Your editorial “A New GOP Entitlement” (Feb. 28) makes a persuasive case against the government expanding our already financially precarious entitlement programs. However, it mistakenly conflates reforming an existing entitlement program to better serve people with an expansion of the welfare state.

The approach being considered by Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee wouldn’t entitle anyone to any new benefit. Rather it would give workers a new option: To access a portion of their Social Security benefits following the birth or an adoption of a child in exchange for delaying their retirement benefits to compensate for those costs. This would help those who currently lack paid leave and face financial hardship (and often end up turning to other forms of public assistance), while minimizing disruption to existing paid-leave laws and encouraging people to use leave benefits judiciously. Requiring this trade-off is central to the concept, and if stripped away from the proposal—as the editorial speculates it would be—it would lose all of its current supporters.

Rather than being a new entitlement, this approach is the best way to prevent the creation of one, which has been the favored path being taken by many states and localities. This proposal would fill a legitimate need, while creating the welcome precedent that benefits can require trade-offs and be paid back by beneficiaries. Our safety net would become more modern and efficient—but not bigger. That’s something conservatives can embrace.

Carrie Lukas