Last week, the Washington Post reported on the new calorie labels on McDonald's menus, and customers' relatively indifferent reactions to them. Nobody seems to care that a Big Mac has only 50 calories more than a large order of fries! Parents looking for a quick meal with a prize for their kids may choose the Happy Meal with 250-calorie hamburger, 230-calorie fries, and all the fat that goes along with them. People generally seem to like the idea that the caloric and nutritional information is now provided at the fast-food establishment, but once they pass under the golden arches, it seems that the caloric count and nutritional value isn't a big deal nor why they choose to eat there.
It appears that a "Happy Meal effect" has been taking place with the voting public that seemed to favor Obama before Wednesday night. But in last night's first presidential debate, Mitt Romney showed Americans why they must abandon their fast-food habits on election day. He presented his arguments with presidential confidence and presence.
Before the debate, Obama supporters liked the advertising, the feel-good messaging, the promise of cheap eats, a free playground, and maybe even the socializing and prizes. They've walked under the arches, and they're being sucked in, either oblivious to the dangers and warning signs or not caring because they can enter into happy meal oblivion for a little while. They are apparently not worrying about what's going on in the real world, or how their actions or those that take place under the golden arches affect the future. President Obama facilitates this by making promises of giveaways under Obamacare, proffering the entitlements of federal programs while ignoring the fact that the deficit has grown more under his administration than any other president ever.
If the American people do not make healthier choices — and we have four more years of high-fat, empty calorie Happy Meals — we are going to be in worse shape than we are already, with no hope for improvement in the health of our country.
This president has led the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The national debt is now over $16 trillion. The debt was $10.626 trillion on President Obama's first day in office, which means a rise of almost $6 trillion in four high-calorie, fat-filled years. This is bad news economically, as we saddle generations to come with severe belt tightening.
The rate of unemployment is currently 8.1%, and went down .1% in August because many stopped looking for work. There are 261,000 fewer Americans employed (822,000 fewer with permanent jobs) than when Obama became president.
US economic growth is "dangerously slow," according to James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute. Little improvement in the pace for the third-quarter is not a good sign with an average of 1.6%. The economy is growing more slowly than last year's 1.8%, enough to signal "about a 50% chance of recession within a year." New orders for manufactured durable goods dropped in August, a decrease of 13.2%, according to the Census Bureau, yet another sign that the health of the economy is not getting any better.
And Obamacare has imposed the single largest tax hike in history on the American public, totaling more than $500 billion over 10 years. Americans for Tax Reform details the "Top Five Worst ObamacareT axes" coming in January. In Wednesday's debate, Romney offered a strong defense of his tax plan. American families and businesses have good reason to be worried about the uncertainty of just how this will affect economic growth and their pocketbooks.
President Obama's weakness in this election is the economy. At least up until the first presidential debate, his fans have been ignoring it, chowing down on the temporary benefits of the Happy Meal. Even so, a Fox News poll showed that 52% of voters disapprove of Obama on the economy, compared to 44% who approve.
In the same poll, most voters were familiar with the recent release of secretly-taped video footage where Mitt Romney said "47%f the country is dependent." The Obama campaign has used the video in new attacks on Romney.
There is no doubt that, at least for now, that video has been used effectively to hurt Romney. Half of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Romney, according to a new Bloomberg poll. 49% would vote for Obama "if the election were held today," compared to the 43% who would vote for Romney, a percentage lower than any presidential challenger in 30 years. Yet 60%of Americans say our country is headed "off on the wrong track."
That sounds to me like the Happy Meal effect. Most people know it's bad for you, but some are still buying Obama's Happy Meals because they like what they can taste right now, oblivious of the impact their gluttony will have on their health and the future of their children.
To continue the food analogy, I think those who follow Romney know that they can get a healthy meal for a reasonable price, a meal that can also be cooked at home. They know what's good for them and how to keep from piling on the government fat. They aren't buying the burgers with their high calories or the free prizes. They are worried about big government's unhealthy diet, the higher cost of living, and the rising caloric count of the national debt that we are passing on to future generations. And Romney supporters know and understand that part of getting out of this economic mess means some belt-tightening and eating out a little less often as we work together to return our country to good health.
Carl Rove described Mitt Romney last night as "reasonable, practical and reassuring." He was "presidential," had a "sense of humor." He said, "'I'm going to work together with Democrats and Republicans.' That's not only a recipe for healthy meal, but a breath of fresh air after four years of the administration and Congress not working together.
Newt Gingrich, in a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, said that Obama has done more to weaken our economy than any other president, and he needs to be honest with the American people about our predicament. Instead, in last night's debate, Obama blamed the previous administration, appearing at times to be running against President Bush.
After last night, Americans have better idea of how their lives might be better and healthier under a Romney presidency, a presidency that will move us from the allure of the Happy Meal toward a fitter America. In the first debate, Mitt Romney made great and convincing progress in sharing his recipe book.