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Recent Policy Studies
Health CareBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationFact Sheet, 10/16/2009
The bills before Congress would place an unprecedented amount of power in the hands of the federal government to determine health insurance rules and benefits. These powers have traditionally been held by state officials. The bills also depend on a massive Medicaid expansion to expand coverage.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ted R. Bromund, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/16/2009
The Obama Administration must not allow the desire for a “consensus” to produce an ineffective U.N. arms control treaty that tramples American sovereignty.
Health CareBy Dennis G. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/16/2009
Expanding Medicaid is not reform. Adding more people to a flawed system would only compound the problem.
Health CareBy Robert A. Book, Guinevere L. Nell, Paul L. Winfree, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/16/2009
The Baucus health care plan would harm those it should help and help those who need help the least.
ImmigrationBy David North, Center for Immigration StudiesBackgrounder, 10/14/2009
The American tradition, over the years, has been that the first generation of immigrants struggles, the second generation does better, and the third generation does even better in terms of income, education, personal health, and overall achievement. There is much statistical as well as anecdotal evidence of these trends in the past. Currently, however, social scientists are finding that this overall pattern is not happening with the second and following generations of more recent immigrants; on many measures, the follow-on generations do not achieve as much as their forefathers, the immigrants. Interestingly, the scholars making these findings are deeply sympathetic with both the immigrants and their descendants; there is no stacking of the social science deck here.
WelfareBy Lew Daly, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 10/14/2009
Transformation of a government is a powerful thing, often with dramatic constitutional effects, as any student of American labor law understands. The transformation that occurred over four decades of welfare reform generated further constitutional changes, now in terms of what is permissible under the Establishment Clause. The result is a new church-state order in areas of social need, evolving as the purposes of government and the social mission of religious groups have increasingly converged. That Bush’s departure from the White House brought no wholesale repeal of the faith-based initiative is indicative of these deeper roots.
National SecurityBy Jason Campbell, Michael E. O'Hanlon, Jeremy Shapiro, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 10/14/2009
How do we tell if a counterinsurgency campaign is being won? Sizing the force correctly for a stabilization mission is a key ingredient—and it has been the subject of much discussion in the modern American debate. But in fact, there is no exact formula for sizing forces. Even if there were, getting the numbers right would hardly ensure success. So to know if we are being successful, we must also track and study results on the ground. But counterinsurgency and stabilization operations—like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan—are different, and more complex. They also appear to be the future of warfare. How do we measure progress in such situations?
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ken Jowitt, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 10/14/2009
The near future will most likely be a continuation of the present and recent past because of the extraordinary power of institutional inertia, the remarkable capacity to “privatize” disappointment, frustration, and anger, and the unpredictable nature and timing of ideological innovation. America may substitute a casual Obama for a strident Bush, political apology for political theology, but the level of political endeavor will remain mundane. We will continue to live nationally and internationally, in a violently weak and mundane world, one that fails to experience what Marx described as the heroic “rude glory” of the Normans but also the “bloody mire of [new] Mongols.”
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy David C. John, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/14/2009
During last year’s presidential campaign, Barack Obama noted that “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” This phrase neatly sums up the ongoing House Financial Services Committee markup of H.R. 3126, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009. Despite honest attempts to improve the bill, the overall concept is still badly flawed, and any result that comes close to the original concept will be a major mistake. There is simply no rationale for creating such an agency when a coordinating council of state and federal financial regulators can accomplish better results at a lower cost.
EducationBy American Council of Trustees and Alumni, American Council of Trustees and AlumniReport, 10/14/2009
Intellectual diversity is the free exchange of ideas. It is in peril in today’s academy, as observers across the ideological spectrum have noted. But in the last few years, many universities, large and small, across the United States, have stepped in to protect and advance it. In many instances, trustees—honoring their responsibility to be the ultimate guarantors of academic freedom and educational quality—have taken the lead. Though trustees have many important jobs, one of the most critical is ensuring intellectual pluralism and academic freedom.
Economic GrowthBy James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, Joshua C. Hall, Fraser InstituteBook, 10/14/2009
The index published in Economic Freedom of the World measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property. Forty-two data points are used to construct a summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Randal O’Toole, Show-Me InstitutePolicy Study, 10/14/2009
High-speed rail is a technology whose time has come and gone. What might have been useful a century ago is today merely an anachronism that would cost taxpayers tens or hundreds of billions of dollars while contributing little to American mobility or environmental quality. The United States 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.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Haslag, Abhi Sivasailam, Show-Me InstituteCase Study, 10/14/2009
A policy that would make government revenue more reliable, that would transform the state into a lightning rod for investment funds, and that would create jobs, increase productivity, empower personal choice, and make citizens and firms richer is one that the state should seriously consider. It is of paramount importance that the dialogue on the issue continues to be informed by the best available data, and subject to the most careful review. Missouri deserves access to every opportunity for growth available to it. Missouri deserves fair debate on a fair tax.
EducationBy Cara Stillings Candal, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchPolicy Brief, 10/14/2009
Located in the “bicep of Cape Cod,” the Town of Barnstable, Massachusetts, is widely considered that area’s economic and municipal hub. In recent years, Barnstable has received state and national recognition for its commitment to financial accountability and responsibility. This commitment has, in turn, enabled the Town of Barnstable to make important and sweeping changes in the way its schools are financed and managed—changes that many in the Commonwealth have come to recognize as worthy of emulation.
Budget & TaxationBy J. Scott Moody, Maine Heritage Policy CenterPath to Prosperity, 10/14/2009
A startling picture of dropping population in Maine’s towns combined with an increasing property tax burden is creating a vicious economic cycle of declining prosperity throughout Maine. This cycle illustrates the need for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights provision which will be on the November ballot. For decades, politicians have put off the necessary reforms that would have prevented this looming disaster. It cannot be put off any longer. It is time for Maine voters to enact the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Without this fiscal discipline, the vicious cycle of declining population and rising property tax collections will cripple Maine’s economy.
Budget & TaxationBy J. Scott Moody, Barry W. Poulson, Maine Heritage Policy CenterPath to Prosperity, 10/14/2009
As time draws closer for Mainers to pass the Taxpayer Bill of Rights on November 3, the rhetoric from the opponents grows more detached from reality. When discussing Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights, opponents use terms such as “devastating” to describe its impact on Colorado’s economy and government. However, an objective look at the data tells a much different story.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Brief, 10/14/2009
What does the future hold for municipal operations? The Village of Glenview believes that for many municipalities facing rising costs and slowing revenues, some of the approaches outlined in this piece will become more commonplace—part of their new business approach to local government operations. Privatization, as well as service consolidation between municipalities, may also play an increasing role.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Brief, 10/14/2009
In an era of burgeoning federal government power, state constitutions are full of untapped potential; many provide stronger protection of individual freedoms than the federal constitution. But realizing that potential requires recognizing its existence and assessing which state constitutions offer the best opportunities for securing the principles of limited government.
Charting the Course: Illinois Charter Schools Offer a Proven Solution to the State’s Dropout ProblemBy Collin Hitt, Illinois Policy InstituteEducation Brief, 10/14/2009
No educational policy or program in Illinois has undergone the same scholarly scrutiny as the state’s charter schools. Independent research shows unanimously that these innovative public schools have improved student learning. This consensus, combined with mounting corroborative research, shows that charter schools provide a clear path towards improving public education in Illinois.
Budget & TaxationBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Points, 10/14/2009
Illinois legislators are being asked to consider a $1.00 per-pack increase in the state’s cigarette excise tax. Tobacco tax hikes come with a number of significant policy complications. For example, they can hurt retail jobs, put undue burdens on the poor, and actually result in decreased tax revenue.
Information TechnologyBy Randolph J. May, Free State FoundationBook, 10/14/2009
This book is a collection of original essays by some of the nation's most prominent law and economics scholars. The essays address the most topical, controversial, and important communications law and policy topics. In addition to providing the context necessary to understand the topics discussed, every essay contains specific reform recommendations. These forward-looking recommendations comprise a practical guide for policymakers as they struggle to update communications policies to conform to the realities of the digital age. And the essays comprise a rich literature for students exploring the ins-and-outs of communications policy.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Stephen M. Bainbridge, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 10/14/2009
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s recent decision in SEC v. Dorozhko dealt with a question left open in the U.S. Supreme Court U.S. v. O’Hagan decision: the liability of persons who steal inside information but have no fiduciary duty to either the source of the information or the issuer of the securities in which the thief trades. The Second Circuit’s ruling creates an entirely new version of misappropriation liability, carved out of whole cloth and without any regard for precedent.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Stephen S. Schwartz, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 10/14/2009
A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has changed the grounds for vacatur of arbitral awards. Confusion over the consequences of that change has led to a split in the federal circuits on the continued viability (and legal underpinnings) of a ground for vacatur that had previously enjoyed wide acceptance. This report explains that ground as it has been understood previously, describes the Court’s change of position with respect to it, and summarizes the approaches lower federal courts have taken in the aftermath of the Court’s action.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Ben Sheffner, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 10/14/2009
Full-blown jury trials in copyright cases are rare. Copyright trials that capture the world’s attention are rarer still. But this summer, the copyright bar enjoyed an embarrassment of riches, as the nation witnessed not one, but two high-profile copyright trials, both brought by the major record labels against individuals accused of using peer-to-peer networks to download and "share" music without paying for it.
Budget & TaxationBy Gerald Prante, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 10/13/2009
Newly released Census data show how different the 50 states' fiscal systems are. Their reliance on various sources of tax revenue differs widely because they have different endowed resources and policy priorities. These differences are reflected in state-local tax collections no matter how large or small a fraction of the residents' income state and local governments have decided to take in taxes.
Health CareBy Lawrence J. McQuillan, Hovannes Abramyan, Pacific Research InstituteHealth Policy Prescriptions, 10/13/2009
There is a lot of talk in Washington about cutting wasteful health care spending and, more specifically, cutting costs associated with medical malpractice liability. The dollar figures used by various groups and lawmakers often diverge widely. This paper presents what we know, and don’t know, about medical malpractice liability costs.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Paul Dragos Aligica, Peter Boettke, RoutledgeBook, 10/13/2009
The Bloomington School has become one of the most dynamic, well recognized and productive centers of the New Institutional Theory movement. Its ascendancy is considered to be the result of a unique and extremely successful combination of interdisciplinary theoretical approaches and hard-nosed empiricism. This book demonstrates that the well-known interdisciplinary and empirical agenda of the Bloomington research program is the result of a lesser-known but very bold proposition: an attempt to revitalize and extend into the new millennium a traditional mode of analysis illustrated by authors like Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Adam Smith, Hamilton, Madison and Tocqueville.
Economic GrowthBy Dick M. Carpenter, Institute for JusticeArticle, 10/13/2009
Before renovating her hairbraiding salon—which now employs four full-time stylists skilled in the art of braiding and weaving African-American hair—Melony Armstrong first had to renovate archaic and restrictive government regulations, as well as her community’s mindset about natural hair styles. She accomplished all this through persistence, hard work, a lawsuit and lobbying, and by mentoring a cadre of young black women who saw her as a role model and guide to a better life.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Chuck Blahous, Hudson InstituteReport, 10/13/2009
This report shows that while we do not know the exact date at which Social Security deficits will arrive, it is clear that they will arrive much sooner than most previous projections. When that date arrives, difficult choices must be made between placing additional burdens on taxpayers and adding still more to skyrocketing deficits. Should comprehensive health care legislation be enacted, the outlook will worsen still further. Though seniors can count on receiving their Social Security checks in the near term, the updated projections reveal that federal policy makers have permitted the Social Security problem to compound dramatically.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Matthew Glans, Eli Lehrer, Heartland InstituteLegislative Principles, 10/13/2009
Insurance is an important economic activity, and it is regulated almost entirely at the state level. When government regulation interferes with price mechanisms, the result is either rate suppression or a redistribution of the cost burden, resulting in wealth redistribution from policyholders who behave prudently to those who take greater risks. A free and open insurance environment makes sense, and this guide describes how to build one.
LaborBy James Sherk, Ryan O'Donnell, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 10/13/2009
All too often, Congress imposes restrictive and burdensome regulations on employers in the private sector—while conveniently exempting itself from these same rules. Many Members of Congress are currently urging passage of the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act and RESPECT Act, which, again, would leave Congress untouched. This paper demonstrates the hypocrisy of such an approach, and urges Congress to either swallow its own medicine or to extend the same rights to the private sector that it claims for itself.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Robert A. Levy, Center of the American ExperimentLecture, 10/13/2009
Regrettably, the modern court has lost its compass. No longer does the Supreme Court exercise restraint. In fact, for the past 75 years the Supreme Court has been the Supreme Amender to the Constitution—not by the way in which the initial 27 amendments were added, but by judicial fiat. The Court has accomplished through the back door what the states and the Congress could not have accomplished through the prescribed amendment process, leading to a severe erosion of many of the most basic constitutional principles.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Jagadeesh Gokhale, Peter Van Doren, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 10/13/2009
Many commentators have argued that if the Federal Reserve had followed a stricter monetary policy earlier this decade when the housing bubble was forming, and if Congress had not deregulated banking but had imposed tighter financial standards, the housing boom and bust—and the subsequent financial crisis and recession—would have been averted. Commentators have also argued that the popularization of financial products such as teaser-rate hybrid loans for subprime homebuyers and credit default swaps for investors is to blame for the financial crisis. This paper investigates and disputes each of these claims.
Health CareBy Paul Ryan, Cato InstituteCato's Letter, 10/13/2009
The president and the Democrats are giving the American people a false choice. According to them, we must either accept the status quo or choose a public plan option with all the bells and whistles and distorted promises of increasing choice and competition. They say there are no other options. But they are wrong. There are other ways to fix the problems in health care. If we do go down the path toward a public option, it will inevitably, mathematically, actuarially, become a government-run monopoly. When the government is put in the position to compete against the private sector, the government is both the referee and the player in the same game.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/13/2009
When President Obama announced on September 17 that he had decided to cancel a plan for putting missile defense systems in the Czech Republic and Poland, he ignored repeated warnings from members of Congress not to permit negotiations with Russia over strategic nuclear weapon reductions that also limit U.S. missile defense options. Now, he is sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Moscow to discuss arms control issues with the Russian government. Successful arms control is the result of a process that is pursued with care and patience, not one of unseemly haste being pursued by the Obama Administration.
EducationBy Mark Schneider, American Enterprise InstituteEducation Outlook, 10/13/2009
The evidence on the failure of American high schools to educate and graduate their students is widespread. This study focuses on trends in high school math, an area of critical national need, and one that has been a focus of national policy for decades. A significant gap exists between the rigor of the math education that high schools claim to be delivering and the quality of the math education that students are actually receiving as measured by assessment data.
Health CareBy Scott Gottlieb, American Enterprise InstituteHealth Policy Outlook, 10/13/2009
The controversy over aspects of the House health care legislation that have been inappropriately equated with “death panels” has obscured the real problems with these provisions. While equating these proposals with death panels is a careless exaggeration, the legislative language about end-of-life counseling is disturbing because of the intrusion it represents into patients’ discretion and the way doctors practice medicine. The provisions are needlessly prescriptive, and they invite the government into private and complex health matters. Proponents believe these policies can save substantial money, but this will not occur. Congress can fix the problem by simplifying the legislation and making the principal goal ensuring patients’ autonomy and providing high-quality care at the end of life.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Gary J. Schmitt, American Enterprise InstituteNational Security Outlook, 10/13/2009
With the rise of China and India, there is a shift of global power to Asia that makes the U.S. role in the region more important, not less. U.S. allies and friends will need reassurance. Increased diplomatic attention is part of that reassurance effort. But it is only a part; economic, military, and moral leadership are essential if the region is to remain stable, peaceful, and prosperous over time.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise InstituteRetirement Policy Outlook, 10/13/2009
Due to falling prices, Social Security will make no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to retirement benefits in 2010. Retirees, who feel their benefits are too low and believe the prices they pay are rising, are up in arms. But most retirees do not know that “no COLA” can actually translate into big benefit increases. When falling prices coincide with stable benefits, purchasing power increases. Moreover, Medicare premium increases are limited in years in which no COLA is paid. Combined, the typical retiree will be better off by almost $725 this year. Paying a COLA this year is unnecessary and would boost the long-term Social Security deficit.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Peter J. Wallison, American Enterprise InstituteFinancial Services Outlook, 10/13/2009
The Obama administration’s proposal for a resolution authority to unwind large nonbank financial institutions is another example of its misplaced effort to expand the government’s role in the economy. The plan’s fundamental flaw is its failure to explain how this or any other government will distinguish in advance between companies whose failure would cause a systemic breakdown and those whose failure will cause only an economic disruption of some kind. Without a way to make this distinction, the resolution authority will simply become a permanent TARP. In the end, the existing bankruptcy system, which has done a far better job of resolving Lehman Brothers than the Fed has done with AIG, seems a superior policy choice to creating yet another government agency with wide-ranging but ill-defined powers.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Charles Krauthammer, Manhattan InstituteWriston Lecture, 10/13/2009
The question of whether America is in decline cannot be answered yes or no. There is no yes or no. Both answers are wrong, because the assumption that somehow there exists some predetermined inevitable trajectory, the result of uncontrollable external forces, is wrong. Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is written. For America today, decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. Two decades into the unipolar world that came about with the fall of the Soviet Union, America is in the position of deciding whether to abdicate or retain its dominance. Decline—or continued ascendancy—is in our hands.
National SecurityBy Jena Baker McNeill, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/13/2009
Despite repeated attempts to demonstrate abuse, little evidence has ever been proffered to demonstrate any Patriot Act misuse. In fact, at times the Patriot Act offers significantly more protections than available under common criminal investigations. And more often than not, it simply modernizes already-available tools that prosecutors have used routinely in criminal investigations well before 2001. These provisions are subject to routine oversight by both the FISA court and Congress. The act has been narrowed and refined continuously, contributing to the fact that no single provision of the Patriot Act has ever been found unconstitutional. Therefore, Congress should resist initiatives that would repeal or erode key provisions of the Patriot Act and should fully institutionalize these tools into the broader counterterrorism framework.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/13/2009
There is growing bipartisan momentum in Congress to impose further sanctions on Iran. This long-overdue action, which would strengthen U.S. diplomatic leverage over Tehran, should be welcomed by the Obama Administration and integrated into its dual-track strategy for Iran. New sanctions or measures to tighten up existing sanctions would send a strong signal to Iran’s Islamist dictatorship that its support for terrorism, duplicity on its nuclear program, and widespread human rights abuses will trigger increasingly severe repercussions. Tehran is likely to end its problematic actions only if it is convinced that failing to do so would bring consequences that threaten its own hold on power.