LIKE APPLES TO...

LIKE APPLES TO MANATEES. Earlier today, I met Cato's Michael Cannon. We had a perfectly nice chat. Indeed, he was so pleasant that, for a little while, I forgot how crazy I think his ideology is. But I'm helpfully reminded by this post in which he compares the welfare system to health care costs. He argues that Congress stopped "just throwing more money at [the welfare system and] poverty fell and remained lower in 2005 than at any point in the 17 years leading up to welfare reform...Congress kept throwing more money at health care by expanding government programs (e.g., SCHIP). The result? Unlike the poverty rate, The Official Uninsured Estimate continues its steady climb."

Where to begin? Michael is implying that the Congress's stubborn insistence on funding such programs as SCHIP (the State Children's Health Insurance Program) is accelerating the growth of the uninsured. After all, Congress began kicking folks off of welfare and the poverty rate dropped, why not do the same with health care?

Putting aside the question of whether the decrease in poverty was due to welfare reform or the expansion of the EITC and the massive economic growth of the late-90's (poverty, by the way, increased every year between 2000 and 2004), to compare the number of folks in poverty and the number of folks uninsured and suggest the same policy strategies might apply to both is far beyond apples to oranges (which, as Chuck Klosterman has pointed out, are relatively similar things), it's more like apples to manatees.

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