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Recent Policy Studies
Information TechnologyBy Dominique Lazanski, Adam Smith InstituteBriefing Paper, 03/07/2013
In this report, Dominique Lazanski calls on the government to commit to a ‘Digital Freedom Charter’ ahead of the Communications Bill. The report argues that the Internet is currently under threat from an increasing regulatory burden and that we need a charter committed to now in the UK to set out principles to ensure competition, innovation and growth in and around digital communications and the Internet.
International Trade/FinanceBy Tim Ambler, Adam Smith InstituteBriefing Paper, 03/07/2013
Despite all the heated exchanges over UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU, whether the UK stays in or leaves the EU may not be critical for the City. Far more important, says Tim Ambler, is the need to create a single global market for financial services. In such a global market, the potential for such a leading-edge financial services provider as London is unlimited.
Budget & TaxationBy Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens Against Government WastePrime Cuts, 03/07/2013
This year’s version contains 557 recommendations that would save taxpayers $580.6 billion in the first year and $1.8 trillion over five years. To date, the implementation of CAGW’s recommendations has helped save taxpayers $1.3 trillion. Prime Cuts 2013 can serve as a valuable resource for paring down a bloated federal budget.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Kori Schake, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 03/07/2013
President Obama and his spokesmen repeatedly intone that “Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States.” But what if Iran does doubt America’s resolve? What if the Iranian government believes it is achieving its aims in its confrontation with the United States? Iranian government leaders certainly act as though they are succeeding, denying International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors access to their sites, adopting maximalist demands in negotiations with Western governments, trumpeting their technological advances of numbers of centrifuges operating and levels of enrichment attained, and, most recently, declining bilateral negotiations with the U.S. offered by Vice President Biden. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said, “American policy in the Middle East has been destroyed and Americans now need to play a new card. That card is dragging Iran into negotiations.” That doesn’t sound like a government reeling from our policies.
Budget & TaxationBy Lee Harris, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 03/07/2013
Throughout history, soaking the rich has proven a quick fix to temporary emergencies and crises, like the one we are facing today. But it is inevitably a fix that comes with a high cost. By undermining the taboo against expropriating wealth, it makes all private property less secure, including the property of the middle class.
EducationBy Danielle Hanson, The Heritage FoundationCenter for Policy Innovation Discussion Paper, 03/07/2013
The Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) is seeking to transform central Harlem by providing a unique set of educational and support services to the children and families who live there. The philosophy is to create a positive “tipping point” to change the culture in which generations of students grow up, helping an entire community to lift itself out of poverty, high unemployment, and low educational attainment. While the available data indicate that the HCZ has improved the educational outcomes of participating students, some question the magnitude of its successes and the high cost of its programs. In any case, attempts to replicate the HCZ model in other cities should proceed cautiously, recognizing that some aspects of the HCZ may not be replicable outside of Harlem.
Health CareBy Grace-Marie Turner, Avik Roy, Galen InstituteStudies, 03/06/2013
Access to a Medicaid card is not access to care. The Florida legislature needs to demand that the state gain more control and flexibility over Medicaid to continue to build on its successful initiative to expand access to private, coordinated care and to build additional innovative models that give Medicaid recipients a stake in their care.
Budget & TaxationBy Amity Shlaes, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 03/06/2013
President from 1923 to 1929, Coolidge sustained a budget surplus and left office with a smaller budget than the one he inherited. Over the same period, America experienced a proliferation of jobs, a dramatic increase in the standard of living, higher wages, and three to four percent annual economic growth. And the key to this was Coolidge’s penchant for saying “no.” If Reagan was the Great Communicator, Coolidge was the Great Refrainer.
Economic GrowthBy Dalibor Rohac, Institute of Economic AffairsEconomic Affairs, 03/06/2013
The mainstream of the economics profession has yet to fully acknowledge that planned economies failed principally because they placed unrealistic epistemic and motivational demands on policymakers. In other words, socialism failed because it required too much wisdom and too much benevolence on the part of the planners. Similarly, many of the popular prescriptions for economic reforms implicitly assumed that policymakers did not face knowledge constraints and that their motives were purely benevolent. Hence these policy recommendations were unlikely to withstand less-than-ideal assumptions about policymakers’ knowledge and incentives.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Christopher Snowdon, Institute of Economic AffairsDiscussion Paper, 03/06/2013
With public confidence in the European project waning, the idea of initiating a ‘civil dialogue’ with the public emerged in the mid-1990s as a way of bolstering the EU’s democratic legitimacy. Citizens have not been consulted directly, however. Instead they have been ventriloquised through ‘sock puppet’ charities, think tanks and other ‘civil society’ groups which have been hand-picked and financed by the European Commission (EC). These organizations typically lobby for closer European integration, bigger EU budgets and more EU regulation.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, Jessica Zuckerman, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 03/06/2013
On Tuesday, cancer claimed the life of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, silencing one of Latin America’s most controversial leaders in the 21st century. Chavez’s death opens the way to an uncertain succession process, continued polarization, and potential instability in oil-rich Venezuela. Dealing with a post-Chavez Venezuela will require an ongoing U.S. commitment to free and fair presidential elections, to the defense of individual rights and liberties, and to leveraging future improvements in bilateral relations to genuine cooperation in the fight against transnational crime and terrorism. Working with Venezuela for a more stable and secure hemispheric energy market is also a desired, if still distant, objective.
Health CareBy Jagadeesh Gokhale, Kansas Policy InstitutePolicy Brief, 03/06/2013
Kansas’ lawmakers face a crucial decision about whether to expand Medicaid according to the dictates of the ACA. Potential benefits must be weighed against the lost opportunities to spend on other priorities (e.g. K-12 education). It may be better to spend the $625 million on other Kansas’ budget items; especially considering that this is over and above the estimated $4.1 billion Medicaid spending increase already committed under the “Mandate Effect.”
Budget & TaxationBy Kansas Policy Institute, Kansas Policy InstituteReport, 03/06/2013
So how can legislators lead the transition from being a high-spending state to an efficient service provider and reap the benefits of economic growth and job creation? It obviously takes a great deal of research and planning to intelligently reduce spending in ways that preserve the ability to provide quality services. Independent experts (and hopefully this Legislator’s Guide) can provide valuable guidance and assistance, but the most important element can only come from legislators and others within government – an honest, determined desire to successfully lead the transition.
Information TechnologyBy George S. Ford, Lawrence J. Spiwak, Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy StudiesPerspective, 03/05/2013
Most agree that telecommunications regulation in the U.S. needs meaningful reform. Reform implies change, however, and change implies conflict. Legacy regulation has many constituents, and while they may see that reform is inevitable, they will prefer the slow road. Given the dramatic changes that have occurred in telecommunications markets in the last decade or so, there is a strong argument for dramatic regulatory reform in the near term.
Budget & TaxationBy Salim Furth, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 03/05/2013
Amid the ongoing debate over how to stabilize the finances of the federal government in the long run, policymakers should keep in mind that this has been done before both in the U.S. and abroad. Many years of evidence indicate that spending-based fiscal consolidation is more effective at reducing debt and less likely to cause a recession. The last balanced budgets in the U.S. resulted from a long sequence of spending cuts from 1988 to 1998, allowing a sustained surge of economic growth. As government shrank and the risks associated with high government debt receded, innovation, private investment, and take-home wages soared. Let’s try that again.
Health CareBy Nina Owcharenko, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 03/05/2013
Medicaid is already spread too thin. Adding a new and complex population to this program does not solve its challenges; it only makes them worse. States should resist, and Congress should remove, this temptation. Both should begin to lay out a better and more sustainable alternative than a failing government health program to care for the less fortunate.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Louis W. Blessing, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 03/05/2013
The provisions of Ohio House Bill 380 are very limited in scope – they are specifically designed to ensure transparency and openness between the asbestos bankruptcy trust claims and tort litigation processes. The legislation accomplishes two primary goals: (1) it requires claimants to disclose all existing bankruptcy trust claims; and (2) requires claimants to pursue all legitimate trust claims. Ohio House Bill 380 preserves the rights of claimants seeking compensation for asbestos-related injuries. It does not place a cap on the amount of compensation that can be sought nor does it limit the number of asbestos bankruptcy trusts with which a claimant may file.
EducationBy Bill Peacock, James Golsan, and James Quintero, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 03/05/2013
Advocates for ever-increasing educational funding have routinely decried the Texas Legislature’s reduction of public education funding by $4 or $5 billion during the last legislative session. However, the truth is that Texas did not reduce education spending for the current biennium by anywhere near that amount. Instead, the 82nd Texas Legislature reduced the combination of state and federal funding for school districts by about $500 million. As the 83rd Legislature takes up the issue of public school finance, it is worth taking a closer look at what the numbers are regarding this issue, present, past, and future.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Bill Peacock, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 03/05/2013
In the past, because wind (and other renewable sources) is a pollution-free but new way of generating electricity, policymakers decided it should receive subsidies so that it can one day displace electricity from pollution-generating fuels. Now, because of renewable energy subsidies, 1) we have to keep turbines using pollution-generating fuels sitting on idle in case the wind stops blowing—or the sun stops shining, etc., and 2) we may have to spend billions of dollars in additional subsidies to ensure that the owners of plants using pollution-generating fuels build enough new plants to supply us with enough electricity to keep the lights on. Going forward, wind power is still not a “mature” technology—despite the fact that it has been in use for thousands of years—and so it must continue to receive subsidies that may in turn mean more subsidies for conventional fuels.
Budget & Taxation
Economic Effects of the Sequester and the Proposed Alternatives: What is the Evidence on Spending and Economic Growth?By William McBride, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 03/05/2013
The sequester will reduce defense and nondefense discretionary federal spending by $85 billion this year and $1.2 trillion over 10 years, which is roughly 2.4 percent of the budget and 0.5 percent of GDP per year. While this will effectively reduce the deficit and debt, it will do so by mostly exempting the largest and fastest growing part of the budget, mandatory spending. As such, it is poorly targeted. A better option, according to empirical evidence, is to replace the sequester with cuts to mandatory spending. This may even boost GDP in the short term as well as the long term. The worst option of all, according to most empirical studies, is to replace the sequester in part or whole with higher income taxes. The vast majority of countries who have successfully reduced their debt have done so by reducing spending rather than increasing taxes.
EducationBy Lisa Snell, Reason FoundationHow to Guide, 03/05/2013
While student-based budgeting is not a silver bullet, it is a school funding practice that makes resources more transparent, increases school level equity for students with similar characteristics, and allows the funding to follow the child. When parents and students have portable funding and can choose between schools within a district it provides a financial incentive for those schools to improve education practices to attract and retain families.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Eric Boehm, Reason FoundationReason, 03/05/2013
Certificate of Necessity requirements trample on the right to earn a living. In Nevada, the only way to get a license to start a moving truck company was to comply with a law requiring proof that his business would not “unreasonably and adversely” affect other companies by creating additional competition. Another part of the same law indicates the “legislative intent” of the licensing rule ? to discourage competition that may be detrimental to the existing carriers in the state. The lead attorney challenging this law calls it the most blatant anti-competition law in the nation.
EducationBy Shikha Dalmia, Lisa Snell, Reason FoundationReason, 03/05/2013
President Obama has repeatedly promised to use an “evidence-based approach” for social policy—and when it comes to education, he has been true to his word: He has systematically promoted programs such as universal pre-school with little evidence of success and panned ones such as school vouchers with lots.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Luke Coffey, Theodore R. Bromund, Nile Gardiner, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/05/2013
In order to assert their inherent right to choose their own form of government, the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands will hold a referendum on March 10–11, 2013, to decide whether they wish to maintain their allegiance to Great Britain. Britain has administered the Islands peacefully and continuously since 1833, with the exception of the two months in 1982 when the Islands were invaded and illegally occupied by Argentine forces. The Obama Administration has backed Argentina’s calls for a U.N.-brokered settlement for the Islands and so far has refused to recognize the outcome of the referendum. This policy poses serious risks to U.S. interests and is an insult both to Britain—the U.S.’s closest ally—and to the rights of the Islanders.
EducationBy John Merrifield, et al., National Center for Policy AnalysisPolicy Report, 03/04/2013
A broad school choice program in Texas will provide families with greater opportunities and better alternatives. An education voucher program for all Texas K-12 students will not reduce current funding per public school student and there will be no added net cost to taxpayers. The NCPA study projects that a voucher worth $6,667 would initiate a 450,000 public school student shift to private schools, creating over $1.87 billion in savings over two years. A 60 percent uptake by private school students would yield approximately $580 million in savings in two years. Some of the benefits from the implementation of the program include increased teacher pay, higher public school performance and standards, more savings for schools and taxpayers, greater school choice for families and increased competition will give public schools an incentive to improve.
Budget & TaxationBy Lloyd Bentsen IV, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 03/04/2013
The main impact of the Fiscal Cliff was averted on January 1, 2013, by a last minute agreement by the Obama administration with the Senate and House of Representatives. Among other things, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 permanently extended most of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for low- and middle-income taxpayers, which were set to expire. This article outlines exactly what was passed in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
Economic GrowthBy Bruce Yandle, Mercatus CenterEconomic Review, 03/04/2013
We live in a pothole economy. GDP growth is suppressed, deliberately. There are occasional runs and places where full speed is attained for brief periods, but the yellow and black barrels are all around us. And there are some definite bright spots to be observed on distant landscapes, if only we can route ourselves in their direction. But the potholes are slowing us down. This article discusses the bad signs of a slowing economy.
Budget & TaxationBy David VanHoose, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 03/04/2013
In the wake of the 2007–09 banking crisis, some economists recommended imposing new taxes on banks. These proponents contend that policy makers could apply the taxes to correct “negative externalities,” or adverse spillover effects onto overall welfare, allegedly created by individual banks. Spillovers are assumed to arise from individually optimal bank decisions that fail to account for the higher risks that the aggregation of those choices might create for the banking system as a whole. Taxing banks is supposed to nudge the banks to restrain operations that contribute to total societal risks. It is unfortunate that these bank tax proposals fail to consider the unintended side effects of such taxes on the compositions of banks’ assets and liabilities. Even if taxes succeeded in inducing banks to restrain truly spillover-contributing operations, the resulting reshufflings of assets and liabilities would likely yield a riskier post-tax aggregate level of bank lending.
Regulation & Deregulation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric VehiclesBy Jerry Ellig, Mercatus CenterPublic Interest Comment, 03/04/2013
The Regulatory Impact Analysis likely overstates the benefits of this proposed regulation substantially. Correctly calculated, the benefits may not even exceed the costs. Therefore, it would behoove the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate alternative means of protecting blind and vision-impaired individuals from hybrid vehicles.
Budget & TaxationBy Ted Dabrowski, Benjamin VanMetre, Jonathan Ingram, Illinois Policy InstituteSpecial Report, 03/04/2013
Illinois is in crisis. According to official government numbers, Illinois has an unfunded pension liability of $96 billion – the worst in the nation. This heavy debt burden, combined with the state’s culture of out-of-control, wasteful spending, has driven the state into an economic death spiral. Illinois cannot be economically prosperous until real pension reform is implemented. The state must change course. The Illinois Policy Institute’s plan shows lawmakers how. Reforming pensions is the foundation of pulling Illinois out of its economic death spiral. But pension reform alone isn’t enough. As outlined in this publication, reviving Illinois’ economy will also require implementing a multistep plan that: returns $7 billion to taxpayers by repealing the 2011 income tax hike and implementing spending reforms; pays down the state’s $9.3 billion in unpaid bills by 2016; and improves health care and education to ensure the state’s most needy residents receive the support they deserve.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Jon Sanders, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 03/04/2013
A 1997 bill that exempted “payday lenders” from state usury laws was allowed to sunset in 2001, and the last storefront lenders were shut down in 2005. This has forced the 5 percent of North Carolinians who still take out high-cost, short-term and payday loans, to do so by either crossing state lines or going online. Critics view the loans as preying on poor borrowers and giving them exorbitant rates that leave them needing subsequent loans (“debt trap”). However, taking away choices doesn’t help them, especially not by removing costly options and leaving them with costlier ones. North Carolina policymakers should expand lending options in this state by legalizing small-scale, short-term and payday lending again.
WelfareBy David B. Muhlhausen, PraegerBook, 03/04/2013
Addressing an issue of burning interest to every taxpayer, a Heritage Foundation scholar brings objective analysis to bear as he responds to the important—and provocative—question posed by his book's title. Of course, the answer to that question will also help determine whether the American public should fear budget cuts to federal social programs. Readers, says author David B. Muhlhausen, can rest easy. As his book decisively demonstrates, scientifically rigorous national studies almost unanimously find that the federal government fails to solve social problems. To prove his point, Muhlhausen reports on large-scale evaluations of social programs for children, families, and workers, some advocated by Democrats, some by Republicans. But it isn't just the results that matter. It's the lesson to readers on how Americans can—and should—accurately assess government programs that cost hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Economic GrowthBy Thomas A. Hemphill, Mark J. Perry, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 03/04/2013
A mantra heard from Western European socialists and American progressives is that a political economy of frontier-style, “cowboy capitalism” runs amok across the fruited plains of the United States. The reality, however, is quite different. When one evaluates the data on: 1) federal business regulation, 2) federal and state government subsidies, 3) corporate taxation, and 4) the level of “economic freedom” that exists in the United States, the palette paints an economic landscape with much greater government interference in business than the myth of “cowboy capitalism” would suggest. A factual analysis of these four areas reveals a modern-day America that is much closer to a European socialist-style economy – like Germany, Denmark, or Sweden – than to a capitalist frontier. And by some measures of government intervention, the United States is actually much more “European” than any country in Europe today.
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.