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InsiderOnline Blog: April 2008

Judge Orders Polar Bear Decision

The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken has given the Department of the Interior 16 days to decide whether to list the polar bear as a threatened species. The judge ruled that the department was in violation of a law requiring a determination by January 9, and gave the department until May 15 to decide. Various environmental activist groups have been pushing for the polar bear to be listed on the theory that global warming will cause summer ice in the Arctic to disappear and prevent polar bears from reaching their primary food supply—seals.

Earlier this month, a Canadian scientific committee declined to advise the Canadian government to list polar bears as threatened or endangered, though  it did say that declining sea ice is a reason to be concerned about the polar bear population. Canada is home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population. Jeff Hutchings, chairman of the committee stated:

Does a 10 percent reduction in sea ice result in a 10 percent reduction in polar bears? There’s lots of models, lots of predictions, lots of projections, and the committee felt that there is still sufficient uncertainty ... to determine how precisely polar bears might be affected by reductions in sea ice.

H. Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis wrote earlier this year that it is a mistake to assume polar bears can’t adapt to a warmer climate:  

Comprehensive research demonstrates that since the 1970s — while much of the world was warming — polar bear numbers increased dramatically to approximately 25,000 today (higher than at any time in the 20th century).  Research conducted by the World Wildlife Fund shows that of the 20 distinct polar bear populations worldwide only two — accounting for about 16.4 percent of the total number of bears — are decreasing.  Those populations are in areas where air temperatures have actually fallen, such as the Baffin Bay region.  By contrast, another two populations — about 13.6 percent of the total — are growing, and they live in areas were air temperatures have risen.

Evolutionary biologist and paleozoologist Susan Crockford, of Canada’s University of Victoria, points out that polar bears have historically thrived when temperatures were warmer than today’s — during the medieval warming 1,000 years ago and during the Holocene Climate Optimum 5,000 to 9,000 years ago.

Polar bears thrive during warmer climates because they are omnivores, like brown and black bears.  Though seals are currently their primary food source, research shows that they have a varied diet and take advantage of other foods when those are available.  Their diets can include fish, kelp, caribou, ducks, sea birds, the occasional beluga whale and musk ox and scavenged whale and walrus carcasses.

Mitchell Taylor also testified to the FWS that a modest warming may be beneficial to bears.  It creates a better habitat for seals and would dramatically increase the growth of blueberries on which the bears like to gorge.

Listing the polar bear as threatened could give the federal government enormous power to regulate economic activity in the country. In effect, the Endangered Species Act would become a vehicle for implementing limits on greenhouse gas emissions—and Congress wouldn’t even have to pass new legislation.

See Polar Bears on Thin Ice, Not Really! Redux by H. Sterling Burnett, National Center for Policy Analysis, February 21, 2008; and Don’t List the Polar Bear Under the Endangered Species Act by Ben Lieberman, The Heritage Foundation, January 25, 2008.

Posted on 04/30/08 05:35 PM by Alex Adrianson

School Choice Helps Students Who Remain in Public Schools

A new study by Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters has produced results that are contrary to two favorite arguments of school choice critics. Critics of school choice claim that vouchers drain needed resources from public schools, leaving students who remain in public schools worse off. They also claim that private schools are unwilling to accept disabled students because those students are more difficult to educate. Thus, according to this argument, a competitive market in education would not help students with special needs.

Greene and Winters, both fellows at the Manhattan Institute, looked at the impact of Florida’s McKay Scholarship program on disabled students who remain in public schools. The McKay Scholarship program is a school-choice program specifically for disabled students. Greene and Winters tested the hypothesis that the availability of alternatives for disabled students should induce a competitive response by public schools that leads to better performance by disabled students who remain in public schools. And indeed, that is what they found:

Public school students with relatively mild disabilities made statistically significant test score improvements in both math and reading as more nearby private schools began participation in the McKay program. That is, contrary to the hypothesis that school choice harms students who remain in public schools, this study finds that students eligible for vouchers who remained in the public schools made greater academic improvements as their school choices increased.

What’s helpful about this line of research is that it addresses the silly argument that school choice can’t work because not enough private schools exist to accept all the students who would want to use a voucher. As this research suggests, we don’t need to replace public schools wholesale with private schools; we just need to make public schools compete, too.

See The Effect of Special Education Vouchers on Public School Achievement: Evidence From Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program by Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters, Manhattan Institute, April 2008.

Posted on 04/30/08 11:13 AM by Alex Adrianson

Resource Bank Links

Some reports on/from Heritage’s 31st Annual Resource Bank:

• Space Beagle: Sweet Tea

• The Foundry: More School Choice in Georgia

• The Foundry: Watermelons and Happy Warriors

• Blaney’s Blarney: IDS in Atlanta

• Conservative Home: IDS: Voters must see conservatism as good for them and good for their neighbour

• State Policy Blog: Greetings from Atlanta

• wansaiful.com: Heritage Resource Bank - day 1

• wansaiful.com: Conservatism and social justice

• The Corner: Jonah Goldberg suggested a modification to the name: “Heritage Foundation’s Resource Bank-apalooza.” (I’ve said for years we should go with “Think Tanks A-Go-Go” but that idea hasn’t gained traction, yet!)

Posted on 04/29/08 05:41 PM by Alex Adrianson

A Win Against Voter Fraud

In upholding an Indiana photo ID law yesterday, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that getting a photo ID is such a burden that it would discourage some voters from voting. Indiana Democrats as well as organizations representing the disabled, the elderly, minorities, and the poor had argued that the law would disenfranchise some voters—specifically the disabled, the elderly, minorities and the poor.

Justice John Paul Stevens, delivering the opinion of the court, stated that plaintiffs had failed to show enough evidence that the law interferes with the right to vote to outweigh the state’s clear interest in preventing voter fraud.

To Note:

• NATIONAL REVIEW’s editors write: “All this over something as simple as showing a driver’s license to prevent voter fraud. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

• CRITICS OF VOTER ID LAWS argue that voter fraud is a largely a myth created by the Right in order to justify voter ID laws that make it harder for Democrat voters to cast ballots. Senator Barrack Obama and the liberal activist group ACORN have been among such critics. In today’s Wall Street Journal, John Fund, who has written a whole book on voter fraud—Stealing Election: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy—notes that the record clearly shows ACORN to have been a perpetrator of election fraud:

St. Louis, Mo., officials found that in 2006 over 1,000 addresses listed on its registrations didn’t exist. “We met twice with Acorn before their drive, but our requests completely fell by the wayside,” said Democrat Matt Potter, the city’s deputy elections director. Later, federal authorities indicted eight of the group’s local workers. One of the eight pleaded guilty last month.

In Seattle, local officials invalidated 1,762 Acorn registrations. Felony charges were filed against seven of its workers, some of whom have criminal records. Prosecutors say Acorn’s oversight of its workers was virtually nonexistent. To avoid prosecution, Acorn agreed to pay $25,000 in restitution.

Despite this record – and polls that show clear majorities of blacks and Hispanics back voter ID laws – Mr. Obama continues to back Acorn. They both joined briefs urging the Supreme Court to overturn Indiana’s law.

• IN HIS OPINION, JUSTICE STEVENS recalled the voting fraud perpetrated by New York’s Tammany Hall machine. As noted in the New York Sun, Stevens quoted Big Tim Sullivan, who once explained his approach to rounding up extra votes:

When you’ve voted ‘em with their whiskers on, you take ‘em to a barber and scrape off the chin fringe. Then you vote ‘em again with the side lilacs and a mustache. Then to a barber again, off comes the sides and you vote ‘em a third time with the mustache. If that ain’t enough and the box can stand a few more ballots, clean off the mustache and vote ‘em plain face. That makes every one of ‘em good for four votes.

• BUT, STEVENS DIDN’T have to go back a whole century. As Hans von Spakovsky notes in a recent Heritage Foundation paper, one only has to go back to 1984 to find an example of massive voting fraud. That year, a New York State Grand Jury looking into voting irregularities in the 1982 elections found a conspiracy of election fraud extending over 14 years. Von Spakovsky writes:

One of the key factors in the success of this scheme was the “advent of mail-in registration [in New York] in 1976 [which] made the creation of bogus registration cards even easier and less subject to detection.” … Congress mandated the same type of New York–style mail-in registration nationwide in 1993 with the passage of the National Voter Reg­istration Act, thus ensuring that the security prob­lems caused by unsupervised mail-in registration in New York were spread nationwide. In fact, accord­ing to the grand jury, “mail-in registration has become the principal means of perpetrating elec­tion fraud” in New York.

• THE CLAIM THAT voter ID laws suppress minority turnout has little empirical basis. Last fall, The Heritage Foundation’s David Muhlhausen and Keri Weber Sikich reviewed data on voter turnout and found:

In general, respondents in photo identification and non-photo identification states are just as likely to report voting compared to respondents from states that only required voters to state their name. African-Ameri­can respondents in photo identification states are just as likely to report voting compared to African-American respondents from states that only required voters to state their name. Hispanic respondents in photo identification states are just as likely to report voting compared to Hispanic respondents from states that only required voters to state their name.

• RICHARD SAMP of the Washington Legal Foundation warns that this issue may come back:

I disagree with those who suggest that the Crawford shuts the courthouse door entirely, even to discrete groups of voters who can demonstrate that a nondiscriminatory election regulation imposes a disproportion impact on their groups. While Justice Scalia’s opinion provides little comfort to such groups, Justice Stevens seems quite receptive – suggesting that there are as many as six justices who would allow such suits. Indeed, Justice Stevens virtually invites a follow-on lawsuit by one group of voters: those who have a religious objection to being photographed. He makes clear that while it may be an acceptable burden to require provisional voters to make a single trip to the county courthouse to validate their ballots, the burden becomes unreasonable if a voter is required to make the trip election after election, as Indiana law apparently would require of those with a religious objection to being photographed. Perhaps Justice Stevens calculated that such suits would be relatively uncommon and thus minimally intrusive. Political parties might well be less interested in financing a challenge to a voter ID law if the end result would be to ease ID requirements for a very small group of voters.

Posted on 04/29/08 05:12 PM by Alex Adrianson

Limit Carbon = Limit Jobs

Does Congress really want to put the United States at a competitive disadvantage?

Source: GoredEarth.com

Posted on 04/28/08 06:40 PM by Alex Adrianson

Best Think Tank Publications Recognized

On Friday, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation recognized five different think tanks from around the world with its 2008 Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Awards. Sir Antony Fisher played a key role in establishing numerous think tanks around the world, in particular the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The awards recognize think tanks for producing the best publications promoting the free society.

In the Young Institutes category the Danish think tank, Center for Political Studies (CEPOS) won for the book The Origins of Wealth by David Gress. The Origins of Wealth was a Danish bestseller that explains how freedom is a fundamental building block of the free society.

Sharing the prize for Young Institutes is the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia for its book Unleashing Capitalism, edited by Russell S. Sobel. Unleashing Capitalism provides numerous proposals for freeing the West Virginia economy from government controls.

In the Established Institutes category, the Independent Institute of Oakland, California, won for Street Smart by Gabriel Roth which explores the idea of private ownership of roads.

In the Best Magazine category, the Institute of Public Affairs, of Melbourne, Australia, won for its publication IPA Review. The Atlas press release notes: “The IPA Review is often controversial because it presents ideas that are not regularly presented in the mainstream media.”

In the Innovative Projects category, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy won for its “Students for a Free Economy Project,” a multimedia project aimed at getting Michigan college students interested in free market ideas.

 

Posted on 04/28/08 06:22 PM by Alex Adrianson

This Week in Washington – Monday, April 28, 2008

Related:
Federally-Mandated Health Care Ahead?, by Brian Darling, Human Events, April 28, 2008
The U.N. Human Rights Council: Reform or Regression? Heritage event, May 2, 2008
Furthering the U.N.’s Leftist Agenda: The U.N. CERD Committee Report, by Steven Groves, The Heritage Foundation, April 22, 2008

Posted on 04/28/08 05:32 PM by Alex Adrianson

Friedman Prize Goes to Venezuelan Student Leader

The Cato Institute has awarded its 2008 Milton Friedman Liberty Prize to Venezuelan student Yon Goicoechea for his leadership in organizing student opposition to constitutional reforms that would have given Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez broad dictatorial powers. The constitutional referendum was defeated in December 2007 thanks to significant student opposition.

Posted on 04/28/08 04:25 PM by Alex Adrianson

Tell How Your Views on Guns Were Formed

A new Web site called GunStories.org is collecting stories about how people’s personal experiences have shaped, tested, challenged, or confirmed their views about guns and gun issues. The site is open to anyone who wants to submit a story—pro- or anti-gun. The creators of the Web site say that some of the stories submitted may be included in a feature documentary.

Posted on 04/28/08 04:10 PM by Alex Adrianson

31st Annual Resource Bank

On Thursday and Friday of last week, the Heritage Foundation held its 31st Annual Resource Bank, and as usual the program featured lots of interesting speakers and great resources for those promoting public policies based on free-market, limited-government ideas. Here are some highlights:

Judicial Independence Threatened? On Wednesday night, as a precursor to the main program, Judge William Pryor gave a talk to a small group of attendees on the theme of threats to judicial independence. Many commentators today—including retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor—claim that the independence of the judiciary is threatened from numerous quarters. Judge Pryor argued that the threats alleged today are relatively minor compared with many previous controversies. The Supreme Court, says Pryor, has ultimately protected judicial independence by appropriately exercising judicial restraint at key moments, Marbury v. Madison being the most well-known example. Pryor noted that judicial independence certainly should not mean independence from criticism. After all, the Supreme Court, as judged by history, has certainly made grave errors, the Dred Scott decision being a prime example.

Sirico: Return to Principle. Father Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute suggested that conservatives need to pay particular attention to the foundational arguments for freedom, otherwise our country might end up like a giant diseased tree—an organism that appears healthy and growing, but is in reality already dead. In his talk, Father Sirico raised an important objection to President Bush’s faith-based programs, an initiative that some conservatives have embraced. He asked if religious conservatives would be so cavalier about accepting the political strings that go with government funding under a President Obama or a President Clinton.

Goldberg: Locke, Not Rousseau. Noting the current attempt to turn global warming into this generation’s World War II, Jonah Goldberg reviewed the Left’s penchant for adopting “moral equivalence of war” arguments. It’s nothing terribly new, which really should cheer conservatives up. The country has seen it all before—a story that Goldberg tells in more detail in his new book Liberal Fascism. Goldberg concluded: There will always be those who follow Rousseau in trying to put over a “general will” on the rest of society. Conservatives, Goldberg said, need to continue following Locke’s emphasis on individual rights as the basis for organizing society. (See also The Foundry’s post on this.)

Buckley Tributed. Dan Oliver, former columnist and current Chairman of National Review, gave a fitting tribute to William F. Buckley Jr. Buckley himself once gave a tribute to Russell Kirk, by saying: “Except that we are here to honor Russell Kirk, by this time in the proceedings it would have been, however inappropriate to say, nevertheless true to say that, really, there is nothing left to say.”

Likewise, by now there has been plenty of comment on the passing of Buckley—but still not enough. Oliver gave a real good one, starting off: “In the beginning of the conservative movement, there was William F. Buckley, and on the first day, William F. Buckley created God and Man at Yale.” Oliver related personal stories of Buckley’s talent at developing young writers, and some of Buckley’s funnier quips: What would he do if elected Mayor of New York? “Demand a recount.” Turning down an invitation to go see a baseball game: “No thanks, I’ve already been.” Oliver, too, closed on an upbeat note, but one that may have left some puzzled. Conservatives have become so successful, he suggested, that they are no longer really a movement.

Free Trade Good for Workers, Bad for Unions. At a discussion of globalization, Dan Griswold of the Cato Institute provided considerable data showing the benefits of free trade policies. Contrary to the claims of Lou Dobbs, Hillary Clinton, and Barrack Obama, free trade benefits America, in particular the poor.

  • Today, the highest remaining trade barriers are targeted at products disproportionately affecting the poor.
  • Study after study shows that nations open to trade grow faster.
  • Trade yields new and better jobs: Two-thirds of net new jobs pay more than manufacturing jobs.
  • The United States is still a manufacturing nation. Manufacturing is expanding. The United States produces more and better stuff because its workers are more efficient. The problem for organized labor is that the new jobs are not union jobs.
  • Critics of free trade claim that real wages have been stagnant. But real wages doesn’t include benefits. Real compensation, on the other hand, is up 22 percent in the past decade, which is faster growth than in previous decades.
  • In the past decade, the real net worth of American households is up by one-third.

(See The Foundry’s post, too.)

Fighting Environmental Alarmism. At a strategy session on global warming, numerous great resources were highlighted:

  • The Heartland Institute has an “Al Gore in the classroom” project that provides assistance to parents who want to challenge the use of Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth in classrooms. A British court ruled that there were at least nine scientific errors in Gore’s movie and cannot be shown without corrective material being supplied to students. Heartland would like to provide schools using Gore’s movie to also provide students with its critique so that students will have the facts.
  • S. Fred Singer will soon have a 250-page reply to the IPCC report published.
  • Iain Murray’s The Really Inconvenient Truths, about environmental catastrophe’s caused by environmentalists is out this month.
  • Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who has warned that schemes to control global warming represent a new kind of totalitarianism, has a new book coming out soon.
  • The Locke Institute and the Beacon Hill Institute have identified the flaws in cost-benefit analyses claiming to show positive economic benefits of state legislation limiting carbon-dioxide emissions. The Center for Climate Strategies peddles such research to state legislators. Groups concerned about such analyses influencing legislation in their states may want to contact Locke or Beacon Hill for advice.

Posted on 04/28/08 03:51 PM by Alex Adrianson

New and Improved!

After many months of experimenting with concepts, pondering focus-group results, and consulting with the experts who know Web design, we have a new site that includes more information in (we think) an easier-to-use format! After all, that’s been the point of InsiderOnline.org all along: Make it convenient for people to locate the best policy studies and commentary being produced by conservative and free-market thinkers.

We think you’ll find the new InsiderOnline.org to be even more convenient. Visitors who want to jump straight to their particular area of interest can do so via the list of topics in the upper left hand corner. Or you can just browse the latest research in the Policy Studies section. Notice what happens when you click on a study. Go ahead Try it!

The blog still covers policy news. And we now have a Conservative Calendar that lets you keep up-to-date with all the lectures, seminars, roundtables, meet-and-greets, panel discussions, conferences, award banquets, and every sort of soiree that a policy organization could host.

Stay tuned in the next few months for further enhancements. We anticipate expanded content in most sections, particularly the Legal Action and Featured Video sections. We’ll add RSS feeds for the policy studies, and we plan to make the blog, the calendar, and the took-kit sections searchable by topic. So, whatever topic you follow—taxes, education, global warming, health care …—arm yourself with the latest data and the best arguments from across the movement!

Posted on 04/23/08 06:19 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Coming Week – Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday
LEARN how 1936 has given us 2008. The Ashbrook Center hosts Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man.
HEAR an insider’s account of how the Bush administration reacted to 9/11. The Hudson Institute hosts Douglas J. Feith, author of
War and Decision: Insider the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism.

Tuesday
FIND OUT how dogmatic ideologies and restrictive policies harm nature more than they help it. Heritage hosts Iain Murray, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don’t Want You to Know About - Because They Helped Cause Them.
CELEBRATE fatherhood in the neighborhood at the 2008 Fatherhood Awards Gala, hosted by the National Fatherhood Initiative.
ASSESS the presidential candidates’ plans on climate change, health care, and taxes. Host: The Tax Foundation.
EXAMINE health care issues facing the country. Host: The Mercatus Center.

Wednesday
DISCOVER what the United States can learn from Israel about how to protect both citizens’ lives and their civil liberties. The Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion with Dorit Beinish, President of the Supreme Court of Israel; and Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security.

Friday
LEARN how judicial interpretation has transformed the Voting Rights Act from a law that protects individuals’ access to vote into a mandate for racial and ethnic proportional representation. Host: The American Enterprise Institute.

Posted on 04/23/08 06:05 PM by Alex Adrianson

Heritage on Video

Heritage in Focus: The President’s climate change speech laid out some sensible guidelines for future policy.

Also: Since the landmark report A Nation at Risk told the country it faced a crisis in education, little progress has been made.  

At Heritage: The Marshall Plan was a great foreign policy success in its day, but its relevance today may be limited. … Valdis Zatlers, President of Latvia: Partnership with the United States is important. … The best education policy is more school choice, and less federal control. … The case Missouri v. Jenkins illustrates the dangers of judicial policymaking.

Posted on 04/23/08 06:00 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Hot Topic this Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. It’s also Vladimir Lenin’s birthday (Gregorian calendar). Coincidence?

The hot topic for this Earth Day is of course, global warming. Global warming was not even an issue on the original Earth Day in 1970. Then, the subject de jour was global cooling.

What will be the topic of Earth Day in 2046? According to many environmentalist, it will still be global warming, because we aren’t acting fast enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions. How much stock should we place in the doom foretold by environmental activists?

The Washington Policy Center has assembled a list of some of the many wrong predictions made by environmentalists over the years. Here’s a few:

  • By 1995, “...somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”  Sen. Gaylord Nelson, quoting Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, Look magazine, April 1970.
  • The world will be “...eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age,” Kenneth Watt, speaking at Swarthmore University, April 19, 1970.
  •  “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half...”  Life magazine, January 1970.
  • “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970.

Posted on 04/22/08 05:04 PM by Alex Adrianson

A Nation Still at Risk

This month is the 25th anniversary of the publication of the landmark report A Nation at Risk, which told the country it had an education crisis on its hands. As Dan Lips notes in a new paper for The Heritage Foundation, the policy response in the past 25 years has been mostly to increase funding and federal control over education. It hasn’t helped. As the chart below shows, we just continued to do what we were already doing: increasing spending without result.

What’s missing from the education system is accountability. Federal efforts to impose standards (the No Child Left Behind program) have merely led some states to lower standards in order to appear to be meeting federal goals. As Michael Van Winkle notes in a new report from the Heartland Institute, the ideal accountability system is school choice: “When parents have the power to remove their children from a school that is failing them, without financial penalty, not only are they better served, but so is the school they abandon. The threat of losing funds gives failing schools an incentive to improve.”

It’s been 25 years since the nation decided it had a problem. In order to get a different result, shouldn’t we do something different? More school choice and less federal control would be a start. State legislators should look to Arizona and Florida, which, according to Van Winkle’s new grading system for school choice, have done the most to expand choice.

See:
A Nation Still at Risk: The Case for Federalism and School Choice by Dan Lips, The Heritage Foundation, April 21, 2008.
Choice and Education Across the States by Michael Van Winkle, the Heartland Institute, April 2008.

Other Resources:
Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Ed Meese discuss how school choice can fix our education system at the Heritage event, Twenty-Five Years After A Nation at Risk: Returning to President Reagan’s Vision for American Education.
For an overview of school choice programs around the country, see the Alliance for School Choice’s School Choice Yearbook 2007, and the ABCs of School Choice by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Posted on 04/22/08 03:23 PM by Alex Adrianson

Eminent Domain Abuse in Denver

The Independence Institute has produced a new video telling the story of how a Denver family had their home taken “for pennies on the dollar” so that the city could build a light rail system.

Posted on 04/22/08 10:54 AM by Alex Adrianson

The Insider, Spring 2008

The Insider, Spring 2008 is out. Here’s the rundown of the articles from the editor’s note:

In the middle part of the previous century, the threat of Soviet expansionism brought the free nations of the world together into a series of alliances led by the United States. After the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the obvious question was whether and for what purpose those alliances were still needed. Today, disagreements between the United States and its traditional allies seem to confirm the notion that alliances don’t hold together unless faced with a common threat.

But that analysis begs a question: Why, in the face of terrorism, do some of our traditional friends see limiting carbon emissions as the grand project that should unite the countries of the world? As Kim Holmes chronicles in our cover story, what has changed is that defending freedom is no longer the central principle animating the foreign policies of our allies. This shift, ironically, started during the Cold War. As the Western alliance kept Soviet tanks at bay, New Left ideas slowly displaced the classical liberal values of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.

There is hope, though. Here and there, Europe is discovering—and in some cases rediscovering—free markets. In particular, countries formerly trapped behind the Iron Curtain have become case studies in how a poor nation can become rich by embracing free market reforms. Johnny Munkhammar provides two such case studies for us: Estonia and Slovakia.

In other ways, too, the events of 1989 continue to reverberate. When the Berlin Wall fell it dragged with it into the rubble the idea of comprehensive government planning of society. With socialism discredited, Leftist intellectuals have been forced to admit that capitalism is good for growth; but, they now argue, it’s also bad for the soul. Peter Saunders explains why they are wrong about that, too.

Also in this issue, Bill Beach explains why tax cuts still matter, Isabel Santa profiles activist Paul Jacob and his fight to give the citizens of Oklahoma a say in their government, and John Fleming offers some advice that just about any public policy organization will find helpful: how to make those graphics work!

Posted on 04/18/08 03:49 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Coming Week – Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday
• Learn about the unaffordable costs of trying to control the weather. American for Prosperity launches its Hot Air Tour—featuring a hot air ballon!

Tuesday
• Take a fresh look at American exceptionalism. The American Enterprise Institute hosts a discussion centered on Peter Schuck and James Q. Wilson’s authoritative new survey Understanding America: The Anatomy of an Exceptional Nation.
• Revisit A Nation at Risk. At the Heritage Foundation, Ed Meese and Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) survey the field of education reform 25 years after a landmark study pointedly told us we had a crisis on our hands.

Thursday
Examine intellectual property issues around the world at the Institute for Policy Innovation’s Third Annual World Intellectual Property Day.
• Confab with state-based think tankers at the State Policy Network’s Leadership Development Breakfast in Atlanta.
• Share ideas and strategies for advancing the cause of liberty in America and around the world at The Heritage Foundation’s 31st Annual Resource Bank in Atlanta. (Thursday and Friday)

Friday
Meet people from around the world who are working on building freer societies at the Atlas Liberty Forum in Atlanta. (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)

Posted on 04/18/08 03:38 PM by Alex Adrianson

Heritage on Video

Heritage in Focus: The free trade agreement with Colombia will create jobs for American workers and strengthen an ally in Latin America.

At Heritage: The U.S. foreign policy community needs to understand the helpful role that religion can play in promoting liberty abroad. … Defining academic freedom is an important task for Catholic universities. … Pure Goldwater provides an intimate portrait of an American original. … The clock is ticking on the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Deal. … The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinks the United States should spend at least 4 percent of its GDP on national defense. … The countries of Southeast Asia have a major opportunity for economic growth.

Posted on 04/18/08 02:21 PM by Alex Adrianson

Highways to Prosperity?

The Department of Transportation has released a new study confirming a point noted by this blog earlier in the week: Proponents of infrastructure spending are embellishing greatly when they claim that every $1 billion spent on infrastructure creates 47,000 new jobs. New analyses by the DOT have revised the figure downward to 34,779. Even more importantly, however, is that the report makes with the following point: “The FHWA analysis refers to jobs supported by highway investments, not jobs created…”

Every $1 billion spent on infrastructure is $1 billion that could have been spent somewhere else in the economy. In a slack job market, additional infrastructure investment might employ people who otherwise wouldn’t have a job, but even in that case, the jobs impact is likely to be far less than the 47,000 its proponents claim.

See More Transportation Spending: False Promises of Prosperity and Job Creation by Ron Utt, The Heritage Foundation, April 2, 2008.

Posted on 04/18/08 11:51 AM by Alex Adrianson

Transit-Oriented Development: The Wave of the Future?

As fuel costs rise and concerns about greenhouse gases grow, some people wonder if we can design a future transportation system that does not rely on automobiles. One concept getting renewed attention is transit-oriented development, which seeks to create compact communities within walking distance of railways. My Heritage colleague Ron Utt has alerted me to a striking example of transit-oriented development in Thailand: “Note the intensity of the land-use practices as well as the sustainable green construction techniques that characterize the built environment.”

Posted on 04/18/08 09:44 AM by Alex Adrianson

Lookout Taxpayers

The Wall Street Journal reports that a new study by Standard and Poors finds that “the ‘maximum potential cost’ of bailing out Wall Street would be below 3% of GDP, assuming a deep and prolonged recession.” But, “the taxpayer risk from [Fannie Mae] and [Freddie Mac], combined with that of other government-guaranteed agencies, ‘yields a potential fiscal cost to the government of up to 10% of GDP.’”

Against the interests of Fannie and Freddie’s shareholders, Congress is prodding the two mortgage sellers—with combined losses of $6 billion in the last quarter of 2007—to do even more to prop up the housing market.

Congress should note the following items:

  • Yesterday’s Washington Post reports that the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight says Freddie Mac “still has some ineffective internal controls, has invested in poorly underwritten loans and lacks ‘sufficient executive management depth.’”
  • According to AEI’s Peter Wallison, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “may be largely responsible for the astounding and unsustainable growth in housing prices that is at the bottom of the current financial crisis. By creating GSEs to operate a secondary mortgage market, Congress created companies that would compound the very human problem of irrational exuberance …”

Posted on 04/17/08 06:52 PM by Alex Adrianson

Thanks, Senator Grassley!

David Freddoso reports that thanks to another idiotic subsidy scheme, the U.S. taxpayer is literally paying foreign producers to sell their diesel fuel to foreign consumers. He describes how Sen. Chuck Grassley’s “Blender’s Credit” works:

The credit provides $1 for each gallon of biodiesel that is mixed with regular diesel in the United States. … Under World Trade Organization rules, the U.S. government cannot extend the credit only to American companies or to fuels produced in America. Thus, foreign companies are eligible whenever they bring their biodiesel stateside for mixing. But the limited American market for the fuel has given birth to an unintended consequence known as “Splash and Dash.” … It works like this: A foreign tanker carrying 9 million gallons of biodiesel from Brazil or Malaysia sails to an American port. While it waits, 9,000 gallons of American diesel is added — that’s right, a .1 percent blend — so as to earn the blender a $9 million tax credit. The tanker heads to Europe, where diesel cars are far more common and biodiesel is further subsidized. In some cases, tankers have reportedly made round trips from Europe to the U.S. simply to collect the subsidy. Thus we “import” and “export” the same fuel from and to the same country.

Posted on 04/17/08 05:16 PM by Alex Adrianson

Flat Tax v. National Sales Tax

A lot of people agree that the current tax code needs a major overhaul to make it simpler and fairer. Some want to see a flat tax replace the current system, while others prefer to move to a national sales tax. In the video below, Dan Mitchell offers a strategy that might bring the two camps together.

Posted on 04/17/08 04:50 PM by Alex Adrianson

House Hobbles Consumer-Directed Health Care

On Tuesday, House Democrats signaled their continued antipathy toward any health care reform that does not travel further down the path of socialized health care. Fearing that too many people are using their health savings accounts as a tax-free vehicle for financing non-medical spending, the House approved a bill that would require banks and insurers to substantiate health care expenditures from HSAs.

As a result, debit card HSA purchases would be eliminated, making these plans much less convenient for consumers. There are currently 7 million HSA accounts, and 90 percent of HSA transactions occur by debit card.

The substantiation procedures would be similar to those already in place for flexible spending accounts. But, according to the American Bankers Association HSA Council, banks do not do large business in flexible spending accounts because of the inefficient nature of that business. Forcing banks to follow these procedures may drive some of them away from offering HSAs. The ABA HSA Council also estimates that the administrative fees consumers pay would double under the new arrangement.

On the surface this might seem like a reasonable measure. Why shouldn’t the government put in place safeguards to make sure that taxes owed are actually paid? But, for good or ill, the tax code allows many types of expenditures to be excluded from income, and it is the taxpayer’s responsibility to report income and exclusions accurately. (See John Goodman’s latest post for a good response—in the comments—on this question.)

So why are HSAs being singled out for substantiation procedures? Since it is no secret that many Democrats see consumer-directed health care as a wrong-headed experiment in health care policy, one might reasonable infer that the real issue here is that Democrats do not like HSAs and would like to kill the experiment before it has had a chance to succeed.  

There has been no indication of when and if the bill will be taken up by the Senate. The White House has indicated it will veto the bill. The House vote of 238-179 suggests that a presidential veto of the measure would be sustained.

Posted on 04/17/08 03:59 PM by Alex Adrianson

Globalization Can Fix Food Inflation

“As China develops, helped by its massive exports to our markets, millions of Chinese households have started to eat better. Better means not just more food but more meat, the new luxury. But to produce 1kg of meat takes 6kg of grain. Livestock reared for meat to be consumed in Asia are now eating the grain that would previously have been eaten by the African poor. So what is the remedy?

“… The best solution to the rise in food prices is not to arrest globalisation. China’s long march to prosperity is something to celebrate. The remedy to high food prices is to increase supply. The most realistic way is to replicate the Brazilian model of large, technologically sophisticated agro-companies that supply the world market. There are still many areas of the world – including large swaths of Africa – that have good land that could be used far more productively if it were properly managed by large companies. To contain the rise in food prices we need more, globalisation not less.

“Unfortunately, large-scale commercial agriculture is deeply, perhaps irredeemably, unromantic. We laud the production style of the peasant: environmentally sustainable and human in scale. In respect of manufacturing we grew out of this fantasy years ago, but in agriculture it continues to contaminate our policies. In Europe and Japan huge public resources have been devoted to propping up small farms. The best that can be said for these policies is that we can afford them.

“In Africa, which cannot afford such policies, the World Bank and the Department for International Development have orientated their entire efforts on agricultural development to peasant-style production. Africa has less large-scale commercial agriculture than it had 60 years ago.”

Paul Collier, “Food Shortages: Think Big,” The Times, April 15, 2008

Posted on 04/16/08 04:48 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Pope, Immigration, and Jobs

Today’s Washington Post coverage of the papal visit includes this bit about Pope Benedict’s views on immigration:

Benedict said he considered the separation of families to be the most serious aspect. “And this really is dangerous for the social, moral and human fabric,” he said.

The fundamental solution, he said, is to address the economic and employment problems that force many people to move to the United States. Without elaborating, Benedict said he planned to talk with Bush about his goal: “That there will be enough jobs and a sufficient social fabric so no one has to emigrate anymore. We all must work for this objective.”

One way of promoting economic growth throughout the world, so that fewer people feel the need to chase jobs across national boundaries, would be to lower national barriers to trade. Unfortunately, by refusing to consider the Colombia free trade agreement in a timely manner, the United States House of Representatives has hamstrung the administration’s ability to play a leadership role on the issue. The Pope should raise this topic with Speaker Pelosi.

Posted on 04/16/08 02:48 PM by Alex Adrianson

Schools Underfunded?

An Education Intelligence Agency analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures shows that while K-12 enrollment grew only 2.45% between 2001 and 2006, the K-12 teacher force grew by 5.71% over the same period. … Per-pupil spending continues its steady upward spiral, with an increase of more than 25% (unadjusted) in the same five-year period. Spending on compensation tracked closely with a 24.51% increase.” Jim Stergios, Pioneer Institute Blog

Posted on 04/15/08 05:24 PM by Alex Adrianson

Benefits Underestimated

According to Andrew Biggs, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the Social Security Administration underestimates future retirement benefits in the statements it sends to workers every year. Because of incorrect inflation adjusting, the underestimate is on the order of 1 percent per year remaining until retirement. Biggs writes: “even if we fixed Social Security’s solvency entirely by reducing future benefits, most workers would still receive higher benefits than their Social Security Statement indicates.”

Maybe if SSA gave workers accurate data on what they have been promised, we could have a better debate about how to fix Social Security’s fiscal imbalance.

Posted on 04/15/08 04:09 PM by Alex Adrianson

Bastiat Prize Now Accepting Entries for 2008 Award

The International Policy Network is now accepting entries for the 2008 Bastiat Prize for Journalism. Named after the French writer Frederic Bastiat, the Bastiat Prize recognizes “writers whose published works promote the institutions of a free society: limited government, rule of law brokered by an independent judiciary, protection of private property, free markets, free speech, and sound science.”

Posted on 04/15/08 11:26 AM by Alex Adrianson

Happy Tax Day!

Did you know?

  • The number of pages of federal tax rules now stands at 67,500, up from 40,500 in 1995.
  • The cost of complying with the tax code this year is approximately $325 billion.
  • Since 1965, revenue collected by the federal government has more than tripled.

Posted on 04/15/08 11:13 AM by Alex Adrianson

Government’s Magic Job Machine

Members of Congress, including two presidential candidates of the Democratic Party, are embracing infrastructure spending as a key component of yet another fiscal stimulus plan. Nobody wants the nation’s bridges to be falling down, of course, but we should be skeptical of arguments that point to jobs as the main reason for more infrastructure spending. One argument making the rounds these days is that every additional $1 billion in infrastructure spending yields 47,000 new jobs.

In a new Heritage Foundation study, Ron Utt points out that the basis for this estimate is very weak. It’s based on some computer simulations conducted by the Department of Transportation in 2000 and 2002. The simulations estimate how many workers are needed for certain projects such as highways or bridges.

What the Department of Transportation left out of this so-called input/output model is the fact that the $1 billion has to come from somewhere. Utt writes:

In the real world, the addi­tional federal borrowing or taxing needed to pro­vide this additional $1 billion means that $1 billion less is spent or invested elsewhere and that the jobs and products previously employed by that $1 bil­lion thus disappear. Regardless of how the federal government raised the additional $1 billion, it would shift resources from one part of the economy to another, in this case to road building. The only way that $1 billion of new highway spending can create 47,576 new jobs is if the $1 billion appears out of nowhere as if it were manna from heaven.

Other studies suggest that job creation from transportation projects is minimal or nil. The Congressional Research Service used an input/output model that accounted for the losses that occur when resources are shifted from other uses. The CRS study estimated that job gains in transportation are almost completely offset by losses elsewhere in the economy.

The General Accountability Office (then called the General Accountability Office) studied the Emergency Jobs Appropriations Act of 1983. The act provided $9 billion ($19.5 billion in 2007 dollars) to 77 federal programs designed to stimulate the economy and provide jobs to the jobless. The GAO concluded: “implementation of the act was not effective and timely in relieving the high unemployment caused by the recession.”

In 1998, the Congressional Budget Office performed a comprehensive review of academic studies on the relationship between transportation spending and job creation. The CBO concluded that federal spending often merely displaces local and state spending that would have occurred anyway.

Interestingly, Utt points out that input/output models are actually a relic of socialist planning in the Soviet Union—except the Soviets used such models more realistically. The Soviets used such models to estimate both the inputs needed for a particular project, and the other projects that must be given up because those resources are no longer available. In the absence prices, such input/output models were the only measure of cost that planners had. If only our own politicians could learn the lesson of Soviet planning models: Public spending isn’t free money. It has a cost.

Posted on 04/14/08 06:21 PM by Alex Adrianson

This Week in Washington – Monday, April 14, 2008

Related Links:
Lessons Learned from the Basra Fighting for the Iraq Hearings, Heritage WebMemo 1887, April 7, 2008, by Jim Phillips
The New Interventionism in the Americas: President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution, Heritage Event, April 16, noon – 1:30 p.m.

Posted on 04/14/08 01:41 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Coming Week – Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday
Learn the secrets of Nigeria’s success in cracking down on counterfeit drugs. The American Enterprise Institute hosts Dora Akunyili, Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration.

Tuesday
Find out how much divorce and unwed childbearing cost the taxpayer. Host: American Values.
Discover whether fiscal salvation lies in budget process reform. Host: American Enterprise Institute.

Wednesday
Assess the costs of health scares. The Independent Women’s Forum hosts authors Christopher Booker and Richard North.
Examine whether school choice or higher standards is the better strategy for improving education in the United States. Host: The Cato Institute.
Take stock of Hugo Chávez’s connections to terrorist organizations. Host: The Heritage Foundation.

Thursday
Find out what Christians should think about global warming. Host: The Acton Institute.
Hear Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), founder of the Constitution Caucus, offer a strategy for achieving economic growth, not government growth. (For interns.) Host Young America’s Foundation. Details: 311 Cannon House Office Building, 3:30 p.m.

Friday
Confab with activist bloggers at The Sam Adams Alliance’s Samsphere Denver.

Posted on 04/11/08 02:06 PM by Alex Adrianson

Heritage on Video

Heritage in Focus: Whatever Congress does about home mortgages, it should make sure not to reward bad behavior.

Also: Children with both a mother and a father do better in school.

At Heritage: NATO faces numerous challenges.Russia’s military is resurgent. … Is the Department of Defense ready for cyberwar? … Senator Jim DeMint: Government has turned right and wrong upside down. … Private conservation has come a long way, thanks to R.J. Smith. … Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is fighting for hearts and minds.

Posted on 04/11/08 01:25 PM by Alex Adrianson

China’s Emissions

Stephen Milloy makes a good point: Given the frequent equation of global warming with human rights issues, you’d think Al Gore would be out there with the rest of the demonstrators protesting China’s Olympics by trying to tackle a torch bearer.

Berkeley researchers point out that, while the emissions from countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol will be a cumulative 116 million metric tons lower by 2010 than they would have been without any agreement, China’s emissions will have increased by 600 million metric tons over that same period.

Climate change campaigners have yet to figure out how to tell developing countries that they shouldn’t aspire to a higher standard of living. They never will.

Posted on 04/11/08 11:17 AM by Alex Adrianson

The Carbon Economy Lives

Government finally did something good in the field of energy yesterday: It confirmed that private industry is coming up with solutions to our energy needs. The U.S. Geological Survey announced that the amount of technically recoverable oil from an area known as the Bakken Formation in North Dakota and Montana has increased 25-fold since 1995. The formation is now estimated to contain between 3.0 billion and 4.3 billion barrels of oil. A major reason for the increase is that the oil industry continues to develop new technologies for extracting hard-to-reach deposits.

Posted on 04/11/08 10:25 AM by Alex Adrianson

Are Congressional Hearings Hazardous to Your Health?

Yesterday, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming heard an official from the Centers for Disease Control say what the committee wanted to hear: that climate change is a serious public health concern.

The CDC’s Howard Frumkin gave the committee a rundown of a variety of health-related consequences of global warming: more heat waves; extreme weather, including both drought and flooding; the spread of diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and malaria; and more air pollution.

Doesn’t sound good, but we should keep in mind that Frumkin’s testimony was not an overall accounting of the health consequences of global warming. Some of those consequences are good, and they may outweigh the bad. For example, warmer temperatures would reduce the number of deaths caused by extreme cold. Here’s what Bjorn Lomborg told the House Science Committee last year:

… the largest European study conclude that for at least for [carbon dioxide], “Our data suggest that any increases in mortality due to increased temperatures would be outweighed by much larger short term declines in cold related mortalities.”For Britain it is estimated that a [carbon dioxide] increase will mean 2,000 more heat deaths but 20,000 fewer cold deaths.A paper trying to incorporate all studies on this issue (a so-called meta-study) and apply it to a broad variety of settings both developed and developing around the world found that “global warming may cause a decrease in mortality rates, especially of cardiovascular diseases.”For the U.S., the net lower death count from global warming in 2050 is estimated at 174,000 per year.

Lomborg also noted that controlling the earth’s temperature is a very expensive way to achieve health gains:

the Kyoto Protocol would likely cost at least $180 billion a year and do little good. UNICEF estimates that just $70-80 billion a year could give all Third World inhabitants access to the basics like health, education, water and sanitation.

Posted on 04/10/08 05:16 PM by Alex Adrianson

Tax Committee Proposes More Paperwork for HSAs

The House Ways and Means Committee is considering a proposal that would be a serious brake on one of the most important initiatives in consumer-directed health care. The proposal would saddle health savings accounts with new procedures to ensure that account holders aren’t using HSA funds improperly. Deposits in health savings accounts are excluded from taxable income as long as they are withdrawn only for health care expenditures. When an account holder uses HSA funds for non-health care expenditures, he must report those expenditures as taxable income as well as pay a 10 percent penalty. The committee is concerned that account holders are too often avoiding reporting non-health care expenditures they make with HSA funds, thereby avoiding the taxes.

According to a brief prepared by the Republican Study Committee, the proposal would create a “substantiation process” that essentially eliminates electronic HSA transactions, making the accounts less attractive. It would also put new burdens on banks and employers, the costs of which would likely be passed on to HSA account holders.

According to Roy Ramthun of HSA Consulting Services, the impetus for the proposal is anecdotal evidence of misuse provided by the company Evolution Benefits. Evolution Benefits is a third-party administrator of flexible spending accounts. Ramthun estimates that Evolution Benefits stands to double its business if HSAs are required to follow substantiation procedures, too.

Health savings accounts are a worthy effort to bring the consumer back into the decision-making nexus in health care. The idea deserves every chance to succeed in the health care marketplace, and should not be saddled with fussy 20th-century paperwork.

See John Goodman’s post on this topic. Ramthun’s views are posted in the comments.

Posted on 04/10/08 04:37 PM by Alex Adrianson

Playing Games with Trade

As noted yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to change the rules of the game so that a vote on the Colombian free trade agreement is no longer required in 60 days. Pelosi’s explanation was not that she opposes the deal, but rather that she is concerned the deal would fail if a vote were taken too soon. Some on the Democratic side of the aisle have pledged to oppose any new trade deals unless financial assistance for displaced workers is expanded—something the President has threatened to veto. Pelosi’s move may be an attempt to gain leverage on this issue with the President. But with or without an expansion of the trade adjustment assistance program, the deal is in the interest of the United States. And specifically, it is in the interest of American workers because it would create new jobs. The Washington Post today has a good summary of the case for approving the agreement:

Economically, it should be a no-brainer – especially at a time of rising U.S. joblessness. At the moment, Colombian exports to the United States already enjoy preferences. The trade agreement would make those permanent, but it would also give U.S. firms free access to Colombia for the first time, thus creating U.S. jobs. Politically, too, the agreement is in the American interest, as a reward to a friendly, democratic government that has made tremendous strides on human rights, despite harassment from Venezuela‘s Hugo Chávez.

So the deal has something that even politicians in a mercantilist mindset should like: leveling the playing field. It really shouldn’t take 60 days to schedule a vote on a no-brainer.

Posted on 04/10/08 12:13 PM by Alex Adrianson

Rich Old Man Has No Use for Babies

Ted Turner shared some loony thoughts about climate change with Charlie Rose on April 1. Apparently, it wasn’t a joke.

As excerpted in the Wall Street Journal:

TURNER: We have to mobilize the same way we did when we entered World War II in 1941. We have to fully mobilize everything we have and put it into changing the energy system over, and not just here in the United States, but all over the world. . . . not doing it will be catastrophic. We’ll . . . be eight degrees hotter in 10 – not 10, but in 30 or 40 years. And basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died, and the rest of us will be cannibals.

Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state like Somalia or Sudan, and living conditions will be intolerable.

The droughts will be so bad, there will be no more corn growing. . . . we’ve got to stabilize the population.

ROSE: So what is wrong with the population? . . .

TURNER: We’re too many people. That’s why we have global warming. We have global warming because too many people are using too much stuff. If there were less people, they’d be using less stuff. . . . we’ve got to stabilize population. On a voluntary basis, everybody in the world has got to pledge to themselves that one or two children is it.

Posted on 04/10/08 10:44 AM by Alex Adrianson

Americans Support Secret Ballots

Seventy-nine percent of Americans say they support workers’ rights to a federally supervised secret ballot election for deciding whether to join a union, according to a recent poll conducted by the group American Solutions.

Big labor wants to do away with secret ballot elections and allow a procedure called card check. In a card check election, a union would be formed when 50 percent plus one of a company’s employees have signed pledge cards stating support for a union.

Judging from the American Solutions poll, it seems that most Americans recognize the danger of intimidation that would occur if union organizers could collect pledge cards directly from workers. Former union organizer Jen Jason testified to Congress about such intimidation last year:

When the union is allowed to implement the “card check” strategy, the decision about whether or not an individual employee would choose to join a union is reduced to a crisis decision. This situation is created by the organizer and places the worker into a high pressure sales situation. Furthermore, my experience is that in jurisdictions in which “card check” was actually legislated, organizers tended to be even more willing to harass, lie and use fear tactics to intimidate workers into signing cards. I have personally heard from workers that they signed the union card simply to get the organizer to leave their home and not harass them further. At no point during a “card check” campaign, is the opportunity created or fostered for employees to seriously consider their working lives and to think about possible solutions to any problems.

Posted on 04/09/08 05:53 PM by Alex Adrianson

This Week’s Funny

Thomas Sowell: “One way to reduce illegal immigration might be to translate some of our far-left publications into Spanish and give everyone in Mexico subscriptions. After they read how terrible this country is, many may want to stay away.”

Posted on 04/09/08 01:31 PM by Alex Adrianson

Why Are Food Prices High?

Ron Bailey: Because of biofuel (ethanol) mandates, “about 100 million tons of grain will be transformed this year into fuel, drawing down global grain stocks to their lowest levels in decades. Keep in mind that 100 million tons of grain is enough to feed nearly 450 million people for a year.”

Posted on 04/09/08 12:43 PM by Alex Adrianson

More Dithering on Colombian Trade Deal

CongressDailyPM is reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided to remove the 90-day timetable for consideration of the Colombia free trade agreement. President Bush had sent the agreement to Congress on Monday. Under fast-track procedures, Congress would have been required to hold a vote within 90 days. Pelosi’s move will allow the Democrats, most of whom are hostile to free trade, to kill the deal without even bothering to take a vote on it.

Posted on 04/09/08 12:37 PM by Alex Adrianson

Social Security: Where the Problem Comes From

Alan Viard of the American Enterprise Institute identifies an important source of Social Security’s insolvency problem:

As most people know, after a retiree starts drawing benefits, he or she gets cost-of-living adjustments to keep up with inflation—no more, no less. But completely different rules are used to set the retiree’s starting benefit. The starting benefit is linked to the average worker’s wage in the economy at that time.

This wage linkage drives the benefit growth described in the trustees’ report. Of course, wages sometimes lag behind inflation, particularly during economic downturns like the one we are in now. Over the long haul, though, wages tend to grow about 1 percent per year faster than inflation. By linking future retirees’ benefits to wages, the current Social Security rules lock in benefit growth that outpaces inflation.

If there were no demographic changes, we could afford to let benefits keep up with wages. After all, higher wages produce higher payroll tax revenue, which can be used to pay higher benefits. But that logic breaks down in the face of longer life expectancy and the baby boomers’ retirement. Today, there are more than three workers supporting each retiree; by 2050, there will be only two. We cannot afford to link benefits to the average worker’s wages when the number of workers earning those wages is steadily falling.

Posted on 04/09/08 12:08 PM by Alex Adrianson

Economic Elites v. Political Elites

Who has more power, greedy capitalists or greedy politicians? Arnold Kling does the math:

Montgomery County, Maryland, has an annual budget of $3.8 billion. This sum is under the control of a County Council with nine members. On an average per-politician basis, each County Council member controls just over $400 million a year in spending.

To put an annual spending figure of $400 million in perspective, consider this: if you had $8 billion in assets and earned 5 percent per year on those assets, that would give you $400 million in annual income. And few Americans have that much. The world’s wealthiest person is Warren Buffett, with $62 billion (admittedly he has often been able to earn more than 5 percent per year from investments). Bill Gates has $58 billion. Fewer than 40 Americans have more than $8 billion in assets, and their names are largely familiar to us—the Waltons of Wal-Mart, Sergie Brin and Larry Page of Google, and so on.

Can you name the members of the County Council in Montgomery County, Maryland? I can’t name very many of them, and I live there. Still, getting elected to the County Council in Montogmery County, which is pretty far down the ladder in terms of political power in the United States, enables you to control more annual spending than the wealth of Donald Trump or Steven Jobs.

Posted on 04/09/08 11:15 AM by Alex Adrianson

Does Charitable Giving Need to Serve Approved Purposes?

Yesterday, at a Hudson Institute panel discussion, Heather Richardson Higgins of the Philanthropy Roundtable warned that a bill recently passed by the California Assembly was a set-up for government management of charitable funds. She was the only person on the four-person panel who argued against the bill, AB 624, which requires foundations with assets of over $250 million to report the gender and ethnic composition of their boards and grant making.

Among her points:

  • The bill sets a dangerous precedent by advancing the notion that a non-profit institution must meet some public benefit test in order to receive tax-exempt status. If that’s true, then isn’t the public also entitled to know what you plan to do with your 401(k)?
  • People will not continue to donate to charitable institutions if they believe that those funds are ultimately public funds that can be directed to uses that politicians specify. Charitable foundations will simply leave California, and they will leave the United States if the California model is adopted nationally.

For those who couldn’t make it to the event, Hudson now has both audio and video of the event available. (Click on “Media Clips” on the right-hand side of the event page.)

Posted on 04/08/08 06:28 PM by Alex Adrianson

Heston’s Voice for Freedom

Robert Stacy McCain on Charlton Heston, who died Saturday at the age of 84:

The theme of human dignity runs like a thread through Heston’s career, both on and off the screen. Heston was seemingly typecast as the voice who speaks for the dignity of downtrodden mankind, whether enslaved by Egyptians or Romans, oppressed by apes, or euthanized and ground up for food in Soylent Green.

His consistent concern for human dignity helps explain why Heston, a liberal Democrat in younger years, eventually emerged as one of conservatism’s most visible spokesmen. A prominent supporter of Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights crusade who joined King for the 1963 March on Washington, a year later Heston joined his Hollywood friend Ronald Reagan in supporting Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater’s presidential bid. (As Heston later said, he decided to support Goldwater after seeing a sign with the Arizona senator’s slogan, “In your heart, you know he’s right,” and being struck with the thought, “Son of a bitch, he is right.”) Like Reagan, Heston became an ex-liberal not because he changed, but because liberalism changed.

Heston’s principled consistency was evident in his 1999 speech at Harvard Law School, where he urged students to engage in “massive disobedience” against political correctness. “I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King ... who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus, and every other great man who led those in the right against those with the might,” Heston said. “Disobedience is in our DNA.”

Posted on 04/08/08 04:27 PM by Alex Adrianson

Lawyers v. Consumers

Marie Gryphon reports that the Food and Drug Administration has, in a small way, finally learned the lesson that too much regulation is bad for consumers. Unfortunately, trial lawyers are now busy undermining the FDA:

For years, the FDA was complicit in a phenomenon known as “overwarning.” The agency repeatedly required drug makers to include this or that rare, harmless, or unproven possibility on the warning labels accompanying prescription drugs. But the tissue-thin, ever-lengthening inserts—covered on both sides with microscopic print—become more daunting every year, and many people gave up trying to read them. … Finally, the unreadable inserts sparked a backlash within the FDA, which is attempting to strike a balance between consumers’ need to know and the self-defeating length and complexity of drug labels. It has reduced the length of label instructions and authorized a “highlights” section providing a brief summary of critical information. … The FDA’s efforts may be undone, however, by trial lawyers suing pharmaceutical companies in state courts for “failure to warn.” These mass-tort lawsuits typically come in herds of thousands of look-alike cases, each alleging that a drug maker didn’t adequately inform the plaintiff about every conceivable danger, no matter how minute. Failure-to-warn lawsuits all too often succeed, since each jury sees only an injured plaintiff—not the thousands, or even millions, of other consumers who have benefited from a drug.

The Supreme Court will take up this issue this fall in Wyeth v. Levine. Gryphon says it would be a good thing if the Supreme Court affirms that FDA’s labeling decisions override lawsuits at the state level.

Posted on 04/08/08 03:01 PM by Alex Adrianson

Is Poverty a Trap?

In The American, Evan Sparks reviews Scratch Beginnings, Adam Sheppard’s account of his interesting experiment: Sheppard moved to Charleston, S.C., with just $25, a change of clothes, and a sleeping bag. Ten months later, he had a place to live, a car, and $5,000 in savings. Sparks writes:

As the book shows, overcoming a harsh economic situation is really all about culture. Someone born and raised in a culture of dependency, failure, and dereliction will find it much more difficult to lift himself out of poverty than Shepard did. To be sure, Shepard denied himself his connections, his college degree, and his credit history when he went to Charleston. But he could not deny himself the behavioral and cultural instincts instilled throughout his life. Those instincts are what carried him through to success.

Posted on 04/08/08 02:03 PM by Alex Adrianson

Perverse Incentives of the Housing Bill

Congress wants to “rescue” the housing market—i.e., prop up house prices at taxpayer expense so that banks and homebuilders will be shielded from their own bad business decisions. One measure being considered is to provide a $7,000 tax credit for the purchase of a foreclosed house.

Nicole Gelinas says this idea penalizes people for meeting their obligations:

…it will ensure that homeowners not in foreclosure will be penalized if they try to sell - because the few potential buyers taking a chance in the current climate will insist that sellers cut their prices to compete with the tax credit for that foreclosed house down the street.

Similarly, the Washington Post editorializes:

For lenders as well as borrowers, foreclosure is an expensive hassle. If at all possible, most banks would rather avoid repossessing a house, which they must then try to resell. But, by making it cheaper to buy a foreclosed house than a comparable unforeclosed property, the tax credit makes it more feasible to sell one. The cost and hassle – for the lender – of foreclosure go down, and the benefits go up. Other things being equal, lenders would be that much more likely to foreclose – rather than to help homeowners stay in their houses on modified terms.

Posted on 04/08/08 02:02 PM by Alex Adrianson

This Week in Washington – Monday, April 7, 2008

Related links:
Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say It’s Wrong, event featuring author and Senator Jim DeMint, April 9, 2008.
Time for Second Thoughts on the Ethanol Mandate, Heritage WebMemo 1879, by Ben Lieberman, April 2, 2008

Posted on 04/07/08 06:18 PM by Alex Adrianson

A Time for Trade

President Bush today sent the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement to Congress. Though decidedly unenthused by free-trade pacts, the Democrat-controlled Congress will have to vote on the measure within 90 days under fast-track procedures. Many Democrats, including Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton, have said they will not support the deal until Colombia makes further progress reducing anti-union violence.

Cato’s Dan Griswold and Juan Carlos Hidalgo wrote back in February that Democrats making this argument are ignoring the significant progress made by Colombia under the leadership of President Alvaro Uribe:  

The real story in Colombia is not the current level of violence but its dramatic fall in a relatively short period, and the credit due the Colombian government for the progress. … From about 200 assassinations a year in 2001 and 2002, the number fell by half in 2003 and has continued to fall since then. … The AFL-CIO claims 38 unionists were assassinated in 2007, while the Colombian Ministry of Social Protection counts 25. …

The government has established a protection program for vulnerable groups of society. Currently 1,504 union members have enrolled in the program, more than any other group of civil society. Working with the International Labor Organization, Colombia has created a spe­cial unit under its Attorney General to investigate priority cases of violence against trade unionists.Union members still get assassinated, but they account for less than one in ten civil­ian assassinations by illegal armed groups.Other groups tar­geted for violence include teachers, journalists, business lead­ers, and politicians, most of whom are members of President Uribe’s own party.

In a December article, Duncan Currie of the American Enterprise Institute noted a remarkable assessment from the U.S. embassy in Bogotá: Zero trade unionists enrolled in the protection program were harmed in 2006 and 2007.

Contrary to claims that free trade deals result in the exporting of jobs, Griswold and Hidalgo point out how the Colombian deal would level the playing field: Already, 90 percent of Colombian goods can enter the United States duty free. That will remain the case even if the free trade agreement is not passed. But if the act does pass, then

[m]ore than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia would become duty free on enactment, and remaining tariffs would be phased out over the next 10 years. … A December 2006 study by the U.S. International Trade Commission estimated that the agreement would boost U.S. exports by $1.1 bil­lion.

Condoleeza Rice sums up the administration’s view:

It is not every day that our government, with one bold stroke, could strengthen the competitiveness of U.S. workers; support a democratic ally on the cusp of achieving lasting national success; weaken those who would sow instability and autocracy in our hemisphere; and send an unequivocal signal to the entire world that the United States is a confident, capable global leader that acts not only in its own interest, but in the interest of its friends.

All of this is what we can gain if Congress approves the free trade agreement that our administration has negotiated with Colombia.

Posted on 04/07/08 06:01 PM by Alex Adrianson

The Coming Week – Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday
• Examine whether government monitoring of diversity in philanthropy is a good idea. Host: Hudson Institute.

Tuesday
Assess whether accounting standards have forced financial institutions to overstate recent losses on financial assets. Host: American Enterprise Institute.
• Find out if the Department of Defense is prepared for cyber warfare. Host: Heritage Foundation.
• Take in the Chicago premiere of The Singing Revolution, a documentary about the role of music in Estonia’s 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. Theater: Gene Siskel Film Center.

Wednesday
Learn whether America’s drive for energy independence is fueling the oil price boom. Host: Cato Institute.
Help honor R. J. Smith as he receives a lifetime achievement award from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Center for Public Policy Research for his efforts to promote private conservation. Location: Heritage Foundation.

Thursday
• Hear Grace-Marie Turner discuss whether Christian principles can repair what’s wrong with our health care system. Host: Acton Institute.
• Get an answer to the question: Is free trade good for your health? Host: American Enterprise Institute.
• Hear Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute address the theological influences on environmentalism. Host: Independence Institute.
• Find out how Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty plans to win hearts and minds and help undermine authoritarianism and radical Islam in the 21st century. Host: Heritage Foundation.
• Take a look at the role of faith in politics at Grove City College’s Church and State in 2008 conference.

Friday
Learn why labor’s love of trade adjustment assistance should not hold up the Coloumbia Free Trade Agreement. Host: Cato Institute.

Posted on 04/04/08 12:30 PM by Alex Adrianson

At Heritage

Rhetoric about the Constitution has been employed in presidential campaigns by both parties more frequently since the 1960s. … Conservatives in Congress have a plan for health care: Give control to individuals instead of government. … Congress is thinking about Asia in 2008. … Unsustainable deficits in the federal budget threaten the health and vigor of the American economy.

Posted on 04/04/08 12:28 PM by Alex Adrianson

What Unions Want

Kimberly Strassel reports that unions see the 2008 election as their make-or-break opportunity to get a Congress and President who will push union friendly legislation and help stem the long decline in union membership. Currently, just 7.4 percent of the private workforce belong to unions. Some estimate unions will end up spending more than $1 billion to influence elections this year. What do they expect for that money?

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have already pledged a rewrite of Nafta and an end to more trade deals. Both promise to throw government money at new union-only jobs, to boost unemployment insurance, to penalize companies that hire overseas, and to take a run at “universal” health care.

To this, unions will add passage of “card check,” which would outlaw secret ballots in union organizing elections. Alongside will be legislation to make union officials the exclusive bargaining agents of most police, fire and rescue personnel. Then there’s the biggie – so big that most officials don’t talk about it publicly. Tucked into the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act is a provision called 14(b), which allows for “right to work” states. Big Labor last took a run at deleting this section, and forcing more unionization, in the Johnson administration. With a filibuster-proof Senate, they’d have a far better shot.

Unions want a Department of Labor that will sit on corruption cases, water down financial disclosure rules, and turn a blind eye to the use of pension funds to influence boardroom decisions.

All in all, it’s an agenda that takes power away from individual workers and gives it to union bosses. That’s neither in the workers’ interest nor the country’s.

Posted on 04/04/08 12:22 PM by Alex Adrianson

Interior Designers Don’t Want Competition

Clark Neily of the Institute for Justice reports that the American Society of Interior Designers has been busy trying to convince state legislatures to make it illegal for anyone to practice interior design without a license.

A good free-market case can be made that licensure isn’t really needed for any occupation—even for doctors. (See, for example, Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, Chapter 9.) But if interior designers can get away with making their trade a government-protected racket, then just about anybody can do it.

As Neily notes, those arguing for licensure always cite the need to protect consumers from fraud and unsafe products, but the motive behind the arguments is almost always to protect the practitioners from competition—with the end result being that consumers have to pay higher prices for a more scarce product.

Fortunately, ASID is not having much success. Only three states regulate the practice of interior design. Last year, licensure bills for interior design were vetoed in Indiana and ruled unconstitutional in Alabama. Neily wryly observes that there are 47 states “where the ravages of unlicensed interior design could be easily documented – if there were any.”

Posted on 04/03/08 05:19 PM by Alex Adrianson

Transparency May Be Coming to Illinois Government

Another positive development on government transparency: The Illinois House, by a vote of 108 to zero, has passed a bill creating a searchable online database of state expenditures, tax credits, state employee salaries, and state contracts. If passed by the Illinois Senate, Illinois taxpayers will have at their fingertips information on how their tax dollars are being spent.

Posted on 04/02/08 04:16 PM by Alex Adrianson

Diversity = More Conservatives

As if universities aren’t already doing enough on their own to suppress academic freedom, the Maryland legislature is virtually mandating it. From the D.C. Examiner’s editorial page:

HB 905, which passed the House of Delegates 122-to-9, requires all colleges and universities that receive state aid to submit a yearly report on what they’ve done “to promote and enhance cultural diversity.” A companion bill sailed through the state Senate on an equally lopsided 41-6 vote.

Campus multiculturalism has been sold to the taxpaying public as a sort of benign foreign exchange program that teaches students to respect different cultures and religions. The reality is that these programs have devolved into ugly caricatures of toleration used by leftist professors and administrators as battering rams against free speech, merit-based advancement, religious liberty and national unity. Under the lofty-sounding rhetoric of “diversity” — which inevitably refers only to politically correct racial, ethnic and gender categories — campuses are in reality becoming less ideologically and academically diverse than ever.

Posted on 04/02/08 03:41 PM by Alex Adrianson

Pig Book!

Citizens Against Government Waste has tallied the pork in the 2008 spending bills and published the results in its annual Congressional Pig Book, released today. CAGW found 11,610 projects at a cost of $17.2 billion.

Here are some of the juicier items that earned special merit from CAGW:

  • The French Kiss Off Award to Representative Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) for $211,509 in olive fruit fly research in Paris, France.
  • The Pig in Sheep’s Clothing Award to Montana Senators Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) for $148,950 for the Montana Sheep Institute.
  • The Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees Award to Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) for $344,540 for the city of Chicago GreenStreets Tree Planting Program.
  • The Taxpayers Get Steamed Award to Maine Senators Susan Collins (R) and Olympia Snowe (R), and Rep. Thomas Allen (D-Maine) for $188,000 for the Lobster Institute.
  • This Pork Was Made for Walking Award to Representative Virgil Goode (R-Va.) for $98,000 to develop a walking tour of Boydton, Virginia.

Long before the whole “Google your tax dollars” idea got going, CAGW was putting out Pig Books. Their work was the original transparency initiative, and you can look up all the pork they have found going back to 1995.

Posted on 04/02/08 02:18 PM by Alex Adrianson

Diversity Regulations Killing Newspapers

A report released last Friday provides yet more evidence that print newspapers are continuing to become a smaller and smaller part of the media landscape. Today, the Senate provides yet more evidence that the Senate is the last to get the news that economies evolve.

The Newspaper Association of America reported on Friday that print ad revenue for newspapers fell by 9.4 percent in 2007, the biggest one-year drop since 1950, when the figures were first kept. The decline of newspapers reflects the fact that news consumers today have many more choices than ever. Instead of embracing the reality of today’s media cornucopia, the Senate Commerce Committee is set to embrace the reality of 1975, when rules against cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets were put in place.

The Federal Communications Commission had voted in December to relax some of those rules, a move expected to allow newspapers in financial distress to find a lifeline through partnership with broadcasters. The Committee today will take up a “resolution of disapproval,” sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), that would effectively overturn the FCC’s decision.

The media ownership rules were intended to preserve diversity in the media marketplace, but the rules don’t serve that goal when they prevent new combinations of media that would bring new resources to local reporting.

Adam Thierer of the Progress and Freedom Foundation wrote about this issue earlier this month, describing the mindset of those who can’t see the evolution that has occurred in the media marketplace:  

… they believe in some mythical “Mom & Pop” media world where Joe Blow or Jane Doe should own the local papers. In their view of things, anyone who is either (a) wealthy or (b) an owner of multiple outlets is basically evil and hell-bent on dictating the thoughts of the masses from above.

It’s what I have called the “neo-conspiratorial puppet-master theory of media manipulation” that seems to enslave the minds of many people like Sen. Dorgan … When newspapers start dropping like flies, you know who to blame.

Hat tip: James Gattuso at Technology Liberation Front

Posted on 04/02/08 01:17 PM by Alex Adrianson

One Dropout Rate to Rule Them All …

The slow-motion federal takeover of schools continues apace: Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced yesterday that the U.S. Department of Education will require all 50 states to use one formula for calculating graduation and dropout rates. The formula will be determined by the federal government.

Posted on 04/02/08 11:03 AM by Alex Adrianson

Promises Made, Promises Tracked

The Alabama Policy Institute has put a new twist on the whole transparency thing. The group has a new Web site, called Stand and Deliver, that keeps track of the state’s elected leaders’ progress toward implementing their campaign promises. Alabama’s Democrats and Republicans each included 38 separate campaign promises in their party platforms in 2006. Stand and Deliver keeps track of legislation that implements those promises, allowing voters to see whether the parties are following through on their commitments.

Posted on 04/02/08 10:05 AM by Alex Adrianson

Trade Moderates Recessions

Contrary to what the protectionists would have you believe, openness to trade does not exacerbate business cycles, says Dan Griswold in a new paper for the Cato Institute. In fact, he says, the opposite is the case: Free trade moderates business cycles by making an economy more diverse and flexible. Griswold notes research by Jeffrey Frankel and Eduardo Cavallo finding that

a country that increases trade as a share of its gross domestic product by 10 percentage points is actually about one-third less likely to suffer sudden economic slowdowns or other crises than if it were less open to trade.

How does openness to trade help? Griswold explains:

Exports can take up slack when domestic demand sags, and imports can satisfy demand when domestic productive capacity is reaching its short-term limits. Access to foreign capital markets can allow domestic producers and consumers alike to more easily borrow to tide themselves over during difficult times.

During the current economic turmoil, as the housing and mortgage markets have turned downward, many U.S. companies have maintained or expanded production by serving growing global markets. In 2007, U.S. exports of goods and services rose a brisk 12.6 percent from the year before, more than double the growth rate of imports. Meanwhile, U.S. companies and investors saw their earnings on foreign assets grow an even faster 20.3 percent.

Posted on 04/01/08 05:34 PM by Alex Adrianson

Subsidizing Irresponsibility

Congress is considering propping up the housing market by providing a one-time $15,000 tax credit for the purchase of a newly constructed house or one that is in foreclosure or default. According to Heritage’s David John, the bill “rewards those who have been the most irresponsible”:

It would benefit homeowners at any income level who either irresponsibly borrowed all of their home equity or took out a loan that they could not repay but hoped to profit from by reselling the property in a rising market. However, those who have made the effort to pay their mortgages on time would not be assisted at all, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Some other ways the bill rewards irresponsibility:

Homebuilders who ignored signs that the market was slowing and built houses in hopes of finding a buyer would get assistance in selling houses that should not have been built in the first place.

Responsible homeowners who must move for a new job or for family reasons would suffer because the sale of their homes would not qualify for a tax credit, while those of their less responsible neighbors would qualify for one. The potential plight of responsible homeowners could be cited as a reason to expand this credit to all home sales, thus increasing the cost to all taxpayers.

The bill: S. 2566, sponsored by Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)

Posted on 04/01/08 04:00 PM by Alex Adrianson

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