Paul Ryan’s plan to get America back on the road

Paul Ryan’s plan to get America back on the road

Ponder, for a moment, what a car designed by the federal government would look like. The base most likely would start with a decades-old, well-worn family sedan. Then, as new technological features become available, they wouldn’t be incorporated into the car itself, they would instead be piled on its roof. After decades, the sedan would be covered in boxes offering anti-lock brakes, Bluetooth stereo connectivity, cruise control and air conditioning. But none of these features would actually be integrated into the operation of the car, keeping it from operating as a wholly functioning system.

This is the approach the federal government takes to its social service programs.

Every few years, Congress adds a new entitlement to the layers of programs that already exist, often with little regard to how the new entitlement will affect the other existing programs and recipients. In 2012, the federal government offered 92 separate poverty-fighting programs, costing taxpayers more than $800 billion. And yet even with 17 food-aid programs, 20 housing programs and dozens of education and job-training programs, poverty is higher than it has been in a generation.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced a sweeping new plan that recognizes the fact that if we could do it all over and build an effective social safety net, it wouldn’t resemble anything like what we have now. Given what decades of federal spending has taught us, we wouldn’t just heap program upon program, with little concern for whether they actually serve their intended purpose.

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