They've trimmed the fat —-and then some —- from NYC restaurant menus, and the California budget.
Headlines today suggest New Yorkers don't miss the trans-fats that were banned from their take-out two years ago. But Californians are already yelping from the crash-diet of cuts that the latest stab at a state budget is set to make in health care, education, and state parks — a dreary precedent for states across the nation in similar straits.
First the unappetizing budget from the West Coast: Rather than raise taxes, the budget agreement reached last night by the Republican Governor and key Democratic legislators would make about $15 billion in cuts.
Roughly $1.3 billion in cuts would come from Medi-Cal, the state's health care program for the poorest of the poor, and $124 million from "Healthy Families," California's version of the nationally subsidized program that provides health insurance to 930,000 additional children whose parents make a little too much to qualify for Medi-Cal. Another $226 million in cuts would come from in-home support services for the frail and disabled. That's just the beginning.
Assembly speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, told reporters that lawmakers felt ham-strung by the recession and Republicans' unwillingness to raise taxes.
"For Democrats, I have to tell you that many of the cuts we had to make...in another time we would have thought unthinkable."
Now a little good news: Two years after some critics complained that a trans-fat ban would bring down the restaurant industry in NYC, roughly 98 percent of bistros, restaurants, and fast-food joints are in compliance, researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week.
Even better, fears that restaurateurs would just substitute saturated fats — which are nearly as bad for blood cholesterol as trans-fats — haven't materialized. Instead, the restaurants seem to be cutting back on all fatty offerings, as well as cutting back on trans- and saturated fats in their fry oils.
The American Heart Association has a handy chart to help us all make "fat-sensible substitutions" at home, too.
But go easy on the low-fat bagels and brownies. Switching to a version with half the fat won't help your arteries or your waistline if you eat twice as many.