Mayor Bloomberg has been on an Ahab-like quest to ban people from buying sodas and sugary drinks with food stamps; but yesterday, his white whale slipped away once again when federal officials rejected the proposed ban. And Bloomberg was pissed: "We think our innovative pilot would have done more to protect people from the crippling effects of preventable illnesses like diabetes and obesity than anything else being proposed anywhere else in the country -- and at little or no cost to taxpayers," Bloomberg said.

Although it was unlikely that the ban would pass, Bloomberg was hoping the Agriculture Department would agree to test the proposal in a two-year project. The city has already run a graphic ad campaign linking soda consumption to obesity (see above). "We're disappointed that the federal government didn't agree, and sorry that families and children may suffer from [its] unwillingness to explore our proposal," Bloomberg said yesterday.

Joel Berg, the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, commended the federal government for “deciding not to micromanage” the lives of the poor: “The whole attempt was misguided and unworkable. This proposal was based on the false assumption that poor people were somehow ignorant or culturally deficient.” Now, Bloomberg can move on to more important issues, like taxing bear gallbladders.