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Recent Policy Studies
Budget & TaxationBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/13/2009
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has noted in advance of her trip to India toward the end of July, the U.S. has an important stake in Indian success. As its clout on the world stage increases, India can play a stabilizing role in the broader Asia region, partnering with the U.S. on a range of issues including maritime cooperation, nuclear nonproliferation, education, science, and defense trade. India also serves as a powerful example of a successful democracy in the developing world.
Information TechnologyBy David A. Gross, et al., Free State FoundationTranscript, 07/13/2009
At about 80 million, the United States has more broadband users than the next three OECD countries combined: Japan, Germany, and France. However, that is not a particularly important number. The value of telecommunications, especially broadband and the Internet, is not based upon one country having more than another. This is not a zero-sum game. We all benefit from the network externalities created by having more broadband users. The more people in the world that have broadband and access to the Internet, the better it is for all that already have it.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ted R. Bromund, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/13/2009
The U.S.-U.K. Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty, like its U.S.-Australian counterpart, addresses a serious problem in a responsible way. It will promote trade, improve American and British procurement processes, and enhance U.S. defense and security ties with its most vital partner. The treaty has strong support from all major parties in both the U.S. and Britain, and it suffers from none of the deficiencies of some of the other treaties or legislation that may shortly come before the Senate. It has been delayed primarily not because of principled objections but because it has not been pressed forward with urgency.
Health CareBy J.P. Wieske, Christie Raniszewski Herrera, Council for Affordable Health InsuranceReport, 07/13/2009
Health insurance remains a major concern for your constituents. Focusing on the overall uninsured percentage misses the point. The uninsured population is very diverse. That’s both because there are many reasons why people don’t have coverage (e.g., they have low incomes, or they are in job transition, or they don’t think they need it, etc.) and because the relative importance of those reasons varies from state to state.
Budget & TaxationBy Beacon Hill Institute, Beacon Hill InstituteBHI FaxSheet, 07/13/2009
An organization called the “Pennsylvania Tax and Budget Center” has issued a statement attacking a release of June 15, 2009 in which the Commonwealth Foundation used certain results of the Beacon Hill Institute’s State Tax Analysis Modeling Program (PA STAMP) in commenting on Pennsylvania tax and budget issues. There are numerous flaws in the Center’s attack.
Economic GrowthBy David G. Tuerck, Benjamin Powell, Paul Bachman, Beacon Hill InstitutePolicy Study, 07/13/2009
Forecasts of future green jobs are completely unreliable. The Center for American Progress’s report relies on the application of inappropriate methodology. Yet even if this methodology were appropriate, the authors fail to account for foreign purchases of U.S. goods and investments. The Conference of Mayors based its forecasts on nothing more than an arbitrary set of assumptions of how many jobs will be created. The application of Beacon Hill Institute’s own general equilibrium model to a cap-and-trade proposal, such as in the state of Indiana, finds net job losses rather than gains.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Beacon Hill Institute, Beacon Hill InstituteAnalysis, 07/13/2009
Waxman-Markey would create a “cap-and-trade” system, under which U.S. producers would receive tradable permits to emit greenhouse gasses. Producers buying the permits would, in effect, pay a tax for the privilege of emitting greenhouse gasses currently emitted without charge. The resulting “carbon tax” would have an effect on production and employment similar to an explicit excise tax on production.
Budget & TaxationBy Phil Levy, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 07/13/2009
As unemployment rises ominously toward 10 percent and the economy continues to appear listless, leading economic voices have begun to call for a second fiscal stimulus. The first stimulus was controversial among economists; it seemed to discard a great deal of what had been learned about macroeconomics in recent decades. The calls for a second stimulus seem to discard logic altogether.
National SecurityBy Mackenzie Eaglen, Eric Sayers, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/13/2009
Without congressional intervention, the Air Force’s ability to conduct air superiority missions will be increasingly at risk over the next three decades. President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2010 defense budget request would stop production of the F-22A Raptor at just 187 aircraft and permanently shut down this production line.
International Trade/FinanceBy Neena Shenai, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 07/13/2009
The United States has been just as—if not more—guilty as many of its G-8 counterparts in employing protectionist measures. One need only recall that the February 2009 stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), included the “Buy American” provision, which requires U.S. companies receiving federal funds to purchase only U.S.-made materials and equipment. We have only begun to see the provision’s destructive effects to global supply chains and U.S. jobs.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Peter J. Wallison, American Enterprise InstituteFinancial Services Outlook, 07/13/2009
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009 is one of the most far-reaching and intrusive federal laws ever proposed by an administration. Not only does it reach down to regulate the most local levels of commercial activity, but the act would also set up procedures and incentives that will inevitably deny some consumers an opportunity to obtain products and services that are readily available to others.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/13/2009
Africans have too long been encouraged to look abroad for their salvation. The key to African development lies in freeing African economies, combating corruption, unleashing the entrepreneurial talents of the people, and embracing competition in the global marketplace. Accomplishing these tasks depends on political will and action in African countries, not the United States. Although he may not be lauded for it, this is the message that President Obama should communicate to African governments and citizens.
Budget & TaxationBy Steven Malanga, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 07/13/2009
A post-bubble New York, one that can no longer harness Wall Street’s old earning power, will have to lure new businesses by hacking away at taxes. First to go after should be the personal income tax, a levy that only a few American cities and virtually no suburban areas impose. Making New York more competitive will also mean reforming its property-tax system to lighten the heavy burden on businesses that locate here.
Economic GrowthBy Edward L. Glaeser, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 07/13/2009
New York’s strength will depend on its continuing ability to attract entrepreneurs. And that, in turn, will hinge on delivering a decent quality of life at a reasonable price. If city streets become unsafe or unclean, the skilled will leave. New York’s government faces three additional challenges to keeping the city attractive to smart innovators. One is the public school system, whose problems have long pushed people out of New York. Another is local taxes, which are among the highest in the nation and constitute another incentive to leave. The third challenge is New York’s housing prices, some of the highest in the nation.
National SecurityBy James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/13/2009
This week, the Department of Homeland Security announced it plans to kill some responsible, reasonable workplace verification rules. As a result, the department will perform less—not more—workplace checks. Enforcing workplace laws is a vital component to create disincentives to unlawful immigration. Congress should not authorize or fund efforts to scale back workplace enforcement.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Deborah O'Malley, Robert Alt, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/13/2009
Since Judge Sonia Sotomayor was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama, she has received fierce criticism for a number of her public statements and court opinions that reveal a troubling judicial philosophy. She has questioned whether judges can and should set aside personal bias, mocked the idea that judges do not “make law,” and argued that judges of certain ethnicities or a particular gender will reach superior conclusions possibly due to “physiological differences” in logic and reasoning.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 07/13/2009
Cap and trade adds a significant element of instability, which we have seen in Europe with wild swings in the price of carbon allowances, and energy companies less interested in long-term investment and more interested in short-term gaming of the system. The economic realities of cap and trade are becoming clear in Europe. If we adopt a similar approach here, expect considerable economic pain for minimal environmental gain.
Budget & TaxationBy J.D. Foster, Rea S. Hederman Jr., The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/10/2009
The United States has pursued a clear experiment in deficit-based economic stimulus, and the experiment has failed. Continuing the experiment can only increase the national debt and delay consideration of effective alternatives. Repeating the experiment with yet another round of legislated deficit spending would be simply irrational and irresponsible Congress and the Administration are not powerless in the face of the economic downturn. But they should jettison their ideology to pursue policies that will help the economy in the short and long term. They must embrace a new era of responsibility.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis S. Dubay, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/10/2009
Raising taxes is the wrong answer to a growing spending problem, especially during a recession that is claiming almost half a million jobs each month. And President Obama and Congress have demonstrated what many taxpayers fear: Tax hikes will be used not to solve the existing deficit problem but to pay for expensive new programs.
National SecurityBy Mackenzie Eaglen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/09/2009
Since World War II, the U.S. military has used air power to dramatically increase the effectiveness of all other forces. In fact, American ground forces have not come under attack from enemy air forces since the Korean War. Yet the ability of America’s Air Force to dominate the skies is under attack from a different kind of enemy: a long-standing and widening fighter aircraft gap, which President Obama’s fiscal year 2010 defense budget fails to remedy.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/09/2009
Carved on the National Archives are some of the most important words in Washington—“The past is prologue.” This phrase succinctly states the intent behind the laws requiring that the U.S. government record and interpret its history. Such laws are in place not only to illuminate the past but also to provide insights and observations to inform future decision making.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Randal O'Toole, Cato InstituteTestimony, 07/09/2009
Urban transit is important for those who lack access to automobiles. But the history of the last four decades shows that transit cannot and will not play a significant role in saving energy or preventing climate change. Instead of a futile effort to change American lifestyles, we simply need to make the form of transportation used most by Americans (as well as most Europeans and Japanese) even more efficient than it is today.
Information TechnologyBy Adam Thierer, Progress & Freedom FoundationProgress on Point, 07/09/2009
Education and media literacy-based approaches have the added benefit of remaining within the boundaries of the Constitution and the First Amendment. Education, not regulation, represents the best approach to addressing content concerns about online child safety. But user empowerment, industry self-regulation, and increased resources for targeted law enforcement efforts are also essential.
Information TechnologyBy James V. DeLong, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 07/09/2009
We in the United States underestimate the degree to which the Chinese regard certain Internet content, particularly pornography, as having serious spiritual dimensions, and we are slow to accept that “we’re working on it” cannot be used forever. Anyone not raised in the U.S. tradition of First Amendment absolutism will find this a hard problem. If one loads Bing or Google, clicks “Images,” turn off the filters, and types in “sex,” one need not be a prude to be bit shaken. The historic compromise on erotica (to be generous to what appears after such a search) is that it should not be banned but that time/place/manner restrictions are not just acceptable but good. The Internet shatters this compromise, and how to find a viable new one is not easy.
Budget & TaxationBy E.J. McMahon, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 07/09/2009
What is missing from New York government, above all, is any realistic sense of financial limits. To counteract New York’s entrenched tradition of governmental excess, the state should enact a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which would limit the growth of government by tying increases in overall tax revenue to the rate of growth in inflation and population.
Economic GrowthBy James Sherk, , The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/09/2009
The car dealership terminations were essential steps toward returning GM and Chrysler to viability. And while the reorganization process for these two firms has been heavily politicized in many ways, research by The Heritage Foundation shows no evidence that the dealership termination process was influenced by partisanship. Absent such evidence, Congress should not interfere with these painful but necessary moves to bring GM and Chrysler back to profitability.
National SecurityBy Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/09/2009
The deployment of U.S. missile defenses in Europe has become a critical matter for Moscow, which is determined to have a sphere of privileged interest in its near-abroad. Since Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008 and its subsequent annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moscow has yet to face any serious consequences for its actions. For the sake of U.S. national security and to prevent another dangerous geopolitical setback in Russia’s neighborhood, President Obama must make it clear that he supports the deployment of missile defenses to Poland and the Czech Republic and seek full funding of these sites from Congress.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nicolas Loris, Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/08/2009
The 1,500-page cap-and-trade climate legislation, also known as Waxman-Markey, passed by a narrow margin late in the day on June 26. Members of Congress added 300 of those pages early in the morning on the day of the vote. It is safe to assume that hardly any of the 435 Members of Congress read the bill in its entirety, meaning one of the costliest bills in American history was rushed through so politicians could enjoy their 4th of July recess.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 07/08/2009
Pakistan is at a critical juncture. The Obama Administration is demonstrating a willingness to invest significant resources (even amid a serious global economic downturn) into helping the country develop into a prosperous, peaceful, and thriving state. But achieving this goal requires Pakistani leaders to adjust their own regional security perceptions and to view the internal terrorist threat as urgently as their counterparts in Washington do.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Craig P. Wilson, Robert A. Lawton, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 07/08/2009
The Obama Administration, pursuant to a presidential directive, is re-evaluating the use of cost-benefit analysis in federal agency rulemaking, and it is possible that the administration will decide to de-emphasize quantitative analysis in favor of qualitative factors. When considering a shift to a qualitative approach, however, consideration should be given to the appropriate level of subjectivity used in the rulemaking process and the ongoing role for cost-benefit analysis.
EducationBy Elizabeth Young, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 07/08/2009
Texas public universities are given ultimate spending discretion without enough accountability. Accordingly, there is no way to prove they are good stewards of the tax dollars they receive from the state. By improving transparency, policymakers will be better able to discover problems and enact solutions to make the system of higher education more cost-efficient while providing greater value to higher education customers.
Information TechnologyBy Daniel R. Ballon, Pacific Research InstitutePRI Study, 07/08/2009
The Internet is a thriving platform for innovation and economic prosperity. The government can enhance this prosperity by protecting against fraud, educating consumers, and promoting transparent business practices. By empowering consumers to express their demands and preferences effectively, policy makers can help the market respond to meet those demands. As a result, Internet businesses will innovate and compete on privacy features.
Health CareBy Doug Bandow, American Legislative Exchange CouncilThe State Factor, 07/08/2009
President Barack Obama has tagged health care as one of his priorities. Although the U.S. is a global leader in quality of treatment, so too is it the leader in cost of care. And access to medical treatment is complicated by America’s patchwork of public programs, federal tax incentives, and private insurance policies. Rationalizing such a system is no mean task. But as these market processes evolve, government should regulate with a light hand. Other than restrictions on fraudulent or misleading marketing and advertising practices, companies should be left free to communicate with doctors and patients.
Budget & TaxationBy Chuck Blahous, Hudson InstituteIssue Brief, 07/08/2009
A report this last week by the Congressional Budget Office has exploded the fashionable myth that the federal government has no serious budget problems that comprehensive health care reform won’t solve. As the CBO report makes abundantly clear, population aging is the leading factor threatening to drive the government to fiscal extremity in the upcoming decades, well before health care cost inflation becomes the dominant problem.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Horace Cooper, American Legislative Exchange CouncilThe State Factor, 07/08/2009
Since the passage of the Consumer Protection Safety Act, the federal government and its regulatory agencies have had the primary responsibility for ensuring toy safety. Federal agencies have already conducted studies and determined appropriate standards in the past; these should continue to be enforced to ensure the safety of children’s products. The law further contemplates that a new assessment of phthalates will be undertaken and new regulations will be issued on phthalates and phthalate alternatives as the science determines is necessary.
International Trade/FinanceBy Scott C. Ganz, American Enterprise InstituteOn the Margin, 07/08/2009
The United States has started down a path toward a domestic cap-and-trade regime that is unlikely to be reversed. As a U.S. climate change policy may be essential to bring India and China into negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the United States may be well on its way to having finalized legislation by the end of the year. It seems inevitable that a border adjustment policy will be included in the bill to address leakage concerns. As we move toward a final domestic cap-and-trade bill, however, it is essential that we remember some basic economic and legal principles, think carefully about the rationale for adjustment, and not forget why we support free trade to begin with.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Nicole Gelinas, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 07/08/2009
In early May, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, facing a whopping 18 percent budget deficit, got a $2 billion bailout from the state, averting service cuts and 30 percent fare hikes. In approving the bailout, the politicians dealt with the immediate political problem of constituents’ screaming about higher fares and service cuts. Fares will still go up, but by just 10 percent.
National SecurityBy Mackenzie M. Eaglen, Lajos F. Szaszdi, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/08/2009
The immediate threat to America’s air power does not originate from foreign nations, but from President Obama’s fiscal year 2010 defense budget request that would halt funding for key replacement programs, such as the F-22. Congress needs to ensure that the U.S. military acquires new and replacement fighters to eliminate the fighter gap.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/07/2009
An internationally coerced and unconditional return of Zelaya to the Honduran presidency will weaken the fundamentals of liberal democracy (limited government, checks and balances, and executive accountability) in the Western Hemisphere and hand Hugo Chávez and his ALBA alliance another propaganda victory.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/07/2009
During his recent trip to Moscow, President Obama entered into a joint statement with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev regarding a prospective treaty on strategic nuclear arms control. The description of the joint statement provided by the White House demonstrates why prudent Senators should provide advice to the President Obama regarding this prospective treaty well before they are asked to consent its ratification.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Andrew M. Grossman, The Heritage FoundationLegal Memorandum, 07/07/2009
The Sunshine in Litigation Act would limit judges’ discretion to approve and enforce litigants’ confidentiality agreements. In many cases, discovery would grind to a halt as parties, unable to rely on broad protective orders, would be forced to challenge far more requests for evidence. Plaintiffs especially would lose out. Without the ability to offer confidentiality, they could expect to see smaller settlements, higher litigation costs, and even the disclosure of their own personal information.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Jean Yarbrough, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 07/07/2009
Instead of consolidating power or attempting to forge a general will, Jefferson went in the opposite direction, “dividing and sub-dividing” political power, while multiplying the number of interests and views that could be heard. He saw these units of local self-government as a way of bringing the large republic within the reach of citizens and so keeping alive the spirit of republicanism so vital to its preservation. And in this day and age, when the federal government seems to intrude on every aspect of our daily lives, and people feel powerless over matters of most interest to them, can we doubt that he was right? For this insight, too, let us echo Lincoln: “All honor to Jefferson”!
EducationBy Matthew Ladner, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Brief, 07/07/2009
Standards at private schools are purely a private matter. Anyone, however, who has invested their own money in a private education for the kind of ignorance school children today, such as those in Arizona, demonstrate, has every right to feel outraged. While lawmakers should not impose such a requirement on private school students, public universities should require a basic level of civic knowledge as a condition for admittance. Further, it is incumbent on Arizona private schools to move with dispatch to get their houses in order on this front.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar , Cato InstituteDevelopment Policy Analysis, 07/07/2009
To alleviate the global recession, the G-20 group of nations recently agreed to authorize the International Monetary Fund to allocate $250 billion worth of Special Drawing Rights — the IMF’s unit of account — to its member states. This sparked much discussion on whether the SDR could become a new international currency, rivaling the U.S. dollar. Speculation was further fueled by the suggestions of Chinese officials that SDRs could displace the dollar in foreign exchange reserves. However, the SDR is not a currency and has no chance of becoming
Budget & TaxationBy Frederick M. Hess, Juliet P. Squire, American Enterprise InstituteWorking Paper, 07/07/2009
Teacher pensions pose two challenges. The first challenge is that political incentives invite irresponsible fiscal stewardship, as public officials make outsized commitments to employees. The second is that incentives hinder modernization, as policymakers avoid the politically perilous task of altering plans ill-suited to attracting talent in the contemporary labor market. The alignment of the political stars has helped states and localities to address the first challenge, but there is little evidence of a willingness to tackle the second.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ted Gayer, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 07/07/2009
The House’s energy bill contains numerous mandates, including energy efficiency requirements for buildings, vehicles, and outdoor lighting, in addition to the existing renewable fuel mandate for the transportation sector. Achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is a costly endeavor. Congress only makes things worse by supplementing their cap-and-trade program with expensive mandates that serve no environmental end.
Budget & TaxationBy D. Sean Shurtleff, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 07/07/2009
Any benefit from excise taxes offsetting the cost of harmful behaviors is overshadowed by their inefficiency, ineffectiveness and regressivity. A better approach is to balance the budget and reallocate resources from other programs toward priorities like health care and energy development.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Heather MacDonald, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 07/07/2009
The press and criminology profession, in thrall to the idea that crime is an understandable response to economic inequality and social injustice, are gleefully predicting that New York’s crime rate will rise during the recession. The New York Police Department is fully prepared to prove them wrong, so long as it has the resources to do so. If Gotham can keep its crime rout on course during this time of straitened circumstances, it can emerge from the recession with an unbeatable claim to prominence as the safest and most dynamic city in the world.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Steven Groves, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 07/07/2009
If Judge Sotomayor intends to join her colleagues already on the Court in relying upon something other than U.S. legal precedent and American norms in interpreting the Constitution, then she has an obligation to explain and defend her position at the forthcoming confirmation hearing.