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Greg Dworkin gives us the latest on the flu & coronavirus front, notes the results from South Carolina, and the big story on the release of data detailing widely disparate costs at hospitals around the country. We followed that up with a piece from Matthew Yglesias on why nobody will care about this stuff. It has to do, at least in part, with differing perspectives on the same facts. And that in turn is what's at play in the procedural fight in Congress about "regular order" playing out in the budget process. Then, Ezra Klein's look ahead to the Republicans' new debt ceiling hostage: tax reform. Further adventures in government "cost-cutting" through outsourcing that ends up costing taxpayers more while helping people less. And why do we continue to do these things? Because it's so much easier to make sure beneficiaries kick back part of the profits when they're distributed narrowly and in chunks big enough that the kickbacks won't bite. Like with the Kochs and the NRA (and everything else). And just for good measure, we return to "political intelligence" consulting, to show how similar schemes fuel the conversion of a taxpayer-funded public knowledge base into fat rent-extraction opportunities, and keep them paying out.

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