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Recent Policy Studies
Economic GrowthBy James Robinson, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 03/22/2010
One of the burning intellectual and policy issues of our day is the poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank measures poverty levels by the number of people who live on less than $1 a day; the majority of those people, around 350 million of them, live in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, Africa is the only part of the world in which the absolute number of poor people is increasing. The reason for this poverty lies in within the absence of property rights for Africans. If property rights were instituted Africa would see economic improvement. America would also see improvement in that the decisions made by both countries have consequences, both positive and negative, on each other.
Economic GrowthBy Michael J. Boskin, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 03/22/2010
It is still too soon to gauge the full economic impact of President Barack Obama’s implemented and proposed policies, but a preliminary read indicates limited short-term benefit at large long-term cost. The administration is exploiting a crisis atmosphere to enact a vast agenda that would reengineer the American economy, from autos and financial services to health care, energy, and the distribution of income. Such actions will result in higher spending, higher taxes, and an explosion of debt that will crowd out borrowing in capital markets.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Ronald D. Utt, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/22/2010
As proposed, a federal infrastructure bank would be a backdoor mechanism for the deficit/taxpayer financing of transportation projects.
Health CareBy John L. Ligon, Robert A. Book, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/22/2010
H.R. 4872 would create an even stronger disincentive for companies that want to expand employment.
Expanding the Failed War on Poverty: Obama’s 2011 Budget Increases Welfare Spending to Historic LevelsBy Katherine Bradley, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/22/2010
Congress should ask pointed questions about why the war on poverty continues to escalate more than four decades after it began.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Ronald Utt, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/19/2010
President Barack Obama has committed the United States to building at least 13 high-speed rail (HSR) lines, one of the most expensive forms of transportation that a nation could choose. Even in a strong economy, building HSR makes little sense, offering minimal reductions in travel times at exorbitant costs. In the current weak economy and with the government facing massive budget deficits, the country simply cannot afford to squander $8 billion in stimulus funding, $5 billion over the next five years, and billions of dollars in matching state funding on a transportation system that will at best serve a minute fraction of the traveling public. The country would be better off either not spending the money or spending it on something productive.
ImmigrationBy Matt Mayer, Jena McNeill, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/19/2010
The Obama Administration is pushing amnesty for illegal immigrants. The Administration has also reversed a number of policies that had improved enforcement. These changes have included ending workplace raids and a shift toward “catch and release” of illegal immigrants, instead of detaining them and deporting them. Rather than pursue comprehensive immigration reform, the Administration and Congress should ensure that the existing policies on border security, interior enforcement, and non-immigrant visas are working.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ted R. Bromund, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/19/2010
The U.S.-Australia Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty will advance several key American interests.
Crime, Justice & the Law
Delaware & Unclaimed Property: One State’s Aggressive Revenue Pursuit And How Targeted Businesses Can RespondBy Scott D. Smith, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 03/18/2010
States need revenue. Many, including Delaware, view unclaimed property as low hanging fruit. The constitutional and legal protections of holders and limits on state audits and methods need to be advocated and enforced. Unclaimed property audits and controversies are far more than accounting exercises. Corporations should prepare for the inevitable unclaimed property audit and understand their rights and defenses, especially with respect to estimation methods, as well as how the nature of their business could be viewed by an unclaimed property auditor to generate new types of unclaimed property.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Saurabh Vishnubhakat, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 03/18/2010
This legal backgrounder examines the Say No to Drug Ads Act proposed to end the tax deductibility of direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising. After evaluating the SNDAA’s policy implications and its impact on free commercial speech, the publication concludes that the legislation would be unsound and unconstitutional if passed into law. The SNDAA’s contradictory goals, dubious policy premises, unsound solutions, and broad, direct suppression of commercial speech make support and the passing of this policy out of line with the Constitution.
Health CareBy Paul Ryan, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 03/18/2010
The ongoing debate over health care, is not about whether there should be reform; it is about what the principle of that reform ought to be. The right to care for one’s health does not imply that government must provide health care, any more than our right to eat, in order to live, requires government to own the farms and raise the crops. Americans understand that the problems facing our health care system today, real as they are, can be addressed without nationalizing one-sixth of the American economy and moving us past the tipping point toward a European-style social welfare state. They know that we can solve these problems while at the same time remaining a free society and acting consistently with the principles that have made us the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth. It is our duty now as their representatives to come together and do so.
Economic GrowthBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Points, 03/18/2010
The reforms outlined in this Policy Point alone will not solve our fiscal mess, but they are important first steps. Illinois needs better government accountability and policies that address the concerns of families, small businesses, and taxpayers. Without true government reform, businesses will not thrive, families will continue to leave Illinois, and the state’s poor and disadvantaged will not get the help they need. The Economic Reform agenda offers proactive, sensible first steps to addressing our state’s problems and getting Illinois back on track.
EducationBy Collin Hitt, Ted Dabrowski, Illinois Policy InstituteEducation Brief, 03/18/2010
Tens of thousands of Chicago families are trapped in failing public schools. A new school voucher program has been proposed by the Reverend Senator James Meeks. Its goal is to give parents of students enrolled in the worst performing public schools the choice to send their children to private schools. Research on existing voucher programs suggests that Chicago students who use vouchers will end up in safer schools that can give them a better education, while surrounding public schools will in turn improve their performance as well.
Budget & TaxationBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Report, 03/18/2010
Budgeting is an exercise in priority setting–—and this is especially true in tough economic times. Tension is inevitably present in any budgeting process, but Illinois faces a particularly challenging budget situation in Fiscal Year 2011. The spending allocation recommendations in Budget Solutions 2011 largely track Governor Quinn’s major category recommendations, but with some important changes. Operating reforms are more fully described in each department’s detailed appropriations table. The plan this report has laid out also includes several proactive reform proposals that would make Illinois government more efficient, streamlined, and business-friendly.
Economic GrowthBy John Tillman, et al., Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Report, 03/18/2010
In the inaugural Legislators’ Guide to the Issues we have broken down the relevant and pressing issues facing Illinois today into 2-4 page summaries, detailing the relevant problems and offering specific solutions to putting Illinois back on the right track. Three simple stats tell the current tale: Illinois ranks third to last in economic performance; Illinois ranks 3rd highest in net out-migration; and Illinois is 48th in cumulative non-farm employment growth from 1997 till 2007. We can do better. This guidebook provides solutions that will put our once great state on the road to recovery. We hope you will use it. We are here as a resource to expand on these ideas in any way that you may find helpful.
EducationBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Points, 03/18/2010
Studies using random assignment, the gold standard of social science, consistently find that students using vouchers have higher academic achievement than students who applied for vouchers but lost a random lottery. Listed below are all ten random assignment studies of school voucher programs: 6 find statistically significant gains when measuring the outcomes for all students; three others found significant gains with important subgroups of students, particularly African Americans. No study has found that any group of students has done worse as a result of using a school voucher.
EducationBy Brooke Dollens Terry, Texas Public Policy FoundationArticle, 03/18/2010
A national poll found that only 20 percent of Americans know that a charter school is a public school. For this reason, the Texas Public Policy Foundation has focused on educating policymakers and the general public about these free, innovative public schools that are open to all students and provide greater choice and flexibility in education. It is important for parents to be fully informed and to know all of their choices in k-12 education. Charter schools are one of many education options and are worth exploring in your community.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Bryce J. Christensen, William C. Duncan, Sutherland InstitutePolicy Report, 03/18/2010
It is time for conservatives who take a broader view to recognize the value of an investment in family policy. They must realize that the future of a free and tolerable, a just and civilized society will depend ultimately on that investment. For whatever else is gained in terms of a favorable business climate will be ultimately lost if not sustained by a substratum of strong, vibrant families who instill in their children the virtues necessary to liberty. The Left may continue to take Deep Throat as the best and only guide to political strategy. Conservatives must not be similarly guilty of neglecting the permanent things by allowing the family foundation to erode.
Budget & TaxationBy Anna Stinogel, Rachel Culbertson, Freedom FoundationPolicy Highligter, 03/18/2010
It is up to taxpayers to require government to be as responsible as private sector employers. In Washington state the average state employee made $11,762 more than private sector employees. The trend of higher wages for public jobs has existed since 1977 and shows no signs of change. Unlike the public sector, the private sector must adjust to market forces in tough economic times, government can continue to fund programs inefficiently without the normal market repercussions of profit, loss, or failure.
Budget & TaxationBy Bob Williams, Freedom FoundationCommentary, 03/18/2010
Governor Gregoire and Democrat leaders have crafted a financially irresponsible budget. Rather than fundamentally reshaping government to reflect declining state revenues for some time to come, legislators are relying on accounting gimmicks, one-time funds, and federal stimulus money to balance the budget. In the process, they are artificially propping up a higher level of spending that can’t be supported by the economy in the near-to-medium future. This review provides data that leaves the governor and leaders of the majority with three positions of which one or a combination of several need to be adopted.
Budget & TaxationBy Byron Schlomach, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Memo, 03/18/2010
In September 2009, Governor Jan Brewer asked each state agency to present a plan to reduce their budgets by 15 percent. The following is an assessment of each agency’s plan and whether there are more opportunities for savings. It is also the recommendation of this assessment that two general reforms be put in place: an end to income tax revenue sharing and an end to public lobbying. There are many ways in which to cut the budget, alongside the recommendations of each individual department, The Goldwater Institute has elaborated and produced even further budget cuts.
Budget & TaxationBy Mark Skidmore, Nicole Bradshaw, Show-Me InstitutePolicy Study, 03/18/2010
During the last 20 years, the effect of tax policy changes on economic growth has been a topic of considerable research. This study provides a review of the academic literature that has examined the relationship between taxation and economic growth, with an emphasis on the taxation of income. The study provides reliable information that may inform policy options. Key considerations in evaluating the role of tax policy in economic growth include: taxes and economic activity are inversely related, tax policies between jurisdictions are interrelated, taxes and spending go together, and the impact of taxes is relative.
Budget & TaxationBy South Carolina Policy Council, South Carolina Policy CouncilFact Sheet, 03/18/2010
Growing budgets are not just limited to the federal and state government. In fact, the local budgets of South Carolina took in more than thirteen billion in revenue; a chunk of that revenue came from fees and fines paid by the local taxpayer. It might seem that most fees and fines serve a public purpose. But with local governments desperate to keep raising revenue, that premise is up for question. Instead of sneaking in fees and fines local governments should lower taxes and reduce regulatory burdens for all businesses, large and small.
EducationBy Mitch Pearlstein, Center of the American ExperimentCapitol Solutions, 03/18/2010
A lot has been said and written about alternative teacher certification over the last several decades, with Minnesota only beginning to adequately engage on the issue. As many are fond of pointing out, this state has long helped lead the national way in any number of educational areas. Making it more feasible, however, for talented non-education majors to contribute as teachers has not been one of them, as our pertinent law and accompanying rules are among the least conducive across the country. It is the suggestion of this study that legislators on both sides of the aisle should resist the severe objections and almost certain threats of electoral reprisals by Education Minnesota and support passage of HF3093 and SF2757. The bills themselves may have “education” in their name but they are a far cry from providing what the students and their families need from education.
EducationBy Christina Martin, Paul DiPerna, Cascade Policy InstituteReport, 03/18/2010
Oregon’s high school dropouts are costing state taxpayers more than $400 million per year, according to a study released today by the Foundation for Educational Choice and Cascade Policy Institute. On average Oregon’s dropouts number 218,000 annually. The study, Oregon’s High School Dropouts: Examining the Economic and Social Costs, finds that Oregon’s dropout rate is resulting in more enrollments in the state’s Medicaid program, higher incarceration rates, and lost state revenue (because of unemployment and lower taxable incomes). The current results are undeniably costly for high school dropouts and Oregon’s taxpayers as well. Oregon needs to embrace more innovative educational options that boast higher graduation rates.
Health CareBy Kathryn Nix, Robert E. Moffit, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/18/2010
Americans and lawmakers alike should understand what the Senate bill has in store for the nation’s health care system.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/18/2010
The European Union’s Lisbon Treaty was supposed to streamline the EU bureaucracy and improve communication between the two sides of the Atlantic. Instead, it essentially allows the EU a foreign policy power-grab, the driving force of which is the notion that the countries of Europe will be stronger collectively than they are separately. Sovereignty cannot be traded for influence, and the EU’s attempts to do so could threaten the security of Europe—and of the United States.
Health CareBy Robert E. Moffit, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/18/2010
Conservatives should redefine the terms of the health care debate and retake the offensive on health policy.
National SecurityBy Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 03/18/2010
The post-war political, economic and security successes enjoyed by Western Europe and the United States and by the Euro-Atlantic area more broadly after 1990 are well known. How the West triumphed over the Soviet Union is equally clear. Therefore, it seems incredible that there is now serious talk of demolishing the very architecture which underpinned this extraordinary success story. Whether it is the European Union’s ham-fisted attempts to duplicate NATO’s roles and structures, or Russian proposals for an entirely new European security architecture, supplanting NATO with either will kill the goose that laid the golden egg of transatlantic security.
Health CareBy Karen Campbell, Guinevere Nell, Paul L. Winfree, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/18/2010
Economic analysis of H.R. 3590 shows that it would actually make achieving the goal of affordable health care even harder.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ronald Bailey, Reason FoundationReason, 03/17/2010
Copenhagen, in theory, should have stood as the climax of decision making in “rescuing the planet from the menace of man-made global warming.” Instead, Copenhagen turned into an embarrassing flop for all the participants. Copenhagen’s results were in fact far from their intentions and so provided for a “meaningful and unprecedented breakdown—one that could end up sparing the world from a costly and flawed scheme of global carbon rationing.” The blight of Copenhagen could prove to be what climate change needed in order to kick start a reassessment of climate change and the impact of the climate change regulations so sought after by its proponents.
Economic GrowthBy Eileen Norcross, Mercatus CenterTestimony, 03/17/2010
California’s Enterprise Zone (EZ) program is the largest targeted economic development program in the state. The intent of the EZ program is to bring economic development to high-poverty or distressed geographical areas. The author discusses the premise of the EZ program and suggests an alternative for policymakers to consider. The author notes the weak results of EZ policies and programs and points to a fundamental flaw with this approach. Using targeted tax breaks to benefit particular businesses in eligible areas may in fact be a barrier to producing the intended outcomes: Entrepreneurship and economic growth. This is because EZ policy is based on an incomplete view of the conditions necessary to encouraging economic growth.
Budget & TaxationBy William Ahern, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 03/16/2010
As usual, the one number that everyone talks about is the budget deficit, and sober, nonpartisan fiscal experts are agog at the Administration’s toleration of previously intolerable deficits. Everyone has a slightly different idea of how high the federal deficit can be in an ordinary year and still be sustainable. However, there can be little doubt that the high tax rates necessary to balance the budget in any of the next several years would discourage all manner of income-producing endeavors. Consequently, even when the deficit is projected to be as “low” as it is in 2012 and 2013, it is probably not possible to close the deficit with personal income tax hikes.
Budget & Taxation
Illinois Should Respond to Recession by Broadening Tax Bases and Spending Frugally, Not by Raising the Personal Income Tax RateBy Justin Higginbottom, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 03/16/2010
Illinois’s fiscal problems can not be solved by taxes alone. Illinois needs to make politically difficult spending choices and not rely on “easy” income tax increases. The state should expand its sales and business tax base: include services and end exemptions for the sales tax, and throw out business incentives. With this extra revenue the state can work on its high property, sales, and corporate income tax rates, making the state attractive to business and residents and creating a stable revenue base for the future.
Budget & TaxationBy Justin Higginbottom, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 03/16/2010
Some Georgia legislators have proposed increasing cigarette taxes from 37 cents to $1.37 as a way to help close the state’s projected $1 billion deficit-the result of an over 12 percent drop in tax collections from last year. Like other states, Georgia is struggling fiscally during times of decreased consumer spending and increased demand for state services. And as in other states, legislators are looking for products to tax as a way to balance the budget. Georgia should not target smokers to fill a budget hole. A $1 tax increase will give Georgia the highest cigarette tax in the region-incentivizing shopping either outside of Georgia’s borders or on the black market inside the state. It would be regressive in taxation and in distribution of public services.
Budget & Taxation
Record Numbers of People Paying No Income Tax; Over 50 Million “Nonpayers” Include Families Making over $50,000By Scott A. Hodge, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 03/16/2010
Over the past two decades, Washington lawmakers have increasingly turned to the tax code to deliver social benefits, incentivize behaviors, and funnel money to targeted groups, which they always refer to as “helping the middle class.” As a result, a record 51.6 million tax filers—36 percent of all filers—had little or no connection with the basic costs of government in 2008. Tax years 2009 and 2010 are likely to produce a number of nonpayers equal to or greater than in 2008 because of Obama’s new tax credits targeted at lower- and middle-income taxpayers. As the number of refundable tax credits continues to grow, more and more tax filers are seeing the IRS as a source of income, not something to which taxes are paid. The consequences of these trends deserve a broader national discussion than either party in Washington seems willing to engage in.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Maneeza Hossain, Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/16/2010
Bangladesh, the world’s third largest Muslim-majority nation, is facing challenges from violent Islamist groups. The government is cracking down on radical groups and emphasizing the democratic principles of the country’s founding, but radical Islamism still threatens to undermine stability in Bangladesh. Radicalization and terrorism are directly linked to government corruption and a lack of trust in the representative political process. To build trust in the political process, Bangladesh needs to strengthen its democratic institutions and develop a culture of transparency in the government that fosters accountability and restrains corruption.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis Dubay, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/16/2010
There are few people who can navigate the maze of the U.S. tax code, while an ever-shrinking number of Americans are paying ever-higher taxes to carry more and more of their fellow citizens who pay no income taxes at all. The unmanageability and increasing imbalance of the U.S. tax code is the near-continuous subject of calls for reform. Some reforms have had good effects, as was the case in 1986; other efforts at reform go nowhere. A new bipartisan tax reform bill introduced by Senators Ron Wyden and Judd Gregg has what it takes to go somewhere. Heritage Foundation senior tax policy analyst Curtis Dubay explains why Congress should give Wyden-Gregg a close look.
Health CareBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationFact Sheet, 03/16/2010
The latest strategy to pass Obamacare involves pushing the same discredited provisions through new procedural means.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationTestimony, 03/16/2010
The U.S. must develop policies that approach the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT—”Army of the Pure”) with the same urgency as that which the U.S. deals with the threat from al-Qaeda. Given the potential for LeT-linked terrorist cells to conduct a Mumbai-style attack here in the U.S., Washington must pursue policies that contain and shut down the operations of this deadly organization. This will require close cooperation with the Pakistani government, which has in the past supported the LeT, and only recently and haltingly begun to take steps to rein in the group’s activities.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/16/2010
As 30,000 additional American soldiers are deployed to Afghanistan, the U.S. is also focusing on reintegrating Taliban insurgents into Afghan society. There has been speculation that this new focus is part of a quick-exit strategy for the U.S. While reintegrating as many local Taliban fighters as possible is a vital part of the counterinsurgency strategy, premature negotiations with Taliban leaders based in Pakistan could easily backfire. The Obama Administration must bear in mind that insurgents are more likely to negotiate if they fear defeat on the battlefield. The Taliban have steadily regained influence in Afghanistan over the last four years—and U.S. and NATO forces must first weaken the Taliban on the battlefield before engaging in serious negotiations with the leadership.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, Helle C. Dale, Janice A. Smith, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/16/2010
A broader strategy is needed to help drive change within Iran on multiple fronts—economic, political, security, and human rights.
National SecurityBy Bruce Klingner, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/16/2010
The new threat from North Korea’s Musudan missile underscores the need for the U.S. to continue developing missile defense systems.
Economic GrowthBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/16/2010
Improved economic relations between the U.S. and India can enhance the incentives for India to adopt more market mechanisms.
National SecurityBy Julie Gunlock, Independent Women's ForumPosition Paper, 03/16/2010
In his short 12 months in office, Obama has fulfilled this promise to engage: beginning talks in Iran, bowing to Russian pressure on missile defense, chatting personally with Venezuelan President Chavez, and sending high-level delegations to North Korea and Burma. At the same time, the Obama Administration has shown a clear discomfort with declaring support for America’s allies: abandoning Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense, rigorously defending ousted Honduran President Zelaya over the Honduran officials working to preserve their democracy, staying silent after Iran’s brutal crackdown on reform demonstrators, and publicly snubbing the Dalai Lama in favor of the Chinese. As a result of these actions, the Obama Administration is alienating our allies, depressing opposition groups working for freedom in the world’s most oppressive nations, and emboldening our adversaries to continue their provocative and dangerous activities. The United States must maintain its role in the world as a voice for freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. If it doesn’t, the world may forever view Obama as having a preference for dictators over democrats, which is hardly the legacy Obama hopes to leave
Health CareBy Matt Patterson, National Center for Public Policy ResearchNational Policy Analysis, 03/16/2010
Democrats and Republicans are like oil and water, they do not go together. This factor was quite evident at the summit when the two sides took to their platforms to discuss health care. The Republicans towing the line of fiscal responsibility while the Democrats read one health care horror story after another. The Democrats, at the President’s urging, are using the slight bump in momentum gleaned from the health care summit as political cover to force their plan through Congress, via reconciliation, on a party line vote. They may well succeed, and in so doing will have done more damage to their careers, their party, and their country than they can possibly imagine.