Why not just expand food stamps, issued to each citizen on a means-tested basis, to be spent on basic items like food, clothing and rent, such stamps redeemable for cash by the recipients? The mechanism is in place - it can be scaled up without having to rewrite the tax code.
There’s a fairly short lifetime limit on food stamps, as there is on many welfare-related programs. So such a program would have to be greatly expanded. I think you pretty much would have to rewrite the tax code to pay for it. The reason I suggest a regressive tax is I don’t think you could return to 1970’s-style progressive taxes (which is what it would take) without a political firestorm. Regressive taxes means that the first thing that people do is pay for their government benefits.
Also, I don’t think you can make the benefits fungible–that would pretty much invite fraud. You get a food voucher, but it’s nontransferable. If you prefer to pluck fish from the ocean where you live, fine–but you don’t get to use the food voucher for anything else, even so.
Yeah… why adapt something that works reasonably well when you can create a vastly more complicated approach?
Eliminating all government entitlement programs and replacing them with a single entity–modifying the tax code so that there were just two tax rates–hmm, I guess you’re right.
By the way, it doesn’t work “reasonably well” for someone who doesn’t receive enough government benefits to keep them alive or to live a decent life.
Well, I’m pretty sure there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that is going to work better than what can be reasonably achieved by expanding or refining existing programs, but good luck.