Bloomberg Warns Obama
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Mayor Bloomberg is on one of his patented tirades, this time against President Obama. The mayor reckons the president has betrayed Mr. Bloomberg’s endorsement by bowing to Big Tobacco. The mayor has erupted in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. He complains that a free trade agreement the Obama administration is preparing to ink could open America’s — and New York’s — regulation of tobacco to challenge. That, Mr. Bloomberg frets, would interfere with “governments’ sovereign right to protect public health through tobacco control laws.”
What in the world is Mr. Bloomberg talking about? What rights — sovereign or otherwise — do governments have? Rights under our system are something enjoyed by people. Rights are something given to people by God. Rights are inalienable. Under our system, rights are protected by laying restrictions on government. In other words, government doesn’t get the rights. Government gets the restrictions. The people get the rights. This is as basic as it gets under the American system. Yet it seems to have totally escaped Mr. Bloomberg.
His Honor wants President Obama to put science and public health above politics. Why? Why should Mr. Obama do that? Where in the world would the president even get the power to do that? We ran Mr. Bloomberg’s op-ed piece through the newest model of The New York Sun’s electrically-operated constitutional spectroscope and couldn’t find the phrase “public health” even once in the Constitution. The word “science” does appear. The one time it does appear (it’s in the copyright clause), it is in an inferior position to politics, that is, to Congress, which at its discretion can, or not, promote “science and the useful arts” through issuing copyrights, though only for a limited time.
Now this newspaper wasn’t born yesterday. We comprehend that the mayor could turn around and suggest that Congress has a limited regulatory power. It has the power to regulate commerce among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes, and with foreign nations. So if president wants to ink a trade agreement that limits protectionist measures, he could then ask Congress to put through the appropriate laws or the Senate to trans-ratify a treaty. But that wouldn’t be taking the matter out of politics. It would be the reverse — submitting the matter to politics.
It’s not just the federal constitution that enshrines these concepts. State constitutions echo them. This is a lesson that the mayor could have learned in the battle over the limits he got his Department of Mental Hygiene to put on big sugary soda. The lawsuit that resulted was heard by a brilliant judge, Milton Tingling, who went and re-read every city charter going back to the 1600s. He couldn’t find any grant of power to the health and mental hygiene department to regulate the size of sugary soft drinks. He concluded if the mayor wants to take such a public health measure, he’d have to submit it to politics — i.e. the City Council.
The mayor is still trying to evade the politics, and the matter is under appeal. No matter which way the soda ban turns out or the battle over the foreign trade in tobacco, the principles will endure. The ideology of public health — the idea that public health is above politics and the people get no say in the matter — is an ideology that is alien to America’s constitutional system. We have previously predicted that if tyranny enters the United States, it will come in through the kitchen. It will have been cooked up in our schools of public health, funded with billions from Mr. Bloomberg. Every time he talks about public health being above politics he’s talking about giving to government rights that belonged to the people before government came along.