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Recent Policy Studies
Health CareBy Greg D'Angelo, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/09/2009
When the CBO completes its official estimates of the impact of Congress’s health care legislation, it will likely be based on a merged product of proposals in both the House and Senate. The cost of the legislation will almost certainly become a major focal point of the debate. Beyond looking at the budgetary impact of the plan, the CBO should take a closer look at both the short-term and long-term impact of the legislation. With a final cost estimate in hand, the American people should also have a comprehensive assessment of the economic effects of the reform proposals—similar to the one produced by the CBO during the Clinton era—before any legislation moves forward to passage. Only then will Congress and the American people know whether the President and congressional leaders are likely to deliver on their many high-profile promises.
EducationBy Frederick M. Hess, Robert Maranto, Richard E. Redding, American Enterprise InstituteBook, 10/09/2009
Half a century ago, universities were the institutions characterized by vibrant free inquiry and free speech. Today something close to the opposite is the case. This book demonstrates how the universities’ quest for “diversity” has produced in too many departments stifling uniformity of thought. The Politically Correct University is required reading for those who want American universities to eschew political correctness.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Matthew Spalding, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 10/09/2009
More and more laws—in the form of rulemaking, regulations, and policy pronouncements—are made by administrative agents. These agents operate not only outside the open and transparent requirements of responsible government, and without congressional approval and oversight, but they generally go beyond the principle that legitimate government arises out of the consent of the governed. And the more government regularly operates as a matter of course outside of popular consent, the more we become clients rather than rulers of a vast and distant government, the less we are self-governing, and the less we control our own fate.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Todd Wynn, Steve Lafleur, Cascade Policy InstituteReport, 10/08/2009
Even without government involvement, impressive progress has been made in the development of electric vehicles. There exists no compelling reason for the government to intervene with direct expenditures or tax credits to aid the development of the industry. As we saw with the example of hydrogen cars, governments are not very good at picking winners. Electric cars are currently a luxury, just as conventional automobiles were when they were first developed. Only by allowing engineers and entrepreneurs to experiment with them will we ever know if they are financially and technologically viable.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy David Lewis Schaefer, Intercollegiate Studies InstituteIntercollegiate Review, 10/08/2009
My title is intended to provoke. Surely all decent people want politicians to behave in an ethical manner—not to lie, cheat, or steal. What I have in mind, however, is the tendency of contemporary academic writers on political theory, ethics, and jurisprudence to suppose, in the words of the renowned liberal thinker Isaiah Berlin, “that political theory is a branch of moral philosophy, which starts from the discovery, or application, of moral notions in the sphere of political relations.” Anticipating Berlin, the English socialist writer L. T. Hobhouse similarly held in his 1922 book Elements of Social Justice that “Politics must be subordinate to Ethics.”
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Donald W. Livingston, Intercollegiate Studies InstituteIntercollegiate Review, 10/08/2009
Burke’s conservatism is rooted in eloquence. He inveighed against “metaphysical scribblers” and celebrated “wisdom without reflection,” but he did not explain how “wisdom without reflection” can generate rational criticism. A conservatism of the heart, though not to be despised, leads to a romantic, nostalgic view of tradition as a refuge from philosophical reflection.
Economic GrowthBy Thomas E. Woods Jr., Intercollegiate Studies InstituteIntercollegiate Review, 10/08/2009
The experience of 1920–21 reinforces the contention of genuine free-market economists that government intervention is a hindrance to economic recovery. It is not in spite of the absence of fiscal and monetary stimulus that the economy recovered from the 1920–21 depression. It is because those things were avoided that recovery came. Instead of “fiscal stimulus,” President Harding cut the government’s budget nearly in half between 1920 and 1922. The rest of Harding’s approach was equally laissez-faire. Tax rates were slashed for all income groups. The national debt was reduced by one-third. The Federal Reserve’s activity, moreover, was hardly noticeable.
Economic GrowthBy Benjamin Powell, Intercollegiate Studies InstituteIntercollegiate Review, 10/08/2009
This study’s main contribution is to highlight some of the broad common elements in the U.S. bubble and the policy response to it and in Japan’s mid-1980s bubble and 1990s recession. Both had real estate bubbles inflated by excessive monetary creation. In both cases, too many resources were bid into housing and related industries. Both governments responded by lowering interest rates, bailing out troubled firms, and passing large fiscal stimulus packages. In both cases these interventions delayed economic recovery by slowing the reallocation of labor and capital from over-expanded bubble industries to ones better aligned with consumer preferences. Hopefully, American policymakers will not be as successful as their Japanese counterparts were at delaying this reallocation.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr., Intercollegiate Studies InstituteIntercollegiate Review, 10/08/2009
This study first presents a brief history of the current economic crisis. Though financial services are highly regulated, the regulatory system failed. It then offers a diagnosis of the crisis, focusing on the issue of the capital position of banks and other financial institutions. Finally, it considers the way forward and the prospects for a return to a sound financial system and a healthy economy.
Information TechnologyBy T. Randolph Beard, George S. Ford, Lawrence J. Spiwak, Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy StudiesPolicy Papers, 10/08/2009
Market definition is an essential ingredient to competitive and regulatory analysis. Yet, there is significant disparity regarding the definition of the relevant geographic market for high-capacity circuits, commonly referred to as special access services. Given the present debate over expanding price regulation in this sector, the importance of market definition on the expected economic effects of regulation is worth evaluating. In this paper, we demonstrate that if geographic markets are “location specific” and supplied by a monopolist as the proponents of regulation claim, then price regulation reduces economic welfare in all instances. The effect of regulation is mostly to transfer profits from sellers to buyers, so the debate appears to be largely a quibble over rents. This analysis demonstrates that the present case for regulating high-capacity services is woefully inadequate and poorly conceived.
Health CareBy Talmadge Heflin, Arlene Wohlgemuth, Elizabeth Young, James Quintero, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 10/08/2009
Expanding the Medicaid programs of Texas or any other state is not the right way to achieve meaningful health care reform. The Texas Medicaid program is one of the largest and costliest in the nation; and yet, if government-centered health care reform legislation is passed by Congress, the program and its problems could get even bigger. Improving the nation’s ailing health care system requires a completely different approach—one that improves the doctor-patient relationship and minimizes bureaucratic interference.
Information TechnologyBy Berin Szoka, Progress & Freedom FoundationProgress Snapshot, 10/08/2009
Better tailoring of online ads to individuals’ interests increases not only click-through rates but also “conversion rates”—the percentage of users who actually complete the action desired by the advertiser, whether that be making a purchase or signing up for a list. A 2008 experiment found increased conversion rates of 400-900%. This indicates that relevant ads really do help consumers find things they like—and that they like the fruits of tailoring, however they respond when asked about “tailoring” as an abstract concept that conflates costs (“How are they following me?”) and benefits (“What’s in it for me?”).
Information TechnologyBy Barbara Esbin, Progress & Freedom FoundationProgress Snapshot, 10/08/2009
Much ink already has been spilled over the September 21 announcement by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski that he plans to circulate a notice of proposed rulemaking expanding and codifying the FCC’s four Internet policy principles. With few exceptions, the initial reactions were directed to the wisdom, or folly, of such an action. In this perspective, the key question that remains is whether the FCC possesses the statutory authority it would require to expand and codify the Internet policy principles. Our answer is no, it does not, at least not for the reasons the agency has advanced to date.
Information TechnologyBy Adam Thierer, Progress & Freedom FoundationTestimony, 10/08/2009
Whether it is child safety or privacy concerns, the best thing the FCC can do is educate the public about the empowerment tools and methods at their disposal so they can take control of online content, communications, and information sharing. To the extent anxieties about these issues remains an impediment for some to adopt broadband services, education and empowerment is preferable to regulation.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jody W. Lipford, Bruce Yandle, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterArticles, 10/08/2009
The North American Free Trade Agreement generated much debate about the effects of freer and more open trade on the environment. Many environmentalists believed increased trade would lead to environmental degradation, while many economists argued that increased trade would enrich countries, leading to environmental improvement. Substantial empirical work supported an Environmental Kuznets Curve in which rising income increases pollution until a certain threshold is reached, after which pollution diminishes. In this paper we examine Mexico’s environmental record in the pre- and post-NAFTA periods. The evidence shows that although Mexico’s environmental quality has improved by some measures, by most measures it has deteriorated. We conclude that economic growth has been insufficient to bring widespread environmental improvement.
Health CareBy Tom Daxon, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsCurrent Perspective, 10/08/2009
Our society may pay a terrible price for its failure to understand what health care reform really means. If we make poor decisions, in part because of incomplete or confusing information, seniors may find needed care denied, younger workers may find health insurance beyond their reach, those with chronic illness may not find hoped-for breakthroughs in treatment forthcoming, and many who depend on our social safety net may find it a trap that destroys initiative and hope for the future. However, participants on all sides consistently ignore two key realities that hold the key to meaningful reform. We can’t really fix what ails health care until we face them.
National SecurityBy Jena Baker McNeill, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/08/2009
Protecting America requires a strong private-public partnership. Consequently, private-sector immunity remains a key element of the electronic surveillance program. If businesses no longer trust the government or become nervous that helping maintain national security will lead to an avalanche of costly litigation, their cooperation will come to a grinding halt. Congress needs to take steps to retain the private sector’s trust.
Information TechnologyBy Jerry Brito, Jerry Ellig, Mercatus CenterPublic Interest Comment, 10/08/2009
Few regulatory initiatives have created anywhere near the benefits for consumers that the FCC has created by auctioning flexible-use spectrum for commercial wireless services. The commission’s most-recent commercial mobile wireless competition report demonstrates that the market for wireless services is structurally competitive; firms engage in vigorous, rivalrous competition; customer switching is substantial; and prices, quantity, and variety of services have expanded tremendously.
Information TechnologyBy Jerry Brito, Jerry Ellig, Mercatus CenterPublic Interest Comment, 10/08/2009
The greatest contribution the FCC could make to spur innovation is to align policy with the incentives of entrepreneurs. Reallocating spectrum to flexible use allows incumbents to internalize the cost of their use. Allowing spectrum licenses to be freely traded allows entrepreneurs to put spectrum to its highest valued use. And allowing innovators to choose open or closed development paths ensures a beneficial diversity of creativity.
EducationBy Collin Hitt, Lexington InstituteReport, 10/08/2009
Chicago’s Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Hispanic students will play a major role in determining the city’s economic future. Unfortunately, these two critical groups have remained among the lowest-performing in the Chicago Public Schools where current strategies for improvement have shown scant signs of reversing current trends. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that thousands of LEP and Hispanic students are attending overcrowded schools. New, high-quality schooling options need to be created to meet the demands and needs of those families. Public charter schools, meanwhile, have begun to demonstrate impressive improvements for both of these student populations—providing an innovative model for improving schooling conditions for LEP and Hispanic students in Chicago.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Philip Peters, Lexington InstituteReport, 10/08/2009
As the Chavez government proceeds in its second decade, Venezuela’s economic prospects are dominated by uncertainty. To the degree that Venezuela continues to rely on private sector growth and foreign investment, this uncertainty in itself is damaging, and has already caused damage: capital flight, emigration of skilled personnel, losses in business confidence and inward foreign investment. There is no sign that President Chavez and his government view this uncertainty as a problem; one can almost conclude by default that the goal is to keep the private sector off balance.
Health CareBy Dennis G. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/08/2009
Under current law and assumptions, by 2019, the Medicare Trust Fund will have been depleted for two years; it will then no longer be able to pay its bills on time. Furthermore, the President has also vowed not to raise taxes on the middle class—a shaky promise in light of the transactions now occurring in the Senate Finance Committee—and to not increase the deficit by one dime. With the collision of all of these events, a government "takeover" in the form of greater government control over health care financing and the practice of medicine is inevitable.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Institute for Justice, Institute for Justice10/07/2009
New York is perhaps the worst state in the nation when it comes to eminent domain abuse—the forcible acquisition of private property by the government for private development. Over the past decade, a host of government jurisdictions and agencies statewide have condemned or threatened to condemn homes and small businesses for the New York Stock Exchange, The New York Times, IKEA, Costco, and Stop & Shop. But things may be changing. This month, New York’s highest court will hear a case that could at last place limits on the state’s condemning authorities when they seek to take private property for someone else’s private development. This report is designed to serve as a resource to anyone trying to understand the complex laws that allow eminent domain abuse to happen and the issues surrounding the government’s power to take property.
Economic GrowthBy Reiner Klingholz, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 10/07/2009
There is no reason to propagate only a pronatalist policy to raise the fertility rate in Europe. In the face of an overpopulated world, immigration of talented migrants should be able to fill the continent’s labor market gaps when necessary. The history of all classical immigration countries shows that this is a viable option. Switzerland, a country with one of Europe’s highest share of immigrants, shows perfectly how profitable immigration can be.
Information TechnologyBy James G. Lakely, Heartland InstitutePolicy Study, 10/07/2009
This study examines the philosophy that underlies the movement for network neutrality, which telecom expert Scott Cleland has dubbed “neutralism.” Neutralism stands in striking contrast to the innocuous-sounding Internet “freedom” its advocates call for. Understanding neutralism helps explain why network neutrality would have consequences that are quite the opposite of what its proponents claim. Not all advocates of network neutrality believe in neutralism, and some aren’t even aware that the policy arose from such a strange philosophy. One purpose of this paper is to inform those neutrality advocates of the radical agenda they have unwittingly bought into.
No Consensus on Health Insurance Exchanges: Congress Should Rely on States and Consider Health Insurance Premium AccountsBy Peter J. Nelson, Center of the American ExperimentPolicy in Detail, 10/07/2009
A health insurance exchange is often reported as one of the few key congressional health care proposals with bipartisan support, but whatever bipartisan support people perceive is illusory. Conservatives hope to sidestep regulatory burdens with an exchange, while liberals hope to add regulatory burdens. This insight makes it difficult to believe that a bipartisan consensus can be reached. Without consensus, the federal government should empower states to experiment with competing types of exchanges or even other alternatives. One alternative that states should consider are health insurance premium accounts. These accounts provide a more narrowly focused (and less disruptive) alternative to an exchange and offer a number of powerful advantages.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Lynn A. Stout, Cato InstituteRegulation, 10/07/2009
The 2000 Commodities Futures Modernization Act declared financial derivatives exempt from CFTC or SEC oversight. But it also declared all financial derivatives legally enforceable. The act thus eliminated, in one fell swoop, a legal hurdle to OTC derivatives speculation that dated back not just decades but centuries. It was this change in the law—not some flash of genius on Wall Street—that created today’s $600 trillion derivatives market.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Adam C. Pritchard, Cato InstituteRegulation, 10/07/2009
London bears at least superficial resemblance to Delaware—the smaller, less populous competitor, heavily dependent on the financial services industry—but it has shown that it is susceptible to political retribution in the same way that New York is. Democracy has its virtues, but it also has its costs. Delaware has prevailed by insulating its corporate law from the ebb and flow of politics. London may dominate New York with respect to predictability, but it does not appear to offer substantially more certainty than companies can get in their home jurisdiction.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Daniel A. Crane, Cato InstituteRegulation, 10/07/2009
President Obama’s antitrust ambitions face significant obstacles in the courts, in Congress, in other regulatory agencies, and in the market itself. The good news for the administration is that Obama’s senior appointments in both the FTC and Department of Justice have been superb. Still, it will take more than talent to bring about the sort of antitrust revival that the administration seems to be promoting. It will take attention to the institutionalist concerns that animate the Chicago-Harvard alliance in the courts, a helping hand from a rebounding economy, and a robust analytical framework for making the case that greater levels of antitrust enforcement in merger and monopolization cases would advance consumer welfare.
Budget & TaxationBy Ian W.H. Parry, Cato InstituteRegulation, 10/07/2009
In 1980, alcohol taxes represented about 22 percent of the pre-tax price of alcohol, whereas now, with the failure to raise nominal rates in line with inflation, they have fallen to about 10 percent of the pre-tax price. Are current alcohol tax levels about right, or should they be increased? The concerns outlined here suggest we really do not know. It is plausible that alcohol and a few other goods should be taxed at elevated rates, but it is far from obvious that we have any idea how high or low this tax should be.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Bruce Yandle, Cato InstituteRegulation, 10/07/2009
In a lovely May 16, 2009, Rose Garden setting, President Obama announced stricter fuel economy standards for the U.S. auto fleet. On stage with the president for the announcement was what amounts to a newly sanctioned fuel economy cartel and perhaps one of the largest gatherings of “Bootleggers and Baptists” ever to assemble for a presidential announcement. Executives from Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda were joined by United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger and leaders of the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy James M. Taylor, James Madison InstituteBackgrounder, 10/07/2009
Florida and national legislators will best serve their constituents by facilitating the utilization of efficient, inexpensive energy. Fortunately, this requires little expertise or grand design; government needs merely to forgo the temptation of intervening in the free market in favor of alternative energy at the expense of conventional power generation. Respecting the rights of individuals to produce and purchase the form of power they deem most economically advantageous will ensure Floridians the healthiest possible economy and the best possible standard of living.
Economic GrowthBy Stefan Fölster, Johnny Munkhammar, European Enterprise InstituteBook, 10/07/2009
Europe is in decline. Eurosclerosis keeps a tight grip. Government interventions stifle innovation. The Americans are way ahead, and soon the Chinese will be too. Europe is doomed to become a museum for rich Indian tourists. Such notions are what we are used to hearing, but no more. Europe is back. This fact-filled yet accessible book describes how Europe can continue to rediscover its successful roots—the freedoms that unleash new prosperity. During the past two decades, Europe has liberalized and opened up radically. Countries compete in free-market reforms. Europe is again becoming the continent of new innovations and smart policies.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Harry de Gorter, David R. Just , Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 10/07/2009
This question and answer report demonstrates that sustainability standards based on LCA—with or without the consideration of indirect land use changes—will at best be ineffective and, accordingly, will provide little guidance to policymakers. Worse still, it can be misleading, while at the same time serving to divert attention away from more important biofuel policy issues like tax credits, import tariffs, adding tax credits to mandates, and production subsidies for either the feedstock or the biofuel.
Health CareBy John Hendrickson, Public Interest InstituteInstitute Brief, 10/07/2009
State governments were intended to govern and be equally sovereign and not mere administrative districts of the national government. States have proven in the past that they can solve complicated policy problems whether it is education or welfare reform. Several states are currently engaged in finding health-care policy solutions. The best solution for health-care reform is to follow the Constitution and allow states and market principles to lower costs and open the industry to more competition free from federal government interference.
EducationBy Lindsey Burke, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/07/2009
President Obama has pledged to pump “billions of dollars into early childhood education.” The $8 billion preschool provision in the SAFRA puts the President well on his way to making good on that promise. However, it is not clear that driving more taxpayer dollars into federally- directed early education programs will provide a substantial new benefit to taxpayers. Instead of creating new costly federal programs, Congress should reform existing programs to provide better services to students and savings to taxpayers.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Hans A. von Spakovsky, Andrew M. Grossman, The Heritage FoundationLegal Memorandum, 10/07/2009
At a time when the American economy can least afford it, entrepreneurs and small-business owners are under siege. The Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (ITLEAA)—currently under consideration in Congress—would subject small businesses to a series of complicated and burdensome reporting requirements. These new requirements are reminiscent to those imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, and would have similarly negative consequences: increased costs and reductions in business activity and job creation. Furthermore, the ITLEAA would do little to actually reduce the use of LLC forms for criminal activity—the purported goal of the legislation.
ImmigrationBy Jacob L. Vidgor, Manhattan InstituteCivic Report, 10/07/2009
This report takes advantage of newly released U.S. Census Bureau data from 2007 to measure changes in an index describing the state of economic, civic, and cultural assimilation of immigrants to the United States. It also explores in detail two of the factors used to compute the index: immigrants’ English-language ability and naturalization rates, both of which have been affected by the reduced inflow and increased outflow of recent immigrants. Because legal adult immigrants who have been here less than five years cannot become citizens and are unlikely to have mastered English in so short a period, the economic downturn is having an effect on all three assimilation indexes: economic, of course; but also cultural assimilation, of which English skills are an important component; and civic assimilation, of which citizenship is an important component.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy John M. Masslon Jr., Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 10/07/2009
On June 15, 2009 the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Stolt-Nielsen, et al v. AnimalFeeds International Corp. The case presents the important question of whether the Federal Arbitration Act precludes an arbitration panel from allowing class arbitration when an arbitration clause in a contract is silent on the matter. In Stolt-Nielsen, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the FAA does not preclude the imposition of class arbitration when the agreement is silent on the issue; however, other Circuits have ruled the contrary. The Supreme Court’s resolution of this split in the circuits will have a substantial impact on both domestic and international commerce. It appears as though the outcome of Stolt-Nielsen will not be based on justices’ perceived ideological views, but will likely lead to an unlikely alliance of votes, as is often the case in business-oriented Supreme Court cases.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Michael Deibert, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 10/07/2009
The Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Kelo v. City of New London energized property rights advocates. In Kelo, the Court examined whether a city’s taking of a home and selling it to commercial developers constitutes a “public use”. The Court ruled that the municipality did not violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, which prohibits the government from taking private property for public use without just compensation. Kelo set off alarm bells across America, leading to fears that the wrecking ball might soon level more homes to make way for shopping malls or office buildings. Unfortunately, these predictions that government would further trample property rights have proven eerily prophetic. However, the Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in a takings case from the Supreme Court of Florida and will hear oral arguments in the October 2009 term. This move begs the question: Will the Court return some teeth to the Takings Clause, or hammer another nail into property rights’ coffin?
Economic GrowthBy Ryan Ward, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 10/07/2009
The Supreme Court decision in In Re Bilski will have long term repercussions throughout many industries. Should the justices affirm the Federal Circuit’s decision it could mean that many method patents currently held will be easily invalidated. If they reverse the Federal Circuit’s decision it would uphold many businesses’ method patents, specifically those from the banking and software industries. There are many who feel that such patents go against the true intent of the patenting system and abuse the protection meant to offer new technology, not new ways of doing business. Regardless of how the Supreme Court decides the case, Bilski’s patent on hedging commodities will most likely continue to be rejected—vague patents describing concepts already practiced publicly certainly don’t add to the public knowledge nor benefit the common good.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jon Entine, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 10/06/2009
Last weekend, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, in a joint address with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, put food security at the top of the UN agenda. It follows on the summer G-8 summit when 26 countries and a range of international organizations pledged $20 billion to that effort. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, one in every six people worldwide suffers from hunger, with children and women the most at risk. But a battle is developing over how to fund food security, with research into bio-engineered crops in the crosshairs.
Economic GrowthBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 10/06/2009
Wall Street is dancing again to the music of a sharp rise in stock prices. The question that remains is whether Main Street, currently languishing in a sad world of job losses, unavailable credit, and weakened balance sheets, will get to join the party. To put the question more precisely, will the “adverse feedback loop” that saw a financial collapse last fall that crushed the real economy work in reverse, so that a financial bounce boosts the real economy in coming quarters? The jury is still out on this important question.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
The Triumph of Environmental Alarmism: Science ‘Czar’ John Holdren and the Woods Hole Research CenterBy Neil Maghami, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 10/06/2009
President Obama foreshadowed his views on environmental policy when he named John P. Holdren, former director of the Woods Hole Research Center, as his science ‘czar.’ Under the guiding hand of Holdren, the Center has aggressively promoted an alarmist ‘the-world-is-ending’ environmentalist ideology. Not every White House science adviser has had a major influence on public policymaking, so it’s too soon to forecast the impact of the newest science czar. Still, Holdren has demonstrated much political savvy and public relations expertise. He knows how to overawe the public with scientific credentials and how to scare the public and intimidate adversaries. Regrettably, average Americans will have to live with the consequences of Holdren’s policies.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Phil Kerpen, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 10/06/2009
The radical environmentalists of the Apollo Alliance have tremendous clout with the Obama administration and Congress. The shadowy group is home to self-described communists and left-wing terrorists from the 1960s yet it somehow maintains a squeaky clean public image. In February lawmakers inserted into stimulus legislation its “green jobs” program, a government make-work project based on the fantasy that America could painlessly transition to an oil-free economy.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Arnold I. Friede, Gregory Conko, Competitive Enterprise InstituteOn Point, 10/06/2009
In November 2009, the FDA will hold a public hearing on the promotion of drugs and medical devices on the Internet and other new media tools, as a first step in the development of a formal policy on the matter. This is a welcome development, one that could eventually increase consumers’ ability to access useful information relevant to their health and well-being. However, if the FDA’s evolving policy fails to take adequate account of the Internet’s unique ability to present information in novel formats, it could have significant and adverse implications for consumers, Web service providers, and the medical products industry.
Your Retirement or Our Political Agenda: How Politicized Investment Strategies Threaten Workers’ PensionsBy F. Vincent Vernuccio, Competitive Enterprise InstituteOn Point, 10/06/2009
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act imposes a clear fiduciary duty on pension plan managers to invest only for the purpose of providing benefits and defraying risk. The rules for proxy voting are the same. Plan managers should not advocate or participate in proxy campaigns for social or political ends. Their only job is to ensure enough benefits for retirees and minimize risk through diversification. Department of Labor Interpretive Bulletins 08-1 and 08-2 faithfully adhere to the intent of ERISA and help safeguard pensioners’ savings against objectives unrelated to their retirement security. The Obama administration should not give into the demands of those who would like use the retirement savings they control—but do not own—for political purposes.
Regulation & Deregulation
The Politicization of the FAA Reauthorization Act: How UPS and the Teamsters are Using Federal Law to Target FedExBy Russ Brown, Competitive Enterprise InstituteOn Point, 10/06/2009
Although FedEx and UPS compete for the same business, FedEx continues to use air as its primary method to move four out of five parcels. There is simply no compelling reason to force FedEx under NLRA jurisdiction. In a precarious economic environment, it makes no sense for Congress to make politically motivated, potentially disruptive changes to a vital sector of the economy. FedEx and UPS are both true American success stories. They came from two different directions to provide a similar service using different business models. Similar companies should be treated similarly. Yet it is equally true that simple rules are better than complicated ones. Under those criteria, it makes sense for UPS’ workforce to be covered by the RLA, rather than seek to move FedEx’s workforce to NLRA jurisdiction.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jay Richards, The Heritage FoundationThe Economy Hits Home, 10/06/2009
When it comes to energy and the environment, most of us feel conflicted. On the one hand, we depend on affordable energy for almost everything—from traveling across town or across the world, to cooking our food, to running Google searches and talking to friends on cell phones. On the other hand, we’re concerned about using too much energy, depriving others of the same luxury and degrading our natural environment in the process. Add to this dilemma the fear that we’re too dependent on foreign sources of oil, especially when it comes from countries hostile to the United States. As a result of these concerns, many of us end up pulled in contradictory directions. The good news is that our worries are based more on misperceptions than reality. Affordable, abundant energy is within our reach—if we pursue the right policies. And we don’t have to destroy the environment to get it.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy H. Sterling Burnett, National Center for Policy AnalysisPolicy Report, 10/06/2009
Many people are concerned that an increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—due primarily to such human activities as burning fossil fuels for energy—is causing the Earth to warm, with potentially harmful results. In response, many developed countries agreed to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, committing them to limit and eventually reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States chose not to partici¬pate, in part because the agreement exempts such developing countries as China and India, although they have the world’s fastest-growing economies and emissions. However, the Obama administration supports a cap-and-trade system similar to the one implemented by the Kyoto agreement. Such a system would greatly hinder U.S. economic growth.
Budget & TaxationBy Terry Neese, Bethany Lowe, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 10/06/2009
Congress is facing a tax deadline. Under legislation passed in 2001, the federal estate tax is being phased out: The tax rate is falling and the value of the property of the deceased that is exempted from the tax is rising. Though scheduled to disappear in 2010, the tax will nonetheless return in 2011 at pre-2001 rates—up to 55 percent for estates valued in excess of $1 million. The Senate voted in April 2009 to reduce the rate of the revivified tax to 35 percent, but the House of Representatives has not acted.
Health CareBy Scott A. Hodge, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 10/06/2009
The health care reform bill that has cleared committee in the House of Representatives, HR 3200, has been praised as the fundamental reform that America’s health care system needs and criticized as a step toward government-run health care. In this Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact, we provide a somewhat different look at the bill by focusing on its distributional effects; that is, if it were signed into law as is, we estimate here how much income it would tax from some people to spend on others.
Health CareBy Robert E. Moffit, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/06/2009
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) is proposing major changes to the Medicare program under the America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), these changes would reduce Medicare spending by hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years. Unfortunately, the projected Medicare savings would not be sequestered and redirected back into the financially troubled Medicare program, nor would they constitute a down payment on real Medicare reform. This policy would, in other words, simply fuel expanded government at taxpayers’ expense.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Miriam Grossman, Regnery PublishingBook, 10/06/2009
If you think sex education is still about the birds and the bees, think again. As Dr. Miriam Grossman explains in her new book, it’s not about science either. Today’s sex ed programs serve to perpetuate liberal lies and politically correct propaganda that promoting the illusion that children can be sexually free without risk. Dr. Grossman cites example after example of schools and organizations whitewashing–or omitting altogether–crucial information that doesn’t accord with their politically correct agenda. Instead, sex educators only tell teens the “facts of life” that promote acceptance, sexual exploration, and experimentation. In You’re Teaching My Child What?, Dr. Grossman reveals biological truths that you won’t find in today’s classrooms. You’re Teaching My Child What? is critical reading for parents with teens and a vital resource for teaching children the truth about sex.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Institute for American Values, NCAAMP, Institute for American ValuesReport, 10/06/2009
In recent decades, economists have developed a set of Leading Economic Indicators—fundamental, carefully chosen measurements that reveal the direction and overall health of the U.S. economy. These indicators are generally accepted by elites and by the broad public as both accurate and important. But what about attending as a society to the health of our marriages? The absence of a clear, compelling, and commonly-agreed upon set of leading marriage indicators prevents us from focusing clearly on the health of marriage in America. Based on five leading marriage indicators, this report is the first attempt to track the health of marriage with clear, accessible measures.
National SecurityBy Lisa Curtis, James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/05/2009
If the Obama Administration chooses to deny its field commander’s request for more troops and instead seeks to engage Taliban leaders in negotiations with the vain hope that these militants will break from their al-Qaeda allies, the results would likely be disastrous. Many Afghans that currently support the Kabul government would be tempted to hedge their bets and establish ties with the Taliban, while Afghans sitting on the fence would be much more likely to come down on the Taliban’s side. President Obama must take the long view and avoid shortsighted policies that undermine U.S. friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan while encouraging America’s enemies.
Economic GrowthBy Rea S. Hederman Jr., James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/05/2009
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the employment report for September, and the report was frightening: 263,000 jobs lost, well exceeding expectations. Unemployment climbed to 9.8 percent even as the labor force shrank. This continued weakness in the labor market illustrates how flawed the stimulus package was.
National SecurityBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationFact Sheet, 10/05/2009
President Obama must convince his political allies and the American public that this is a war worth winning. He must also send the troops and resources necessary for coalition forces to secure more regions, build up Afghan army and police forces, and work closely with them to defeat the insurgents. The Commanding Generals are reportedly asking for up to 40,000 more troops. They know the recipe for success, and Obama’s handpicked military leadership should have the trust and unequivocal support of the President.
Economic GrowthBy J.D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/05/2009
Another month under President Obama, another 263,000 jobs lost. It was not supposed to be this way. Barack Obama promised America that, if elected President and given control over the nation’s economic policies, he would create 3.5 million jobs, beginning with the enactment of a massive economic stimulus package. Today’s release of dismal employment figures by the Department of Labor show that the nation is still waiting.
Economic GrowthBy Karen Campbell, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 10/05/2009
The economic recovery will take time and, perhaps more importantly, confidence in the stability of the economy going forward. New investments need to be made and brought online, new businesses must be created to fill the gaps in the market left by businesses that did not survive the recession, new supply channels need to be forged, and employer and employee matches must be made in light of the new skills and technology that are now needed. All of these market adaptations must take place within the institutions of government policies. This is why policies must be careful not to hinder the very outcome they are trying to promote.