In part this reflects the insanity of Arizona political culture. In part it reflects the dubious decision to make Janet Napolitano Secretary of Homeland Security and abandon Arizona to the depredations of the right-wing. But most of all it illustrates why the stimulus was needed and why health care can’t be left up to the states:
Arizona on Thursday became the first state to eliminate its Children’s Health Insurance Program when Gov. Jan Brewer signed an austere budget that will leave nearly 47,000 low-income children without coverage.
The Arizona budget is a vivid reflection of how the fiscal crisis afflicting state governments is cutting deeply into health care. The state also will roll back Medicaid coverage for childless adults in a move that is expected to eventually drop 310,000 people from the rolls.
One of the least-understood things about the stimulus is that its largest non-tax-cut provision is spending a bunch of money on giving funds to state governments so as to allow them to avoid tax hikes and spending cuts. In other words, ARRA cut taxes a lot and counteracted downturns in state revenues. On net, all the stimulus has done is offset the state and local anti-stimulus. The reason a bigger stimulus would have been better is that that’s the only way we could have gotten any net stimulus at all.
This is also why you can’t just do universal health care on a state-by-state basis. You need health care to be financed by an entity that’s allowed to run a deficit, or else your program is going to start to buckle every time there’s a recession.