Government Reform

Here's $10,000. Now Go Away.

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Paul Ryan, great white hunter

I've long nurtured a Capitol Hill crush on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). I profiled him in 2003, when he won my heart by talking about his love of bow-hunting (see snapshot at right) and his tradition of handing out copies of Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents for his staff. Plus, he referred to Friedrich Hayek's "The Fatal Conceit" as "a good ol' classic."

At the time, he boasted that he was going to use his time in Congress to "turn entitlements into programs that can actually encourage individualism and self-reliance and financial freedom." Political puppy love aside, I know a tall tale when I hear one, so I didn't think much of that particular pledge.

But lo and behold, in today's Wall Street Journal Ryan proposes a couple of genuinely fresh ideas on entitlements that might (maybe, just maybe) have political legs. He's on the Budget and Ways and Means committees, so that helps the odds a little. For instance, check out this thought on Medicare:

The bill secures the existing Medicare program for those over 55 – so Americans can receive the benefits they planned for throughout most of their working lives. Those 55 and younger will, when they retire, receive an annual payment of up to $9,500 to purchase health coverage – either from a list of Medicare-certified plans, or any plan in the individual market, in any state.

The payment is adjusted for inflation and based on income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support and a funded medical savings account.

Will dangling almost $10,000 in front of grabby Americans win their hearts and minds? Is this scheme just crazy enough to work?

Via Arnold Kling