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Recent Policy Studies
EducationBy Kyle Pomerleau, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 07/26/2013
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) recently introduced the Higher Education and Skills Obtainment Act, which would reform the current tax subsidies for higher education by eliminating the current assortment of education tax credits and deductions and consolidating them into one higher education credit called the Higher Education and Skills Obtainment Credit. This proposal reduces some complexity that exists in the current tax benefits for higher education, targets the credits for a narrower population of taxpayers, and saves taxpayers money. Although this reform is a step in the right direction towards a simpler tax code, there is still room for a conversation about whether the tax code is the right tool for making college more affordable.
International Trade/FinanceBy Sergio Daga, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 07/26/2013
Individuals and businesses in one country may transfer wealth to another country by investing in its business enterprises; this kind of wealth transfer is called foreign direct investment. Similarly, citizens of a given country may also put their money in another country’s banks, which will in turn make loans to individuals and enterprises; this activity is known as indirect foreign investment. Yet another option is to buy bonds issued by a foreign government. Individuals and businesses invest in other countries because they can obtain more benefits by investing abroad than inside their own countries.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Joseph Nixon, Texas Public Policy Foundation, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/26/2013
Ten years of tort reform have provided greater access to health care and helped make Texas the nation’s leading job producer. Indeed, by recognizing the causal connection between economic prosperity and efficient, fair courts, the Texas legislature passed and Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 4 (HB4)—powerful tort reform legislation that is the foundation of the Texas economic miracle. Yet, despite the awesome economic growth and increased access to health care triggered by HB4, members of the trial bar are still working to overturn this reform. While Texans should stand their ground and rebuff efforts to undo HB4’s successful tort reforms, all Americans should take notice of Texas’s remarkable transformation and look to enact similar reforms in their own states.
EducationBy Jonathan Butcher, Lindsey Burke, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 07/26/2013
Education is on the verge of a new frontier. Online virtual schools are spreading, and charter schools now account for some 2 million students. A movement is gaining momentum to give all parents the ability to choose where—and how—their children are educated. The next generation of educational choice must offer more than school choice. Parents should have the flexibility to choose among schools, online courses, tutors, and other education services through education savings accounts (ESAs). ESAs give parents control over the funds that a state would have spent on their child in a public school, allowing them to use their child’s funds for a variety of education services and products. This Heritage Foundation Special Report presents three ways in which states can refine their existing school choice programs, transforming existing voucher and tax credit programs into flexible education savings accounts.
Health CareBy Lindsey Dodge, Jack McHugh, Mackinac Center for Public PolicyArticle, 07/26/2013
Obamacare’s intent was to ensure that more uninsured people were provided insurance than before by the government. But does that solve the problem? The results are steadily streaming in, and they all seem to say that Medicaid not only does not provide better health care coverage for many people in this country, it often provides worse care—while simultaneously draining the pockets of those who could afford care for themselves.
Budget & TaxationBy Sarah Curry, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 07/26/2013
This Spotlight details the budget for North Carolina. General Fund spending totals $20.6 billion for fiscal year 2013-14, only a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year. Medicaid accounts for the largest increase in spending, almost $1 billion over the two-year budget. Tax reform saves taxpayers more than half-a-billion dollars over the two years and makes North Carolina more competitive relative to neighboring states. Education reforms create new opportunity scholarships for low-income students and end teacher tenure.
National SecurityBy Niklas Anzinger, American Enterprise InstituteMiddle Eastern Outlook, 07/26/2013
For more than two decades, the United States has placed the issue of Eastern Mediterranean maritime security on the backburner. But the 2010 discovery of what may potentially be 3,450 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil in the Eastern Mediterranean’s Levant Basin brings that region’s security to the forefront. Turkey and Cyprus have competing interests in tapping the new-found oil and gas and in defending their access to those resources, while Israel and Lebanon continue to dispute their shared maritime boundary and territorial waters. Against this backdrop, political tensions are escalating in Egypt, Moscow seeks to expand its influence in Syria, and Iran continues to facilitate terrorist activities through its aides in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. The Eastern Mediterranean in 2023 will look far different than the Eastern Mediterranean in 2013. The United States must be ready for this outcome.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Ensuring Japan’s Critical Resource Security: Case Studies in Rare Earth Element and Natural Gas SuppliesBy Michael Mazza, Dan Blumenthal, Gary J. Schmitt, American Enterprise InstituteCase Study, 07/26/2013
Japan continues to grapple with a challenge that has befuddled it since the early days of its rise as an industrial power: it suffers from a scarcity of the natural resources most critical to its economic well-being and national security. This is especially troubling now compared to recent decades as power dynamics across the Eurasian landmass are in flux, with China, Russia, Iran, and others flexing their muscles or otherwise acting in ways not conducive to a stable international environment. The confluence of these economic and security concerns could prove troublesome for Asia and the United States.
Budget & TaxationBy Alan D. Viard, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Perspectives, 07/26/2013
Although capital income taxes penalize saving and slow long-run growth, the federal tax system imposes multiple such taxes. Seven increases in capital income taxes took effect at the beginning of 2013, and President Obama’s 2014 budget plan proposes further increases. In upcoming decades, rising revenue needs fueled by entitlement growth will create pressure to further expand capital income taxation despite its negative economic effects. Opponents of capital income taxation must reframe the policy debate by explaining the economic disadvantages of capital income taxes and proposing alternative budgetary measures that maintain tax fairness. The appropriate tax treatment of capital income, or the income earned on savings, has been a major source of political controversy in recent years. Unfortunately, the political debate has often ignored or downplayed the economic effects of this type of taxation. To properly evaluate capital income taxes, we must understand how they affect saving and economic growth.
EducationBy Krista Kafer, Independence InstitutePolicy Study, 07/26/2013
Just as computer technology can help teachers personalize education in the traditional classroom, face-to-face instruction can bring a personal touch to the education of an online student. Blended learning is a framework for integrating technology with traditional instruction rather than pedagogy or curriculum, it can be flexibly adapted to many classroom environments, teacher preferences, and student needs.
EducationBy Beb DeGrow, Independence InstituteIssue Backgrounder, 07/26/2013
Ongoing and deepening academic struggles point the way to ending business as usual. Leaders in Greeley Public Schools face a timely opportunity to transform the educational approach, to successfully reimagine learning and the surrounding systems and infrastructure.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Larry M. Wortzel, Potomac BooksBook, 07/26/2013
China has evolved from a nation with local and regional security interests to a major economic and political power with global interests, investments, and political commitments. It now requires a military that can project itself around the globe, albeit on a limited scale, to secure its interests. Therefore, as Larry M. Wortzel explains, the Chinese Communist Party leadership has charged the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with new and challenging missions that require global capabilities.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, Charlotte Florance, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/25/2013
Zimbabweans will head to the polls on July 31 for national elections pitting long-time President Robert Mugabe against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Past elections have been marred by serious irregularities and violence orchestrated by Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) supporters. The lead-up to this election has also been fraught with irregularities. In the unlikely event that the election proves free and fair, the U.S. should be prepared to work with the new government to improve good governance and economic growth. However, in the coming days, the U.S. should warn Mugabe that a flawed election will lead the U.S. to expand current sanctions and work with international partners to ensure the broad application of sanctions until credible elections are held.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Marc A. Levin, Vikrant P. Reddy, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 07/25/2013
It is sometimes said—citing a famous opinion by Justice Louis Brandeis—that the 50 states serve as ‘laboratories of democracy,’ and that states should learn from one another’s successful policy experiments. But the federal system can also learn from their experiments. In a sensible political environment, the national government’s public policy decisions would emulate state policy successes. In current criminal justice policy, states like Texas are leading the way, and the federal government would be wise to follow.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy William Perry Pendley, Regnery PublishingBook, 07/25/2013
Governor Reagan, with his unbridled faith in American ingenuity, creativity, and know-how and his confidence in the free-enterprise system, believed the United States would “transcend” the Soviet Union. To do so, however, President Reagan had to revive and revitalize an American economy reeling from a double-digit trifecta (unemployment, inflation, and interest rates), and he knew the economy could not grow without reliable sources of energy that America had in abundance. William Perry Pendley, a former member of the Reagan administration and author of some of Reagan’s most sensible energy and environmental policies, tells the gripping story of how Reagan fought the new wave of anti-human environmentalists and managed to enact laws that protected nature while promoting the prosperity and freedom of man—saving the American economy in the process.
Economic GrowthBy George Gilder, Regnery PublishingBook, 07/25/2013
Ronald Reagan’s most-quoted living author – George Gilder – is back with an all-new paradigm-shifting theory of capitalism that will upturn conventional wisdom, just when our economy desperately needs a new direction. We’ve tried a government spending spree, and we’ve learned it doesn’t work. Now is the time to rededicate our country to the pursuit of free market capitalism, before we’re buried under a mound of debt and unfunded entitlements. In Knowledge and Power, George Gilder proposes a bold new theory on how capitalism produces wealth and how our economy can regain its vitality and its growth.
ImmigrationBy Christina Hoff Sommers, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 07/25/2013
If the United States is to open a path to citizenship for today’s undocumented immigrants and maintain a liberal policy toward new immigration, we must break our silence on the sources of the freedom and prosperity that have drawn immigrants to our shores. Our immigration system is broken—but so is our system of civic education. As Congress moves towards opening new paths for immigrants, it should find a way to restore the foundation of American citizenship—the self-confident teaching of American history in our nation’s schools.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Charles W. Calomiris, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 07/25/2013
The Volcker Rule is a serious threat to the continuing global preeminence of U.S. banks and capital markets. It will achieve little or no good, and will do so at a potentially high social cost. At the very least, we need to make sure that the Rule is implemented in a way that does not disrupt market making by global universal banks. Even the successful construction of a regulatory safe harbor that insulates market making from the Rule may place U.S. banks at a significant comparative disadvantage and result in substantial losses of client relationships to universal banks operating outside the United States. The Volcker Rule highlights the dangerous tendency of Washington, and its coterie of anointed wise men, to react boldly to crises based on superstition or ill-informed beliefs.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Christina Hoff Sommers, American Enterprise InstituteBook, 07/25/2013
Women’s equality is one of the great achievements of Western civilization. Yet most American women today do not consider themselves “feminists.” Why is the term that describes one of the great chapters in the history of freedom in such disrepute? In Freedom Feminism: Its Surprising History and Why It Matters Today, Christina Hoff Sommers seeks to recover the lost history of American feminism by introducing readers to conservative feminism’s forgotten heroines. More importantly, she demonstrates that a modern version of conservative feminism—in which women are free to employ their equal status to pursue happiness in their own distinctive ways—holds the key to a feminist renaissance.
Economic GrowthBy Ronald Bailey, Reason FoundationReason, 07/25/2013
Did you know that the incidence of cancer in the United States has been declining for nearly 20 years? That markets are making people nicer? That average IQs are going up substantially all around the world? These are just some of the truths that are well-known to the scholars who study those subjects but generally come as a surprise to even the best-educated among us.
Economic GrowthBy Brink Lindsey, Princeton University PressBook, 07/25/2013
What explains the growing class divide between the well educated and everybody else? Noted author Brink Lindsey, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, argues that it’s because economic expansion is creating an increasingly complex world in which only a minority with the right knowledge and skills reap the majority of the economic rewards. The complexity of today’s economy is not only making these lucky elites richer—it is also making them smarter. As the economy makes ever-greater demands on their minds, the successful are making ever-greater investments in education and other ways of increasing their human capital, expanding their cognitive skills and leading them to still higher levels of success. But unfortunately, even as the rich are securely riding this virtuous cycle, the poor are trapped in a vicious one, as a lack of human capital leads to family breakdown, unemployment, dysfunction, and further erosion of knowledge and skills.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Colin Dueck, Foreign Policy Research InstituteE-Notes, 07/25/2013
Ever since the United States became the world's only superpower over twenty years ago, there has been a tendency to lose sight of the geopolitical conditions underlying American national security. We have been told that economic interdependence, multilateral institutions, technological change, global democratization, the rise of non-state actors, and Barack Obama’s personality will have a transformational effect on world affairs, rendering irrelevant the traditional patterns of international power politics. Yet none of these nostrums have had the fully pacifying impact promised by their most enthusiastic advocates, and we are left drifting into an era where geopolitical competition between major world powers obviously continues, without a firm understanding of it on the part of Western opinion.
WelfareBy David B. Muhlhausen, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 07/24/2013
With the federal debt reaching staggering heights, Congress needs to ensure that it is spending taxpayer dollars wisely. Multi-site experimental evaluations are the best method for assessing the effectiveness of federal social programs. Yet to date, this method has been used on only a handful of federal social programs. While previous results have been disappointing, Congress needs to reverse the trend of not rigorously evaluating federal social programs.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Bruce Klingner, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/24/2013
After two North Korean attacks in 2010, South Korea began to redress its naval shortcomings, but deficiencies remain that could put allied interests at risk during the next military conflict. South Korea needs to strengthen its anti-submarine warfare, amphibious, and C4ISR capabilities. The United States needs to reverse course on its defense budget reductions, which are raising doubts among U.S. allies (and enemies) about the ability of the U.S. to keep its security commitments. Beyond putting its fiscal house in order, the U.S. needs to work to improve bilateral and trilateral defense cooperation among South Korea, Japan, and the United States.
EducationBy Greg Forster, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsResearch Article, 07/24/2013
Americans expect and demand the right to select their own goods and services in every area other than K-12 education—including everything from food, housing, clothing, transportation, and medical care to magazines, haircuts, dry cleaning, and video games. If the government tried to assign people to live in certain neighborhoods or shop at certain grocery stores, Americans would howl in protest. They even expect and demand choice when it comes to education outside of K-12 schools—everywhere from colleges to trade schools to tutoring services. But when it comes to K-12 education, the American idea that people should have stewardship over their own lives and choose for themselves rather than have government dictate what they receive is not embodied in public policy.
PhilanthropyBy Karl Zinsmeister, Philanthropy RoundtableArticle, 07/24/2013
It is easy to think of philanthropy as something done by the very wealthy, or big foundations, or prosperous companies. Actually, of the more than $300 billion that Americans give to charity every year, only 15 percent comes from foundation grants. Just six percent comes from corporations. The rest comes from individuals. This is different from the patterns in any other country. Per capita, Americans voluntarily donate something like seven times as much as continental Europeans. What exactly do we know about who gives in America, and what motivates them? Dissecting who is generous and who is not can be controversial, and not all of the research agrees. But in our country giving is a vital cultural phenomenon that needs to be understood.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Deborah D. Thornton, Public Interest InstitutePolicy Study, 07/24/2013
American infrastructure is critical to our overall economic success. Our standards for highway, water, and electricity are emulated worldwide. Recent visitors to Iowa from China were continually amazed by our reliable and stable access to the interstate highways, by being able to drink from public water fountains and have ice machines in hotel corridors, and by having electricity 24 hours a day at the flick of a switch. However, as recent tornados, hurricanes, and floods have shown, the infrastructure has weaknesses. While conserving energy and making full use of renewable energy sources is important, it does not matter how much electricity you generate if it does not get to end-use consumers 24/7/365. If the grid cannot handle sufficient volume and withstand natural weather patterns, the waste can cost millions of dollars of both consumer and tax dollars.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Radley Balko, PublicAffairsBook, 07/24/2013
The American approach to law enforcement was forged by the experience of revolution. Emerging as they did from the shadow of British rule, the country’s founders would likely have viewed police, as they exist today, as a standing army, and therefore a threat to liberty. Even so, excessive force and disregard for the Bill of Rights have become epidemic in today’s world. According to civil liberties reporter Radley Balko, these are all symptoms of a generation-long shift to increasingly aggressive, militaristic, and arguably unconstitutional policing—one that would have shocked the conscience of America’s founders.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Henchman, Tax FoundationSpecial Report, 07/24/2013
At first glance, sales tax holidays seem like great policy. They enjoy broad political support, with backers arguing that holidays are a highly visible form of tax cut and provide benefits to low-income consumers. Politicians and other supporters routinely claim that sales tax holidays improve sales for retailers, create jobs, and promote economic growth. Despite their political popularity, sales tax holidays are based on poor tax policy and distract policymakers and taxpayers from real, permanent, and economically beneficial tax reform. Sales tax holidays introduce unjustifiable government distortions into the economy without providing any significant boost to the economy. They represent a real cost for businesses without providing substantial benefits. They are also an inefficient means of helping low-income consumers and an ineffective means of providing savings to consumers.
National SecurityBy Luke Coffey, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/24/2013
As part of an ongoing process to ensure that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are ready and capable to take over the lead for security in Afghanistan by 2015, the U.S. has agreed to purchase up to 86 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters for future service in the Afghan Air Force (AAF). Many on Capitol Hill are questioning why the Department of Defense is buying Russian-made helicopters at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer and then giving them to the Afghans. Opponents to this plan argue that the U.S. should be buying American-made helicopters, such as the UH-60 Blackhawk, instead. The UH-60 Blackhawk is one of the finest helicopters ever to have flown in combat and has served the U.S. military wonderfully in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. However, the Mi-17 is the best all-around choice for both the Afghans and the American taxpayer.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Victor E. Schwartz, Phil Goldberg, Christopher E. Appel, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 07/24/2013
Federal regulations are not to be made in backrooms or through side deals. They are to result from a fair and open process established by the Administrative Procedure Act and overseen by the Office of Management and Budget. In recent years, though, some advocacy groups have circumvented this open process: they sue a federal agency and create their own “side deal” in the lawsuit’s settlement. Under this practice, called “sue and settle,” groups have required agencies, by court order, to adopt and implement certain procedural changes, expedited time frames, and even new regulations. The public, including businesses and employees potentially adversely affected by the regulations, often have no notice or opportunity to comment before the new “regulations” go into effect. Regulation by “sue and settle” actions subverts the democratic process and should be stopped.
National SecurityBy Paul Rosenzweig, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/24/2013
A proposed amendment to the pending Department of Defense authorization bill being offered by Representative Justin Amash (R–MI) takes the wrong approach to an important question. Coming on the heels of the recent National Security Agency (NSA) scandal, the amendment would limit the federal government’s intelligence-gathering capabilities. At its core, the proposed amendment is probably unwise and possibly unconstitutional.
Budget & TaxationBy Mark Milke, Fraser InstituteResearch Bulletin, 07/23/2013
The data show that long-standing recipients of corporate welfare continued to receive taxpayer money since the Conservative government was first elected in early 2006, and/or that some of Canada’s most well-known companies have begun to receive significant amounts of taxpayer assistance.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Eric J. Conn, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 07/23/2013
OSHA issued a White Paper on February 26, 2013, analyzing the first 18 months of its new, controversial enforcement initiative known as the “Severe Violator Enforcement Program” (“SVEP”). The White Paper concludes that the SVEP is “off to a strong start” and “already meeting certain key goals. Despite OSHA’s claims, however, careful scrutiny of the data available regarding the SVEP casts doubt on the program’s effectiveness and reveals several glaring problems with how the SVEP is being administered.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Richard L. Frank, Jonathan M. Weinrieb, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 07/23/2013
In January, pursuant to the HITECH Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (“OCR” ) issued long-awaited revisions to the federal medical privacy requirements commonly referred to as the HIPAA Privacy Rule. In a significant departure from the Department’s July 2010 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM” or “proposed rule”), the final rule expanded the definition of “marketing” to require patient “authorization” (i.e., affirmative “opt in”) for uses and disclosures of a patient’s protected health information for all “communications where the covered entity receives financial remuneration for making the communications from a third party whose product or service is being marketed. OCR’s decision to reject its proposed – and less onerous – notice/disclosure/opt-out procedure for sponsored communications and to impose a mandatory opt-in process for such communications arguably violates the First Amendment.
Economic GrowthBy Erin Shannon, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Brief, 07/23/2013
The most effective way to encourage job growth is not to burden employers and discourage entrepreneurs with more government mandates and new taxes. Despite the near-ubiquitous “I’m-for-jobs” sound bites and talking points issued by lawmakers of both parties, there were a number of job-killer bills introduced in the 2013 Legislative Session. While none of the job-killer bills listed passed the legislature, neither did most of the job-creator bills. Overall, the record of some lawmakers and the governor in improving Washington’s business climate and expanding job opportunities for workers was disappointing in the 2013 Legislative Session.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Bruce Klingner, Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/23/2013
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) scored a landslide victory in upper house parliamentary elections on Sunday. With the LDP now in control of both houses of the national legislature, the stage is set for Abe to be a transformational Japanese leader. But decades of Japanese policy inertia were caused by deeper endemic factors than competing parties splitting control of the Diet. Whether Abe can break the logjam remains an open question.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy John J. Walters, Maryland Public Policy InstitutePolicy Report, 07/22/2013
When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for pollutants entering the Chesapeake Bay in 2010, few expected it would lead directly to higher taxes for Maryland households. Nevertheless, 10 counties in Maryland are required by state law to start raising money to combat stormwater runoff, and most have already begun to do so. While it appears that Maryland is leading the charge in such novel legislation, states and counties all over the nation are being asked to craft bills similar to 2012 Maryland House Bill 987 in response to the EPA mandates for improved water quality. And everyone seems to have a different idea about the best way to tax the rain.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy David T. Hartgen, et al., Reason FoundationPolicy Study, 07/22/2013
Reason Foundation’s 20th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems tracks the performance of state-owned highway systems of the United States from 1984 to 2009. Eleven indicators make up each state’s overall rating, including highway expenditures, interstate and primary road pavement condition, bridge condition, urban interstate congestion, fatality rates and narrow rural lanes. The study is based on spending and performance data submitted by the state highway agencies to the federal government. The system’s overall condition improved dramatically from 2008 to 2009. Six of the seven key indicators of system condition showed improvement, including large gains in rural interstate and urban interstate condition, and a reduction in the fatality rate. Only rural arterial condition worsened slightly, but poor mileage is still only a fraction of 1 percent. These improvements were achieved despite a slight reduction in per-mile expenditures.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Does California Really Need Major Land Use and Transportation Changes to Meet Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets?By Thomas A. Rubin, Reason FoundationAnalysis, 07/22/2013
The upshot of this is that California’s greenhouse gas emission targets, in and of themselves, provide little justification for efforts dramatically to change land use patterns or expand transit service. California’s metropolitan planning organizations should take note. Continued improvement in energy efficiency and emission reduction is important, but future plans should be based on proper technical information and analysis, not someone’s normative ideas about the way Americans should live, work and travel.
Information TechnologyBy George S. Ford, Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy StudiesPerspective, 07/22/2013
Where’s the beef? One cannot help but ask this question after reading Dr. Baker’s or the Department of Justice’s filings on the upcoming voluntary incentive auction. Excluding or limiting participation of the largest and most spectrum-hungry wireless companies is a big deal. At a minimum, such rules will significantly reduce auction proceeds. The burden, therefore, is on those promoting such regulations to demonstrate that the benefits to society are more than sufficient to offset the losses. Neither Dr. Baker nor the DOJ has taken that burden seriously, offering the Commission nothing but speculation and assertion to support their positions. Neither had the courtesy to provide a formal definition for the concept of “foreclosure value” upon which their arguments rest, and upon which others could evaluate their claims. Speculation and assertion are very poor guides for policymakers.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Bruce Klingner, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/22/2013
Even by North Korean standards, the story was odd. To a world used to North Korean exports of weapons, the seizure of a North Korean ship carrying arms from Cuba was unique. Pyongyang’s attempted transshipment of antiquated weapons revealed much about the North Korean regime. First, Pyongyang clearly continues to violate multiple United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Second, the U.N. sanctions are hurting North Korean finances, forcing the impoverished regime to scramble for cash. Third, the U.N. resolutions continue to have loopholes that must be rectified.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Marc Levin, Jeanette Moll, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 07/22/2013
The evidence indicates North Carolina should reconsider its laws relating to the youngest offenders who now enter the adult corrections system. From the lack of deterrent effects of imposing criminal court jurisdiction on minors, to the greatly increased recidivism rates for minors handled by the criminal justice system, to the dual risks of harm and lack of education or training for minors in adult facilities, it becomes pointedly clear that the best place for most of the state’s young offenders is in the juvenile justice system.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Hester Peirce, Mercatus CenterTestimony, 07/22/2013
Dodd-Frank was the product of desperation in the face of a deeply painful financial crisis and outrage at the big financial institutions that were at the center of the trouble. Not only does Dodd-Frank fail to effectively address the problems that precipitated the crisis, but it also imposes costly burdens on many businesses that were not central causes of the crisis. Among these are community banks.
EducationBy Vicki Alger, Independent Women's ForumPolicy Focus, 07/22/2013
Nearly 50 years of failure is enough. There is no reason to believe that giving the federal government more time and more money will improve student learning. What’s more, a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to schooling cannot meet the unique, individual needs of American students. Rather than move forward with reauthorizing a modified version on No Child Left Behind—as is being considered in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate—it’s time for a new approach to education policy.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John L. Ligon, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/22/2013
Representative Jeb Hensarling (R–TX) has released a discussion draft of a proposal, known as the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act that would wind down the federally sponsored housing finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and move the U.S. toward a housing finance system that protects both taxpayers and homeowners. The draft is a marked improvement over the plan earlier proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R–TN) and Mark Warner (D–VA), which would place the secondary mortgage market under the authority of a new government-backed agency. While not perfect, the Hensarling plan provides a good starting point for Congress as it debates housing finance reform.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Josef Joffe , Hoover InstitutionCommentary, 07/22/2013
Jihadi terrorism does not fit the “strategic model” for three reasons. One, the purpose keeps changing. Two, the ends become unlimited; the demands are “resolutely uncompromising.”1 Three, the proclaimed ends are not the real ones. Whence it follows that, short of completely eliminating the threat by superior and sustained force, there is no “rational” solution to the problem. Concessions do not work in the face of changing, boundless, or make-believe ends.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Christopher Caldwell, American Enterprise InstitutePolicy Brief, 07/22/2013
Opinions about the role of the journalist in a free society vary widely according to political ideology. But there is a rough consensus about why top-quality journalism flourished for a while in the 20th century. The basic problem that brings mass journalism into being is that political democracy and technological complexity mix poorly. Although our world grows more networked and complicated every day, we claim to want to make our political life more democratic, more answerable to the public. Journalism has an intimate relationship to citizenship. What remains of that relationship after the information revolution will give us some idea of what American politics is going to look like in the future—how democratic and cultured it will be, and how likely to enhance (or demean) our public life.
EducationBy Joy Pullmann, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 07/22/2013
Special interests are the only ones to have had a seat at the table in developing Common Core: Parents and elected officials were largely shut out. Common Core represents an improvement over most state standards only because those standards were so awful. It replaces low benchmarks with barely better benchmarks, is confusing and of poor quality itself, and introduces a host of privacy and curricular concerns.
EducationBy Michael B. Horn, Education NextEducation Next, 07/22/2013
Unlike school vouchers for low-income students, charter schools in disadvantaged communities, or bonus pay for teachers in inner-city schools, digital learning is not designed for just one slice of the population. It’s not a policy that parents might support in theory but, because it has no practical impact on them, won’t spend political energy promoting or defending. Rather, if it works as well as its proponents hope, digital learning will gather political support from a wide swath of the American public.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Joel Wood, Fraser InstituteStudies, 07/22/2013
Canada has abundant supplies of freshwater, but most of these are in the north. Canada is also among the largest per-capita users of fresh water in the world. The first question this publication seeks to answer is whether we are running out of freshwater. It provides an overview of Canada’s freshwater resources, how they have changed over time, how Canadians use these resources, and how these things compare to other countries.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Will Fulton, American Enterprise InstituteArticle, 07/22/2013
The election of Hassan Rouhani as president has reignited intense debate both inside and outside of Iran about the future of the Islamic Republic. Most in the West expected a hardline candidate favored by the Supreme Leader or the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to win and the status quo to remain unchallenged. The unexpected turn of events suggests that there are still forces in Iran that wish to make meaningful reforms within the context of the current system. But even if Rouhani indeed desires to make reforms, can his government make substantive changes on issues that most concern the U.S., such as Iran’ s nuclear program and support for Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria?
ImmigrationBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/22/2013
Currently, the House of Representatives is taking a piece-by-piece approach to immigration reform. One of the bills said to be under preparation will likely address issues similar to those addressed in the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which extends amnesty to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Similar bills have been proposed and debated in the past, only to be rejected due to faulty details and policies. Not willing to accept Congress’s decision, President Obama has temporarily implemented portions of the DREAM Act through executive action. The Heritage Foundation has published a number of writings analyzing the policies and effects of various iterations of the DREAM Act. These writings cover legislative proposals during President Bush and Obama’s tenure as well as President Obama’s executive actions.
Health CareBy Nadeem Esmail, Fraser InstituteFraser Alert, 07/22/2013
The rationing of health care in Canada through queues for medically necessary health services imposes direct costs on those waiting for care. The ability of individuals who are waiting to enjoy lei sure time and earn an income to support their families is diminished by physical and psychological pain and suffering. In addition, friends and family may be asked to help those waiting for treatment, or may suffer similar reductions in their productive lives because of their own psychological pain. In 2012, the estimated 870,462 Canadians who were waiting for treatment endured an estimated private cost of at least $982 million, and possibly substantially more, in lost productivity and leisure time. That cost was, on a per-patient basis, slightly less than the cost in 2011 and not far from the cost in 2004.
EducationBy Susan Headden, Education NextEducation Next, 07/22/2013
Individualized instruction is an ideal that has long been available only to those who could afford to pay for elite tutors. Blended learning offers a new way. True, the jury is still out on which models work and on how they work best. At Tennenbaum, students show progress on most benchmark assessments, but in a few cases they have shown only modest progress or declines. Constant innovation virtually guarantees mistakes. And blended learning models can dilute the power that comes when everyone is working in concert on the same thing. Some also say that students have to be particularly motivated to succeed with blended learning.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
EPA’s Woeful Deadline Performance Raises Questions About Agency Competence, Climate Change Regulations, “Sue and Settle”By William Yeatman, Competitive Enterprise InstituteWebMemo, 07/22/2013
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) record of compliance with statutory deadlines established for three core Clean Air Act programs raises serious questions regarding the agency’s competence and discretion. Since 1993, 98 percent of EPA regulations (196 out of 200) pursuant to these programs were promulgated late, by an average of 2,072 days after their respective statutorily defined deadlines. Currently, 65 percent of the EPA’s statutorily defined responsibilities (212 of 322 possible) are past due by an average of 2,147 days. In addition, the results demonstrate the insidiousness of a practice known as “sue and settle,” whereby the EPA advances the agenda of environmental advocacy groups.
National SecurityBy Jessica Zuckerman, Steven P. Bucci, James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 07/22/2013
The Heritage Foundation has tracked post-9/11 terrorist plots against the United States in an effort to study the evolving nature of the threat and to garner lessons learned. The best way to protect the United States from terrorism is to ensure a strong and capable domestic counterterrorism enterprise—and to understand the continuing nature of the terror threat. In a political environment of sequestration on the one hand, and privacy concerns on the other, there are those on both sides of the aisle who want to cut counterterrorism spending and restrict the scope of U.S. intelligence agencies. But the long war on terrorism is far from over. Most disturbingly, an increasing number of Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks are originating within America’s borders. The rise of homegrown extremism is the next front in the fight against terrorism, and Congress and the Administration must take it seriously.
Regulation & Deregulation
High Frequency Trading: Do Regulators Need to Control this Tool of Informationally Efficient Markets?By Holly A. Bell, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 07/22/2013
The key issue for regulators is to be careful to distinguish between inappropriate uses of a technology (such as order ignition, intentional quote stuffing, wash trades, and other manipulative practices) and the technology itself. As discussed earlier, developing additional regulatory requirements that restrict the activities of all high frequency traders will likely create market distortions and disrupt the efficient movement of market information, liquidity, and short-term price stability. This is likely to be more damaging to the market than High-Frequency-Trading-induced noise.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Diane Katz, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/22/2013
Although three years in, the full effects of Dodd–Frank have yet to hit. Some of the most significant regulations are still winding their way through the bureaucracy. Dozens of rulemakings have been completed, but a backlog of hundreds more is prolonging regulatory uncertainty and inhibiting economic growth. Consumers are facing dramatically higher banking fees and fewer service options because of new government constraints on credit. And for all its vast regulatory scope, Dodd–Frank utterly fails to address some of the principal causes of the 2008 crisis. All of which is the predictable result of policymakers’ deeply flawed diagnosis of the financial crisis.