GOOD LUCK WITH THAT…. About a year ago, the New York Times‘ Ross Douthat argued that we’d all be a lot better off if policymakers only followed Texas’ example.
[S]uddenly Texas looks like a model citizen. The Lone Star kept growing well after the country had dipped into recession. Its unemployment rate and foreclosure rate are both well below the national average. It’s one of only six states that didn’t run budget deficits in 2009.
Even at the time, there was quite a bit wrong with this analysis, most notably the fact that Texas is crippled by a crushing poverty rate, and has the worst rate of residents without health coverage in the country.
But putting that aside, a year later, the “model citizen” is feeling the effects of a decade of conservatism — the deficit-free Texas from 2009 suddenly finds itself in a $25 billion hole.
Some Republican lawmakers — still reveling in Tuesday’s statewide election sweep — are proposing an unprecedented solution to the state’s estimated $25 billion budget shortfall: dropping out of the federal Medicaid program.
Far-right conservatives are offering that possibility in impassioned news conferences. Moderate Republicans are studying it behind closed doors. And the party’s advisers on health care policy say it is being discussed more seriously than ever, though they admit it may be as much a huge in-your-face to Washington as anything else.
If Texas proceeds down this road, it intends to save $60 billion from 2013 to 2019 by opting out of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It would stand to crush 3.6 million people, including a whole lot of low-income children, but just think of the savings!
One lawmaker told the NYT that she’s consider the move, “but only if it made fiscal sense without jeopardizing care.”
Yeah, good luck with that.
In the meantime, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), re-elected this week to yet another term, is still talking up the idea of states opting out of Social Security, though as a policy matter, Perry appears to have no idea what he’s talking about.
By all means, mess with Texas.