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Recent Policy Studies
Budget & TaxationBy Monika Ciesielska, Americans for Tax ReformReport, 08/12/2009
In 2009, Cost of Government Day falls on August 12. Working people must toil 224 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government – a full 26 days longer than last year. In other words, in 2009 the cost of government consumes 61.34 percent of national income.
Economic GrowthBy Jacob Sullum, Reason FoundationReason, 08/12/2009
Administration officials say the stimulus package is all about putting Americans back to work. When asked whether this is an efficient way to do that, they claim all the work needs to be done anyway. Conversely, when asked whether all the projects are really worth the money spent on them, they cite jobs “created or saved” as a backup justification. Stimulus means never having to admit you’re wasting money.
Economic GrowthBy D. Sean Shurtleff, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 08/12/2009
Low-income workers, however, have a low rate of saving of any kind. There are programs to encourage savings by low-income workers. They generally depend on providing additional funds (a match) for each dollar saved. However, there is evidence that a more effective approach would be a program designed to make the savings option as easy as possible, supplemented by a savings match.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Jason Richwine, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 08/12/2009
Robert Putnam began by telling about one result he encountered that was thoroughly upsetting to him—the more ethnically diverse a community is, the less social capital it possesses. When a person lives in a diverse community, he trusts everyone less, including those of his own ethnic group.
Information TechnologyBy Deborah Taylor Tate, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 08/12/2009
Facilitating broadband deployment has been compared as historically analogous to last century's building of the interstate highway system or electrification of rural America. Today, this technology superhighway is central to the delivery of services, cost efficiency of business, and the overall improvement of the quality of life.
Economic GrowthBy Diana Furchtgott-Roth, et al., Hudson InstituteHudson Institute Economic Report, 08/12/2009
It’s a sad commentary on today’s economic situation that a loss of 247,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 9.4% is treated as good news. But with a forecast of 375,000 lost jobs and an unemployment rate that was supposed to reach 9.6%, commentators are breathing a sigh of relief. Still, the recession is not over, and expansion has not yet begun.
International Trade/FinanceBy Claude Barfield, Philip I. Levy, American Enterprise InstituteInternational Economic Outlook, 08/12/2009
The lack of a clear vision for U.S. trade policy, combined with the reality that congressional Democrats are deeply conflicted on trade and globalization, has produced a series of embarrassing, contradictory signals and gaffes by newly appointed Obama administration officials.
Budget & TaxationBy Steve Chapman, Reason FoundationReason, 08/12/2009
Cash for Clunkers has been a thrilling moment for advocates of expanded government, who say it proves what we can accomplish when our leaders put their minds to it. They are absolutely right. The program proves the federal government is unsurpassed at two things: dispersing money and destroying things.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Cheng Li, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 08/12/2009
As Chinese think tanks begin to acquire the “revolving door” quality that has long described their peer institutions in other countries, business leaders from major state-owned companies and domestic private companies now play a crucial role in the management of think tanks, gained through the financial contributions these companies make to the think tanks in reaction to government policies that strongly affect their businesses. Meanwhile, an increasing number of foreign-educated “returnees” find think tanks to be ideal institutional springboards from which to reintegrate into the Chinese political establishment and play a role in shaping the public discourse.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ronald Bailey, Reason FoundationReason, 08/12/2009
The planet is warming because greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide re-radiate heat from the sun back toward the earth as it tries to escape into space. Solar radiation management techniques aim to increase the amount of sunlight radiated back into space in order to lower the globe's temperature. There are now proposals that would purposely inject sulfur or other reflective particles into the stratosphere on an ongoing basis to counter the effects of man-made global warming.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Radley Balko, Reason FoundationReason, 08/12/2009
Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts allows defense attorneys to question the authors of forensics reports about their methodology and to probe those authors' testimony for possible errors. A faceless analysis that cites a 99 percent or higher probability of a forensics match can lose some of its punch if the author can be questioned in front of a jury about the possibility of bias or human error.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Alice L. Miller, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 08/12/2009
Since the fall of 2008, Beijing has faced China’s most severe economic downturn in the recent past. In addition, the year 2009 brings several sensitive anniversaries, each of which might prompt political agitation and protest. Nevertheless, the regime leadership from all appearances has thus far weathered these stresses with a consistent public façade of unity and discipline. This performance contrasts starkly with the failure of the regime leadership to do so two decades ago.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Joseph Fewsmith, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 08/12/2009
Over the past five years, Wenling City in southeastern Zhejiang Province in China has pioneered openness and public participation in local budgeting. Although there are flaws in the reform, it is nevertheless highly significant in underscoring a clear problem in local governance, breathing life into the normally inert local people's congresses, and introducing a degree of democratic supervision. Although there have been efforts in other parts of China to introduce legislative supervision of local budgets, there are significant obstacles to popularizing this innovation, including recent efforts to centralize control over budgets.
EducationBy Robert E. Martin, John William Pope Center for Higher Education PolicyBrief Analysis, 08/12/2009
The principal/agent problem, the nonprofit status of colleges and universities, and the emphasis on reputation maximization lead to a bias against reform, a preference toward increasing revenues, and a revenue-to-cost spiral in higher education. The cost increases not only create an unnecessary burden on students, their families, and society as a whole, but they represent a significant wealth transfer from families and the public to higher education.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Hans A. von Spakovsky, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 08/12/2009
In order to have an election process in which we can be confident that everyone who is eligible gets to vote, the vote is counted, and the vote is not diluted by fraudulent votes, we have to have security and integrity throughout the entire process, from voter registration to the casting of the actual votes and the counting of ballots. Unfortunately, because of various problems with election laws and procedures in many states, we cannot currently ensure that such security is in place.
Economic GrowthBy Barry Naughton, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 08/11/2009
China owes this rapid economic recovery to a vigorous response that has been a unique mixture of Keynesian and old-fashioned government planning. This has brought newly important policy actors to the fore, most significantly the new super-ministry, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The long-term implications are a more intrusive role for the government across a wide range of economic and policy arenas. Consumer spending has also grown, but the recovery on the consumer side is still fragile.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Alan D. Romberg, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 08/11/2009
Although he still faced uncertainty about where things would go with Beijing in the future, Ma Ying-jeou could look back over his first year in office with a reasonably high degree of satisfaction about specific achievements in cross-Strait relations.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Mulvenon, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 08/11/2009
In China’s recent round of promotions in the senior military officer corps, all of the officers can claim some extent of university-level training, there is a continuing success of the so-called “princelings” within the Chinese nomenklatura, and finally, in keeping with the majoritarian Han supremacy, all of the promoted officers are from the Han ethnic group.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Lawrence J. White, Mercatus CenterTestimony, 08/11/2009
The heightened regulation of the credit rating agencies is likely to discourage entry, rigidify a specified set of structures and procedures, and discourage innovation in new ways of gathering and assessing information, new technologies, new methodologies, and new models—and may well not achieve the goal of inducing better ratings from the agencies.
Budget & TaxationBy Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Points, 08/11/2009
Under Governor Rendell, total state general obligation debt outstanding has increased from $6.8 billion to a projected $9.5 billion with his 2009-10 budget proposal, a 40% increase in seven years.
EducationBy Nathan A. Benefield, Fred D. Baldwin, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesCommentary, 08/11/2009
Pennsylvania Governor Rendell hopes that lawmakers forgot the research finding consolidation would not provide savings to taxpayers. His plan fails to address real reform that can reduce costs and improve the quality of schools. If cost savings is truly a goal for Pennsylvania schools, a good first step would be greater transparency. The public should have access to greater information about how school districts spend tax dollars and adequate information as contracts are being negotiated.
Information TechnologyBy Adam Thierer, Berin Szoka, Progress & Freedom FoundationProgress on Point, 08/11/2009
If regulatory approaches trump the empowerment agenda we have described, the future of a free and open Internet is at risk. The better approach across the board is education, not regulation. Empowerment, not elitism, is the path forward. The digital elite should be leading this effort by developing and promoting technologies of empowerment, not crafting regulatory mandates to force their will upon us.
Health CareBy Scott Harrington, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 08/11/2009
States have largely resisted mandates because their cost requires significantly higher taxes or cutting other parts of the budget. Supporters of healthcare reform at the federal level should not pretend it is any different.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Desmond Lachman, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 08/11/2009
At the Federal Open Market Committee’s meeting August 11 and 12, one should expect no meaningful changes in the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy. Specifically, one might expect that the Fed will cite continued economic weakness and the absence of inflationary pressures as a justification for their actinos.
Budget & TaxationBy Robert Carroll, Tax FoundationWorking Paper, 08/10/2009
The incidence of the corporate income tax remains one of the elusive and unanswered questions in public economics. The decline in corporate tax rates abroad has allowed researchers to use this international experience to consider whether those countries with the largest declines in corporate tax rates also had the largest gains in workers’ wages. Labor bears a substantial portion of the corporate income tax.
Budget & TaxationBy Biff Jones, Pamela Villarreal, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 08/10/2009
As soon as 2010, small businesses could face three simultaneous tax hikes that would raise their marginal tax rate as high as 66.9 percent. Democrats in Congress plan to raise taxes on top earners by allowing some of the Bush tax cuts to expire. Draft legislation in the House of Representatives to overhaul the health care system contains two additional proposals that aim to soak the rich. However, these tax hikes will drench small businesses.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 08/10/2009
Cap and trade is very expensive and amounts to nothing more than an energy tax in disguise. The bottom line is that cap and trade works by raising the cost of energy high enough so that individuals and businesses are forced to use less of it. Inflicting economic pain is what this is all about, and states in the Western U.S will be hit hard.
National SecurityBy Christopher Ford, Hudson InstituteLecture, 08/10/2009
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) tends increasingly to take ostensibly pro-disarmament positions at the expense of nonproliferation. Though NAM governments have a very great range of opinions individually, as a bloc its official positions have tended more and more to be captured by radicalized activist members such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran. NAM governments seem genuinely committed to weapons state disarmament, but led by such activists the group has increasingly been suspicious of nonproliferation—seeing it as a conspiracy of nuclear “haves” to maintain their weapons monopoly while dragging their feet on disarmament.
Health CareBy Peter Ferrara, Heartland InstitutePolicy Study, 08/10/2009
The Obama government takeover of health care is unnecessary. Real, long-lasting reform can be accomplished without the government taking over the health care system. Key reforms are focusing on the truly needy, Medicaid reform, high-risk pools, repealing mandates and regulations that inflate insurance costs, and expanding health savings accounts.
EducationBy James Heckman, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 08/10/2009
We should reward and facilitate the improvement of quality early childhood development for disadvantaged children in as many states as are willing to embrace high standards. Deserving programs are those that concentrate on disadvantaged children and focus on developing the critical package of cognitive and social skills.
Health CareBy Thomas P. Miller, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 08/10/2009
Whether a tax on fast food and junk food is a good idea depends mainly on the extent to which individuals already pay fully for the consequences of their decisions about diet and exercise. Passing a new law alone often is not equivalent to achieving its stated objectives. Particularly when the behavioral problem for most obese persons is not that they do not know they are overweight or that what they are eating might contribute to that condition.
Economic GrowthBy Rea S. Hederman, Jr., The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/10/2009
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that in the month of July, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 9.5 to 9.4 percent despite the economy shedding 247,000 jobs. While this jobs report is hardly good news, it is still the least bad employment report since August 2008.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Andrew Klavan, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 08/10/2009
It seems that the last several decades in America have been a weird echo of the decades in Europe around the coming of the nineteenth century—and that no figure can serve as a better guide to both wisdom and error than William Wordsworth, one of the greatest of the British Romantic poets and, in many ways, the very model of a modern neoconservative, defending the West’s liberal tradition against radicalism.
Health CareBy Dennis G. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/10/2009
West Virginia is on the right track in terms of involving individuals in their own health care. While the report concedes that there is still much work to be done to fully engage the Medicaid population in participating in their own health care, the critics of reform have been wrong. West Virginia now knows far more about the needs and behavior of its Medicaid population. Congress should pay attention to what West Virginia has learned.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/10/2009
Reports of the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud demonstrate that cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan against militants located in the tribal border areas is beginning to bear fruit. If it was indeed successful, this strike represents the culmination of a campaign targeting Mehsud and his forces, an effort that has reportedly been facilitated by Pakistani intelligence.
National SecurityBy Newt Gingrich, The Heritage FoundationLecture, 08/07/2009
The United States needs a new strategy to counter unforeseen developments in the technology and capability of rivals, competitors, and foes; less bureaucratic red tape to ensure fast, efficient decision-making; and Members of Congress who can deal with real-world security threats in a rapidly changing environment, from Colombian drug cartels to nation-states seeking to exploit the vulnerabilities of our communications systems in space.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Max Shulz, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 08/07/2009
Working with city officials downstate as well as with the state’s utilities, leaders in Albany should also formulate a strategy for replacing and upgrading pipes, wires, transformers, substations, and other critical pieces of New York’s energy production and delivery apparatus, so that the state has an energy infrastructure capable of serving the needs of a twenty-first-century economy. Ultimately, though, what policymakers must come to terms with is that energy is the life force of any economy—and that policies driving its price up and its reliability down have been choking the life out of New York’s.
Economic GrowthBy James Sherk, Rea S. Hederman Jr, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 08/06/2009
President Obama has repeatedly claimed that his economic stimulus bill will “create or save” 3.5 million new jobs by 2011, including 600,000 jobs by the end of this summer. It is impossible to hold the President accountable to these promises because there is no way of measuring “jobs saved.” The job-creation rate among private-sector employers will have to increase before employment begins rising again.
Health CareBy Edmund F. Haislmaier, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/06/2009
Senator Kerry’s “compromise” proposal is a political device to hide a tax on workers of all incomes rather than to reform the tax treatment of health care. Applying an excise tax to all “gold-plated” or “Cadillac” health insurance plans, both fully insured and self-insured, would not have the same effects as capping the tax exclusion and providing tax relief in a revenue-neutral way to Americans who cannot afford coverage.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James M. Roberts, Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/06/2009
President Barack Obama is planning to meet with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada at the fifth annual North American Leaders Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico. These leaders should focus attention on the strong ties binding North America: a shared commitment to democratic values, free markets, and expanding trade opportunities, the need to meet growing energy needs, and improving security against domestic and international threats.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David Kreutzer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/06/2009
The income losses, the job losses, the tax increases, and the mounting debt all get worse over the coming decades. The Waxman-Markey bill forces a bad deal on a generation that does not have the option to turn it down. The $9.4 trillion of lost income, the 2.5 million lost jobs, the $5.0 trillion of additional national debt, and the $5.7 trillion in new taxes will buy no more than a 0.2 degree (Celsius) moderation in world temperature increases by 2100 and no more than a 0.05 degree reduction by 2050.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
The Economic Consequences of Waxman-Markey: An Analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009By David Kreutzer, et al., The Heritage FoundationReport, 08/06/2009
The Waxman–Markey bill proposes a new national tax of historic proportions. Though levied directly on carbon-based energy, the tax’s impact spreads through the economy, increasing prices, reducing income, destroying jobs, and significantly expanding the national debt. It seeks to “level the playing field” by making a more competitive player weaker rather than ensuring an environment where less competitive players can become stronger.
Budget & TaxationBy Scott A. Hodge, Andre Dammert, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 08/06/2009
New data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that the U.S. corporate tax rate has fallen even further out of step with the rest of the industrialized world as countries such as Canada, the Czech Republic, Korea, and Sweden have cut their corporate rates in 2009, lowering the average statutory corporate tax rate of all OECD nations to 26.5 percent.
Health CareBy John E. Calfee, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 08/06/2009
Before we cripple for-profit pharmaceutical research—by implementing, say, an ill-conceived form of healthcare reform that severely limits the profits from new drug development—we need to make sure we have a good drug development substitute in place. And one thing we know from experience is that no such substitute now exists.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Max Schulz, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 08/06/2009
There is no competition today with other nations in a bid to switch our economies to energy sources that are vastly more expensive than the ones currently in use. Indeed, when the Obama administration recently lectured China and India on the need to get aboard the low-carbon energy express, those nations’ governments told ours to take a hike. What the cap-and-traders and lunar pleaders don’t get is that it’s not a race if no one else is running.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Randal O'Toole, Texas Public Policy FoundationIssue Brief, 08/06/2009
Texas can do many things to cost-effectively improve transportation networks in ways that save energy, reduce accidents, and cut toxic and greenhouse gas emissions. High-speed rail is not one of those things.
Information TechnologyBy Barbara Esbin, Adam Marcus, Progress & Freedom FoundationArticle, 08/06/2009
The FCC’s means of asserting regulatory authority over broadband Internet service providers’ network management practices is unprecedented, sweeping in its breadth, and seemingly unbounded by conventional rules of interpretation and procedure. We should all be concerned, for apparently what we have on our hands is a runaway agency, unconstrained in its vision of its powers.
National SecurityBy Loren B. Thompson, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 08/06/2009
By the end of President Obama's first term, over 90% of Army combat units will be based in the U.S.— the one place they are least likely to be needed. Getting them to hot spots around the world fast will require a lot of jets, and in many cases they will need to go places that a C-130 cannot reach, or where a C-5 cannot land. 205 C-17s just isn't enough for the long term, but the Obama administration is completely fixated on the short term.
Economic GrowthBy James L. Gattuso, Nicolas Loris, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/06/2009
When dealerships offer discounts and special deals, those incentives work. But it is the taxpayer funding cash for clunkers. And although the policy is giving dealerships a temporary summertime boost, most of that boost is likely coming at the expense of future sales and other goods and services. At the same time, it is doing little to help the environment while hurting low-income Americans. Rather than provide more cash for this clunker, it should be scrapped.