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Recent Policy Studies
National SecurityBy James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/26/2009
New Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a directive requiring her staff to report to her by the end of the month on five top issues facing the Department of Homeland Security. While the secretary needs to get these answers from her staff, she will have to work with Congress to make substantive changes a reality.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis S. Dubay, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/26/2009
President Barack Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit is a major piece of the fiscal stimulus plan currently being debated in Congress. The new credit is being touted as a tax cut, but in reality it is just more spending through the tax code.
EducationBy Dan Lips, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/26/2009
The draft American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 calls for an unprecedented increase in federal education funding, which will not improve economic growth. Instead of a massive federal spending increase, Congress should embrace fiscally responsible solutions to help states meet fiscal challenges and improve educational services. Congress should grant state policymakers the flexibility to prioritize how federal dollars are allocated.
Health CareBy Kalese Hammonds, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 01/26/2009
Nearly 90 percent of rural Texas counties are designated—in part or as a whole—as medically underserved. Even more alarming is that 25 counties in the state have no physician at all, and more than 13 percent of Texans—or 3.2 million people—do not have access to a primary care provider. A viable solution to the lack of physicians in regions across the state is to allow health care providers other than physicians to meet the needs of residents in these regions. Nurse practitioners could provide the majority of the services needed in these areas, but state regulations limit their availability by restricting nurse practitioners’ ability to practice.
Budget & TaxationBy Josh Barro, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 01/26/2009
Last month, New York Governor David Paterson unveiled a proposal to raise an additional $4 billion through nearly 100 increased taxes and fees, as part of his plan to close New York State's budget gap for fiscal year 2010, which may be as large as $15 billion. This report looks at several planks of the governor’s plan and places them in three categories: proposals that move New York closer to sound tax policy, proposals that worsen tax policy, and some proposals that might be good or bad depending on surrounding circumstances.
Information TechnologyBy Adam Thierer, Progress & Freedom Foundation01/26/2009
In sum, the danger of mandatory age verification as a solution to online child safety concerns is that it will result in unintended consequences or solutions that don’t solve the problems they were intended to address and create a false sense of security that might encourage some youngsters (or adults) to let their guard down while online. I wish the ISTTF would have gone further to make these dangers clear.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Houman B. Shadab, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 01/26/2009
The performance of hedge funds during the financial crisis suggests that wide-ranging financial regulation is not always necessary to advance investor protection and financial stability. While 2008 was a year of record hedge fund losses and investor withdrawals that came about in part because many hedge fund managers failed to adequately respond to the financial crisis, the hedge fund industry significantly outperformed the heavily regulated mutual fund sector and, unlike the banking industry, was never in jeopardy of collapsing. Hedge funds did not cause or meaningfully exacerbate the financial crisis and in fact have reduced its impact and are helping the economy to recover.
Economic GrowthBy Eileen Norcross, Frederic Sautet, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 01/26/2009
Congress is poised to pass a massive stimulus plan that will include a big push for infrastructure spending. There is ample reason to doubt that such spending will achieve its aims. Many parts of the U.S. are in need of infrastructure investment and maintenance. Poorly maintained infrastructure leads to catastrophes—such as the collapse of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis and levee failure in New Orleans. But decades of reliance on government planning has put infrastructure in its current state and left many needs under-addressed. If Congress wants to establish effective, economically viable long-term infrastructure, it needs to enable people rather than policy makers to make the resource allocation decisions to build it
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Peter Gordon, Richard Little, Mercatus CenterPolicy Primer, 01/26/2009
Simply rebuilding the existing levees in New Orleans to make them stronger will not protect the city from catastrophe in the future. More comprehensive approaches will provide decision makers at all levels—from elected officials to individual homeowners—with incentives to manage flood risk effectively. This Policy Primer offers guidance for developing more rational government policies for flood protection, approaches that stop subsidizing risky behavior. The rebuilding process in New Orleans allows local areas to explore new options for levee development and management beyond the conventional reliance on federal agencies. Reliance on federal funds and bureaucracies diminishes the incentives for a local community to accurately understand its risk to natural disasters. Instead, institutional flexibility will help ensure that the most appropriate arrangements emerge. Only then will the cost of natural disasters, in both lives and dollars, start to decline.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Hope Cohen, Manhattan InstituteRethinking Development, 01/26/2009
New York needs power, and it needs land. Changing the zoning rules governing electrical substations would help the city get more of both. By allowing electrical substations as-of-right in residential and commercial zones, the city would facilitate the most efficient system of distribution—as other cities have done, and as it did itself before 1961. Freed of the delays and doubts posed by the land-use approval process, Con Edison could cut years from its facilities planning and the task of getting them on line.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Gilbert E. Metcalf, Manhattan InstituteEnergy Policy & the Environment Report, 01/26/2009
At a time of deep national concern about both the adequacy of the U.S. energy supply and how much cleaner it can become, the question of how the U.S. tax code influences investment in energy generation is a crucial one. This report offers a comprehensive overview of the energy-related provisions of the U.S. tax code and their estimated impact on tax revenues. More important, this report indicates where the U.S. tax regime as a whole is likely to direct energy investment.
National SecurityBy Rebecca Grant, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 01/26/2009
A few weeks ago in the California desert the Navy took the wraps off a weapon that could revolutionize war at sea. It’s the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS), a stealthy, unmanned plane as big as a modern carrier fighter, yet able to fly much further and stay aloft without refueling for many hours. Flight tests on the prototype begin soon and culminate with carrier landing trials at sea in late 2011.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Loren B. Thompson, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 01/26/2009
Many scientists believe that the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will soon bring the earth to the brink of ecological catastrophe, but it’s hard to get voters interested in environmental problems when the economy is in trouble. Voters may decry the fact that eight gigatons of carbon are being spewed into the atmosphere from human sources each year, but when the economy falters they pray that some of that carbon will keep coming out of smokestacks at the factories where they work. You can’t expect them to worry about melting icecaps when they're in danger of losing their jobs and their homes.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Matt Miller, Institute for JusticeReport, 01/26/2009
Thousands of Texans, from Houston to San Antonio to El Paso, now live under the threat of eminent domain abuse. These home and business owners have well-founded fears that their property may soon be taken from them to make way for private redevelopment projects cooked up by developers and city officials. The threatened homes and businesses are important parts of functioning communities, many of which have been there since the earliest days of Texas’ history as an independent nation. Their only fault is that they are located on land coveted by developers and government officials.
Economic GrowthBy Dona Arduin, Wayne H. Winegarden, Maryland Public Policy InstituteStudies, 01/26/2009
Due to the tax increases implemented in 2008, Maryland’s competitiveness is falling significantly behind the country’s economic leaders. The rationale for these tax increases – the impending structural deficit – will continue to erode Maryland’s economic competitiveness further in the future if left unchecked.
Health CareBy Pavel Chalupnícek, Lukáš Dvorák, Independent InstituteThe Independent Review, 01/23/2009
Fraternal organizations and friendly societies provided health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Americans and Britons before the surge of the welfare state. Their rapid disappearance underscores the fragility of voluntary institutions when challenged by government power.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Chidem Kurdas, Independent InstituteThe Independent Review, 01/23/2009
As the failure of the hedge-fund firm Manhattan Capital demonstrates, both government regulators and market players can make mistakes resulting from cognitive biases. Responding to such mistakes by strengthening government watchdogs, although often recommended, reduces both the watchdogs’ and the public’s incentive to learn, thereby creating a vicious spiral of regulation, regulatory failure, and even more regulation.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy David Forte, John M. Ashbrook Center for Public AffairsEditorial, 01/23/2009
The uncertain political resolution of Israel’s invasion should not obscure the fact that Hamas stands for genocide and that Israel acted to defeat the unspeakable from happening again. Iran and the international law champions of the Obama Administration should take notice. Israel was attempting to enforce the moral command of the Genocide Convention: that genocide as a political objective is anywhere and everywhere unacceptable.
Economic GrowthBy Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Hudson InstituteHudson Institute Economic Report, 01/23/2009
Congress may be giving President Obama a honeymoon, but not the economy. Housing construction continued to decline. Having broken the all-time record lowest level two months ago, housing starts fell a revised 15.1 percent in November and a further 15.5 percent last month. Starts were 550,000, down from 651,000 in November. Building permits for new housing construction, which reached a record low rate of 615,000 in November, fell by 10.7 percent to 549,000 in December. For the year 2008, starts were 902,000, down 32.7 percent from 2007 and 10.6 percent below the previous annual low of 1.009 million in 1991. Building permits were 880,000, down 3.6.6 percent from 2007 and 7.5 percent below the previous annual low of 946,000, also in 1991. These records are entirely due to the collapse in the single-family home market.
International Trade/FinanceBy Daniella Markheim, Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/23/2009
In order to determine where the next U.S. Trade Representative stands on crucial issues, these questions should be put to the nominee during his confirmation hearing.
National SecurityBy Charles D. Stimson, The Heritage FoundationLegal Memorandum, 01/23/2009
Military detention is a necessary and lawful tool with a long history of use, and whatever President Obama does, he is extremely unlikely to end detention altogether. But he does have the opportunity and the obligation to put U.S. detention policy on a firmer footing by crafting a durable legal framework for detention that meets our security needs as well as our values.
LaborBy Charlotte M. Ponticelli, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 01/23/2009
The International Labor Organization is veering far from its core mission. The new Administration, which has given much attention to labor issues, should use its influence to push the ILO to do its real job: create better opportunities and workplaces for working people, promote job creation, help provide businesses with skilled workers, and boost economic development and prosperity around the world.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Michael Auslin et al., American Enterprise InstituteArticles, 01/23/2009
This Special Report weighs the policy implications of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) and assesses its efficacy as a component of Asia-Pacific security architecture.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy David Boaz, Cato InstitutePolicy Report, 01/23/2009
For those who go into government to improve the lives of their fellow citizens, the hardest lesson to accept may be that Congress should often do nothing about a problem—such as education, crime, or the cost of prescription drugs. Critics will object, “Do you want the government to just stand there and do nothing while this problem continues?” Sometimes that is exactly what Congress should do. Remember the ancient wisdom imparted to physicians: First, do no harm. And have confidence that free people, left to their own devices, will address issues of concern to them more effectively outside a political environment.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Jagadeesh Gokhale, National Center for Policy AnalysisPolicy Report, 01/22/2009
This study began by observing that EU countries are undergoing twin transitions: a demographic transition wherein the populations of most EU countries are aging and an economic transition resulting from the adoption of a single currency and associated adjustments in fiscal constraints and agreements based on short-term and backward-looking debt and deficit measures. These processes and constraints on how high economically debilitating taxes can be increased are likely to impose conflicting pressures on policymakers, on the one hand, to increase deficit spending to support expanding retiree cohorts and, on the other hand, to limit deficits and debt in order to continue expanding a heretofore successful process of monetary unification. As a result, an extended frame-work of budget accounting and reporting needs to be adopted within the context of the EU’s long-term fiscal policy requirements.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Christopher C. Horner, Regnery PublishingBook, 01/22/2009
Lies. Threats. Intimidation. These are the global warming alarmists' weapons—and they're only going to get worse under our new president, Barack Obama. But bestselling author Chris Horner—himself the target of dirty tricks and smear campaigns—is blowing the whistle on the Green movement's underhanded tactics in his new must-read exposé, Red Hot Lies.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/22/2009
China just announced its economic results for 2008. The only thing certain about these figures is that they are wrong.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Dennis G. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/22/2009
Buried in the economic stimulus legislation is a provision further undercutting parental authority and expanding control of taxpayer dollars by family planning clinics.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Kim R. Holmes, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/22/2009
The United States cannot remain a global leader unless it modernizes its alliances and international associations. America needs international institutions, alliances, and a multilateral diplomacy worthy of a great power that is dedicated to the advancement of freedom and security. It is time to create a Global Freedom Coalition, a Global Economic Freedom Forum, and a Liberty Forum for Human Rights.
LaborBy Andrew M. Grossman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/22/2009
If Congress is serious about protecting workers from discrimination, it should consider more thoughtful proposals than effectively eliminating Title VII's limitations period.
Budget & TaxationBy Ronald D. Utt, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/22/2009
As Congress and President Obama try to devise a fiscal stimulus package, and as the proposed spending for this package has risen from $300 billion to $825 billion, the taxpayers who fund the government's operations are again under assault by the usual crowd of wealthy, influential constituents seeking a piece of what many expect will be massive volumes of new federal spending.
Economic GrowthBy Dennis G. Smith, Nina Owcharenko, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/22/2009
Congress should not throw good money after bad. But if Congress insists on writing bigger Medicaid checks for state officials – again – then it should take very specific steps to require accountability on the part of state officials for any additional funds they get from the federal taxpayer.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Brett Narloch, North Dakota Policy CouncilStandard Article, 01/22/2009
A bill, HB1522, has been introduced to the ND legislative assembly that would repeal comprehensive planning requirements from the North Dakota Century Code. To gain an understanding of what the significance of this bill is, the term “comprehensive plan” must be defined. Current law states that a county’s comprehensive plan “shall be a statement in documented text setting forth explicit goals, objectives, policies, and standards of the jurisdiction to guide public and private development within its goals” and should be designed “to protect and guide the development of non-urban areas; to provide for emergency management; to regulate land use and construction; to lessen government expenditures; to conserve and develop natural resources.” All zoning and regulations – whether they are made by cities, counties, or townships – are supposed to be based on comprehensive plans.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Daniel R. Ballon, Pacific Research InstituteCapital Ideas, 01/22/2009
Governor Schwarzenegger’s decision to support the waste board’s elimination is an important first step towards reforming the state’s broken government. Slashing waste-board waste in Sacramento, however, requires more than a superficial reorganization. Leaders must plan to phase out burdensome e-waste taxes, because California’s technology leadership should not be disposable.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Amy Kaleita, Pacific Research InstituteEnvironmental Notes, 01/22/2009
As California’s water situation continues to cause problems, well-intentioned analyses continue to promote misguided solutions while missing some obvious simple steps. California’s history of water management has resulted in a complicated system of water rights and prohibitions on transfers, exacerbating problems in times of shortage.
Health CareBy John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstituteCapital Ideas, 01/22/2009
Last January, governor Schwarzenegger’s expensive and unwieldy proposal for so-called “universal” health care finally gasped its last breath, after a long year of lobbying and coalition-building by the governor’s team. A year later, in 2009, legislators should attempt to learn from two states that have legislated “universal” care.
Budget & TaxationBy Deborah D. Thornton, Public Interest InstitutePolicy Study, 01/22/2009
A commitment to accountability is essential to building a solid foundation for a stewardship program. Government accountability to the use of taxpayer monies is impossible without full transparency and full disclosure of programs, plans, and decisions. Further, as outlined by the Roman Catholic Bishops, accountability has become an important indicator of whether or not an organization is worthy of investment.
Expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act and Other Government-Mandated Leave Benefits: A Preview of the 111th CongressBy Carrie Lukas, Independent Women's ForumPolicy Brief, 01/22/2009
We all recognize the need for taking time off. Many of these proposals to expand or provide for leave sound like common sense. But they entail real costs and restrict individual freedom. Instead of government mandates, government should be finding ways to encourage a flourishing economy and private sector so that employers will be free to offer employees generous compensation packages, including leave benefits, and individuals will be better positioned to save on their own in preparation for time out of the workforce. Government should also seek ways to encourage greater workplace flexibility by reducing workplace mandates so that employers and employees can negotiate mutually beneficial relationships.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy William DiPuccio, Science and Public Policy InstituteSPPI Originals , 01/22/2009
“Do you believe in Global Warming?” I have often been asked this question by people with little or no scientific background. It seems like a simple question that demands a “yes” or “no” answer. But in reality it is a complex question that cannot be reduced to an unqualified “yea” or “nay”. The intent of this paper is not to resolve this question by rallying evidence for or against Global Warming (as if that can be done in a few pages!), but rather to lay bare the complexity of the climate change issue. Those who come to appreciate this fact will likely agree that simple answers are not only bad education, but can lead to bad policies.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Craig Idso, Science and Public Policy InstituteSPPI Originals , 01/22/2009
One of the long-recognized potential consequences of the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content is CO2-induced global warming, which has been predicted to pose a number of problems for both natural and managed ecosystems in the years ahead. Of newer concern, in this regard, are the effects that the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content may have on coral reefs. It has been suggested, for example, that CO2-induced global warming will do great damage to corals by magnifying the intensity, frequency, and duration of a number of environmental stresses to which they are exposed. The predicted consequences of such phenomena include ever more cases of coral disease, bleaching, and death. Because of these many concerns, and the logical desire of individuals and governments to do something about what they perceive to be bona fide threats to the well-being of the biosphere, it is important to have a correct understanding of the scientific basis for the potential problems that have been predicted.
EducationBy Dave Roland, Show-Me InstituteArticles, 01/22/2009
A new legislative session is under way in Jefferson City, and everyone is concerned about the budget. Legislators are searching for ways to provide services to Missouri’s citizens while still reducing the overall amount of government spending. Another major issue worrying Missourians is education — particularly given the fact that many school districts across the state are having trouble making ends meet, and the two largest school districts in the state, Saint Louis and Kansas City, have lost their accreditation. The school districts’ financial challenges are growing, because of the economic crisis. Fortunately, there is a way for Missouri to address this challenge, potentially saving taxpayers millions of dollars in the process.
EducationBy Christian N. Braunlich, Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public PolicyStudies, 01/22/2009
No issue is more challenging for the Virginia General Assembly this year than the budget. But while opponents of parental choice argue that a tax credit for corporations offering scholarships for children to attend the public or private school of their choice would drain the state treasury, nothing could be further than the truth. This fiscal analysis – using the latest Department of Education statistics – demonstrates how wrong that assertion is. In fact, such a tuition tax credit would have a positive fiscal impact.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Ronald A. Cass, Washington Legal FoundationWorking Paper, 01/22/2009
Those who are concerned with human rights should reject calls to impinge on them, no matter how heartfelt the plea or how attractive the cause. The causes of human advancement, of personal security, and of the rule of law that under-gird the historic definition of human rights ultimately should prove more compelling than quick fixes for today’s problems.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Kenneth K. Dort, Jeremiah J. Posedel, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/22/2009
The lengthy list of data breaches occurring over the last few years – involving companies large and small, digital and analog, public and private – raises difficult questions going forward for any business that collects the personal information of its customers and/or employees. In particular, what is (i) the standard of care to be imposed on these companies by which to assess culpability in the event of future breaches, and (ii) the criteria by which a person whose data is compromised acquires standing to pursue an action against those companies?
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Nancy J. Brown, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/22/2009
For more than twenty years, intermediate appellate courts in Texas, as well as federal courts applying Texas law, have recognized the “single business enterprise” theory as a basis for disregarding the corporate form in order to impose liability on one corporation for another corporation’s debt or wrongdoing. In a much-anticipated ruling, the Texas Supreme Court recently rejected this theory. Texas is the only state in which the highest court has clearly discarded this particular theory of corporate disregard, while courts in a number of other states continue to routinely apply the theory, and courts in yet other states may be moving toward its use.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Todd Myers, Brandon Houskeeper, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Brief, 01/22/2009
As legislators and the Governor grapple with the economic challenges in Washington State, it is a good opportunity to reassess our environmental priorities to ensure that we are receiving the most environmental benefit in a way that truly promotes job creation and prosperity. Washington Policy Center’s 2009 Agenda for Effective Environmental Stewardship offers five proposals that prioritize projects with guaranteed environmental benefit, creating personal incentives to reduce greenhouse gases and conserve and harnessing the knowledge of millions of Washington residents who know best how to take steps toward sustainability.
WelfareBy D. Sean Shurtleff, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 01/22/2009
Two things hold true about the U.S. poverty standard. First, if policymakers agree that living standards have improved since the 1960s, as the evidence shows, that should be reflected in a lower poverty rate. Second, relative poverty thresholds distort the true number of people in absolute deprivation. If it takes a more modest approach to refining its poverty measure, Congress can develop a more accurate poverty standard without increasing the cost of welfare benefits or the burden on taxpayers.
LaborBy N. Mike Helvacian, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 01/22/2009
Since the early 20th century, employers have had incentives to increase workplace safety. In fact, the financial liability of employers for workplace accidents — as reflected in their worker’s compensation premiums — is the greatest incentive for employers to improve safety. Furthermore, increased workplace safety reduces employers’ costs due to injuries and lost productivity. OSHA regulations, on the other hand, increase regulatory compliance costs, but don’t necessarily improve safety. OSHA is supposed to justify proposed regulations with estimates of the expected costs and benefits, but using flawed analyses subverts the purpose of the requirement.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Helle C. Dale, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/21/2009
In the days ahead, Mr. Obama’s foreign policy will take shape. There is no doubt that philosophically, Mr. Obama differs from his predecessor. Yet, how far world events will allow the Obama foreign policy to diverge from that of the Bush years remains to be seen.
Health CareBy Nina Owcharenko, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/21/2009
If Congress is poised to extend health care assistance for unemployed workers as part of its economic stimulus proposal, it should do so in a way that gives workers more choices and is more cost effective. The bill proposed by House Democrats would do the opposite.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy J. D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/21/2009
The United States Senate will soon consider the nomination of Timothy Geithner to be Treasury secretary of the United States. The following are a few of the many questions Geithner should address in his confirmation process and in the months to come.
Capital Xenophobia II: Foreign Direct Investment in Australia, Sovereign Wealth Funds, and the Rise of State CapitalismBy Stephen Kirchner, Centre for Independent StudiesPolicy Monographs, 01/21/2009
Foreign direct investment, along with foreign investment more generally, provides important economic benefits for Australia. FDI increases the domestic capital stock, results in more efficient ownership of that stock, and supports long-run improvements in productivity, laying the foundations for future economic growth and rising living standards. Cross-border direct investment thus has an even more profound impact on economic welfare than international trade in goods and services. Yet, on a range of measures, Australia is underperforming in terms of FDI inflows. The most likely explanation for this underperformance is Australia’s relatively restrictive FDI regime. This includes outright statutory restrictions on foreign ownership, as well as sweeping bureaucratic and ministerial discretion to reject FDI proposals based on open-ended criteria that are inconsistent with the rule of law, increasing uncertainty for foreign investors and Australian residents selling domestic assets.
Economic GrowthBy Mark Milke , Fraser InstituteFraser Alert, 01/21/2009
When the Fraser Institute published my first study on corporate welfare one year ago, the tally between April 1, 1994 and March 30, 2004 amounted to $144 billion. That was the amount Canadian governments distributed to businesses in the form of subsidies from federal, provincial, and municipal treasuries (i.e., taxpayers) over the 10-year period. One year later, and with two more years of data available, that figure has climbed to over $182 billion for the 12 years between 1994 and 2006. When last year’s study was published, some media commentators expressed surprise at why an institute seen as friendly to market principles would criticize business subsidies or, in other words, corporate welfare. The reason is simple: the data show that competition is superior and preferable to corporatism.
Health CareBy Bartley J. Madden, Heartland InstituteBooklet, 01/21/2009
Should we not expect our elected representatives to seek a better world in which priority is given to existing patients, and patients and doctors control medical treatments? A Dual Tracking system would achieve this end. The most powerful argument for Dual Tracking, one that has appeal across political affiliations and every other possible source of disagreement, is that individuals and families ought to be free to improve or save a life, even if doing so incurs some risk. The current regulatory regime is profoundly at odds with this simple and compelling idea, and that calls out for genuine reform.
EducationBy Christopher Jepsen, Kenneth R. Troske, William H. Hoyt, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceSchool Choice Issues, 01/21/2009
The passage of the Kentucky Educational Reform Act (KERA) in 1990 had a dramatic impact on the funding of primary and secondary education in the state. The amount of money spent on education increased significantly with the passage of KERA with districts in rural areas of the state experiencing the largest growth in spending (Hoyt, 1999). This has led to a decline in the disparity between rural and urban districts in education spending. However, despite the increase in educational spending, Kentucky still lags behind the typical state in the U.S. in spending per student (Troske, 2008).
Budget & TaxationBy Kristina Rasmussen, National Taxpayers UnionIssue Brief, 01/21/2009
With the arrival of President Barack Obama on Pennsylvania Avenue and strengthened Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, taxpayers will soon be facing a sea of change – some would say a tidal wave – in tax policy. The following is a must-read list of tax hikes that have a strong likelihood of being considered during the 111th Congress (2009-2010).
Budget & TaxationBy Kristina Rasmussen, National Taxpayers UnionIssue Brief, 01/21/2009
A compensation realignment between government jobs and private sector positions is long overdue. While some government programs are more important than others, no expenditure should be considered “untouchable,” especially in tough economic times. States that are reexamining their balance sheets should consider compensation freezes or market-based salary re-evaluations.
EducationBy Paul DiPerna, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceSchool Choice Survey in the State, 01/21/2009
This scientifically representative poll of 1,200 likely Oregon voters measures public opinion on a wide range of K-12 education issues. The underlying theme of the Friedman Foundation’s Survey in the State series is to measure voter attitudes toward public institutions, leaders, innovative ideas, and the state’s K-12 education system. Engaged citizens have shared with use their views about “school choice” in the form of school vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, charter schools and virtual schools. Oregon is the eighth state to be surveyed in the last twelve months.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Don Racheter, Public Interest InstituteInstitute Brief, 01/21/2009
In America we hold frequent elections to “let the people decide” about a host of candidates at the local, state, and national levels. This system results in the election of many fine public servants and a feeling of pride by citizens who believe they have “done their civic duty” by participating. However, many citizens don’t bother to show up, and even those who do often complain about the quality of the choice they are presented with by the current system. When an unchallenged, or mere plurality, “winner” claims a “mandate” to act in the name of the people, disgruntlement and cynicism mount. One way to alleviate this problem would be to include for each race on all election ballots an additional choice: “None of the Above” (NOTA) with the proviso that if NOTA gets the most votes, another election would automatically be called in a set number of days and none of the candidates who appeared on the previous ballot would be allowed to run again.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Don Racheter, Public Interest InstituteInstitute Brief, 01/21/2009
Many Americans today believe they are caught between a rock and a hard place. They dislike the way government bureaucrats seem more interested in making life easy for themselves than in helping the needy, more interested in managing problems than solving them. On the other hand, when they see exposés on television of people getting ripped off by swindlers, they often react by saying “There ought to be a law against that!” What people seem to want is the uniformity and protection of government policy combined with the customer-service orientation of the private sector.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Jennifer Smith-Bozek , Competitive Enterprise InstituteOn Point, 01/21/2009
The increase in railroad mergers and closure of some rail routes have been prompted by changes in government regulations as well as market pressures. Re-regulating railroads will not address the important issue of the costs railroads face in providing services vis-à-vis the price shippers are willing to pay for those services. The RCSIA will not benefit shippers and producers, who will not be able to obtain the service they need at the prices allowed by the regulation. They may file suits regarding timeliness of delivery, but they will eventually find that they need to relocate production to an area better served by various alternative forms of transportation. Rather, the Act will serve as a direct transfer of wealth from taxpayers to producers and shippers, from railroads to shippers, and from some railroads to their competitors.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Alex J. Pollock, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 01/21/2009
How can we get any perspective on the financial bust we are experiencing, as we watch all kinds of asset prices plummet, famous financial firms fail, credit contract, and bailouts bloat the government’s balance sheet? We have to begin by considering the bubble which preceded and caused the bust. This bubble was huge and the bust is severe, but the basic patterns are not at all new. They recur throughout financial history.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Alex J. Pollock, American Enterprise InstituteArticles, 01/21/2009
In Walter Bagehot’s famous banking dictum, when faced with a panic, the central bank must “lend freely.” The Fed and other central banks are certainly doing so today, with a vengeance. On top of that, the treasuries of many countries (the United States, Britain, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Iceland, and Switzerland among them) are devoting the public credit to supporting financial companies. We have moved through the typical stages of governments faced with a financial crisis.
Economic GrowthBy Alan D. Viard, American Enterprise InstituteArticles, 01/21/2009
The stimulus debate should supplement, rather than replace, the quest for long-run growth. To that end, tax policy should be oriented to tax consumption rather than saving. It should also keep marginal tax rates as low as reasonably possible. As we address the current economic calamity, let's also adopt policies that will continue to enable each generation to attain a higher standard of living.
Economic GrowthBy Robert A. Book, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/21/2009
After spending decades trying reduce health care costs, some commentators and policymakers now argue that health care costs should be increased to stimulate the economy. These two notions are fundamentally at odds with each other.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ted R. Bromund, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/21/2009
On January 13, President Bush presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. In honoring Blair and Howard, President Bush recognized the broader ties between the English-speaking nations of the world, known collectively as the Anglosphere.
International Trade/FinanceBy Daniella Markheim, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/21/2009
The SPP and TEC demonstrate that effective mechanisms can be found to improve the coherence, consistency, and effectiveness of regulation, enhance regional and transatlantic competitiveness, and develop stronger economic relations. In addition to supporting free trade, the Obama Administration should also pursue efforts within these initiatives that will result in greater economic benefits for America and its partners.
LaborBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/21/2009
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would allow pay discrimination lawsuits to proceed years or even decades after alleged discrimination took place.
LaborBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/21/2009
The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act would require all state and local governments to collectively bargain with public safety employees’—police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel—by creating a federalized collective bargaining system for public safety officers.