Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, specializing in health care reform, social welfare policy and Social Security. His latest book is Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

My Articles

May 5, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT
Let’s get this out of the way right at the start: There is no excuse — no acceptable reason — for the rioting in Baltimore this week. But, that said, there are lessons to be learned about the failures of government and how those failures can create a climate of anger and frustration that just awaits a spark to ignite the flames of violence and destruction.
March 27, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
This may well reflect simple weariness with the issue. The law remains remarkably unpopular. The latest Real Clear Politics average of polls shows 52.5 percent opposed and 42 percent in favor. But much of the public appears to have settled for resigned grumpiness. After all, the worst news — canceled policies, the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov — is mostly in the past. Other expected problems have not come to pass just yet. On the other hand, supporters can point to little evidence of success beyond a modest increase in coverage and the fact that things haven’t been as bad as they might have been.
February 20, 2015, 4:56 PM EST
In about two weeks, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in King v. Burwell, the most important challenge to Obamacare since the Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate in 2012 (thanks to Chief Justice Roberts’s bizarre legal interpretation). Given the possibility that the case could punch a very large hole in the health-care law’s implementation, it has unsurprisingly been the subject of much commentary and analysis. Unfortunately, most of that commentary and analysis has been wrong.
February 6, 2015, 11:26 AM EST
In announcing his $3.999 trillion budget proposal for FY 2016, President Obama said that he was putting an end to “mindless austerity” in federal spending. In response to which, one wants to ask, “What color is the sky on his planet?”
January 15, 2015, 11:45 AM EST
No matter how badly you want something to be true, simply wishing will not make it so. This is a lesson that Obamacare supporters need to learn, as they tell us yet again that the Affordable Care Act “is working.”
December 5, 2014, 2:18 PM EST
There have been few occasions over the past six years when I have found reason to praise President Obama. Rarer still are the times that I have been critical of a proposal to cut taxes. But in threatening to veto the so-called “tax extenders” legislation currently making its way through the lame-duck Congress, the president may be doing the right thing.
November 17, 2014, 1:12 PM EST
Saturday starts round two of ObamaCare open enrollment — and we may be one mouse click away from a repeat of last year’s healthcare.gov debacle.
November 14, 2014, 2:22 PM EST
Believe it or not, it might be neither President Obama nor the Democratic Party that has had the worst month in Washington so far. That dubious honor may actually belong to Obamacare.
October 23, 2014, 10:46 AM EDT
The conventional wisdom says that corporate welfare is the exclusive province of Republicans, always eager to do the bidding of their corporate donors. And, indeed, there are far too many examples of Republicans confusing “free markets” with “good for business.”
October 9, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT
There was a time, not so long ago, when the United States was considered the world standard for economic freedom. Yes, there were countries out there, like Hong Kong and Singapore, that might have had lower taxes or fewer regulations, but the world could still speak confidently of the American free-enterprise system. No longer.
October 1, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT
This Wednesday will mark one year since enrollment in ObamaCare began. What began with the disastrous rollout of healthcare.gov has ended with the health law’s supporters claiming victory.
September 24, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT
Aficionados of horror movies know that the monster is never really dead when you think it is. It may be down, but it will inevitably climb back from the dead at least one more time before the final credits. So it is with government programs.
September 12, 2014, 12:29 PM EDT
Obamacare, as its advocates increasingly point out, has succeeded in expanding the number of Americans with insurance. Even though this achievement came at enormous cost, still leaves millions of Americans uninsured, and dumped millions more into Medicaid, this is still one of the few “successes” that the health-care law can claim.
September 5, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT
Embattled Illinois governor Pat Quinn will be living on the minimum wage this week. Well, sort of. Quinn, a Democrat, won’t actually earn the minimum wage — he will continue to pull down the governor’s salary of $177,412, live in the governor’s mansion, and be chauffeured around town. But he will pretend to earn just $79 this week, the amount that activists claim is left from the state’s $8.25 per hour minimum wage after deducting housing, transportation, and taxes.
August 21, 2014, 3:04 PM EDT
The failures of the War on Poverty should serve as an object lesson for policy-makers today. If poverty and inequality persist, it is not because we have failed to redistribute enough wealth. Rather, it is because the welfare system fails to provide either the tools or the incentives to help poor people become self-sufficient.
February 26, 2013, 2:32 PM EST
“The sequester is coming, the sequester is coming,” cries Chicken Little, speaking of the across-the-board spending reductions set to kick in Friday. As a result, much of the Washington establishment, politicians of both parties, and the media are bracing for the apocalypse.
September 12, 2011, 12:21 PM EDT
Texas Governor Rick Perry is being criticized for calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." Even Mitt Romney is reportedly preparing to attack him for holding such a radical view. But if anything, Perry was being too kind.
December 17, 2009, 5:28 PM EST
When it comes to health care reform, the White House and its allies on Capitol Hill seem to live in an alternate universe.   The White House Council of Economic Advisers just released a report arguing that the reforms before Congress would reduce the growth in health costs, cut the federal budget deficits and produce thousands of dollars in benefits for the average family.  
February 24, 2009, 3:45 PM EST
The withdrawal of Tom Daschle as President Obama's nominee for secretary of health and human services is generally viewed as a setback for the president's health care reform plans. Even so, the Obama administration is already well on its way toward putting the government in charge of our health care system.   Less than two weeks into his administration, President Obama has already signed a massive expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The bill is ostensibly designed to provide health insurance to children from poor families.  
February 17, 2009, 5:08 PM EST
Much of the "stimulus" bill is devoted to a backdoor undoing of one of Washington's greatest achievements of recent years: welfare reform.   One of the most important changes of the Clinton-era reform law was replacing the individual entitlement to welfare with a block grant to the states. In the old system, the more people a state signed up for welfare, the more money it got from Washington. The block grant broke this link, creating an incentive for states to help people become self-supporting.