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Recent Policy Studies
National SecurityBy Jena Baker McNeill, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/04/2009
Keeping Americans free, safe, and prosperous must be at the forefront of legislative initiatives aimed at reducing America’s chemical vulnerabilities. Stifling innovation and economic expansion through excessive regulatory schemes will not make Americans safer. What will accomplish this task is putting forward commonsense, market-oriented security policies that allow the private sector to find ideal solutions that are cost-efficient and reduce the incentives for terrorism.
Health CareBy Dennis G. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/04/2009
Medicaid is designed to be a partnership between the states and the federal government. But under the health bill introduced last week by Speaker Pelosi, the ability of states to run their programs to reflect state variations and preferences would be substantially diminished. Policy decisions would be removed from the elected representatives at the state level and placed in the hands of the federal bureaucracy.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/04/2009
The Obama Administration should develop a long-range strategy for protecting and defending the U.S. and its allies and establish a robust framework of augmented deterrence to mitigate the threat posed by a nuclear Iran. Strategic planning that assumes a nuclear-armed Iran, even if Iran does not have such weapons at this time, is necessary to develop policies that could help diminish Iran’s appetite for nuclear weapons. Such a strategy serves to protect and defend the United States and its allies from possible future threats as well.
National SecurityBy Mackenzie Eaglen, Eric Sayers, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/04/2009
The bipartisan expansion of the independent panel to review the 2010 QDR is an encouraging development in a budget year marked by a number of questionable high-level programmatic decisions. Whatever the outcome of the QDR, the panel will raise the level of national security debate and provide new metrics for weighing strategic, modernization, and force structure decisions.
Health CareBy Rea S. Hederman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/04/2009
The new House health care bill has not been improved over the last few months. It still contains painful tax increases that will affect more and more Americans every year. Because the surtax applies to adjusted gross income, the effective marginal tax rates of successful business owners will skyrocket. The surtax, combined with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, will result in some individuals having their effective tax rate increase by one-third. These tax increases will slow America’s recovery from the current recession.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Patrick J. Michaels, Paul C. Knappenberger, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 11/04/2009
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Proposed Endangerment exemplifies the systematic errors that accumulate at the interface between science and policy when policymakers rely upon previously assembled “compendia” of science. It is particularly dangerous, in the area of global warming, when an entity takes this approach rather than conducting a new assessment of the scientific literature, which the EPA has admittedly done. Moreover, the “foundation documents” used are clearly not peer reviewed in any fashion similar to the peer review process for normal scientific publication. Further, the cross-breeding between the authors and reviewers of these reports is appallingly large.
Budget & TaxationBy Michael J. New, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 11/04/2009
Overall, tax reductions might well be good politics or good policy. However, the evidence presented in this study indicates that revenue reductions, by themselves, are not an effective mechanism for limiting expenditure growth. In addition, the evidence suggests that lower levels of federal revenue may actually lead to greater increases in federal spending. These results indicate that empirical evidence does not support the theory of "starve the beast." As such, individuals seeking to effectively limit the growth of government should give serious consideration to alternative strategies.
Budget & TaxationBy Andrew T. Young, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 11/04/2009
What is the intertemporal relationship between U.S. federal government expenditures and revenues? Do variations in revenues cause variations in expenditures (tax-spend) or is causation the other way round (spend-tax)? Alternatively, is causation bidirectional or nonexistent? Understanding the “revenue-expenditure nexus” has important implications for the political economy of fiscal policies.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jack Spencer, Nicolas Loris, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 11/04/2009
America needs a clean, safe, and sustainable energy source. Nuclear power could be part of the solution—with the right set of free-market reforms. Congress, the nuclear industry, and many Americans agree that reform of U.S. nuclear policies is necessary, but cannot agree on what those reforms should look like. The nuclear provision in the Senate’s new Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is a nice nod to nuclear power, but leaves the waters muddied. This report provides some clarity.
Health CareBy Greg D'Angelo, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 11/04/2009
Congress will soon vote on massive health care legislation—and on the amount of power the federal government will have over the entire U.S. health care sector. Many economists, politicians, and American citizens want to know: How many people could lose their current health insurance and end up on the so-called public option, a new government-run health plan? The numbers being tossed around are as dizzying as the array of health care bills. This report details five estimates—and what they mean for millions of Americans.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ariel Cohen, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 11/04/2009
Russia’s revenues from oil and natural gas are enabling its aggressive and often anti-Western foreign policy. Russia’s falling economic performance has toned down Russia’s rhetoric, but has not drastically changed Russia’s foreign policy narrative, which remains decidedly anti-status quo and implicitly anti-American. The U.S. needs to devise incentives for steps that facilitate Russia’s integration into global markets, but deny benefits if Russia continues to pursue anti-American policies or refuses to enact the needed changes.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Jason Kuznicki, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 11/04/2009
Economics tells us that racial discrimination is expensive. Yet social psychology suggests that humans nonetheless tend to mistrust those whom they identify as outsiders. As a result, governments can exacerbate this mistrust and thereby encourage costly discrimination by creating or maintaining official race-based definitions of outgroups and differential outcomes based on race.
Economic GrowthBy Michael Mitsopoulos, Theodore Pelagidis, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 11/04/2009
This article begins with a brief description of the Greek economy. It identifies both the causes of the recent strong growth performance and the reasons why, despite that performance, the competitiveness of the Greek economy remains so low—namely, extensive and low-quality regulation of markets, high administrative costs, a business environment that is not favorable, and weak institutions and widespread corruption.
Economic GrowthBy David B. Skarbek, Peter T. Leeson, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 11/04/2009
Solving the economic problem determines whether a country’s economy develops. It is strange, then, that professional economists have had trouble distinguishing the positive relationship between inputs and outputs from solving the economic problem when it comes to evaluating foreign aid. This article makes such a distinction, and in doing so clarifies what aid can and cannot do.
Economic GrowthBy Andrei Shleifer, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 11/04/2009
Peter Bauer is perhaps best known as a persistent and articulate critic of foreign aid. At least since 1972, he saw it as not only failing to speed up, but actually hurting economic development. He defined foreign aid as "a transfer of resources from the taxpayer of a donor country to the government of a recipient country." Needless to say, this did not endear him to the aid establishment, though reality has shown his arguments to be correct.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Joshua Muravchik, Encounter BooksBook, 11/04/2009
Before September 11, 2001, Americans did not think much about freedom or democracy in the Middle East. Now, as we are entangled in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Mid-East’s political and social quandaries lie at the very core of our foreign policy objectives. And yet, after years of blood and fortune spent on the democratization of the Middle East, the most identifiable personalities in the region are notorious terrorists, backwards autocrats, and fanatical preachers. As this book demonstrates, there are in fact also heroic democrats and liberals in these lands of anti-democratic fanaticism, and the fight they are fighting is also our fight.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Alan Gottlieb, Dave Workman, Second Amendment FoundationBook, 11/04/2009
This book reveals the history of the gun prohibition movement, a politically-motivated elitist effort built on myths, distortions and lies. The insidious gun ban movement is full of self-appointed "progressive" social engineers and Utopian idealists. Read how these gun banners—who use incremental disarmament of American citizens through legislation, litigation and cultural bigotry—have become a serious threat to liberty and personal safety.
Health CareBy J.D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/04/2009
The U.S. dollar is falling steadily against the Euro and many other major currencies. If this trend continues, the repercussions for the U.S. economy would be significant: higher inflation, higher interest rates, and a lower standard of living. It could also lead to the rapid dethroning of the dollar as the world’s primary reserve currency. Perhaps most worrisome, the slide in the dollar risks becoming a rout that could trigger another global financial crisis.
Information TechnologyBy Berin Szoka, Mark Adams, Howard Beales, et al., Progress & Freedom FoundationProgress on Point, 11/04/2009
For the last ten years the online advertising industry has been operating under a system of self-regulation. In February the FTC released much awaited voluntary guidelines for the industry. When those guidelines came out Commissioner Lebowitz declared rather ominously that the day of reckoning was approaching if the industry did not clean up its act. In response, the online ad industry released a new set of regulatory principles to increase protection for consumers. Despite this, legislation authorizing regulation in this field is currently pending on the Hill.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/04/2009
Although hungry for a foreign policy win, the Obama Administration has not shown strong hemispheric leadership regarding Honduras. The October accord requires implementation by the Hondurans, good behavior by Zelaya, and a quick infusion of international support for the elections. It requires further hands-on U.S. diplomacy—not pre-June 28 complacency—to make sure Zelaya does not derail the electoral process and steal Honduras from under the eyes of the Obama Administration.
Budget & TaxationBy Gerald Prante, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 11/04/2009
Newly released Census data highlight the different spending priorities of state and local governments. By presenting the data here as percentages of total spending, we reveal government priorities whether their combined state and local budgets are comparatively large or small. Spending is shown for nine specific functional categories.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationFact Sheet, 11/04/2009
In 1997 the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution which warned President Clinton not to enter into any global warming treaty that leaves out developing nations or hurts the American economy. This is still U.S. policy today and should serve as the overarching guidelines for the December global warming conference in Copenhagen.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 11/03/2009
The only thing scarier than the slide of the dollar, which has dropped by 15 percent since March, would be an attempt by the Federal Reserve to stop it. Such an attempt would show that we have learned nothing from the Bank of Japan’s disastrous premature exit from a zero-interest policy in August 2000.
Health CareBy Dennis G. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/03/2009
There is apparently confusion regarding how the federal government enforces the Hyde Amendment prohibition on federal funding of abortion. Such confusion could result in failure to enact appropriate safeguards against government funding of abortions in the overall health care legislation currently under consideration. Unless a specific prohibition on abortion funding—with strong enforcement and accountability—is contained in the final bill that is signed by the President, the government will end up funding the procedure.
Health CareBy Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Points, 11/03/2009
President Obama has pushed national health care reform, making it a priority. While there is no official "Obama plan," the leading proposals in Congress have several common themes. Unfortunately, instead of learning from the mistakes of state-based health care reform, these proposals repeat them.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Wesley Hottot, Institute for JusticeReport, 11/03/2009
The only legitimate reason for imposing limits on our economic liberty through occupational licensing is to protect the public from a real threat to health or safety. Too often, however, the real reason occupational licensing is imposed is to protect an existing industry from competition. Protecting industry insiders from competition is not a legitimate constitutional function of government. Texas should recommit itself to the cause of economic liberty and do away with its many unreasonable licensing regimes.
Health CareBy James C. Capretta, Robert A. Book, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/03/2009
The health care bills currently under active consideration in Congress would substantially modify the Medicare Advantage program, imposing deep benefit cuts to partially offset new non-Medicare entitlement spending while reducing health plan choices for seniors and bending the cost curve in the wrong direction. Reform should mean more patient choice and health plan accountability. But these current proposals would lead in the opposite direction—toward a system of less choice, less accountability, and eventually lower-quality health care at higher costs.
EducationBy Brooke Dollens Terry, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 11/03/2009
The U.S. k-12 education system is struggling under the enormous weight of the public school monopoly, poor teacher quality, and failed government policies. Expensive per student costs, stagnant test scores, high dropout rates, growing bureaucracies, low teacher morale, a shortage of good teachers, stagnant student achievement, and grade inflation all afflict American public schools. Taxpayers and their children pay the price for these failed education policies.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Dean Cheng, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/03/2009
With the delivery of the full report from the U.S. Human Space Flight Review Committee (commonly referred to as the Augustine Report), the potential for a substantial, multi-year gap in U.S. manned spaceflight capability has drawn increased attention. In light of this problem, the idea has been raised in some quarters, including in the report, that the United States should expand its cooperation with the People’s Republic of China and leverage Chinese space capabilities. Such cooperation has far more potential cost than benefit.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 11/03/2009
The Senate’s 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution warned the Clinton Administration not to enter into any global warming treaty that leaves out developing nations or hurts the American economy. The unanimous 95-0 resolution, passed prior to the creation of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, is still U.S. policy today and should serve as the overarching guidelines for discussing any new climate treaty.
Budget & TaxationBy Brian M. Riedl, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/03/2009
The current budget process was created in 1974 and has been subject to 35 years of abuse and loopholes. It has proven wholly unsuited to help lawmakers address the surging spending and budget deficits that place the entire United States economy at risk. The principles contained in the Spending, Deficit, and Debt Control Act would modernize the federal budget process and help lawmakers make the difficult but necessary choices to reverse the unsustainable budget trends.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Paul L. Joskow, American Enterprise InstituteBook, 11/03/2009
As the ongoing financial crisis fuels anti-market sentiment in Washington, the deregulation, industry restructuring, and regulatory reform initiatives of the last thirty years are increasingly coming under attack. This book argues that the crisis in the financial market should not become an excuse for reversing beneficial regulatory reforms in other sectors. Indeed, the financial crisis presents a valuable opportunity to evaluate a broad range of regulatory reform options and make reasoned decisions about their rightful application to financial products and markets.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Paul Hollander, Cato InstituteDevelopment Policy Analysis, 11/03/2009
Twenty years ago the Berlin Wall fell, marking the collapse of Soviet communism. The failure of the communist system was not merely economic and political; it was a moral failure as well. Over time communism created a deep disillusionment and revulsion among those who lived under it. The diminished sense of legitimacy of the ruling elite in the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc countries contributed to the unraveling of those systems as well. At the same time, there is a remarkable lack of moral concern in the West with the atrocities committed under communist systems, including the tens of millions of people who perished as a result of communist policies.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationFact Sheet, 11/03/2009
While President Obama has made overt efforts to "reset" bilateral relations with Moscow, Russian leaders continue to call the U.S. their "principal adversary." Moscow publicly applauds U.S. disarmament and arms control efforts, while they continue a strong and abiding commitment to nuclear weapons.
Economic GrowthBy Roger Bate, American Enterprise InstituteDevelopment Policy Analysis, 11/03/2009
A year ago, French president Nicolas Sarkozy created the Commission on the Measurement of Economic and Social Progress. Sarkozy believes that economic growth, as measured by GDP, is not a sufficient measurement of our well-being. He has a point. While GDP encompasses myriad economic variables—broadly representing a nation’s income and, hence, economic progress over time—it fails to capture important ingredients of prosperity, such as health, personal freedom, and security. The Sarkozy commission has issued its first report, but it nevertheless fails in some crucial respects.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 11/03/2009
With the Copenhagen conference looming, the U.S. must be realistic about carbon emissions and China. China and climate change is a topic broad and substantial enough for several books, but there are vital statistics that must be included in any conversation. Because of its substantial coal burning, China is by far the most powerful force driving carbon emissions.
Information TechnologyBy Peter Suderman, Reason FoundationReason, 11/03/2009
In the summary of its recent notice of proposed rule-making, the FCC praised the Web’s success as a platform for innovation and expression and declared its intention to "seek the best means of preserving a free and open Internet." This opening statement of intent was meant to introduce the commission’s proposed new net neutrality rules for Internet service providers. Instead, it serves to undercut them.
Health CareBy Steve Chapman, Reason FoundationReason, 11/03/2009
If Medicare were a bank, federal regulators would be closing its doors, selling its operations, and sacking its managers. Thanks to soaring costs, the program is fast running out of money—even though it pays such low fees that many doctors refuse to take Medicare patients. Meanwhile, Medicare fraud costs taxpayers some $60 billion a year, according to a report by CBS’s 60 Minutes. That's our experience with government-run health insurance for the elderly, and congressional leaders now propose offering it to everyone else.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Walter Williams, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 11/03/2009
What is the legitimate role of government in a free society? To understand how America’s Founders answered this question, we have only to look at the rule book they gave us—the Constitution. Most of what they understood as legitimate powers of the federal government are enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. Congress is authorized there to do 21 things, and as much as three-quarters of what Congress taxes us and spends our money for today is nowhere to be found on that list.
Regulation & DeregulationBy John Pulito, Antony Davies, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Brief, 11/03/2009
Myriad comparisons of privatized markets to state-controlled markets suggest that there are unquestionable advantages to privatization. Of concern are the possible disadvantages. Liquor control proponents maintain that, because the state can directly limit the times and locations at which alcohol can be purchased, and because state stores are not profit driven like private firms, privatization would result in increased alcohol consumption and problems associated with alcohol consumption, such as impaired driving.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/03/2009
Secretary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan could help to calm some of the current tensions in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. However, it must be followed by concrete and consistent U.S. aid programs and a clear U.S. commitment to stabilizing Afghanistan.
Budget & TaxationBy Gerald Prante, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 11/03/2009
The highest median property taxes on owner-occupied homes are paid in counties in New York and New Jersey while the lowest taxes are found in Louisiana parishes, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This analysis is restricted to counties, tallying all the property tax levied in those counties, including those levied by school districts and any other entity with taxing authority.
Health CareBy Ronald Bailey, Reason FoundationReason, 11/03/2009
Health insurers are about to experience public sector discipline with a vengeance. The government-run public insurance option will eventually out-compete private health insurers by means of the simple expedient of Medicare-style price controls on physicians and hospitals. Under the guise of advocating choice and competition, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are, in reality, pushing the country inevitably toward a single payer government health insurance scheme. The result will be rationed patient care and drastically slowed medical innovation.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Daron Acemoglu, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 11/03/2009
Although it is too soon to tell how the second half of 2008 will be featured in history books, there should be no doubt that it signifies a critical opportunity for the discipline of economics. It is also an opportunity for us to step back and consider which are the most important lessons we have learned from our theoretical and empirical investigations—that remain untarnished by recent events—and ask whether they can provide us with guidance in current policy debates.
Budget & TaxationBy J.D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 11/03/2009
The Senate Finance Committee’s new Cadillac excise tax is used to pay for yet another massive expansion of government rather than offsetting the cost of tax relief that could improve the incentives for more individuals to purchase their own health insurance.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Miranda Fleschert, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 10/29/2009
Bloomberg L.P. won its Freedom of Information Act suit against the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in late August, but the "financial transparency" battle to learn the identities of companies that obtained emergency funds from the government is not over yet. The Fed appealed the ruling on September 30.
Health CareBy Greg D’Angelo, Robert E. Moffit, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 10/29/2009
The key feature of the massive House and Senate health bills, endorsed by the congressional leadership, is that they centralize key decision-making in Washington and effect a massive transfer of regulatory authority from the states to the federal government. Combined with fines and penalties, taxes and mandates, the major House and Senate health bills would restrict Americans’ individual freedom. Meanwhile, health care policies embodied in leading conservative legislative proposals provide viable alternatives to the top-down approach endorsed by the congressional leadership.
Information TechnologyBy Bruce M. Owen, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 10/29/2009
The need for additional spectrum for wireless broadband is great. One way or another, the government should adopt a new policy that at least allows, if not encourages, the broadcasters to sell some or all of their spectrum to those who believe they can put it to a higher value use.
Information TechnologyBy Donna Coleman Gregg, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 10/29/2009
Before rushing to convert newspapers into dubious non-profit status, placing newspapers under an already stressed public broadcasting structure, or providing another federal bailout—all proposals that, inevitably would compromise newspapers’ independence—policymakers should have some faith in traditional American ingenuity and look for ways to encourage and facilitate the newspaper industry’s exploration and pursuit of creative market-based ideas and solutions that show promise. And, most importantly, the newspaper industry must step forward to do its part.