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Recent Policy Studies
Economic GrowthBy Matthew Spalding, et al., The Heritage FoundationPolicy Analysis, 03/01/2013
Too many Americans are either out of work or have altogether given up looking for employment. Overall compensation is flat, and economic growth is anemic. Uncontrolled spending and a surging debt are driving America into bankruptcy. High taxes and the crushing weight of endless rules and regulations burden our economy. The country continues down this phony path even though most Americans think government does too much. Some argue that conservatives should accept all of this. They say we must be resigned to permanent economic stagnation, bureaucratic rule, and national decline.We disagree. We believe this is the time to reaffirm the principles that guide us, to champion our ideas of opportunity and upward mobility, and to redouble our efforts to change America’s course.
Health CareBy Chris Cinquemani, Foundation for Government AccountabilityPolicy Analysis, 03/01/2013
Myriad academic and advocacy groups have generated projections on the impact of Medicaid expansion in Florida. However, the projections lack consistency—varying widely from one another. This should be a red flag to policymakers. Without a clear understanding of how Medicaid expansion will affect patients and taxpayers, the best decision for Florida policymakers would be to reject expansion. At the very least, they should delay their decision until they can see the results of expansion in other states.
Economic GrowthBy Geoffrey Lawrence, Cameron Belt, Nevada Policy Research InstituteAnalysis, 03/01/2013
This report details each of the steps through which entrepreneurs must pass when attempting to establish a new business — and how these artificial barriers to entrepreneurship accumulate to discourage small-business growth. Nevada could become more business-friendly by eliminating state business subsidies, reducing or eliminating state and local licensing fees and filing requirements, easing restrictions on labor and streamlining the state’s regulatory structure.
Health CareBy Robert Alt, George R. Lawson, Buckeye Institute for Public Policy SolutionsPolicy Report, 03/01/2013
Ohio must soon decide whether to participate in that portion of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as ObamaCare, which would greatly expand the Medicaid program. There are at least six reasons why transforming Medicaid from a safety net into a broad-based welfare program that covers able-bodied adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level is the wrong policy decision for Ohio. Policymakers should not trade dubious short-term gains for long-term losses.
EducationBy Bruce Thornton, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 03/01/2013
The politicization of the university and its failure to foster free thinking compromise more than just the quality of the degrees colleges grant and the training their students receive. These problems affect the very core of society. Once they graduate, these students will carry their conformist attitudes and unexamined political beliefs with them into their professions, a problem particularly acute in state and federal jobs like teaching and social work. Their political choices will reflect these prejudices as well, making it easier for politicians to promote worn out, failed, or even dangerous policies. Habits of conformity, deference to authority, groupthink, and self-censorship spread from the university into the wider society.
National SecurityBy Robert Chesney, et al., Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 03/01/2013
Since September 18, 2001, a joint resolution of Congress known as the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) has served as the primary legal foundation for the “war on terror.” In this essay we explain why the AUMF is increasingly obsolete, why the nation will probably need a new legal foundation for next-generation terrorist threats, what the options are for this new legal foundation, and which option we think is best.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ronald Bailey, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterPERC Reports, 03/01/2013
PERC fellow Daniel Benjamin made the salient point that for all landscapes and ecosystems “management is not the issue. The issue is who will do the management? Everything is managed.” The fact of the matter is that in an Aristotelian sense nature moves less and less spontaneously. Instead, landscapes and ecosystems are shaped by human preferences and efforts and increasingly take on the character of Aristotle’s “makings.”
LaborBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 03/01/2013
In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for raising minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. He argued that “no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.” Most minimum-wage workers, however, are not poor. Congress should examine which workers—that would not lose their jobs—would benefit from a higher minimum wage. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau show that most minimum-wage earners are young, part-time workers and that relatively few of them live below the poverty line. Their average family income is over $53,000 a year. A hike in the minimum wage primarily raises pay for suburban teenagers, not the working poor. If Congress and the President seriously want to help the working poor, they should look elsewhere.
International Trade/FinanceBy Simon Lester, Cato InstituteFree Trade Bulletin, 02/28/2013
In terms of the core obligations related to protectionism, there is much to be happy with in the proposed U.S.-EU trade and investment negotiations from a trade liberalization perspective. It is disappointing that agriculture subsidies and other issues will not be covered, but some long-standing protectionism may be eliminated. Removing protectionist tariffs, services barriers, discriminatory procurement practices, and “localization” requirements is all to the good.
EducationBy Michael McShane, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 02/28/2013
Kansas City is home to the best barbeque in the world and some of the worst schools in the country. In one sector, black and white, rich and poor come together to enjoy a high-quality, low-cost product. In the other, almost exclusively people of color attend unaccredited schools at an enormous cost to taxpayers. What makes barbeque the great egalitarian experience that it is today? Two things: quality and availability. The story of Kansas City schools is, sadly, much different.
EducationBy James Shuls, Show-Me InstituteEssay, 02/28/2013
Throughout the country, lawmakers have discussed expanding educational options for students by establishing charter schools or allowing public dollars to go to private schools. Yet bills that legislators proposed often failed to gain much traction; in part, because opponents of school choice often hail the traditional system where children are zoned for a local public school based on their address. Some view this method of delivering public education as the model because democratically elected officials control the schools on a local level. Though democratically controlled local school districts meet the needs of many students, they simply cannot satisfy the needs of all families.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Edward J. Pinto, American Enterprise InstituteFHA Watch, 02/28/2013
To end the nightmare at FHA, policymakers must return the FHA to its mission of helping working-class families and neighborhoods, dramatically reduce its tolerance for financing failure, avoid competition with the private sector, and keep from making its fiscal plight any worse.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Todd Myers, Washington Policy CenterLegislative Memo, 02/28/2013
Before enacting HB 1310, or any other limit on the use of plastic bags, legislators should understand that such restrictions not only create a legally mandated profit center for grocery stores (at the expense of consumers and other industries), they may actually end up increasing harm to the environment and to aquatic life.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/28/2013
Secretary of State John Kerry has embarked on his first official trip abroad, traveling to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. Although NATO and European issues have been featured prominently in Kerry’s early stops, much of his agenda will focus on containing the destabilizing spillover effects of the intensifying Syrian civil war. Kerry’s trip has been billed as a listening tour, and the new Secretary of State has already received an earful of complaints about the shortcomings of the Obama Administration’s Syria policy from Syrian opposition leaders and U.S. allies concerned about the Administration’s passive “leading from behind” approach to Syria’s worsening crisis. Kerry’s challenge will be to chart a more effective course for salvaging a stable post-Assad Syria that does not threaten U.S. national interests and those of U.S. allies.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Luke Coffey, Theodore R. Bromund, Nile Gardiner, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/28/2013
On March 10–11, the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, will hold a referendum to decide whether to maintain allegiance to Great Britain. The islands are self-governing but maintain the British monarch as their head of state. The referendum is an answer to Argentina, which, though defeated by Britain in the 1982 Falklands War, is again waging a campaign of threats and intimidation in an effort to gain control of the islands. The U.S. should respect the outcome of the Falkland Islands referendum.
National SecurityBy Michaela Dodge, Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 02/28/2013
The United States has not tested nuclear weapons or conducted any yield-producing nuclear weapons experiment since 1992. In a few short years, all nuclear weapons engineers and scientists that have any experience in nuclear testing and weapons design will have retired. These developments will have a profound impact on the nation’s ability to innovate, assure allies, and deter adversaries. The United States must reverse this dangerous situation in its National Nuclear Laboratories, which stems from years of neglect and underfunding. The goal of the United States should be to create a culture that does not preclude innovation, and allows the United States to develop and maintain responsive nuclear weapons options in proportion to the challenges of the 21st century.
Health CareBy Joel Allumbaugh, Maine Heritage Policy CenterPolicy Analysis, 02/27/2013
Opponents of Maine's new health care reform law erroneously describe the law as "a gift to the insurance companies." In reality that gift has come in the form of more stable markets spurring investment and opportunitites for insurers to compete for market share. Therefore, the real winners are the Maine small businesses and consumers who enjoy more choices and lower priced health insurance options.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Christina Villegas, Independent Women's ForumPolicy Focus, 02/27/2013
The 113th Congress is currently considering the third reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and Congressional leaders have made its passage a top priority. However, all attempts to study and assess VAWA’s effectiveness in reducing the occurrence of domestic and sexual violence have been problematic. Also, VAWA has other significant flaws. It overlooks many of the proven causes of violence (such as substance abuse), and has been a source of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer resources. In some cases, there is even reason to believe that policies advanced in VAWA have been backfired on victims.
Budget & TaxationBy Eric Fruits, Randall Pozdena, American Legislative Exchange CouncilReport, 02/27/2013
Across the country, states are seeking new ways to become more economically competitive and better ways to grow. Unfortunately, economic prosperity can be elusive, as some policy prescriptions that are supposed to help miss the mark. All too often, myths about taxes and budgets are prevalent in public policy debates and misinformation abounds. It is important to set the record straight with the facts regarding which policies allow a state to prosper and which policies can trap a state in economic malaise.
LaborBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationCenter for Policy Innovation Discussion Paper, 02/27/2013
While Members of Congress have debated the amount and duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, they have largely ignored reforming the UI system to help the unemployed return to work more quickly. Traditional government job training programs are both expensive and ineffective, but technological advances have made online education a viable option. Many online courses are even free. Congress should require workers collecting extended UI benefits to enroll in free online courses to improve their skills, thereby enabling them to find jobs more quickly.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Theodore R. Bromund, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/27/2013
Next month, the United Nations will hold a second negotiating conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The first conference, held in July 2012, failed to reach consensus agreement on a treaty text. Before that conference, both the Senate and House played a constructive role in the treaty process by making their wide-ranging concerns about the ATT clear to the executive branch. Congress should now show similar leadership before the negotiations resume.
Budget & TaxationBy Ira Stoll, Reason FoundationReason, 02/26/2013
With a March 1 deadline looming for the imposition of the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, President Obama and his allies in the press are stepping up their campaign for additional tax increases on the rich. This article explains five reasons as to why they are wrong.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy David T. Hartgen, M. Gregory Fields, Elizabeth San Jose, Reason FoundationPolicy Study, 02/26/2013
President Barack Obama’s new infrastructure plan calls for spending $40 billion on “urgent upgrades.” But a new Reason Foundation report examining 20 years of state highway data finds the condition of America’s state-controlled roads has improved in seven key areas including deficient bridges and pavement condition.
Economic GrowthBy Joel Kotkin, Manhattan InstituteCivic Report, 02/26/2013
This paper identifies four regions of the country they call “growth corridors.” What they lack in media attention they make up for in past performance and likely future success. In this report, we describe the growth corridors in some detail and explore what their success means for the country as a whole. Part 1 describes what the corridors are, in terms of geography, population, and history. Part 2 explains why they are succeeding while America’s traditional economic powerhouses are growing at relatively anemic rates. Part 3 explains how the growth corridors are advancing, noting the key industries in each. Part 4 considers the contrast between the growth corridors and the rest of the nation and explains why the growth-corridor mix of culture and policies is crucial to the future success of the United States.
Budget & TaxationBy Tom Giovanetti, Institute for Policy InnovationQuick Study, 02/26/2013
Because Congress and the President have failed to rein in federal spending, their sequester is a laudable “blunt tool” that should be celebrated, not feared. Sequester spending reductions are minuscule, so the whining of the Government Class should be ignored. And if our federal government doesn’t get its act together, we should employ more such blunt tools.
Budget & TaxationBy Sam Beck, Independence InstituteIssue Paper, 02/26/2013
The Tax Foundation provides education and analysis of tax policy issues. Beginning in the 2012 fiscal year, the Tax Foundation released its annual State Business Tax Climate Index. The Index allows business leaders, government policymakers, and taxpayers to weigh their state’s tax system against other states by presenting the rankings of all 50 states’ tax climates. The latest version of the Index represents the relative tax advantages and disadvantages for each state as of July 2012, the first day of the standard 2013 state fiscal year. Business leaders, public policy decision-makers, taxpayers, and journalists in Colorado need a quick synopsis of the report’s findings, limited to Colorado’s performance, rather than wade through a 56-page work that details the outcomes for all 50 states. This piece will focus on how and why the Tax Foundation’s 2013 Index ranks Colorado’s tax system 18th nationwide.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John B. Taylor, Hoover InstitutionPaper, 02/26/2013
This paper assesses the relative effectiveness of central bank independence versus policy rules for the policy instruments in bringing about good economic performance. It examines historical changes in (1) macroeconomic performance, (2) the adherence to rules-based monetary policy, and (3) the degree of central bank independence. Macroeconomic performance is defined in terms of both price stability and output stability. Factors other than monetary policy rules are examined. Both de jure and de facto central bank independence at the Fed are considered. The main finding is that changes in macroeconomic performance during the past half century were closely associated with changes the adherence to rules-based monetary policy and in the degree of de facto monetary independence at the Fed. But changes in economic performance were not associated with changes in de jure central bank independence. Formal central bank independence alone has not generated good monetary policy outcomes. A rules-based framework is essential.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John B. Taylor, Hoover InstitutionPaper, 02/26/2013
Research in the early 1980s found that the gains from international coordination of monetary policy were quantitatively small compared to simply getting domestic policy right. Because this balanced international picture has largely disappeared, the 1980s view about monetary policy coordination needs to be reexamined. The source of the problem is not that the models or the theory are wrong. Rather there was a deviation from the rule-like monetary policies that worked well in the 1980s and 1990s, and this deviation helped break down the international monetary balance. There were similar deviations at many central banks, an apparent spillover culminating in a global great deviation. The purpose of this paper is to examine the possible causes and consequences of these spillovers, and to show that uncoordinated responses of central banks to the deviations can create an amplification mechanism which might be overcome by some form of policy coordination.
National SecurityBy Robert Chesney, et al., Hoover InstitutionEssay, 02/26/2013
Since September 18, 2001, a joint resolution of Congress known as the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) has served as the primary legal foundation for the “war on terror.” In this essay the Hoover Institute explains why the AUMF is increasingly obsolete, why the nation will probably need a new legal foundation for next-generation terrorist threats, what the options are for this new legal foundation, and which option we think is best.
Health CareBy Henry I. Miller, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 02/26/2013
Over the past several decades, treatment for a variety of conditions has begun to shift from a “one size fits all” approach to a more personalized one: the right dose of the right drug for the right patient at the right time. As a result, patients can more often be matched to the best drug for their genetic makeup or the exact subcategory of their disease. This enables physicians to avoid prescribing a medication (or the wrong dosage) that might cause serious side effects in certain populations. This high-tech approach could be a boon to patients but, paradoxically, detrimental to drug companies’ bottom line. By adopting reasonable policies, regulators should be part of the solution to this conundrum. But given FDA's history of high risk-aversion and low accountability, that seems unlikely.
Budget & TaxationBy E.J. McMahon, Empire Center for New York State PolicyEmpire Ideas, 02/26/2013
New York’s property tax levy cap makes it more important than ever for local governments and school districts to bring their long-term spending into line with long-term revenues. This is an especially challenging task in the wake of an economic slowdown that has strained the finances of local taxpayers and local governments alike. But most localities don’t issue budget forecasts that look further than a year ahead—making it it easier to put off tough decisions as underlying budget imbalances get bigger and bigger.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, Anthony B. Kim, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/26/2013
Congress has been concerned for decades that countries receiving American foreign aid often oppose U.S. initiatives and priorities in the United Nations. A State Department annual report, mandated by Congress since 1983, on the voting practices in the U.N. General Assembly shows that the vast majority of recipients of U.S. foreign assistance routinely oppose U.S. diplomatic initiatives and vote against the U.S. The most recent report confirms yet again that most recipients of foreign aid voted against the U.S. in the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) in 2011. To address this issue, Congress should instruct State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to take into account countries’ U.N. voting practices when allocating America’s development assistance.
Health CareBy Edmund F. Haislmaier, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 02/26/2013
Private health insurance increasingly entails moral and ethical issues of consequence to both employers and workers. Recent federal health care legislation has exacerbated the situation by implicitly asserting the supremacy of government’s moral judgments over those of employers and workers who finance private health plans. The Heritage Foundation’s Edmund F. Haislmaier, Senior Research Fellow in Health Policy Studies, examined these issues in a presentation to Catholic bishops attending the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s Twenty-Fourth Workshop for Bishops—“Bioethics Through the Eyes of Faith: Serving Christ in the Sick and Vulnerable”—in Dallas, Texas. He concluded that respect for freedom of conscience in addressing the moral dimensions of medical care should lead to a preference for health policy solutions built around the primacy of patients.
EducationBy William G. Bowen, et al., Education NextEducation Next, 02/25/2013
In the case of online learning, where millions of dollars are being invested by a wide variety of entities, we should perhaps expect that there will be inflated claims of spectacular successes. The findings in this study warn against too much hype. To the best of our knowledge, there is no compelling evidence that online learning systems available today—not even highly interactive systems, which are very few in number—can in fact deliver improved educational outcomes across the board, at scale, on campuses other than the one where the system was born, and on a sustainable basis. This is not to deny, however, that these systems have great potential. We find that such an approach need not affect learning outcomes negatively and conceivably could, in the future, improve them, as these systems become ever more sophisticated and user-friendly.
Health CareBy Peter J. Nelson, Center of the American ExperimentWhite Paper, 02/25/2013
The Affordable Care Act asks states to set up insurance exchanges to “facilitate the purchase of qualified health plans.” The primary goal of an insurance exchange is to extend affordable health coverage to low-income households via Medicaid and federal premium tax credits. There are at least three key strategies to best connect low-income households with affordable coverage through a state-based exchange. First, focus the exchange services on people who qualify for Medicaid and insurance affordability programs. Second, establish a Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) exchange to facilitate enrollment in the individual market, while maintaining the traditional small group market. Third, facilitate broad access to insurance affordability programs and high-quality consumer support services through private brokers and private exchanges.
Budget & TaxationBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 02/25/2013
Especially in Europe but in most of the G20 countries, austerity policies have reduced aggregate demand, therefore stunting gross-domestic-product growth. The primary mode of stimulating these economies has been to pursue quantitative easing (QE), which amounts to printing money. This combination of fiscal austerity and expansionary monetary policy, known as easy-money-tighter-fiscal policy (EMTF), has led to weak currencies as the majority of G20 countries have collectively pursued EMTF. At the same time, Japan’s central bank is now contemplating an antideflationary, currency-weakening policy, threatening a currency war with China and other Asian economies. To stimulate growth and avoid a currency war, G20 governments and central banks need to reform tax systems by closing loopholes and moderate the growth of government retirement and health benefits while employing QE policy as needed to avoid deflation.
ImmigrationBy Alex Nowrasteh, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 02/25/2013
An expanded and lightly regulated guest worker visa program is an essential part of any immigration reform proposal. A guest worker visa program should efficiently link foreign workers with American employers and function with a minimum of government interference. Market forces as well as security, criminal, and health concerns should be the factors that determine which workers acquire visas. A successful guest worker visa would also divert most unauthorized immigration into the legal system, shrink the informal economy, be easily enforceable, support economic growth in the United States, and narrow the government’s role in immigration.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
License to Drill: The Case for Modernizing America’s Crude Oil and Natural Gas Export Licensing SystemsBy Scott Lincicome, Cato InstituteFree Trade Bulletin, 02/25/2013
If the president really wants to develop America’s vast energy resources, grow the U.S. economy, restore some coherence to U.S. trade and energy policy, and avoid potentially embarrassing trade conflicts, he should order the immediate approval of all pending license applications and then pursue, with Congress, an overhaul of our archaic licensing systems. Specifically, the White House and Congress should take the following steps to improve and modernize U.S. energy trade policy. First, the Department of Energy and the Bureau of Industry and Security should immediately approve the pending export-license applications for natural gas and crude oil, and approve all future applications on a transparent, expedited basis. Second, the White House should work with Congress this year to consolidate and overhaul the U.S. export licensing regime for energy products.
National SecurityBy Dean Cheng, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/25/2013
After a multi-year investigation, the computer security firm Mandiant announced this week that it had tracked a cyber group back to its Chinese roots. Even more explosive, it had concluded that the group is, in fact, a Chinese military unit, the Second Bureau of the Third Department of the General Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with the Military Unit Cover Designator 61398. Mandiant’s report confirms what has long been suspected around the world: Not only are there Chinese engaging in various cyber espionage and hacking activities, but many are acting at the direction and with the approval of the Chinese government.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Luke Coffey, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/25/2013
Overshadowed by the announcement in President Obama’s State of the Union address that 34,000 U.S. troops will be brought home from Afghanistan was an acknowledgement that the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) need to improve. The U.S. should argue that the ANSF should not be reduced in numbers as currently planned, and the White House should press international partners to commit funding for the Afghan forces well into the future.
Economic GrowthBy Ronald Coase, Ning Wang, Cato InstituteCato Policy Report, 02/25/2013
Over the past 35 years, China has embraced capitalism not just in the economy. The Theory of Moral Sentiments has more than a dozen Chinese translations; the book has won the heart and mind of premier Wen Jiabao. The message of Adam Smith resonates strongly with the Chinese, not least because of its striking affinity with the traditional Chinese thinking on economy and society. A surprising outcome of China’s transition to capitalism is that China has found a way back to its own cultural roots.