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A wasteful project takes precedence over public health

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Texas is a Medicaid-rejection state – officials there have refused to accept billions of federal dollars to help the state’s less fortunate. But money for a largely pointless border-protection project? Now you’re talking.

According to an article from Bloomberg: “In Rio Grande City, named for the river that splits the U.S. from Mexico, footpaths cut from the brush by drug smugglers and illegal immigrants have a new look, rehabbed into family-friendly hike-and-bike trails. Now that the state has authorized $800 million to ratchet up security on the Mexico line, more troopers are on their way to deliver another shot to what might be the biggest stimulus program this needy part of Texas has ever seen.” (Read it here: bloom.bg/1J1HWvb.)

This really is Keynes and burying bottles of cash in coal mines: Spending that actually helps people is unacceptable, but pure waste is O.K.

The Inconceivable Success of Obamacare

For my sins, I recently attended FreedomFest, the libertarian conclave in Las Vegas, and debated Stephen Moore from the Heritage Foundation. It went pretty much as you might expect: evidence, evidence, evidence versus Reagan, Reagan, Reagan. But in a way, the most interesting thing was the audience reaction when I described the Affordable Care Act as a major success story so far: boos and hisses.

What’s amazing about this is that the good news about Obamacare isn’t really debatable. It’s a simple fact that there has been a stunningly rapid drop in the number of uninsured Americans, and the evidence is coming from multiple independent sources. It’s also a simple fact that outlays on Medicaid and exchange subsidies are coming in well below projections.

You can argue that this is all temporary, that insurance premiums will eventually skyrocket, even though they haven’t yet, or that the law’s predicted “death spiral” will come back from the, er, dead. But Obamacare is, by any measure, doing better than even its supporters expected.

Of course, this wasn’t supposed to happen – and, therefore, given the epistemology of the modern American right, it didn’t. Failure was inevitable, success inconceivable – so failure must have happened.
 

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