When economists talk in their sleep, they say, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” This axiom is drilled into them from day one of their undergraduate education and never leaves their minds. Any economist who tried to deny it would find herself suddenly choking in pain and unable to speak.
What it means is that if the government does something that costs money, some human somewhere will bear the expense. “Free” public schools, “free” parks, and “free” roads all have to be paid for by the citizenry. Collectively, we can’t get something for nothing.
This useful insight has long been offered as an objection to costly government programs. But it applies as well to measures that extract savings from costly government programs.
In their replacement of Obamacare, congressional Republicans promise to achieve greater frugality in Medicaid, which helps low-income Americans, without inflicting more hardship. The melancholy truth: Not gonna happen……