I attended a debate sponsored by the Residence Halls Association last night and am quoted in the Maneater along with funkbrother and Truman Scholar Eliseo Rick Puig. Here is the article. It would be more accurate to say that 47 million Americans without healthcare represents more than just a market failure; in some demographics, it does represent a market failure, in others, it represents the limits of what the market can do. But a nuanced comment like that isn’t a terribly great sound byte.
The College Republicans (led by Brett Dinkins) were embarrassingly underprepared for this debate; they at one pointed cited an article in the Washington Examiner as countervailing evidence against budget analysis prepared by the Congressional Budget Office, seemingly implying that the CBO was itself responsible for a 11 trillion dollar national debt. Such a statement shows ignorance of the structure of Congress and the way money itself is spent (politicians write appropriation bills and pass them; the CBO is essentially a glorified secretarial/research agency that calculates the fiscal impact of a proposed bill). And worse, they stuck to a terribly inarticulate “markets are best” prescriptivism that is at best really annoying and at worst extremely dangerous; I made the argument that markets are not homogenous and and behave vastly differently depending on the parameters. The market for subprime mortgages is far different from the market for lemons, for instance, or for national security; these markets behave differently and we treat them differently, for good reason.