Ryan would eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains, dividends and death. The corporate income tax, the world's second highest, would be replaced by an 8.5 percent business consumption tax. Because this would be about half the average tax burden that other nations place on corporations, U.S. companies would instantly become more competitive -- and more able and eager to hire.
Medicare and Social Security would be preserved for those currently receiving benefits, or becoming eligible in the next 10 years (those 55 and older today). Both programs would be made permanently solvent.
Universal access to affordable health care would be guaranteed by refundable tax credits ($2,300 for individuals, $5,700 for families) for purchasing portable coverage in any state. As persons under 55 became Medicare eligible, they would receive payments averaging $11,000 a year, indexed to inflation and pegged to income, with low-income people receiving more support.
Ryan's plan would fund medical savings accounts from which low-income people would pay minor out-of-pocket medical expenses. All Americans, regardless of income, would be allowed to establish MSAs -- tax-preferred accounts for paying such expenses.
Ryan's plan would allow workers under 55 the choice of investing more than one-third of their current Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts similar to the Thrift Savings Plan long available to, and immensely popular with, federal employees. This investment would be inheritable property, guaranteeing that individuals will never lose the ability to dispose every dollar they put into these accounts.
Ryan would raise the retirement age. If, when Congress created Social Security in 1935, it had indexed the retirement age (then 65) to life expectancy, today the age would be in the mid-70s. The system was never intended to do what it is doing -- subsidizing retirements that extend from one-third to one-half of retirees' adult lives.
Compare Ryan's lucid map to the Democrats' impenetrable labyrinth of health care legislation. Republicans are frequently criticized as "the party of no." But because most new ideas are injurious, rejection is an important function in politics. It is, however, insufficient. Fortunately, Ryan, assisted by Republican representatives Devin Nunes of California and Jeb Hensarling of Texas, has become a think tank, refuting the idea that Republicans lack ideas.