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Mehmet Oz offers absurdly evil reason to love high food costs

Unearthed footage shows that the multimillionaire former TV host once touted high food prices as a deterrent to eating unhealthy foods.


Like many Republican campaigns this election season, the GOP's Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Dr. Mehmet Oz, has tried to tie his opponent, former Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, to inflation. The thinking is simple, albeit dubious: try to weaponize Americans’ anger over high prices against Democrats … even if the prices aren’t the direct result of Democratic policies. 

But a video unearthed Friday is going to make it much more difficult for Oz to portray himself as a champion of affordable goods — because he has literally argued against them. 

In the footage, Oz is seen speaking about health at the ritzy Aspen Institute more than a decade ago. He argues that high food prices are good because they prohibit people from purchasing and eating some foods that could be considered bad for them. In fact, he specifically says, high food prices should be used to counter government subsidies to farmers, which have been used to lower food costs for consumers.

“If we did not subsidize the food in this country, a pound of meat would cost us $90 and you wouldn’t be eating a lot of it,” he says in the 2009 clip.

He goes on to say it’s “probably important for us to start having higher prices for some foods, so that people don’t take advantage of subsidies that make foods that aren’t ecologically sensible and create huge imbalances, and prevent them from selling them at the magnitude that they sell now.” 

It’s a wildly elitist proposal that no candidate should ever want leaked, let alone this close to Election Day. 

To be clear, when Oz says “you” wouldn’t be eating a lot of meat in this scenario, he likely means those who wouldn’t be able to afford it at a higher price point. I feel quite confident that wealthy people — say, in Oz’s tax bracket — wouldn’t let a few extra dollars stop them from chowing down on all the meat their hearts desire. 

It’s also worth noting that the celebrity heart surgeon seems to lack knowledge about food prices. There are mountains of evidence showing how high food costs correlate with poorer eating habits — not better ones. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be as easy to dunk on Oz for his remarks if he hadn’t made high food costs — and his self-proclaimed sympathy over them — so central to his campaign. The most memorable moment he has mustered so far was a widely mocked video he posted of himself waltzing through a grocery store complaining about the cost of assembling a crudité (a veggie plate)

After the video of Oz touting high prices was shared online, the Fetterman campaign was all over him Friday. 

“He’ll go talk about food prices as if it’s something he wants to fix, and then out of the other side of his mouth he’ll talk about consumers should be paying more for meat because that’s the latest elite idea floating around his circles," Fetterman campaign manager Brendan McPhillips said of the resurfaced clip in a statement to KDKA, the CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh. “I think it shows he’s hypocritical and voters can’t trust what he says.”

The Oz campaign, which has responded rather angrily to previous mockery from Fetterman’s camp, was true to form in its response to being dragged yet again: “Only an idiot would think such an outlandish claim was true,” Oz adviser Barney Keller told KDKA. 

I’m not sure insulting voters in response to allegations that you’ve insulted voters is the right approach to take. But you do you, Team Oz!

John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz square off on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. ET in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate debate. Get expert analysis in real time on our live blog.