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Recent Policy Studies
Budget & TaxationBy Kristina Rasmussen, Illinois Policy InstituteTax & Budget Brief, 05/20/2009
Many cities inside the Cook County border are experiencing greater losses in sales tax revenue intake when compared to “sister cities” in neighboring counties. Consumers are fleeing the relatively high costs imposed by Cook County’s sales tax and taking their shopping to nearby jurisdictions that offer lower sales tax costs.
Budget & TaxationBy Kate Campaigne, Illinois Policy InstituteTax & Budget Brief, 05/20/2009
Budgeting and ethics problems continue to compound in Illinois. The state’s budget deficit tops $9 billion, spending continues to surge, and there is little to no transparency as to where–and to whom–tax dollars are going. This must be checked and stopped.
Summer School Scholarships for Baltimore City Students: A Plan for Reducing the Achievement Gap and Dropout RateBy Dan Lips, Maryland Public Policy InstituteMaryland Policy Report, 05/20/2009
Summer school scholarships are a key way to improve student learning for low-income Baltimore City students. What happens when children are out of school for three months can often set them back academically and increase their chance of dropping out of school. Studies show that low-income students are at particular risk for losing ground during the summer and widening the achievement gap between themselves and higher-income peers.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Pearl Hahn, Grassroot Institute of HawaiiGreen Paper, 05/20/2009
Pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere will not prevent future encroaching ice ages, just as switching entirely to renewable energy sources will not cool off the Sahara Desert. What is badly needed in the climate change debate is a heavy dose of realism and a return of attention to the more immediate needs of societies. Enacting any measure that professes to preserve an arbitrarily perfect global climate should be a collaborative process focusing on long-term rather than quick-fix solutions.
An Academic Arms Race: The Catastrophic Rise of Taxpayer-Funded Salaries at the Universtiy of Colorado and its Peer InstitutionsBy Jessica Peck Corry, Independence InstituteIssue Paper, 05/20/2009
In preparation for the coming fiscal year, the University of Colorado will need to make an estimated $29 million in cuts. While tough choices are inevitable, CU President Bruce Benson now also has an opportunity to demand meaningful fiscal reform from campus leaders. The immediate focus should be on a major source of CU’s continuous budget woes: excessive faculty and administrative salaries.
The Constitution/Civil Liberties
From New London to Telluride and Beyond: Legal Developments Surrounding Eminent Domain in Colorado from 2004-2009By Jessica Peck Corry, Independence InstituteIssue Paper, 05/20/2009
Despite state-level legal reforms implemented over the last five years in Colorado, property owners still face scenarios where they are losing—or fear losing—their homes, small businesses, or development rights in the name of public good or necessity. In some cases, the takings may be justified. In others, however, the condemnation efforts can be attributed to government greed and bad municipal planning.
Economic GrowthBy Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Irwin Stelzer, John Weicher, Hudson InstituteHudson Institute Economic Report, 05/20/2009
Although the housing markets and the financial sector show signs of stabilizing, American consumers aren’t yet ready to spend. This is natural because they are shellshocked by declines in retirement portfolios and housing prices and worried about whether they will lose their jobs. And recovery won’t come along until spending happens.
EducationBy Don Soifer, Lexington InstituteResearch Study, 05/20/2009
Congress has appropriated nearly $700 million annually for English Language Acquisition under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act since 2002. In addition, schools can also receive Title I funding for disadvantaged students for their English learners. There are 40 states that provide additional education funding specifically for English learners, although 24 of these do not require that the funding be spent exclusively for that purpose. It is clear that these programs are not getting the job done, as evidenced by the millions of English learners who have participated in public elementary and secondary education in the United States without acquiring proficiency in English. Nearly $65 billion can be estimated in lost earnings each year in the United States as a result of failing to teach adequate English skills.
EducationBy Don Soifer, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 05/20/2009
New Jersey’s Interdistrict Public School Choice Program is a largely unknown reform model whose time may have come. The voluntary program began as a five-year pilot ten years ago, and is still going strong and producing positive results. But its small size – it serves just 1,000 children in 16 school districts statewide – restricts its impact.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Loren B. Thompson, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 05/20/2009
Saudi leaders have long recognized the importance of maintaining close ties to America, and yet their loyalty often goes unrewarded in Washington. An opportunity now exists for the Obama Administration to send a clear public signal that it grasps the value of Saudi restraint on oil prices and support for regional security goals. That opportunity is the Saudi Eastern Fleet Modernization Program, a plan to replace aging naval and aviation assets that the kingdom uses to patrol the Persian Gulf (sometimes called the Arabian Gulf).
National SecurityBy Daniel Goure, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 05/20/2009
In testimony before Congress Secretary Gates stated that the Airborne Laser and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) was a program that began as a 5-year program that was now in its 14th year. It had never had a flight test and was “a program that was never going anywhere.” He also said it had no platform, could not be put on Aegis ships, and would have to be placed very close to the launch. Secretary Gates is simply wrong with respect to every one of these statements. The program was started in fiscal year 2004; it is therefore only five years old. Rather than being a program “going nowhere,” KEI has had seven successful static motor tests and was scheduled for a booster flight in Fall 2009. While KEI was meant to first be a ground-based, mobile system, it could also be deployed on ships. The Missile Defense Agency conducted an analysis of alternatives involving five existing surface ships and one submarine – including the DDG-51 Aegis destroyer. The findings were “no showstoppers for any platform studied.” Finally, KEI’s high acceleration and ability to receive in-flight guidance updates would allow stand-off distances that are greater than the shorter range systems now available.
National SecurityBy Loren B. Thompson, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 05/20/2009
There are at least a few core principles that most planners can embrace, and one of them is that in the information age, if you can’t control the electromagnetic spectrum then you probably can’t win wars. Unfortunately, the Navy is the only service that has given the mission proper priority since the Cold War ended. The Air Force thought it could substitute stealth for jammers in combating enemy air defenses, and was slow to grasp how new information technologies were empowering non-traditional adversaries. The Army and Marine Corps had unique requirements that never got funded at the rate needed to generate good solutions.
National SecurityBy Daniel Goure, Rebecca Grant , Lexington InstituteResearch Study, 05/20/2009
There is no question that in the event of conflict with Iran, the Navy could exert tremendous pressure on Iran. Equally important, the U.S. Navy has many potential opportunities to influence Iran during peacetime and in the event of a crisis. What is particularly important is the number and variety of options available to support early shaping activities.
National SecurityBy Loren B. Thompson, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 05/20/2009
This year’s review is already degenerating into the kind of budget drill that led to criticism of the process in years past. The process is ignoring the biggest single management challenge that Gates and his successors will face. That problem, bluntly stated, is that the All Volunteer Force is becoming unaffordable. Military personnel costs are out of control, and the Obama Administration is making the problem worse by sticking with Bush Administration plans to increase the size of the ground forces by 92,000 personnel.
Health CareBy Dustin Chambers, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/20/2009
Our health care system is in trouble today because we have consistently ignored market-oriented solutions and instead sought out policies based on public finance and top-down regulation.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Roger Bate, Karen Porter, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/20/2009
A recent case reveals that it is not only generic firms from middle-income countries that have problems with good manufacturing practice.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy John E. Calfee, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/20/2009
In good news, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has resisted researchers’ overreaching in their patenting of genes, and researchers’ work is seldom compromised by patents.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/20/2009
Social Security is the largest single spending program of the federal budget. Its costs relative to its tax base will rise by 26 percent over the next two decades and it is badly in need of reform.
Budget & TaxationBy Robert A. Sirico, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/20/2009
An excise tax on those goods that elected officials deem morally suspect has come roaring back. But the temptation to impose sin taxes is one that should be resisted for economic and moral reasons.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Reason FoundationReason, 05/20/2009
Beware when politicians promise “fiscal responsibility.” It’s pretty much a guarantee that every word that follows the phrase will be a lie. President Barack Obama’s first budget, entitled An Era of New Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promises, is no exception to this rule. Every page comes with a promise to end budget tricks and save money by reforming procurement and cutting various types of waste, but the actual plan boosts spending and deploys gimmicks galore. If this is a new era, it’s one made of debt.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ronald Bailey, Reason FoundationReason, 05/20/2009
Man-made climate change may be a huge problem, but cap-and-trade proponents need to stop pretending that the solution will cost virtually nothing while producing more jobs than it destroys.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Nicholas Eberstadt, Apoorva Shah, American Enterprise InstituteRussian Outlook, 05/20/2009
Once again, Russia today finds itself beset by depopulation: that is, by an absolute decline in total numbers. Such a circumstance, unfortunately, is not exactly new for Russia. This current national population drop, in fact, is the fourth such episode witnessed in Russia over the past century. The current depopulation, which commenced in 1992 and is still ongoing, differs from Russia’s earlier population declines in that it was precipitated by a largely bloodless event (the collapse of the Soviet Union). But the current depopulation has also been underway far longer than any previous population drop in Russian memory. It is not clear how this one is to be arrested or reversed. What is all too clear, however, are the adverse and very real consequences—humanitarian, social, and economic—of Russia’s new demographic patterns.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Kenneth P. Green, Aparna Mathur, American Enterprise InstituteEnergy and Environment Outlook, 05/20/2009
The average household spends nearly as much on the consumption of indirect energy as it does on direct energy consumption. Understanding how money is spent and who spends it will be important when Congress addresses climate change and our energy infrastructure.
Economic GrowthBy C. Peter Timmer, American Enterprise InstituteDevelopment Policy Outlook, 05/20/2009
The “structural transformation” by which societies shift from agriculture-dominated to industrialized economies has been the main pathway out of poverty for all societies, and it depends on rising productivity in both sectors. The process of transformation puts enormous pressure on rural societies to adjust and modernize, and these pressures produce visible and significant policy responses that alter agricultural prices. This lag in real earnings from agriculture is the fundamental cause of the deep political tensions generated by the structural transformation, and that lag is growing more extreme.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ibn Warraq, Michael Weiss, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 05/20/2009
At the close of World War II, Bertrand Russell observed that the human species was historically unwilling to acquiesce to its own survival. An intellectual accomplice in this ongoing suicide pact is surely cultural relativism, an invention of Western liberalism that non-Western reactionaries have taken up as a license to kill and butcher people in peace and quiet. There has been no worse exemplar of this fatal tendency than the UN Human Rights Council.
Health CareBy Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Manhattan InstituteMedical Progress Report, 05/20/2009
The U.S. stands poised to enact dramatic and far-reaching changes to health-insurance markets in the name of expanding insurance coverage to the more than 45 million uninsured and controlling rapidly rising health-care costs in both the public and private sectors. Early signals from Congress and the administration indicate that many of these changes will involve expansions of existing government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, massive new regulation of private insurance providers, and trillions of dollars in new federal spending that will have to be financed through new taxes or substantial rationing of patient access to health-care goods and services. In this paper, former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin makes the fiscal and political case for bipartisan health-care reform that: addresses dysfunctions in the existing health-care-delivery system; expands access to affordable private health insurance in an incremental and fiscally responsible manner; and improves market-based options for consumer access to information on health-care quality.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
May 20 is Cuba Solidarity Day—an opportunity to shine a bright light on the abuses of the Castro regime.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis S. Dubay, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
Congress recently passed the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution, which includes several provisions that will significantly raise taxes and hurt economic recovery.
ImmigrationBy Jena Baker McNeill, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
Repackaging amnesty as an economic stimulus is not an effective means of combating illegal immigration. Nor will it help the economy.
National SecurityBy James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/20/2009
Social networking has already profoundly redefined business practices and politics. National security is next. Washington is well behind in its willingness and capacity to adapt to the world of Web 2.0. Congress and the Administration need to lay the foundation for the broad and effective adaptation of social networking by facilitating early and rapid adaptation of new technologies.
Budget & TaxationBy Michael G. Franc, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/20/2009
The President proposes reinstating the 36 and 39.6 percent rates (up from 33 and 35 percent) for taxpayers earning more than $250,000 (married) and $200,000 (single). Nearly half a million households in the tri-state New York metropolitan area would shoulder the largest increase—$9.75 billion, almost one-fifth the national total. The situation is almost as grim for San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Justin D. Lyons, The Heritage FoundationFirst Principles, 05/20/2009
Because of the working relationship between Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in matters of foreign policy, we tend to assume that they agreed on domestic policy. But Churchill’s thoughts on America as shown through the great issue of the day, the New Deal, reveal that Churchill opposed FDR’s centralized administrative philosophy of government and that his opposition was grounded in a recurrence to our founding principles.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy William W. Beach, David W. Kreutzer, Karen A. Campbell, Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
The Waxman-Markey bill is a massive energy tax in disguise that promises job losses, income cuts, and a sharp left turn toward big government.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Eric Sayers, Walter Lohman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
The clarity Australia has provided with Force 2030 should serve as both a warning and a guidepost for America’s future commitments to the region.
Health CareBy Nina Owcharenko, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
The health care policies outlined by President Obama during his campaign would centralize control over the health care system in Washington. There is a much better alternative.
Economic GrowthBy Derek Scissors, Michelle Kaffenberger, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/20/2009
The U.S. has not played an important role in Indian economic development, but could help to identify crucial areas for economic liberalization and establish channels for private education financing. Demographic and economic conditions make primary and secondary education vital to India’s future. With the public education system in tatters, the government needs to allow private education to contribute far more.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
As U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder cannot afford to be so equivocal in the future: In terms of transatlantic security and America’s national interest, he must put NATO first.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets President Barack Obama at the White House on May 18, two major issues will dominate their agenda: How to revive stagnant Arab-Israeli peace negotiations and how to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.
Health CareBy Dennis G. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2009
The President’s proposal for a Medicaid expansion and a public program expansion would be a step backward.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Elizabeth Milnikel, Emily Satterthwaite, Institute for JusticeReport, 05/19/2009
In spite of the importance of small businesses to Chicago, there are myriad laws on the books that make it difficult—sometimes even impossible—for people to start new enterprises. The laws have been urged on legislators over the years, maybe to address a fleeting problem, maybe to help existing businesses tamp down the competition, maybe to make the urban environment conform to the fashion of the moment. And they have piled up in layers. The legal requirements are often completely unnecessary to protect the public, but they are never revisited by legislators who focus on passing additional regulations and generating more revenue from fines and fees. Instead of a navigable system designed to make sure businesses meet reasonable health and safety standards, the overlapping rules of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois create a matrix that is so confusing and nonsensical that it often seems designed to stop entrepreneurs in their tracks.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Anne Morrison Piehl, Manhattan InstituteCivic Report, 05/19/2009
Realizing that neither the powerful incentives of freedom and financial solvency nor the powerful disincentives of re-incarceration and impoverishment have sufficiently reshaped ex-offenders’ behaviors, a residential prisoner-release program in Montgomery County, Maryland, has resorted to the “small stuff”—later curfews, access to phone cards, more frequent visits from family—to induce program participants, some of them serious offenders, to get and keep jobs in the surrounding community. At the very least, the salaries they earn go toward victim restitution, child support, program fees, and the inmates’ own savings accounts. At best, inmates learn, in doses small enough for them to absorb and respond to, the mainstream value of delaying gratification and its various offshoots: punctuality, reliability, and the effectiveness of effort. Almost 90 percent of program participants find employment within three weeks of enrollment, and 54 percent still have the same employer two months after they have left the program.
Economic GrowthBy Eddie Cross, Cato InstituteEconomic Development Bulletin, 05/19/2009
It is clear that the land reform had been a costly failure. In 2008, CFU estimates, over 90 percent of all production from commercial farms came from the remaining large-scale farmers—the same farmers who are now being targeted. JAG claims that more than half of all the farms taken over by the state are now derelict and abandoned. Many of the individuals who are now “taking” farms are doing so for the third or fourth time. The combined costs of the land reform are staggering— they include US$2.8 billion in international food aid on an emergency basis, nearly US$12 billion in lost agricultural production over 10 years, and a potential US$5 billion in compensation—a total of some US$20 billion. It is time to give all farmers secure tenure that will enable them to finance their operations properly. Such policies cannot be implemented until the issue of the rights of the farm owners is resolved and the issue of compensation addressed.
EducationBy Julie Kowal, Bryan C. Hassel, Sarah Crittenden, Philanthropy RoundtableReport, 05/18/2009
Today, a new set of challenges confronts the charter school sector and its supporters. To be sure, charter schooling remains one of the nation's most promising efforts to produce more excellent public schools, especially for low-income and minority students. The question is now one of expansion: How can donors help take the best of the charter sector to scale—while at the same time maintaining high standards of quality?
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.