Motive, Opportunity, and Means-Testing

From Tyler Cowen's outstanding NYT column on means testing Medicare, sweet, sweet music to my ears:

[T]he argument for comprehensive and universal transfer programs does not meet the ideal of democratic transparency. If taking care of the poor is the real value in welfare programs, those programs should be sold as such to the electorate. We shouldn’t give wealthier people benefits just to “trick” them, for selfish reasons, into voting for greater benefits for everyone, the poor included.

I like the way the man thinks. As I noted in below, I get worried about means-tested programs for old people, due to the reality of gerontocracy. But Tyler points to a number of successes in other countries, and nothing could be worse than what we're in for if we stick with the status quo. In any case, the intensity of opposition among purported liberals to programs finely focused on giving aid to those who need it is simply preposterous.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center