Ryan’s supposedly radical idea is that people should shop for health insurance, with government subsidizing purchases by the less affluent. This would introduce what soon will be inevitable — means testing, a.k.a. progressivity. But liberals reject it with a word, the incantation of which suffices, they think, as an argument — “voucher.”
This is peculiar because perhaps the most successful federal program of the 20th century was essentially a voucher program. The purpose of the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act — a.k.a. the G.I. Bill of Rights — was to facilitate demobilization by helping men and women acquire educations and buy houses — and hence form families. The government did not build universities or houses. It, in effect, gave individuals conditional cash — vouchers — by helping to pay for home loans and college tuition.
Liberals’ strenuous objection to vouchers is that vouchers, as the functional equivalent of cash, empower individuals to make choices. It is the business of the liberals’ administrative state, staffed by experts, to make choices for inexpert individuals. This is why, while Democrats in Washington are working to reduce the portion of Americans’ private income that is disposed of by private choices, two tentacles of the Democratic Party — the Indiana and Louisiana teachers unions — are in their states’ courts waging futile fights against school choice programs, lest thousands of low- and moderate-income parents be as empowered as millions of demobilized servicemen were.