people engaged in doing their regular living in 
  That's the speed limit, the shower nozzles, the curlicue light bulbs, 
all examples of the nanny state.
  But, Mr. Speaker, the examples of the nanny state have surpassed the 
imagination of almost every one of us that has common sense.
  When I look at what has come out of the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, for example, the rule that cooperated with the Department 
of Labor, worked in conjunction with the Department of Labor, and I 
asked this question under oath of one of the Under Secretaries of the 
Department of Labor before the Small Business Committee, did the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture work in cooperation with the Department of 
Labor to produce these rules that would regulate farm youth labor? The 
answer was, yes, they worked in cooperation with the Department of 

[[Page H6225]]

  Ag is supposed to know about what goes on in farm families. So Ag 
worked with Labor and produced rules that said to parents you can no 
longer control your own children or manage your own children or entrust 
them to go to work for the neighbors even if those neighbors are aunts 
or uncles or grandparents of these children.
  So they wrote the rule that would prohibit farm youth, other than 
those that are working right there on a family farm for their parents, 
outside of that zone, farm youth were prohibited under the rule from 
being more than 6 feet off the ground so they could go out and climb a 
tree, but they couldn't go out there and get up on a scaffold and paint 
the undereaves of the machine shed, for example.

  They were prohibited from being engaged in any kind of herding of 
livestock in a confinement. So they couldn't walk into a hog building, 
for example, and have any engagement there. They couldn't herd 
livestock even outdoors from horseback or from any motorized vehicle.
  So you'd say to kids, you can't ride horses out here if it has 
anything to do with what's work. You might be able to do it 
recreationally, but not with work.
  I remember a rule coming at me from a convenience store several years 
ago, and all they wanted to do was just sell sandwiches and pizza and 
gas and do those things that come out of a regular convenience store.
  The Department of Labor went into the community and interviewed the 
high school students that were working there, learning a good work 
ethic, by the way, how to count change, how to hold up their end of the 
  They interviewed them and they asked them questions. For example, 
Have you ever worked after 7 o'clock on a school night? One or two of 
them said, yes, once or twice, and there were two violations of working 
after 7 o'clock on a school night.
  Then it was, Have you ever operated the pizza dough maker? Well, no. 
None of them had operated the pizza dough maker, but once or twice, one 
or two of them said, yes, I washed the pizza dough maker, but I didn't 
operate it.
  These kinds of silly things came out of the Department of Labor, and 
they levied a significant fine against this good family convenience 
store operation because they alleged that these youth had violated the 
rule on working past 7 o'clock on a school night and that they had not 
operated the pizza dough maker, but they had washed it. That little egg 
beater inside there that turns, they had washed that. That was too much 
of a risk for a 15-year-old to have their hands on something like that, 
  So they concluded that the rule reads: operator otherwise use. So 
washing the pizza dough maker turned into ``otherwise use,'' and levy a 
fine against this family operation.
  Why would anybody stay in business if they had the nanny state 
gestapo hunting down their employees, interviewing them in their home, 
these kids that don't have any idea why the Federal Government's 
sticking their nose into something like this, a completely safe and 
harmless operation regulated by the Department of Labor when we've got 
all kinds of laws that can't be enforced and aren't enforced. We've got 
people doing that.
  Or here's another thing that is idiocy on the part of our child labor 
laws and that is that a 17-year-old young man cannot get on the 
lawnmower and cut the grass around the gas station if he's working for 
somebody else. Violates the rule. But he can get in a car that runs 120 
miles an hour and turn the radio up and put his girlfriend over there 
next to him and drive down the road with one hand, talking and 
laughing. I didn't say he was driving 120, I might point out, for those 
people who are willfully ignorant, Mr. Speaker, a car that has the 
capability of going that fast. We'd hand that vehicle over to somebody 
that's that age, but they can't run the lawnmower. This is going on 
just constantly.
  But the USDA farm labor piece of this thing has gone way too far. And 
I know they just withdrew the rule, not because they changed their 
mind, but because there's a political liability involved. I want to 
keep turning up that political liability so they don't get any more 
crazy ideas out of that place.
  But to pass a rule that farm youth can't be over 6 feet off the 
ground, that they can't herd livestock in confinement, that they can't 
herd livestock from horseback or from the seat of any motorized four-
wheeler quad, that we would call it, that's all banned specifically by 
this rule. Right down to the point where HSUS must have been in the 
room writing these rules, because they also wrote rules that the youth 
cannot be around anything to do with livestock that inflicts pain upon 
the livestock.
  Now, there are a number of things that happen that are painful to a 
newborn baby, I might add, Mr. Speaker, as well as to animals, that's 
for their best interest and best good, most of it.
  But if a 15-year-old girl can go get her ears pierced without having 
any permission from her parents and presumably that inflicts pain upon 
those earlobes, I'm told it does, but that same girl who can opt into 
her own earpiercing cannot watch while a calf is being ear-tagged 
because the nanny state has decided that somehow that would damage her 
psyche to be around that operation.
  This is nanny state run amok. It's a reach of the Federal Government 
into all of these aspects of our lives that's just so completely 
intolerable for a free people, and we need to push back, Mr. Speaker; 
and so we are pushing back on some of this.
  But the one that stands out, I think, the most, it emanates from the 
First Lady, Michelle Obama. In the lame duck session in 2010, the 
discredited Congress here and, I'll say, down the hallway in the 
Senate, passed a bill out of there. It's called the Healthy, Hunger-
Free Kids Act, Mr. Speaker.
  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was written and passed to satisfy 
the wishes of the First Lady who had the Let's Move Initiative to get 
our youth in shape. Now, that on its face is okay, and it's probably 
pretty good that we inspire our youth to get some exercise. After all, 
that is a big part of the problem with overweight youth.
  It's been well publicized that 30 percent of our youth are 
overweight. Now, I haven't gone back to question that number. It seems 
to be a number that's accepted. But if it could be a higher number, I 
think we'd probably hear that out of the White House.
  Thirty percent of our youth are overweight, and there's your 
consensus number, true or not.
  Clear back when Bob Gates was the Secretary of Defense under Barack 
Obama, Mr. Speaker, he made the statement that since 30 percent of our 
youth are overweight, it is a national security issue because we can't 
recruit enough troops to go through basic training and be able to keep 
them trained up into shape, to keep our Nation ready for whatever might 
threaten us because youth obesity was prohibiting our national 
  Now, that causes me to pause, Mr. Speaker, when the Secretary of 
Defense has all of these things to worry about, and you've got 
everything from missile defense to our ground troops and multiple 
places in the world where we have a presence and where we need a 
presence and threats all over the globe and the Secretary of Defense is 
making a political statement that 30 percent of our youth are 
overweight and national security is at stake, so therefore we need to 
do something to cut down on the weight of these kids.
  So, I think how is it that we can't recruit enough people in our 
military, even if there are 30 percent that are overweight and the 
other 70 percent don't fill the ranks enough voluntarily. Wouldn't you 
go ahead and take somebody that's 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 or 50 pounds 
overweight, put them into basic training and just say you didn't make 
weight so you're still in basic training and we'll keep you in basic 
training until you do make weight?

                              {time}  2030

  That is not that complicated. How can a nation conclude that it's a 
national security issue, that we can't solve that problem.
  You take an 18-year-old young man or woman, and if they're 30 percent 
overweight--and maybe that's 30 pounds overweight--it doesn't damage 
their skeletal system or their muscular system or their nervous system; 
it's just a matter of carrying too much weight around, and you shrink 
that down and they're good to go. If that wasn't the case, there 
wouldn't be so many healthy people around here that

[[Page H6226]]

formerly were obese. They turn themselves around, they get a good diet 
and exercise plan, they get slim--and a lot of them stay slim for 
life--and they live healthy and happy thereafter. And I'm glad to see 
that. That's what we should do. But we can't be a nation that throws up 
our hands and says America is in danger because we haven't addressed 
childhood obesity. That is over-hype.
  I sat down with some food retailers shortly after Mrs. Obama brought 
her initiative to get people to lose weight in this country, and they 
said to me: We're going to take 1.5 trillion calories off the diets of 
our young people, and in doing so our goal is that they will lose 
weight and get back in shape. And so how are you going to do that? And 
their answer was: Well, there is this Power Bar that kids like, and 
it's 150 calories. We're going to reduce the calories in it down to 90. 
And then in the single-serving Dorito bags, we're going to take a 
couple of chips out of there, and then that way we're going to fool 
these kids into eating fewer calories because they must have a habit 
that they're going to only eat one Power Bar and they're only going to 
eat one single-serving bag of Doritos.
  Mr. Speaker, it's pretty simple: These kids aren't overweight because 
there were too many calories in the Power Bar or one or two too many 
chips in the single-serving Dorito bag; they're overweight because they 
have a voracious appetite, and they don't exercise enough. You cannot 
fool them by giving them a 90-calorie Power Bar; they will eat two of 
them and consume not 150 calories but 180 calories. And you can't fool 
them by taking a couple of chips out of the Dorito bag. They'll just 
open another bag of Doritos. That's the reality of real life. And 
somehow we get this myopic vision out of the nanny state that there's a 
way to trick people into getting slimmer.
  This gets so bad, Mr. Speaker, that in marking up the previous farm 
bill in 2007, usually they like to bring somebody in to call for more 
food stamps that's maybe suffering from malnutrition, or at least 
they've been hungry part of lives. They couldn't, apparently, find any 
witnesses like that any longer because the food stamps have been pushed 
out so hard in this country that they seem to be ubiquitously 
available. And so they brought in Janet Murguia, the president of La 
Raza--that's the organization ``The Race.'' This was in March of 2007. 
She testified that one of the growing problems of obesity is that even 
though most people know where their next meal is coming from, they 
don't know where all their meals are coming from. Therefore, they tend 
to overeat, and when they overeat they become obese. So if we would 
just give them an unlimited amount of food stamps, then they wouldn't 
be so concerned about this food insecurity. They would eat less, lose 
weight, and all would be well with the world.
  That is a bizarre thought, Mr. Speaker. I can't embrace that way of 
thinking. I didn't even know how to argue against it. It caught me so 
far off balance that people are overweight because they don't have 
enough food stamps, so we'll give them more food stamps and they will 
lose weight. I deal with this kind of irrational irrationality here in 
this Congress constantly. It's no wonder that people call for a voice 
of common sense in this place.

  So, Mr. Speaker, that's the food stamp argument, the nanny state 
argument. But it takes me to the school lunch program. The school lunch 
program is out of control. It is this Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, 
which is the First Lady's bill, that regulates the diet of every kid 
going to school in America. I went into lunch at Remsen-Union here this 
week to sit down with them. First I gave them a program on the 
Constitution--they were great, and I look forward to going back there, 
I hope. Good, good, young people.
  When I finished up, I said, Now it's lunchtime. I'm going to go eat 
your lunch. And they said, oh, you're not going to really, are you? 
Sure, I did. I sat down. And not picking on their program, it's 
rationed by the United States Department of Agriculture. They did not 
have the authority granted to them specifically in the Healthy, Hunger-
Free Kids Act to ration calories to our kids, but that's exactly what 
they've done, Mr. Speaker. They've reached into and grabbed an 
authority that didn't exist and decided to opt into rationing calories 
to our kids in all of these schools.
  So for the first time in the history of this country--we've had 
nutrition standards, nutrition minimums; you don't give them less 
nutrition, you don't give them fewer calories than this standard--and 
that standard has been published, and it's well known among our school 
lunch program. But Michelle Obama's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, as 
interpreted by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, sets caps on 
calories that kids can get to eat.
  So, for example, a high school football player, a senior high school, 
for example, 250-pound lineman--growing, robust, active, working out 
every day--is rationed to 600 calories for breakfast, 850 calories for 
lunch. That's 1,450 calories. Now, if you give them another dose of, 
say, 800 calories for supper, you'll fall far short of the calories he 
needs to maintain his exercise level and his weight.
  For me, I need 2,841 calories a day to maintain my weight. That's the 
formula, and that's also something in practice that I've measured and 
charted on a spread sheet; 2,841. If you put me on that diet, the 
ration that the Department of Agriculture is giving these kids, every 8 
days, if I'm constricted to that diet--and that's granting 850 calories 
for a third meal of the day--I would lose a pound every 8 days. I'm 
past my growth spurt. They exercise a lot more than I do--or at least 
they should. That's how misguided this is.
  Same number of calories for a kindergartner as for a fifth-grader. I 
believe the minimum number is 550 calories. And so a 30-pound 
kindergartner--which would be a small one--versus a 120-pound fifth 
grader--which would be a large one--get the same amount of calories. 
Generally, a fifth-grader is twice as large as a kindergartner. They 
get the same amount of calories, and it's capped.
  Another thing that is so bad about this, Mr. Speaker, is that the 
youth that come in that have the money can go ahead and buy extra food 
a la carte. So they'll go back, if they've got the money, and buy an 
extra hot dog and go back and fill themselves up. But these kids that 
are on free and reduced lunches don't have that money in their pocket, 
and they're sitting there watching their better-off friends go back for 
a whole second helping, or the second helpings that they like. It is 
stigmatizing these kids that are on free and reduced lunch. It should 
not be. It sets up the wrong scenario in our schools.
  This Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act says this: The USDA has the right 
``to set nutritional standards for all foods regularly sold in schools 
during the school day, including vending machines, the a la carte lunch 
lines, and school stores.''
  That's what the bill says. The Department of Agriculture and 
Secretary Vilsack have decided they're going to cap the calories. It 
doesn't give the specific authority; they just decided they're going to 
cap the calories so that--now, here's the formula: 30 percent of kids 
are overweight by their estimate, so 100 percent of them go on a diet. 
That's the mentality of the nanny state, Mr. Speaker.
  And where does this food come from? Agriculture, of course. We have 
been working to push a farm bill through this Congress for a long time. 
About a year ago last May, I and my staff and a number of others began 
putting together a bill. As we went out into the Ag community and asked 
them for their input on what they'd like to see and what changes in the 
bill, one thing that came back that stood out above all others is we 
need a good risk management program. That means crop insurance is the 
centerpiece of it. I set about to hold that together, and we did the 
research and laid the foundation. And so far we've held that crop 
insurance, I think, together pretty well, Mr. Speaker. But that's the 
crop insurance piece.
  Many other pieces--the nutrition side of this. We've gone from 19 
million people on food stamps to up now to 47 million people on food 
stamps. That, Mr. Speaker, is a number that creates expanded dependency 
in the country. The intention of the President and his party. An 
expanded dependency class votes more for them.

[[Page H6227]]

                              {time}  2040

  An independency class votes more for us guys. So they have pushed 
food stamps out into people. They've spent millions of dollars 
advertising food stamps so more people sign up on the SNAP program; and 
in doing so, they expand the dependency people, those that rely on 
government. That's been part of the mistake. We set about reforming 
  We have a tattoo parlor with a neon light that says we take EBT 
cards. So, food stamp money goes for tattoos.
  We also have a fellow that bailed himself out of jail with his EBT 
card. They're being sold for cash and discounted.
  That's some of the things that are going on. We need to tighten that 
up, and the House Ag Committee tightened it up. We tightened it up to 
reduce those dollars going in so that the people that should not be 
receiving the food stamps are less likely to get them, and that saved 
about $16 billion out of the duration of this program, Mr. Speaker. 
That's one of the reforms in the farm bill.
  Holding the risk management program together for agriculture and 
reducing the waste and the fraud and the corruption in food stamps was 
an important thing. That's what the House Ag Committee bill is about, 
Mr. Speaker, and I want to see it come to the floor, the committee 
product come to the floor. I'd like to see it come to the floor just 
under a closed rule. Let's vote it up or down and let's see where it 
goes. If it fails, it fails. Then we can go back to the drawing board. 
If we fail to try, that will be labeled a failure.
  I came to this city this week to make that point over and over again, 
Mr. Speaker. We need to move a farm bill out of this House of 
Representatives. And I recognize that procedurally, at this point, as I 
stand here tonight, that is an impossibility under the rules of this 
House. So the best that we can hope for is to bring a farm bill to the 
floor as soon as we come back after the election.
  I've asked the Speaker to do this. I've asked the majority to do 
this. I'm working closely in direct cooperation with the chairman of 
the Ag Committee, Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, who has done a stellar job 
on bringing a good bill out of committee and preparing it for floor 
action. He was an utter maestro in putting that bill together, and the 
work that was done by the chairman and many others, including Ranking 
Member Peterson, Democrats and Republicans, resulted in a bill coming 
out of the Ag Committee that only had 11 ``no'' votes, and it was a 
bipartisan support for the bill. The opposition was also bipartisan, 
but it was only 11. So whatever the bar was, however high it was, we've 
cleared the bar.
  We need to bring a bill to the floor. We need to provide that kind of 
stability and predictability to the ag community so that they can plan 
next year's crops and plan their lives.
  What comes out of this House and out of this Congress and is signed 
by the President affects land prices, equipment purchases, land sales, 
farm rentals, the whole configuration, a lot of it is looking down on 
this farm bill.
  So let's get it done. I'm looking for that full 100 percent 
commitment to bring the bill up to the floor when we come back. We've 
gotten a strong statement out of the Speaker that that's what will 
happen. I'm looking for reinforcement on that statement before we gavel 
out tomorrow, Mr. Speaker.
  But it's essentially important to us that we know which direction 
we're going on agriculture. It isn't so critical, the policy 
standpoint, between now and December 31, but knowing, for planning 
purposes, is valuable. And if we get to, say, December 31 without a 
farm bill, then we do have a problem on our hands.
  In the meantime, it's my strongest urging that we hear that kind of 
commitment from the Speaker and the other leadership, that we'll take 
this bill up and take it to the floor. It's a strong message now. I'd 
like to see it become a full commitment before we leave this House 
tomorrow afternoon to go back for our elections.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I have vented myself to some degree. I think I've 
helped inform this body about the nanny state that threatens to subsume 
this God-given American liberty and issued my urging that we move a 
farm bill and that we get a commitment to do so when we come back in 
  I appreciate your attention and the work that we've done here 
together as Democrats and Republicans and how we've reflected the voice 
of the American people. After the election, I hope we get the kind of 
help in the Senate that we received in the House in 2010.
  With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.