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Recent Policy Studies
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Joanne Nova, JoanneNova.com.auReport, 04/20/2009
Don’t fall for the ‘complexity’ argument, or accept vague answers. The climate is complex, but the only thing that matters here is whether adding more CO2 to the atmosphere will make the world much warmer. Everything hinges on this one question. If carbon dioxide is not a significant cause, then carbon sequestration, cap ‘n trade, emissions trading, and the Kyoto agreement are a waste of time and money. All of them divert resources away from things that matter—like finding a cure for cancer, or feeding Somali babies. Having a real debate IS the best thing for the environment.
Health CareBy John C. Goodman, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 04/20/2009
Liberating the medical market by freeing doctors and patients is the only way to bring health care costs under control without sacrificing quality. Continuing on our current path—allowing health care costs to rise at twice the rate of income under the aegis of an unworkable government Ponzi scheme—is by comparison unreasonable.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Jim Harper, Cato InstituteTechknowledge, 04/20/2009
President Obama promised on the campaign trail that he would have the most transparent administration in history. As part of this commitment, he said that the public would have five days to look online and find out what was in the bills that came to his desk before he signed them. It was his first broken promise, and it’s the promise that keeps on breaking. He has now signed 11 bills into law and gone, at best, 1 for 11 on his five-day posting promise. The Obama administration should deliver on the Web-enabled transparency he promised and post bills for five days before signing.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Vern McKinley, Gary Gegenheimer, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 04/20/2009
This present crisis has demonstrated that undertaking bailouts of troubled institutions, which involves structuring transactions that attempt to transform the institution into a viable one, while simultaneously projecting the reaction of investors and markets, is a process for which government is ill-suited. These bailout powers should be revoked. Financial angst still hangs over the system as the underlying imbalances that led to the crisis have not been reconciled. The ultimate answer is to place troubled institutions into receivership or the relevant form of bankruptcy—including many of the institutions that have already been bailed out.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Malou Innocent, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 04/20/2009
America’s actions are not passively accepted by the majority of Pakistan’s population, and officials in Islamabad cannot afford to be perceived as putting America’s interests above those of their own people. Because the long-term success of this nuclear-armed Muslim-majority country depends on the public’s repudiation of extremism, and our continued presence in Afghanistan is adding more fuel to violent religious radicalism, our mission in the region, as well as our tactics, our objectives, and our interests, must all be reexamined.
Budget & TaxationBy David E. Williams, Sean Kennedy, Kerrie Rushton, Citizens Against Government WasteReport, 04/20/2009
The outrage of millions of taxpayers following the $700 billion bank bailout and the $787 billion stimulus bill did not stop Congress from passing and President Obama from signing a bloated $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act in March. With the subsequent approval of the President’s budget, the national debt will triple over the next 10 years. That leaves plenty of opportunities for pork to remain pervasive in the nation’s capital.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Lawrence A. Kogan, Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable DevelopmentArticle, 04/20/2009
International organizations and comparative law specialists have increasingly recognized that the attenuation of private property rights through denial of due process can be an unfortunate byproduct and/or feature of preventive justice. Consequently, they have suggested that policymakers and industry leaders devote more time and energy to reviewing the provisions of civil law country national constitutions. An examination of the French Constitution, for example, would reveal the adoption of the civil law precautionary principle. Also, the most recent draft of the Constitution of the European Union incorporates it as well. Hopefully, such efforts will help to reduce the growing number of international public policy disputes that have arisen between common law and civil law jurisdictions with respect to what may best be characterized as creeping public interests.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Lawrence A. Kogan, Washington Legal FoundationWorking Paper, 04/20/2009
This Working Paper describes in detail how the environmental and academic communities have surreptitiously worked to steer the U.S. Supreme Court in the direction of incorporating one of three different applications of Europe’s Precautionary Principle within U.S. jurisprudence. As the pleadings and surrounding literature reveal, Respondents and amici urged the court to embrace as a general rule the Ninth Circuit’s presumption of irreparable environmental injury, its presumption in favor of issuing preliminary injunctions in environmental matters, and/or its presumption against issuing a military exemption in NEPA cases. These efforts were unsuccessful, as the Court was seemingly cognizant of the Respondents’ deeper objectives. Yet, activists are likely to continue testing the proverbial waters in future legal challenges. Indeed, environmentalists have already interpreted the NRDC v. Winter decision as narrowly as possible given the Court’s refusal to address their non-‘science’ claims. As the environmentalist report referenced in the introduction above indicates, this is only the opening play of a very detailed and well thought out theatre production targeted at enshrining Europe’s Precautionary Principle as U.S. law.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Kathleen Hartnett White, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 04/20/2009
Texans equally deserve regulatory transparency—full disclosure of the costs and benefits of regulation established by state rules. Regulatory transparency is particularly needed in environmental regulations, the most rapidly expanding area of federal and state regulation.
Information TechnologyBy Bill Peacock, Chris Robertson, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 04/20/2009
The explosion of Internet and wireless-based technologies has revolutionized the telecommunications market. Future regulatory and tax policies should reflect these changes to promote a competitive telecommunications industry, reduce high taxes and fees, and encourage future economic growth within the state.
EducationBy Elizabeth Young, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 04/20/2009
Tuition prices are increasing due to high university operating costs, not a lack of state funding. There must be measures in place that provide incentives for universities to keep these costs as low as possible. The only way to achieve this is to infuse free-market principles into a higher education system that severely lacks fiscal discipline.
EducationBy Lindsey Burke, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/20/2009
A Heritage survey of the Members of the 111th Congress revealed that 44 percent of Senators and 36 percent of Representatives had sent their children to private schools. A failed amendment on behalf of the popular and successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program would have passed if Members of Congress who exercised school choice for their own children had voted in favor of the amendment.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/20/2009
On April 18, the U.S officially announced that it would not attend Durban II. The U.S. was right to ignore outside pressure and refuse to grant Durban II the legitimacy that U.S. participation would provide.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/17/2009
A long-term solution to piracy hinges on improving stability and bolstering Somali authorities with which the U.S. can work to advance mutual interests.
National SecurityBy James Jay Carafano, Richard Weitz, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/17/2009
Many of the threats the United States faces, and many of the means available to counter them, are embedded in webs of complex systems-from the transportation networks to the electrical grids. The responsibilities of the DHS include making the complex systems that support the country more resilient to natural or man-made disasters and preventing terrorist exploitation of these systems.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Kenneth P. Green, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/17/2009
The argument that the developed world should be the first to cut emissions is not only illogical when viewing climate change as the long-term challenge it is purported to be, but it is also a dangerous smokescreen hiding the reality that developing countries will cause vastly more environmental degradation than the developed world has or will. Indeed, what logic there is suggests that the most dramatic actions should start first in the developing world, as, in the fullness of time, that is from where the majority of the damage will come.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise InstituteRetirement Policy Outlook, 04/17/2009
Social Security’s 12.4 percent tax is the largest paid by most workers and Social Security benefits are the largest income source for most retirees.An individual considering whether to work or retire might ask, “What’s in it for me? If I continue to pay into Social Security, how much additional benefit will I receive?” The answer: not much. The typical individual who works for an additional year before retiring will receive only 2.5 cents in additional benefits for each dollar of extra taxes paid to Social Security. This translates to a marginal rate of return of -49.5 percent. One reform to extend working years and enhance income security in retirement would be to reduce or eliminate the payroll tax for individuals above a given age.
Health CareBy Roger Bate, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/17/2009
Although the Indian federal government has failed to amend its laws to properly combat the counterfeit and substandard drug trade, regional and local officials are beginning to clamp down on this odious business. Driven by increased media coverage and public outrage, courageous individuals are fighting back.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Samuel Thernstrom, American Enterprise InstituteBook Chapter, 04/17/2009
Policymakers have struggled to find ways to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions for twenty years, with little to show for their efforts. The Kyoto Protocol has had a negligible effect on global emissions – its targets were unpalatable for the United States, undemanding for energy – inefficient Russia, and impractical for the many countries that are missing them, while also being far too modest to have a meaningful effect on warming – yet the world seems more intent on replicating Kyoto’s failures than on learning from them. Policymakers are eager to take more aggressive action to cut emissions, but there is as much reason as ever to doubt the prospects for success, given the scale and speed of the reductions that would be needed, according to many scientists, to prevent significant warming.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Robert T. Gannett Jr., American Enterprise InstitutePapers and Studies, 04/17/2009
Through village democracy and the activism it has inspired and informed, Chinese villagers are in the process of proving Tocqueville wrong about their own credentials for freedom.
International Trade/FinanceBy Alan Viard, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/17/2009
Supporters of consumption taxation in the United States often rely on misperceptions about border adjustments in order to make their case. There are compelling reasons to adopt a consumption tax in the United States, including simplification and enhanced capital accumulation. The ability to border adjust is immaterial. The border adjustment fallacy should not obscure the real case for consumption taxation.
Budget & TaxationBy Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/17/2009
As Congress takes over the job of turning President Obama’s budget plans into legislative reality, they should focus on two words: aim higher.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Samuel H. Beer, American Enterprise InstituteBook Chapter, 04/17/2009
In the early 1960s the New Deal finally came to an end. My question is: What, if anything, has taken its place? By the New Deal I mean here a state of mind, an outlook on politics and government, a public philosophy. For the New Deal consisted not merely of the political and governmental acts constituting the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, but also of a rationale for those acts. When I ask, therefore, what has taken the New Deal’s place, I mean its place as that crucial element in a democratic polity, a public philosophy.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Aparna Mathur, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/17/2009
Setting conventional wisdom aside, cap-and-trade as it will apply in practice will affect all regions and all consumers nationwide with little to distinguish the burden across regions. That is the only change you can believe in.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Steven F. Hayward, American Enterprise InstituteLecture, 04/17/2009
Over the last decade a surprising thing happened: Reagan’s reputation started to soar, and even liberals started to like him. This admiration is limited and qualified, however; once the accounts move beyond the Cold War, and some of the previously unknown aspects of Reagan’s personal writing such as his copious letters and diary, the accounts of Reagan are sorely lacking. Apart from the Cold War, the conventional wisdom is that much of the rest of Reagan’s presidency ranged from fiasco (such as his economic policy) to disaster (the Iran-Contra scandal), just as many historians incorrectly judge Winston Churchill’s pre-World War II career as largely a failure or disaster. This disjunction between Reagan’s Cold War statecraft and his domestic statecraft is a major interpretive mistake. Above all, too many of the treatments of Reagan try to abstract him from his ideology, which is like, to borrow G.K. Chesterton’s phrase, “trying to tell the story of a saint without God.”
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Peter J. Wallison, American Enterprise InstituteFinancial Services Outlook, 04/16/2009
In late March – timed to impress the G20 – the Obama administration revealed its plan for regulating and restructuring the U.S. financial system. There were no surprises; its approach, presented by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, endorsed both a single powerful systemic regulator, with authority to designate and regulate “systemically important” institutions in every financial sector, and a system for liquidating or bailing out financial firms that might cause a systemic breakdown if they failed. Although presented as a way to prevent a repeat of the current financial crisis, the proposals will, if implemented, seriously impair competitive conditions in all U.S. financial markets – enhancing the power of large companies that are designated as systemically important and threatening the survival of those that do not receive that endorsement. Underlying the plan is the erroneous belief – shattered by the catastrophic condition of the heavily regulated banking sector – that regulation can prevent risk-taking and failure. Although the plan could get through Congress if the financial industry remains inert and apathetic, the weakness of the administration's case suggests that it is vulnerable to determined opposition.
Economic GrowthBy Alex J. Pollock, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/16/2009
A wise saying is, “Many things previously considered impossible nevertheless came to pass.” Then we wonder why we considered them impossible. Now to many the recovery of housing and mortgage markets, the banking system, and the general economy may seem impossible, but that too will come to pass.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Michael S. Greve, American Enterprise InstituteOn the Issues, 04/16/2009
Contrary to its recent reputation of being “probusiness,” the Supreme Court, in its Wyeth v. Levine decision, has gutted “federal preemption,” one of the few remaining protections against state interference in the national economy. By ruling that the pharmaceutical company Wyeth is liable for not including a stronger warning on a drug label than the Food and Drug Administration required, the Court allows local juries and regulators to preempt federal regulators – which are better equipped to deal fairly with national industries. The Wyeth decision will prove disastrous for the American economy.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Michael Auslin, American Enterprise InstituteAsian Outlook, 04/16/2009
To the casual observer, Japan looks battered. Its sclerotic political system is incapable of producing a strong government or attracting popular support; after years of deflation and sluggish growth, it is now suffering from the most severe global economic contraction since the Great Depression; and its population is both aging and declining, with little prospect for increasing the birth rate or opening up to immigration. But there is reason to hope that Asia’s oldest representative democracy will thrive again. The Japanese are changing their view of their country’s role in the world but maintaining their high-quality education system, armed forces, and humanitarian agenda. And despite demographic changes, Japanese society remains cohesive.
EducationBy Frederick M. Hess, Monica Higgins, American Enterprise InstituteEducation Outlook, 04/16/2009
Charter schooling continues to grow apace. The nation’s four-thousand-plus charter schools now enroll more than a million students and are approaching (or have exceeded) traditional district enrollment in communities like Dayton, Ohio; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Washington, D.C. Many of the most successful charter school providers are embarking on ambitious growth plans; most notably, the famed KIPP Academies hope to nearly double the number of their schools in the next five years, from fifty-seven to roughly one hundred. The climate for expansion seems hospitable: President Obama has called for doubling federal support for charter school facilities. But what will it take for charter schooling to succeed at scale?
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Amy Watson, Independent Women's ForumPolicy Brief, 04/16/2009
Although a detailed plan has not been presented to the American public, statements previously made by the President indicate he will support an aggressive cap-and-trade program that would heavily penalize energy use in the United States. Such a plan would have a significant impact on our economy, slowing economic growth, raising the cost of energy and everyday goods, and reducing job creation. Despite his promise to not raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 during the campaign, costs from a cap-and-trade program are essentially a carbon tax and will most heavily impact lower-wage earners.
EducationBy Don Soifer, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 04/16/2009
Virginia’s Class of 2008 had an on-time graduation rate of 82.1 percent, and a dropout rate of 8.7 percent, according to new data from the Virginia Department of Education. The worse news is that the dropout rate for black students is twice the rate for white students, and the dropout rate for Latino students – 20 percent statewide – is three times that for white students.
EducationBy Don Soifer, Lexington InstituteResearch Study, 04/16/2009
What is the cost to the United States economy attributable to a lack of basic English skills? There are currently over 11 million English learners living in the United States, including over 5 million currently attending elementary and secondary schools. This paper utilizes data from the 2000 Census as well as a range of sources to estimate that $65 billion annually in wages are lost due to poor English language skills.
National SecurityBy Daniel Goure, Lexington InstituteResearch Study, 04/16/2009
The Army has plans and, most important, the funds, to complete the needed critical modernization at RFAAP. However, it has delayed moving ahead on this effort pending the award of a new contract to a private firm to manage the facility. This could take as long as a year. In the meantime, the military risks having its supply of ammunition virtually halted should there be a breakdown in any of a number of critical systems at RFAAP. Rather than waiting, the Army needs to move ahead expeditiously to begin the final phase of its modernization effort. Lives are potentially at stake.
National SecurityBy Loren B. Thompson, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 04/16/2009
Defense secretary Robert Gates says that the program changes he proposed last week reflected the need to “rebalance” the nation’s military posture in light of recent operational experience. That is only half right. They also reflect the fact that five percent of the world’s population – the United States – can no longer afford to sustain nearly fifty percent of global military outlays. Not when our economy’s share of global output is declining every year and our government is spending five billion dollars each day that it does not have. You know you’re out of money when the only way left to sustain your defense posture is by borrowing money from the biggest military power you might have to fight in the years ahead.
National SecurityBy Daniel Goure, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 04/16/2009
Secretary Gates wants to take the Department of Defense back to the future, to a time when the U.S. military did not possess unquestioned conventional superiority and when the huge mass of government personnel inhibited innovation and increased the costs of acquiring weapons systems. This would be a grave mistake.
National SecurityBy lexingtoninstitute.org/1396.shtml, Lexington InstituteInstitute Brief, 04/16/2009
When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated on April 6 that the Air Force advised him they wanted 187 F-22s, the reaction was shock. That’s because evidence indicates the Air Force was ready and willing to cap off production after buying a total of 243 F-22s, not 187.
Health CareBy Paul Howard, Gualberto Ruaño, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 04/16/2009
Genetic prescription is clearly the wave of our health-care future, but two factors are slowing its development. The first is concern that federal health-care reform could focus too narrowly on cost reductions. The second factor is confusion about how the FDA—the gatekeeper for all new medical products and devices—will treat gene-based drugs and devices.
EducationBy Matthew G. Springer, Marcus A. Winters, Manhattan InstituteCivic Report, 04/16/2009
Paying teachers varying amounts on the basis of how well their students perform is an idea that has been winning increasing support, both in the United States and abroad, and many school systems have adopted some version of it. Proponents claim that linking teacher pay to student performance is a powerful way to encourage talented and highly motivated people to enter the teaching profession and then to motivate them further inside the classroom. Critics, on the other hand, contend that an extrinsic incentive like bonus pay may have unfortunate consequences, including rivalry instead of cooperation among teachers and excessive focus on the one or two subjects used to measure academic progress. In this paper, a researcher from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and another from the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University present evidence on the short-run impact of a group-level incentive pay program operating in the New York City Public School System.
Information TechnologyBy Bruce M. Owen, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 04/16/2009
No one familiar with the spectrum management process thinks that it is the engineers who generally have the last word in government spectrum decisions. It is often the politicians, or the politically-attuned agency officials, besieged by various special interests. This is not a good way to run a railroad, a mobile communication industry, or anything else that could rather easily be governed by an efficient market.
PhilanthropyBy Naomi Schaefer Riley, Philanthropy Roundtable04/16/2009
True diversity does not come from charitable organizations meeting some cosmetic ratio of race, ethnicity, and gender (or any other arbitrary criterion) among staff, boards, and grantees. That is a cramped, narrow, and unnatural understanding of diversity. Rather, true diversity exists when many different individuals and many different institutions freely commit themselves to a sweeping array of charitable activities. Charitable giving in the United States is diverse because the American people are diverse—diverse in our aspirations, diverse in our beliefs, and diverse in our most deeply cherished values.
National SecurityBy Jena Baker McNeill, Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/16/2009
U.S. anti-piracy strategy should be applied to the Horn of Africa and surrounding waters, but the uniquely lawless situation in Somalia requires supplementary strategies.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/16/2009
In order to ensure that the Fifth Summit of the Americas makes considerable progress toward securing a most secure, stable, and prosperous Western Hemisphere, President Obama should take the following steps.
EducationBy Dan Lips, Jena Baker McNeill, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/16/2009
American leaders have emphasized the need to improve performance in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Instead of focusing on federal solutions and increasing federal spending policymakers and the private sector should refocus attention on systemic education reforms at the state, local, and school levels to dramatically increase the number of students who succeed in STEM fields at school and in the workforce.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Ronald D. Utt, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/16/2009
President Barack Obama’s partnership between the Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development reflects an escalation in his apparent intent to re-energize and lead the Left’s longstanding war against America's suburbs and could be used to distort federal transportation and housing cost data to coerce Americans to use more public transportation and move back into the cities and close-in suburbs.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James M. Roberts, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/16/2009
Confronted by serious economic problems domestically and unprecedented foreign challenges to the U.S.’s historically dominant role in Latin America, will President Obama will use the Summit of the Americas to increase domestic prosperity and security? Here’s how to keep score.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/16/2009
In an April 6 press briefing at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced sweeping changes in a variety of defense modernization. Congress and the American people need to understand why there are serious contradictions in Secretary Gates’s announced plan.
Budget & TaxationBy Len Lazarick, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 04/16/2009
This paper will explore how Maryland got into its current deficit and will suggest what might be done about it. It builds on the extensive work of Senior Fellow Cecilia Januszkiewicz, who detailed many of the deficit problems in 2008 papers and op-ed pieces and proposed procedural solutions. This paper will take a complementary approach, looking at the operation and policy rationales relating to specific programs in greater detail.