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Recent Policy Studies
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Phillip Booth, Institute of Economic AffairsBook, 05/14/2009
This book challenges the myth that the recent banking crisis was caused by insufficient statutory regulation of financial markets. Though it finds that statutory regulation failed, and that market participants took more risks than they should have done, it appears that statutory regulation made matters worse rather than better. Furthermore the fifteen experts who have contributed to this study find that government policy failed in other respects too. As with the boom and bust that led to the Great Depression, loose monetary policy on both sides of the Atlantic helped to promote an asset price bubble and credit boom which, at some stage, was bound to have serious consequences. Rejecting the failed approach of discretionary detailed regulation of the financial system, the authors instead propose specific and incisive regulatory tools that are designed to target, in a non-intrusive way, particular weaknesses in a banking system that is backed by deposit insurance. This study, by some of the most eminent authors in the field, is essential reading for all those who are interested in the policy implications of recent events in financial markets
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ian Clark, et al., Fraser InstituteReport, 05/14/2009
The issue of global warming is the subject of two parallel debates: one scientific, focused on the analyses of complex and conflicting data; the other political, addressing what is the proper response of government to a hypothetical risk. Proponents of an immediate and sweeping regulatory response insist that the scientific debate has long been settled. But a fair reading of the science, as presented in the Fraser Institute’s Independent Summary for Policymakers, proves otherwise. The supplements to that report go deeper into some of the key topics and provide even more evidence that popularized notions about the causes and consequences of global warming are more fiction than fact.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Steven F. Hayward, Pacific Research InstituteReport, 05/14/2009
The year 2009 marks the anniversary of several key moments in environmental history, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker disaster, the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, and, perhaps most notoriously, the Cuyahoga River fire of June 1969. As this edition of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators reports, the recovery of the ecosystems of both the Cuyahoga River and Prince William Sound has been nothing short of remarkable, though it seldom gets much attention in the media or from environmentalists. Some more diffuse or wide-scale problems, such as the restoration of the Florida Everglades, remain mired in bureaucracy or opaque from a lack of reliable data, with little progress being made.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Bruce Klingner, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/14/2009
The election of the DPJ could create turbulence in the Japanese-U.S. security alliance and disrupt efforts to coordinate allied policy toward North Korea. Ozawa supporters are more likely to resist efforts to implement punitive measures for North Korea’s violation of U.N. resolutions and failure to meet its denuclearization commitments. Furthermore, the next prime minister, regardless of party, will face the same systemic constraints that have long prevented Japan from exerting a strong political and economic leadership role. The next leader will preside over a country that is not only floundering economically but has a political system seemingly designed for inefficiency and a populace apparently acquiescent to China filling the Asian leadership vacuum.
EducationBy Lindsey Burke, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/14/2009
In his speech on education in March, President Obama declared that “Secretary Duncan will use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works.” The experiences in Georgia and Oklahoma suggest that a federal program to encourage states to offer universal preschool would be costly and ineffective in delivering the significant, long-term benefits that its supporters promise.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nicolas Loris, Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/14/2009
A favorite approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions among Washington bureaucrats is the “market-oriented” cap-and-trade program, which under a global warming bill proposed by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA), would establish. Building broad support for this approach, however, has been difficult, leading some in Congress to develop alternatives to cap and trade. Some of these new schemes are as simple as placing a tax on carbon emissions, while others, such as “cap and dividend” or “cap and invest” are variations of the original. The problem with these efforts is that they do not resolve the central problem that will continue to plague attempts to cap CO2: All carbon capping plans are costly energy taxes in disguise that will raise energy prices and unemployment with little environmental benefit.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/14/2009
On May 6, the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States issued its final report at the United States Institute of Peace. Unfortunately, press reports are emphasizing the fact that the commission failed to reach an agreement on U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This emphasis obscures the fact that the commissioners did achieve consensus on a wide variety of issues regarding the overall strategic posture of the U.S. Therefore, Congress would do well to pay attention to the commission’s areas of agreement while exercising caution regarding CTBT ratification due to the lack on consensus on that issue.
Economic GrowthBy James Sherk, Diem Nguyen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/14/2009
Reports have indicated that Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) plan to introduce a bill that would limit the ability of companies to hire H-1B employees. Arguing that H-1B visa recipients are a threat to American workers, their proposal would add new layers of regulation and procedures making it more difficult for companies to hire foreigners. This argument is misguided. Given the current economic climate, handcuffing employers from hiring talented workers will hurt—not help—the economy, further delaying the ability of businesses to restart the national economic engine. In order to grow the American economy and support the American workforce, Congress should expand and improve the H-1B visa program.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Robert D. Alt, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 05/14/2009
While the Supreme Court’s decision in Marshall v. Marshall, permits the federal courts to hear more claims which may touch on issues related to probate, there is no indication that the Court intended to undermine the uniformity that the bankruptcy law seeks to offer. That is, it is undoubtedly true that the Supreme Court did not intend for parties to use this opening to receive “a windfall merely by reason of the happenstance of bankruptcy.” And yet, this is precisely what Vickie Lynn Marshall (Anna Nicole Smith) attempted to do. It would be bad enough if she were successful in manipulating this particular case to prevent J. Howard Marshall’s detailed financial plans from being carried out as he intended. However if her case is successful, others will inevitably follow suit, leading to more forum shopping. Indeed, we may see an even larger surge in bankruptcy than the one currently brought about by the current recession as, to paraphrase Professor Baird, individuals seek bankruptcy for reasons having nothing to do with the policies that bankruptcy seeks to advance.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Robert Detlefsen, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 05/14/2009
Mandatory disclosure rules, especially when they are unilaterally put in place by administrative agencies such as state insurance departments, should not be used for ideological ends. The coercive effect of rules that require companies to disclose actions they are taking to address issues that are the subject of considerable debate and uncertainty should not be dismissed because of the supposed benign effect of “mere disclosure” (as opposed to direct prescription of behavior) and of “only asking them to tell the truth.” Though the NAIC has instructed insurers to file the Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey with the insurance department of their domiciliary state starting in May 2010, the decision as to whether this requirement will be enforced ultimately rests with each state insurance department. The NAIC has no authority to compel a state to administer its survey. One hopes that most states will decline to do so.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Thomas J. Foley, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 05/14/2009
Opening the drug litigation floodgates cannot come at a worse time for Michigan. The state drug law’s original goal was to stimulate and develop the biosciences industry as an important alternative to the state’s longstanding over-reliance on the auto sector. In February 2009, the University of Michigan released the findings of a major study which concluded that due to unique assets Michigan has available to support and grow activities associated with the biosciences, “[i]n our view, the industry has the potential to be one of the drivers in the future economic development of the region. The identification and nurturing of such economic drivers is critical to a state economy that finds itself in such dire straits.” Misrepresenting Wyeth as a reason to overturn this law and instigate a deluge of litigation directed against one of the principle components of the biosciences industry can only drive this provider of high-paying, quality jobs from Michigan to another state or country. Forsaking the common good for the sole benefit of a select group trial lawyers who stand to become wealthy by convincing a jury to disagree with FDA is not what Michigan needs.
Health CareBy Arnold I. Friede, Robert B. Nicholas, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 05/14/2009
U.S. v. Farinella, in which Judge Richard Posner ruled that in order for the Food and Drug Administration to make out a prima facie case of misbranding on account of misleading labeling it must present evidence “concerning consumers’ understanding,” has implications for other regulatory and enforcement contexts.
Economic GrowthBy Jeffrey M. Jones, Daniel Heil , Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 05/14/2009
Full-time employment over the course of one’s productive life usually results in significant income mobility. Although the federal government is the largest U.S. employer, with more than 2,700,000 employees (surpassing Wal-Mart by approximately 600,000), it comprises just 2 percent of the nation’s workforce. The vast majority of jobs are created and paid for by corporate America. Thus, public policy to encourage income mobility would make it easier for businesses to operate, innovate, produce, and grow. The jobs will follow. Sensible, time-tested steps that produce upward income mobility point to one conclusion: there are no shortcuts. The goals are to work, invest, partner, and learn, and to focus on personal responsibility. The economics of income mobility replace envy with effort.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy William Ratliff, Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 05/14/2009
Today China is urging stability in the Americas, and its burgeoning levels of investment and trade (if they continue in these hard times) will help Latin Americans resolve some of their challenges—if the profits are used wisely. Many Latin American elites will benefit from China’s economic involvement in the same way that they have from working with other foreigners for the past two centuries, but the Latin American people will be long-term winners only if their governments invest in physical and intellectual infrastructure for the future. If this does not happen, most of Latin America will remain the exploited reserve of natural resources it has been for more than 500 years, although the beneficiaries will increasingly be the Chinese rather than Europeans and the United States.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Henry I. Miller, Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 05/14/2009
The media’s pseudo-scare mode is a disservice to readers and viewers because people have only so much time to pay attention to health issues, and if most stories focus attention on minor (or virtually nonexistent) threats, greater risks that individuals may be able to control get short shrift.
National SecurityBy Chris Mondics , Hoover InstitutionHoover Digest, 05/14/2009
The Saudi High Commission case is among dozens cited in a sprawling lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan that raises troubling questions about the role of the Saudi government and affiliated charities in financing the movement that spawned the attacks of September 11, 2001. The lawsuit, pursued on behalf of dozens of U.S. and European insurers, individual victims, and others, sketches a detailed portrait of seeming Saudi indifference and inaction in the face of mounting evidence that government-backed charities were funding terror cells in Afghanistan, Europe, and Southeast Asia. It portrays the Saudi government as having far more control over the charities before the 9/11 attacks than it, or the U.S. government, has acknowledged, and it cites evidence that the Saudis were warned by U.S. and European officials in the years before the attacks that charities supported by Riyadh were serving as terrorist fronts.
EducationBy Stephen Bowen, Maine Heritage Policy CenterMaine Issue Brief, 05/14/2009
Opponents of public charter schools may argue that with all the financial challenges currently facing school systems across the state and nation, now is not the time to divert needed funding away from conventional public schools in order to experiment with public charter schools. The exact opposite is true. Now, more than ever, Maine’s schools need new ideas and new ways of solving the budgetary and student achievement challenges they face. As school enrollment continues to decline and school budgets continue to tighten, the state’s educators need precisely the kind of innovative approaches so widely available among public charter schools.
Economic GrowthBy Donna Arduin, Arthur B. Laffer, Wayne H. Winegarden, Ian McDonough, Maine Heritage Policy CenterMaine Insight, 05/14/2009
The historic relationship between the growth in the private economy, the size of the government expenditure wedge, and the change in the government expenditure wedge illustrates that increases in government spending relative to the size of the private sector causes a reduction in the overall growth of the economy. For example, between 1965 and 1983, the government expenditure wedge grew quickly, rising 16.6 percentage points to 49.0%. Growth in the private sector slowed to 2.5% per year. On the other hand, between 1983 and 1988, growth in the private sector accelerated to 5.1% per year as the government expenditure wedge fell 3.3 points back down to 45.7%.
Budget & TaxationBy Armand A. Fusco, Lewis M. Andrews , Yankee Institute for Public PolicyReport, 05/14/2009
Taxpayers can have a dramatic impact on local spending, ensuring that municipal government and educational services are delivered in the most cost-effective way, but only if they organize themselves into something we shall refer to as citizens audit committee. This is a group of volunteers who can provide independent and objective oversight to budgeting and spending practices by assessing whether there is efficiency, effectiveness, and economy in the use of physical, human and financial resources – and whether elected and appointed officials are being accountable, transparent and responsive to the voting public.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Shaka Mitchell, Justin Owen, Beacon Center of TennesseeReport, 05/14/2009
Tennessee has some of the most restrictive wine laws in the nation. The laws on the books are remnants of Prohibition-era regulations, kept in existence by very powerful special interest groups and the politicians they influence. These outdated laws only serve to harm consumers, business owners, and the state’s overall economy. Among the state’s restrictive wine statutes is one that prohibits grocery stores from carrying wine—limiting the sale of wine exclusively to liquor stores. Another law prevents wine and liquor stores (and online businesses) from shipping wine directly to Tennesseans, even making it a felony for Tennesseans to bring wine into Tennessee from another state. In practice this means that vineyards in Tennessee cannot ship wine directly to customers within the state. Yet another law requires all registered wholesalers, retailers, and wineries to be residents of Tennessee.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Bill Peacock, Texas Public Policy FoundationBill Analysis , 05/14/2009
To fix Texas’ Kelo problem, we need to do three things: 1) eliminate the ability of governments to transfer taken property from one private owner to another, 2) eliminate the ability of governments to use blight designations as an end run around the ban for takings for economic development purposes, and 3) end government land speculation by requiring that property not put to the public use for which it was taken within five years, be offered for sale back to the original owner at the price the government paid for it.
EducationBy Elizabeth Young, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 05/14/2009
Universities need to change existing incentive structures to reward excellent teachers. Rewarding good teachers with bonuses based on student evaluations of teachers is one simple way to achieve this goal. Doing so would also encourage universities to shift their attention back to their customers and could lead professors to be more productive educators—enhancing educational quality and saving money for students, parents, and taxpayers.
Economic GrowthBy Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Irwin Stelzer, John C. Weicher, Hudson InstituteHudson Institute Economic Report, 05/14/2009
Markets rose today on signs from the employment report that the economy is stabilizing. But although the economy may be stabilizing, the employment report does not provide us with the proof. Rather, the information buried in the report is less rosy than the headlines.
Budget & TaxationBy Chuck Blahous, Hudson InstituteReport, 05/14/2009
The public has been ill-served by those who have groundlessly minimized the Social Security shortfall. The current wake-up call is coming too late to allow for a Social Security fix as benign as the one that could have been enacted years ago. It is still the case, however, that we will get a better solution and a more effective Social Security program if we act sooner rather than later.
Budget & TaxationBy Richard Williams, Katelyn Christ, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 05/14/2009
Policy makers and the public have become increasingly concerned about the dramatic growth in obesity that has taken place in the United States over the last several decades. Policies that tax sweetened soft drink for the purposes of reducing obesity and, in some cases, raising funds to advance this goal seek the same economic legitimacy as past attempts to tax “sin products” like tobacco, alcohol, and firearms. Not surprisingly, though, this tax raises efficiency concerns similar to those taxes. Taxes on sweetened soft drinks do not necessarily advance the overall public interest, may be regressive in nature, and hardly ever work as intended.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Maurice McTigue, Henry Wray, Jerry Ellig, Mercatus CenterReport, 05/14/2009
Researchers at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University initiated the Scorecard series in fiscal year 1999 to foster continuous improvement in the quality of disclosure in agencies’ annual performance reports. This study is thus our tenth annual evaluation of the performance and accountability reports produced by the 24 agencies covered under the Chief Financial Officers Act. A re-evaluation of the best four reports from fiscal year 1999 finds that these reports would rank well below average when judged on the same 12 criteria by fiscal year 2008’s higher standards. Qualitative analysis of best practices reveals substantial improvements since fiscal year 1999.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Susan Dudley, Arthur Fraas, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 05/14/2009
As President Obama considers improvements to the regulatory analysis and oversight process established by President Clinton’s EO 12866, he should recognize that (1) centralized oversight of regulatory development is essential for an accountable government and (2) though not perfect, a goal of maximizing net benefits using a BCA framework provides the most transparent and robust approach to ensuring regulatory proposals make Americans better off. While executive oversight has served presidents and the American people well for almost three decades, President Obama could improve the process by adopting a formal early-review process for the most significant regulatory actions and holding independent agencies to the same analytical and oversight standards as other agencies.
Budget & TaxationBy Shawnna L.M. Bolick , Goldwater InstitutePolicy Brief, 05/14/2009
Public records requests by the Goldwater Institute show that between 2006 and 2008, elected officeholders in Arizona spent at least $4.2 million in public funds on name and photo placements in various official publications. Although some publications may serve the legitimate purpose of making citizens aware of new laws, many are undeniably self-promotional in nature—and done at the expense of taxpayers. The cost to taxpayers, however, is rarely disclosed to the public.
Budget & TaxationBy Robert Carroll, Tax FoundationSpecial Report, 05/14/2009
An increasing amount of economic evidence suggests that dramatically cutting the U.S. corporate tax rate while maintaining the current system of deferral (or, perhaps, moving in the direction of a territorial tax system) would make U.S. firms more competitive abroad while improving the wages and living standards of U.S. workers at home. This paper explains why the effects of global tax competition should not be confused with “harmful tax practices” or tax evasion, and how far out of step the U.S. corporate tax system—both the rates and international tax structure—has become in comparison to most other developed nations.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Henchman, Mark Robyn, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 05/14/2009
The Hawaii Legislature forced through several tax increases on May 11, including an income tax increase and tax increases on cigarettes and other tobacco products, among others. With the exception of the cigarette tax increase, all these tax increases were vetoed by Governor Linda Lingle on May 7 in Hawaii’s first-ever public veto ceremony attended by nearly a thousand taxpayers and citizens. However, on May 11 the state legislature was able to override each of the vetoes and enact the tax increases. The income tax increase is retroactive to January 1, 2009, and expires on December 31, 2015. The cigarette tax will go up on July 1, 2009 and increase again in 2010 and 2011. The hotel accommodations tax also goes up 1 percentage point on July 1, 2009 and again on July 1, 2010, temporarily through 2015. The conveyance tax increase permanently takes effect on July 1, 2009.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy H. Sterling Burnett, Ross Wingo, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 05/14/2009
About 82 percent of Americans receive drinking water via publicly-owned water systems, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Many of these municipal and regional systems operate at a loss, meaning users’ fees don’t cover the cost of treating and delivering the water. Many water authorities are critically behind on maintenance. They lack the capital to update their water purification and wastewater treatment plants, or to secure additional water supplies to meet expected growth in demand. Experience in other countries shows that privatization could solve these water supply problems.
Budget & TaxationBy Laurence J. Kotlikoff, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 05/14/2009
Were the trustees to price Social Security’s implicit liabilities and assets based on risk as well as safety, they would show a net liability that is higher by almost one-fourth.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Allison Hughey, Pamela Villarreal, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 05/14/2009
Socially responsible investing is the practice of choosing stocks, bonds or mutual funds based on political, religious or social values. This investment strategy can be hazardous to an individual’s portfolio, and if followed by state and local employee pension funds can adversely affect thousands of people’s retirement incomes.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nicholas Ducote, H. Sterling Burnett, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 05/14/2009
First developed by Germany during World War II, the Fischer-Tropsch process offers America a chance to utilize its vast domestic coal supply, increase refining capacity, and produce a cost-efficient and clean fuel. The process can be used to transform natural gas, biomass or coal into liquid fuels; but for America, coal is the most viable feedstock. The coal-to-liquids process changes coal into a synthetic gas which is then converted into combustible liquid fuels. Diesel and kerosene (jet fuel) are the final products.
Budget & TaxationBy Edward Peter Stringham, Reason FoundationPolicy Brief, 05/14/2009
Rosen, Miller and Simon’s two studies rest on the dishonest premise that costs borne entirely by individuals should be factored into calculations of “social costs” for the purpose of formulating public policy. They then compound that error not only by ignoring new research suggesting that even their computation of these internal social costs is exaggerated, but also by neglecting to factor the well-documented benefits of light-to-moderate drinking into their calculations. They then rely on those calculations to recommend misguided, population-level policies, most notably an increase in alcohol taxes.
Budget & Taxation
California’s May 2009 Special Election: Analyzing the Propositions and Offering Alternatives for Real ReformBy Adam B. Summers, Reason FoundationPolicy Brief, 05/14/2009
Unfortunately, passage of these propositions will not bring any meaningful reform or solve the state’s structural deficit, but will impose higher taxes on the already overburdened backs of taxpayers.
Economic GrowthBy Steven Malanga, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 05/14/2009
Nearly a century of Washington’s efforts to promote homeownership has produced one calamity after another. Time to stop.
Economic GrowthBy Joel Kotkin, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/13/2009
Compared to the dismal decline in the 1970s and early 1980s, urban prospects have improved, particularly in primary urban areas such as Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Yet, if these and other cities are to sustain their momentum, they need to look beyond “the luxury city” and to the potential of less glamorous neighborhoods that can attract the middle class and people with families. These “plain vanilla” neighborhoods include many places that managed to resist the urban decay of the 1970s and in many cases have begun to enjoy a steady resurgence. But these communities can only grow if cities focus on those things critical to the middle class such as maintaining relatively low density work areas and shopping streets, new schools, and parks. This would require a massive shift in urban priorities away from the current course of subsidizing developers for luxury mega-developments, new museums, or performing arts centers.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy David A. Skeel Jr., American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/13/2009
What makes the Chrysler plan unique, and makes it similar to the receiverships of the New Dealers’ era, is that it is not really a sale at all. It is a pretend sale and its main purpose is to eliminate the pesky creditors who might otherwise interfere with the government’s plans.
Health CareBy Scott Gottlieb, American Enterprise InstituteHealth Policy Outlook, 05/13/2009
The recent outbreak of swine flu, originating in Mexico but now identified in hundreds of cases worldwide—and probably a factor in thousands of other milder illnesses—has brought flu vaccination to the center of public discussion. The outdated egg-based method for making flu vaccines takes too long to make enough vaccines both to prevent seasonal flu and to inoculate large populations rapidly to a newly emerging pandemic strain. The vaccine industry has been pioneering new approaches to manufacturing vaccines, such as cell cultures, as well as new techniques to stretch supplies and make existing vaccines more effective. But much work remains to be done, and vaccine readiness will require additional investments in production capacity and science and a favorable regulatory environment from the Food and Drug Administration.
Health CareBy Greg D'Angelo, Robert E. Moffit, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
While some in Washington say that Medicare reform should wait until Congress somehow fixes the broader health care system, the truth is that Medicare itself is a major driver of health care costs. Within three years, the first wave of the gigantic baby boom generation will start to retire and impose a demand on medical services unprecedented in the nation’s history. The traditional Medicare program is not capable of absorbing such a shock without some fundamental changes.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
The cap-and-trade provisions in Waxman-Markey are more than enough reason to be highly critical of this proposal. Nonetheless, the renewable electricity standard, low carbon fuel standard, and appliance efficiency mandates are truly terrible in their own right and would only heighten consumer anger if this misguided proposal ever becomes law.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy David B. Muhlhausen, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 05/13/2009
The Byrne JAG and COPS grant funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is exceedingly unlikely to produce any stimulus for an economic recovery. Not only does the COPS program have an extensive track record of poor performance, but it encourages local government to be fiscally irresponsible.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy David C. John, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
While well intentioned, the Senate credit card bill is likely to either make it harder for certain people to find credit cards at all or make it even more expensive for them to do so. Although the explicit language of most of the legislation’s provisions appears to address specific problems, sponsors fail to realize that the legislation will hurt the very people who need credit the most.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy David B. Muhlhausen, Brian Walsh, The Heritage Foundation05/13/2009
Created in the middle of President Bill Clinton’s first term, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program promised to put 100,000 new state and local law enforcement officers on the street by 2000. Critics said that COPS would fail to meet this goal and that state and local governments would do what they always do when the federal government subsidizes any core responsibility of state or local governments: stop paying for it themselves and become dependent on funding from Washington. The critics were right on both counts.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis S. Dubay, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
President Obama’s “Budget Blueprint” proposes to raise the tax rate on dividends and capital gains from 15 percent to 20 percent. This tax hike would hit senior citizens particularly hard, as it would depress the value of stocks held in many types of retirement savings plans they rely on for income to supplement their Social Security benefits.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
Elections for rotating membership on the 47-nation United Nations Human Rights Council will take place in the U.N. General Assembly on May 12. While the U.S. is virtually assured of election to the council, having an American representative is unlikely to improve the council’s dismal record. On the contrary, the U.S. presence will only give undue legitimacy to a fundamentally flawed institution.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
Although President Obama has pledged to push the reset button to renew relations with Russia, U.S. policy towards Moscow must be based on a realistic—not rhetorical—agenda which prioritizes the NATO alliance and emphasizes the indivisibility of the transatlantic security alliance. President Obama must also make clear that the United States will not bargain away U.S. support for NATO enlargement to include Georgia and Ukraine, or missile defenses in Europe in exchange for Russian cooperation on other issues, such as its negotiations to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Economic GrowthBy J.D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
Today’s release of the nation’s employment figures by the Department of Labor puts the final touches on the “Obama’s first 100 days story.” Through his first 100 days in office, employment has dropped by about 2 million jobs while the unemployment rate has hit 8.9 percent, the highest in almost 26 years.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy David C. John, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
Six months ago, the financial services sector was in deep trouble. For the most part, that is no longer the case today. While there is still a possibility that certain banks—both large and small—could face problems, the sector is no longer in crisis. Now it is time for the Obama Administration, the Federal Reserve, and other regulators to end programs like TARP and, as credit markets continue to recover, gradually close the special financing mechanisms and other credit-assistance programs that were seen as necessary during the time of crisis. These programs—and the micromanagement of financial institutions that came with them—should not be a permanent part of the financial landscape. Now that there is clear public information about the conditions of the largest U.S. banks, it is time to return their control to the private sector.
Economic GrowthBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
The April jobs report shows a labor market that continues to weaken. Employers shed another 611,000 private sector jobs, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent. These numbers indicate that the job market has not yet stabilized and that both job losses and rising unemployment will probably continue over the next six months. These employment figures also demonstrate that this is the wrong time for the administration’s Detroit bailout strategy. The Obama administration has used its clout to pressure many of Chrysler’s creditors to take large losses on their holdings while protecting the United Auto Workers. This will make lenders reluctant to extend secured loans to other heavily unionized companies, further aggravating the problem of unionized companies losing more jobs than non-union companies because they invest less. The weak job market shows that this is no time to manipulate the financial system to reward politically favored interest groups.
Budget & TaxationBy Brian M. Riedl, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
With budget deficits forecast to average $1 trillion annually for the next decade, the need for spending restraint is more important than ever. Congress should go much further than the President's proposed $17 billion in cuts and should make sure these reductions are not transferred into new spending elsewhere.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David Kreutzer, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 05/13/2009
The Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation analyzed a proposal to cut CO2 emissions by 70 percent. Such a cut would have little impact on global temperatures. At best, the trade-off is trillions of dollars in lost income and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs versus a fraction of a degree change in average world temperature 85 years from now.
The Best Protection for both Colombian and American Workers: Stronger, Market-Based Democratic Institutions in ColombiaBy James M. Roberts, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 05/13/2009
A failed FTA will lead Colombia and other Latin American countries to conclude that the U.S. is not a reliable partner. It will also fuel a return to narco-trafficking and other illicit activity by the urban and rural poor, who would not benefit from the many jobs that would be created by the legitimate alternative economic development that will be created by the Colombia FTA.
Health CareBy Stuart M. Butler, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 05/13/2009
A “competing” public plan and a federal health board are two bad ideas in health care reform.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy David C. John, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/13/2009
The 2009 Social Security Trustees Report was released on May 12. This paper explains the important facts and answers the frequently asked questions about Social Security's financial outlook.
Budget & TaxationBy Deborah D. Thornton, Public Interest InstituteIssue Brief, 05/08/2009
Honey Creek Resort at Lake Rathbun is a drain on taxpayer wallets, and it is not even open yet. The Grand Opening of Honey Creek Resort has been pushed even further back, from September 12 to October 17, 2008. The delays continue, and the losses mount. The development of a privately managed, profit making “destination resort” on state property remains a demonstration of poor stewardship, as shown by both federal and state appropriations.
Budget & TaxationBy Carl Gipson, Andrew Chamberlain, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 05/08/2009
As stated in “Business and Occupation Tax Reform Part II – The Pyramid Problem,” the economic consequences of a gross receipts tax results in the potential for modifying business’ behavior. Businesses are incentivized to bring in out-of-state material during production to cut costs. Businesses may also take the more radical step of vertically integrating their operations to cut down on the number of business-to-business transactions during production. Both practices reduce economic growth, jobs and business opportunities in the state. The question then becomes: Is it wise to rely on such a large base to pay for government when the economic ramifications of pyramiding, along with other inherent problems in the B&O system, make the system so burdensome to businesses?
Budget & TaxationBy Carl Gipson, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 05/08/2009
As shown by this three-part Policy Note series, Washington’s Business and Occupation tax is far from perfect. There are several reforms that policymakers should consider in order to alleviate the negative effects the B&O tax has on small, unprofitable and new businesses. A tax system that dampens entrepreneurial endeavors should be scrutinized.
Budget & TaxationBy Carl Gipson, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 05/08/2009
Washington’s businesses deserve a fair and equitable tax system. The Business and Occupation tax makes this goal virtually unachievable. Due to economies of scale, a complex business tax system disproportionately harms small businesses because the larger businesses have more resources to devote to tax preparation and compliance.
Budget & TaxationBy Carl Gipson, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 05/08/2009
There will likely never be complete agreement among policymakers, media, citizens, businesses and any other stakeholder on the best business taxation system. However, a collaborative effort is the only way to ensure that positive reform takes place.