Ron Paul used to be a resolute libertarian when it came to entitlements. During his 1988 presidential bid, he called them “unconstitutional” and said he wanted them gone. As recently as 2000 he signed on to a Republican Liberty Caucus statement holding that “the federal entitlement to Medicare should be abolished.”
But this campaign season, Paul has moderated his tone. Oddly enough, he’s in some respects weaker on the issue than the leading Republicans.
Take Paul’s official fiscal-reform plan, the “Plan to Restore America.” It has many merits — it eliminates five cabinet departments, slashes $1 trillion in spending, and purportedly will balance the budget in year three of his presidency with no tax increases. But its entitlement reforms merely tinker around the edges of the problem: He’d distribute funding for Medicaid and other welfare programs to the states in the form of block grants, keep the current Social Security system for retirees and near-retirees, and allow young people to opt out of Social Security if they want to.