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A limited federal government - principle, not partisanship

By Scott Tibbs, March 24, 2011

Working to reduce childhood obesity is a good thing, right? Of course it is. So why are conservatives opposed to the President's efforts to curb the problem? It must be partisanship, says New York Times columnist Charles Blow.

I have another explanation. It is about principle.

Conservatives believe that most matters of public policy should be left to the states, rather than being decided by the federal government. Conservatives distrust a powerful central government, which is why many conservatives were dissatisfied with President Bush, who gave us several significant expansions of federal power.

The primary issue is not whether steps to reduce obesity are good policy, the primary issue is whether the federal government should be setting the policies. For example, I enthusiastically support policies to reduce bullying in schools, but not at the federal level. The federal government simply does not have the constitutional authority to be setting policy on obesity or bullying, no matter how good that policy might be.

It may make Blow feel better about himself to reflexively accuse conservatives of reflexively opposing Obama's policies, but it does little to advance the discussion about the proper role of the federal government. If Blow considers himself to be a serious pundit, he should think more deeply about the philosophical reasons why conservatives might oppose it. Until then, his own partisan rantings are going to be dismissed as he dismisses Obama's opponents.