I remember a blogpost about this at MomsRising.org, with the director of Center for Science in the Public Interest writing on this very topic- limiting Happy Meal toys. Most of the comments embraced the "it's the parents' decision" side.
I am definitely for strong parenting. Clear and consistent decision-making in the best interests of the child, every time. I'm for it-- do I *do* it? The angels above know how much better at it I could be! This is one reason I don't feel like this is over-legislating. It's aimed at the corporations that don't have my family's best interest in mind anyway. People tend to excuse almost anything a corporation does for its bottom line, but I think really good companies might also have quality as a goal. (Hello?) Behemoth corporations that offer toys might not really care about competition to enhance quality (the basic free market argument), so that's one place where legislation comes in. Though I can see how it's not a legislative priority this year in cities where stimulating the economy is Job#1, I still think the conversations it should stimulate are important to advancing public health. Besides, I don't see the point of stimulating the economy with products that depress our health and well-being, and that of our kids. Maybe especially that of our kids. Short term stimulus don't seem to always lead to long term health and growth. Why should we give in to the race to the bottom?
Also, I used to be a volunteer labor coach for low income pregnant women. Many of them would have kids carrying McD's bags into the clinic. NOT because McD's was cheaper than fresh fruit- it's not. Because it was the only available option. The only option on their bus line, the only place that was safe, the only place the kids would go to, where their friends went. There are a million more systemic issues to unpack there, yes? Transportation equity, urban planning, public health, prevention, and at least five or six other biggies.
Taking socioeconomics into the picture, it strikes me that this isn't about more or less consumer choice as it is about the quality of choices. That to me is what's important.