Saving the Warfare-Welfare State

A repost from The Freeman | Ideas on Liberty
The Goal is Freedom | Sheldon Richman

Saving the Warfare-Welfare State
The difference is over means not ends.
Posted April 15, 2011

Why does everyone think Washington is plagued by excessive partisanship? The contest over how to address the fiscal debacle says otherwise: Both divisions of the uniparty (Democrat and Republican) agree that the warfare-welfare state must be saved. It’s the means not the end that divides them.

Rep. Paul Ryan, who leads the Republican side, declares that his goal in seeking a balanced budget (someday) is to save the three pillars of the welfare state—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—for “our children’s generation.” “I support these missions,” he says. He would “voucherize” Medicare and give states discretionary Medicaid block grants because, he says, the alternative is insolvency. He would maintain Social Security, while permitting people under 55 to put one-third of their Social Security taxes into government-guaranteed accounts. (They would still have to pay current retirees’ Social Security benefits.) His substitute for Obamacare would give a cash subsidy—he uses the Washington gobbledygook “refundable tax credit”—to “[ensure] universal access to affordable health insurance.”

So, although couched in the rhetoric of liberty and self-reliance, Ryan’s plan aims at saving the welfare state from itself, while giving insurance and investment companies more of a role, not to mention a cut of the taxpayers’ money.

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