A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 27, 2015
“Government is an insurance company with an army”

The federal government funds Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other programs. It’s sometimes said that “the federal government is a health insurance company with an army.”

Peter R. Fisher, an undersecretary at the U.S. Treasury, used the line in 2002, but might not have originated it. American economist and New York (NY) Times columnist Paul Krugman has often said that “government is an insurance company with an army.”


Wikipedia: Peter R. Fisher
Peter R. Fisher (Born 1956, Washington D.C.) is a Senior Lecturer at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and a Senior Fellow at the Tuck Center for Global Business and Government. He is also a former executive at BlackRock and a former senior official at the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

Google Groups: rec.sport.football.college
Strange quote of the day
Daniel Seriff
4/19/03
On Fri, 18 Apr 2003 23:58:02 -0500, Lone Victor wrote
(in message ):
> “It helps to think of the government as an insurance company with an
> army.”
>
> I have absolutely *no* idea what he’s talking about.

U.S. Department of Energy
April 5, 2004
Current Budget Realities for Federal Funding of Basic Research:
Econ 101– When “Soft” Science
Trumps “Hard” Science

Joel Parriott
Office of Management and Budget
Pg. 10:
OSTP’s Mike Holland: “It helps to think of the government as an insurance company with an army.” (Science, 4/11/03)

Google Books
American Government and Politics Today—Texas Edition, 2007-2008
By Steffen Schmidt, Mack Shelley, Barbara Bardes, William Maxwell and Ernest Crain
Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
2008
Pg. 522:
DID YOU KNOW…
An aide to President George W. Bush gave this succinct description of federal priorities: “It helps to think of the government as an insurance company with an army”?

New York (NY) Times
America Held Hostage
By Paul Krugman
MAY 15, 2011
(...)
So will it stop sending out Social Security checks? Will it stop paying doctors and hospitals that treat Medicare patients? Will it stop paying the contractors supplying fuel and munitions to our military? Or will it stop paying interest on the debt?

Don’t say “none of the above.” As I’ve written before, the federal government is basically an insurance company with an army, so I’ve just described all the major components of federal spending. At least one, and probably several, of these components will face payment stoppages if federal borrowing is cut off.

Underbelly
Saturday, January 19, 2013
More on the Holland Principle
You’ll Remember the Holland Principle--the one about the govt as an insurance company with the army, or perhaps the other way round.  I had traced it back to a (ref to) an article by a certain Michael Holland, along about 2003.  Paul Krugman, most often cited as the source (but who disavows original authorship) weighed in with customary celerity:

Someone should have asked me. Peter Fisher, undersecretary of the Treasury, in 2002.
(...)
In a separate email, Holland elaborates:

I started off as a program examiner at OMB in 1999.  I used to get invited to give talks to the Department of Energy Office of Science advisory committees (e.g., High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, Nuclear Science Advisory Panel, etc.) explaining how the R and D budgets were formulated.  You’ve got to do something to make budget talks amusing, thus the quip.  ...

I do remember seeing the quote attributed to a Bush Administration Treasury official several years after I had been using it, so I don’t doubt Krugman’s attribution to Peter Fisher.  I can’t imagine the quote is original to either of us. 


New York (NY) Times—“The Conscience of a Liberal” by Paul Krugman
An Insurance Company With an Army
JANUARY 24, 2013 9:17 AM
(...)
The government really is an insurance company with an army; if you demand rapid deficit reduction without raising taxes or cutting military spending, you have to cut deeply into programs that the public values.

Vox
Jeb Bush sounds like he’s running for Mayor of America
Updated by Matthew Yglesias on February 5, 2015, 3:40 p.m. ET
(...)
It’s crucial to recognize that in the United States, the federal government does not operate as a scaled-up version of a state or local government. The federal government is an insurance company with an army, spending the vast majority of its resources on the military or cutting checks. State and local governments, by contrast, spend money on police officers, bus drivers, fire fighters, and other front-line service providers.

Twitter
StephenG
‏@GordonStephenM
Bruce Katz at TEDx “Today’s government is a healthcare company with an army” http://brook.gs/1TFKiZh
8:49 AM - 15 Aug 2015

Twitter
Tom Risen
‏@TomRisen
“The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army,” @benbernanke says at #defenseeconomy @BrookingsInst
10:10 AM - 17 Aug 2015
Washington, DC

Twitter
Michael Bullington
‏@m_bullington
“The national government is becoming a health insurance company with an army.” -Bruce Katz.
8:03 PM - 25 Oct 2015

Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune
Five myths about the budget
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 2:00 pm
(...)
The United States spent about $3.7 trillion in the fiscal year that just ended — about $12,000 for every American. The first thing to know about that spending is that about two-thirds of it, nearly $2.5 trillion, went to Social Security, Medicare and other health programs, and the military. The old joke about how the federal government is an insurance company with an army is not really a joke.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, October 27, 2015 • Permalink