Retirement and Social Security Reform
Governing Well Isn't That Hard (See Ryan
Investor's Business Daily
March 2, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
Republicans, Tea Partyers, Independents, traditional
Democrats and all others seeking to rescue America from the
destructive consequences of bad governance should join hands
and sing along with Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (circa
Ac-Cent-Chu-Ate the Positive,
Eee-Liminate the Negative,
Laa-Tch on to the Affirmative,
Don't Mess with Mr. In-Between.
A 21st century reformation is abroad in the
land. It demands competence and integrity in both private
and public affairs. People are fed up with failure and foofaraw.
They want new ideas and positive solutions that work. Like
everything else, government must be cost effective and capable
- and it must latch on to the affirmative.
President Obama and the Democrats in Congress had the first
chance - but they responded only with negative orthodoxies
out of Washington's past: a lethal mixture of taxes, spending,
debt, red tape, political payola and presidential pap. Too
Now it's time to move on. Failure is neither acceptable nor
excusable. After all, good government in a highly developed
civic-minded country like America is not rocket science. All
it takes is a modicum of smarts and a healthy respect for
the superior intelligence and ability of the American people.
Government is supposed to facilitate (not dictate) - and to
do so quietly and unobtrusively. A good example of the "accentuate-the-positive"
school of governance is found in Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap
for America's Future 2.0". It's full of principled common
sense ideas for transforming government into a respected servant
of the people.
Taking a minimalist approach and adhering to free market principles,
Ryan has fixed the infamously "unfixable" tax code,
provided affordable health care solutions and made the tottering
Social Security system secure. His proposals are "enactment
ready" (including all the statutory details) and could
go to work tomorrow. His numbers - the cost and revenue estimates
- are authenticated by the Congressional Budget Office.
Ryan eliminates tax impediments to economic growth, paving
the way for higher pretax and after-tax incomes for everyone.
He also makes the tax code simpler, saving billions of man-hours
now wasted on shuffling paper.
Individuals will have the choice of forgoing some deductions
and paying taxes at low rates ranging from 10% to 25%. Ryan
also eliminates the longstanding double tax on personal saving
He reduces to 8.5% the existing 35% double tax on business
income. The additional double taxes that are now levied on
the export of American-made products (and on the business
capital equipment used to make them) are eliminated.
Under the Ryan reforms, U.S. companies (and workers) are allowed
to compete and win in foreign markets. Foreign companies that
compete in our markets will - unlike now - pay their share
of U.S. tax.
Ryan's reforms in health care, Medicare and Social Security
are simple, efficient and designed to achieve a high degree
of Pareto optimality - making many people better off while
harming none. Not a bad day's work.
The present tax subsidy for employer-purchased health insurance
is converted into an optional refundable tax credit for individuals
that allows them to shop for the insurance best suited to
Medicare is continued for all present recipients and for everyone
who becomes eligible in the next 10 years or so. For others,
traditional Medicare will in the future gradually be replaced
by a subsidized voucher system that allows "free choice"
shopping for the best insurance deal. Everyone can also have
a Health Savings Account.
Ryan effectively preserves Social Security while allowing
younger people (age 55 or younger) the option of investing
over one-third of their Social Security tax in a personal
account. They will have the potential for upside investment
gains but are protected from loss of principal.
Ryan's reforms are the product of intelligent design. Most
legislation isn't. Laws typically evolve out of a bargaining
process. In the Congress, the positive is nearly always downgraded
and blended with the negative to produce a "Mr. In-Between"
who benefits some to the great detriment of others.
Often the product of congressional chaos is totally negative;
all people are harmed. ObamaCare is a recent example, so disgraceful
that voters are sending the members of Congress a stern message.
In the future, successful public servants will take the path
that Paul Ryan and many others are helping to blaze: make
positive improvements, eliminate negatives and don't create
any new ones. So what's so hard about that? Most Americans
do it every day. It's known as doing your job.
Christian, an attorney, was a deputy assistant secretary
of the Treasury in the Ford administration. Robbins, an economist,
served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration.