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POLICY: The Cato boys–not in logical tune

Michael Cannon is dead right. His article What Mitt and Hillary Have in Common shows that the only rational way to start groping towards a management of the insurance market that makes some kind of logical sense (as John Cohn said in his excellent article on Hillarycare revisited at TNR). And that rational way must by definition involve a mandate and severe restrictions on the cherry-picking activities of insurance companies. But if you want to solve the perverse incentives in the current system, you need to do something like that.

Of course Michael doesn’t want to do that, doesn’t approve of mandates even when they make logical sense, and doesn’t understand the role of a regulator governing a market to try to ensure that no one takes advantage—even though the most capitalistic of all markets, the NYSE & Futures markets have strong regulatory bodies. But Michael’s opinions are shared by many on the conservative right which is why Mitt Romney is failing to mention the Mass health plan in the Republican primaries. I bet it will surface if he wins the nomination and starts running to the center (anyone remember “compassionate conservative”?).

Michael Tanner, (Cannon’s Cato colleague and co-author), however, goes off the deep end in criticizing another Michael, this one not a Cato scholar. He manages to ramble off a bunch of already refuted stuff about the evils of single payer without bothering to mention the most pertinent fact about our health care system compared to those Moore visits—it costs a whole lot more. He even claims that the French economy is falling apart because of the cost of health care.

Yet we’re spending nearly double what they are. So the question for Tanner isn’t our economy in the toilet? Could it be because the money with which Americans pay for health care is a different type of money from that the French use, because slightly more of theirs gets transferred through the government? (and no I’m not talking about $ vs Euros).

It’s good that at least one of the Cato boys is being logical. Although sadly Tanner’s demagoguery about the French and Canadians dying the streets because they have to pay higher taxes is probably more in tune with the typical Republican primary voter.

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