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Recent Policy Studies
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Till Bruckner, Jon Entine, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/15/2010
The UN’s World Food Program claims that allegations of a scandal in Somalia are overblown and isolated. But such problems may be far more widespread than reported, and more transparency is needed. For the poor and hungry, the situation is daunting. Raising aid agency responsiveness towards beneficiaries may hold out the greatest hope of improving accountability in international aid. But exact mechanisms to make that happen are elusive. In order to have real effects, such transparency and disclosure must be backed by effective sanctions when the performance of aid agencies falls short of beneficiaries’ entitlements.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Joseph Lewczak, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 04/15/2010
As the Supreme Court reiterated in its most recent ruling on commercial speech, “the speaker and audience, not the government, assess the value of the information presented.” Although the current regulatory scheme affords the FCC enforcement authority against certain forms of product placement, some interest groups have heightened the cry for more pervasive regulation, and the FCC is now considering its response. The FCC should not over-regulate for the sake of protecting consumers when the current regulatory scheme suffices to address potential deception, especially at the cost of impeding the First Amendment value of creative expression.
Crime, Justice & the Law
“Responsible Corporate Officer”: Business Executives Face Strict Liability Under Novel Criminal Law DoctrineBy Brian Stimson, Kimyatta McClary, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 04/15/2010
In recent years, the federal government has aggressively prosecuted the allegedly improper distribution and promotion of drugs under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FDCA) and the False Claims Act (FCA). As a result of these prosecutions, drug companies have agreed to civil and criminal settlements worth billions of dollars. Because federal officials suspect that improper distribution and promotion continues, some commentators predict more individual prosecutions under the FDCA’s “responsible corporate officer” doctrine. Under that doctrine, any corporate officer who has the authority and responsibility to prevent violations of the FDCA may be criminally liable for the violations, regardless of the officer’s knowledge or intent. Until the FDA issues guidance concerning the responsible corporate officer doctrine, the best, if not only, defense may be a good offense. That is, an aggressive compliance program with robust reporting mechanisms, led by senior corporate officers, may be the best means for avoiding liability.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Damon R. Leichty, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 04/15/2010
The issue of litigation financing has recently captured the attention of lawmakers, judges, and critics. Late last year, the Florida Court of Appeals weighed in on the issue in Abu-Ghazaleh v. Chaul, albeit somewhat indirectly. Litigation financing traditionally has been challenged through the old and fading doctrines of champerty and barratry. Chaul II approached the intermeddling of “third-parties” in litigation through other means—the imposition of attorney fees and costs. Aside from the issue of potential sanctions, the extensive intermeddling in this litigation raises serious concerns about its effects on settlements and the independence of counsel. The level of control by the litigation financier in Chaul II was extreme and undesirable. Courts in other states should take heed of the Florida Court of Appeals’ decision, as should elected officials interested in taking legislative action on litigation financing.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Benjamin P. Keane, Washington Legal FoundationWorking Paper, 04/15/2010
In a period of great economic uncertainty, the importance of the Central Bank and Stoneridge decisions, as well as the PSLRA, cannot be underemphasized. Without the protections afforded by these Supreme Court cases and the legislative framework laid out by the PSLRA, secondary securities actors and businesses of all types would be subject to unnecessary securities class action liability exposure. The consequences of such a scenario would be destructive for the U.S. economy as well as the average American investor. Tangible deterrence of illegal behavior is an admirable policy goal, but only when the means of deterrence truly shape human behavior and do not threaten to upend overall economic stability. Misguided action, no matter how good the intentions, will only open the door to unintended and undesirable consequences.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Ronald D. Utt, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/15/2010
Among the many contentious issues that will confront Congress in the months leading up to reauthorization of the federal highway program (now postponed until December 2010) is the program’s inherent inequities relating to the distribution of federal trust fund revenues to the states. Under current law, the federal fuel taxes paid into the trust fund by motorists and truckers are returned to the states by a series of mathematical formulae that attempt to match the scope and usage of each state’s surface transportation system with payments received from the trust fund. Unless the donor states push aggressively, they will once again find themselves with another five years of annual spending shortfalls.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Dave Mason, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/15/2010
Leading derivatives reform proposals amount to little more than a frenzied insistence to do something, anything, to regulate financial derivatives. Proponents must show why particular derivatives need to be more closely regulated and that the schemes they propose will reduce rather than increase risks in financial markets.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis Dubay, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/15/2010
The hodgepodge of new taxes that have already or will soon take effect as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may not all show up in the income tax tables, but their huge cost is still very real. This cost will become most apparent in lost wages and international competitiveness, and it reduces middle- and low-income families’ wages just as surely as an income tax hike would. These taxes break President Barack Obama’s promise not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year.
Budget & TaxationBy Robert P. Murphy, Jason Clemens, Pacific Research InstituteReport, 04/15/2010
In a quest for solutions, this second installment of the California Prosperity Project assesses California’s tax burden, the structure of its tax system, and how both of these affect the state’s competitiveness. The research on which this study is based shows that taxes matter. When we impose taxes on certain things, we basically tend to get less of those things. Taxes influence decisions concerning work effort, savings, investment, entrepreneurship, risk taking, and job creation. These are all things California needs. Additional work, greater investing by individuals and businesses, and more entrepreneurship are the foundations for a prosperous society. Understanding how tax rates, and in particular marginal tax rates, influence these activities is critical in understanding the challenges facing California.
Health CareBy John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstituteHealth Policy Prescriptions, 04/15/2010
Repeal of ObamaCare is possible, but it has to be replaced with real change that gives the American people control of their health dollars. Any alternative that ignores that fundamental reform will fall as short as the Kassebaum-Kennedy Act of 1996, and fail to slay the zombie of government-run health care. This Policy Prescriptions offers suggestions as to the kind of reform health care should seek.
Health CareBy Patrick Fleenor, Gerald Prante, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 04/15/2010
The health care bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama is arguably the most significant piece of domestic policy legislation since the 1960s. The law will transform the financing of U.S. health care as government mandates coverage for individuals and becomes more involved in the pricing and terms of the policies they buy. Also, the bill expands Medicaid so that more people above the poverty line will now be eligible (up to 138 percent of poverty level). But expanding subsidized access to health care is no free lunch. Somebody must pay for it. The following is part of the Tax Foundation’s ongoing fiscal incidence project that is designed to gauge the income redistribution of U.S. fiscal policies.
Budget & TaxationBy Scott A. Hodge, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 04/15/2010
U.S. lawmakers who are worried about the economy’s slow recovery and weak job growth should take special note of KPMG’s latest international competitiveness study that ranks the U.S. only 8th best out of the ten countries surveyed for their cost-effectiveness for business. Of the 26 cost components that KPMG measured, many—such as labor costs, access to markets, and suitable land sites—are largely beyond the control of policy makers. Some components—such as crime rates, schools and universities, and the cost of housing—are not factors that can be improved quickly with policy changes. However, tax policy is a factor that federal and state lawmakers can change immediately and that can have dramatic short-term and long-term benefits. Cutting the federal corporate tax rate would immediately improve U.S. competitiveness while setting the stage for long-term economic growth.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Todd Wynn, Cascade Policy InstituteReport, 04/15/2010
This empirical study exposes a relationship between greenhouse gas intensity, energy intensity and economic freedom. The level of a country’s economic freedom is a statistically significant and negative determinant of both energy intensity and greenhouse gas intensity. Countries with higher levels of economic freedom not only have more energy efficient and less carbon intensive economies, but over time these countries continue to decrease the amount of energy used and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of production. The merits of free markets and economic prosperity should not be overlooked as a potential method for reducing carbon emissions.
Budget & TaxationBy David Osborne, Reason FoundationPolicy Study, 04/15/2010
California is in an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Critical services have been cut deeply. Borrowing to cover operating costs—a practice that is not only illegal but also dangerous—has become a habit. And public disgust with elected leaders has become endemic. There is a wise Native American saying: “When you’re riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.” Clearly, California’s current budget process is a dead horse. Budgeting for Outcomes offers state leaders an opportunity to dismount and find a new one.
Budget & TaxationBy Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens Against Government WasteBooklet, 04/14/2010
The projects in this year’s Congressional Pig Book Summary symbolize the most egregious and blatant examples of pork. As in previous years, all of the items in the Congressional Pig Book meet at least one of CAGW’s seven criteria, but most satisfy at least two. Out of the 9,129 projects in the 2010 Congressional Pig Book there were 9,048 requested projects worth $10 billion and 81 anonymous projects worth $6.5 billion.
Crime, Justice & the Law
Getting More for Less in Juvenile Justice: Innovative and Cost-Effective Approaches to Reduce Crime, Restore Victims, and Preserve FamiliesBy Marc Levin, Texas Public Policy FoundationReport, 04/14/2010
Policymakers can build on Texas’ recent success in reducing juvenile crime and costs to taxpayers by continuing to emphasize community-based approaches, strengthening performance measures and accountability for both residential and non-residential programs, and fostering partnerships with law enforcement agencies and school districts to provide effective early interventions that prevent juvenile crime. Through replicating effective, evidence-based juvenile probation programs and implementing reforms in policies and practices at the state and local level that are described in this report, Texas can make further progress in reducing crime, reforming troubled youths, restoring victims, and preserving families while controlling costs to taxpayers.
Budget & TaxationBy Nicola Moore, Steve Keen, John Fleming, The Heritage FoundationBooklet, 04/14/2010
The federal budget is on an unsustainable course with red ink as far as the eye can see, so it is especially important for Americans to understand spending, taxes, and debt. The Heritage Foundation’s Budget Chart Book is a user-friendly way to learn about the federal budget in pictures. Tough policy choices and strong entitlement reforms are necessary to get the budget back on track, and the Budget Chart Book will help you appreciate the size and scope of the decisions policymakers must enact to protect America’s fiscal future.
National SecurityBy Steven Groves, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/14/2010
In its current form, the “New START” treaty is not one to which the Senate may unconditionally give its consent to ratification. The two parties to the treaty—the United States and the Russian Federation—cannot agree upon the meaning of its terms, and therefore there is nothing to which the Senate can consent. It stands to reason that when two nations negotiate a bilateral treaty—especially one dealing with nuclear weapons—both parties should share the same understanding regarding the terms of the treaty. Yet that appears not to be the case in regard to the new strategic arms reduction treaty signed by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8 in Prague.
The Nuclear Posture Review’s Missing Objective: Defending the U.S. and Its Allies Against Strategic AttackBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/14/2010
The chief flaw of the Obama Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review is that it fails to make a clear commitment to defend the U.S. and its allies. However, if Congress is willing to press the Administration, it can correct many of these weaknesses, resulting in a stronger U.S. nuclear posture and serving important nonproliferation and arms control objectives. Specifically, Congress should push the Administration to emphasize nonproliferation over arms control, maintain a strong and modernized U.S. nuclear arsenal, reserve the option to use nuclear weapons to defend the U.S. and its allies, maintain operational flexibility across the nuclear force, and pursue nonproliferation goals before pursuing disarmament goals.
National SecurityBy Mackenzie Eaglen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/14/2010
Congress should determine whether the QDR budget plans are shortsighted, unrealistic, or unduly constrained.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis Dubay, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/14/2010
Nearly half of Americans who file federal income tax returns do not pay any federal income taxes because they receive certain tax credits. Many of these nonpayers actually receive a cash payment from the IRS because of refundable tax credits. Refundable credits are increasing the level of dependency, and nonpayers will soon reach the tipping point where a majority of tax filers pay no taxes and can vote increasing government benefits at no cost to themselves. That is a deadly recipe for never-ending increases in government spending, inevitably leading to a fiscal implosion when there are no longer enough taxpayers to pay for the expanding welfare state. Congress can begin to address this problem by refusing to create new credits or expand existing credits.
National SecurityBy Matt Mayer, Mark DeBosier, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/14/2010
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been responding to almost any natural disaster around the country, be it a contained three-county flood, or a catastrophe of near-epic proportions like Hurricane Katrina. As a result, many states and localities have trimmed their own emergency-response budgets, often leaving them ill prepared to handle even rain- or snowstorms without federal assistance. This leaves FEMA stretched far too thin and ill prepared to respond to grand-scale catastrophes. The “federalization of disasters” misdirects vital resources, leaving localities, states, and the federal government in a lose-lose situation. FEMA policies must be overhauled to let localities handle smaller, localized disasters, and to allow FEMA to respond fully and effectively when it is truly needed. If the status quo continues, it will be a disaster for everyone.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, Helle C. Dale, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/14/2010
There are several principles essential to strengthening the counterterrorism and nonproliferation regimes that need to be recognized.
Economic GrowthBy Anthony Randazzo, Reason FoundationReason, 04/14/2010
Whether the economy recovers quickly in 2010, stagnates for a while, or stumbles into the dreaded W-shaped double-dip recession, the policy response will depend on a calculus between short-term and long-term pain. The more Washington kicks the can down the road on spending, housing, and banking, the more long-term troubles the American economy will face. Obviously, giving federal money to consumers can be politically popular, just as bailing out bankrupt states can be politically expedient for politicians who depend on support from public-sector unions. But these short-term gimmicks do not lead to sustainable economic growth. And the president himself has indicated that the free money days might be coming to an end. “It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession,” he said in November.
Economic GrowthBy Tim Cavanaugh, Reason FoundationReason, 04/14/2010
The ongoing recession has raised a troubling question for otherwise resurgent Keynesian economists: How can the American economy keep getting worse under the intensive care of an interventionist economic team almost universally praised for its brilliance? The answer may be that the Obama administration is dealing with a fictional economy, one that bears little resemblance to the economy the rest of us inhabit. And when the difference between fact and fiction becomes too apparent, they just make stuff up. Herewith, five big lies the administration loves to tell and the mainstream media (with some notable exceptions) love to repeat.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Reason FoundationReason, 04/14/2010
In theory, fiscal federalism is a great weapon to hold our state and local governments in line. But today it’s only that, a theory. In practice, it hardly exists. To bring it back, we would need to radically decentralize the government’s power to tax and to spend, abolishing the national income tax altogether and ending federal grants to state and local governments. Under those circumstances, with the feds expelled from our state and local lives, lawmakers would have to cajole us and treat us like high-maintenance mistresses for fear of losing us to the state next door.
Budget & TaxationBy Pamela Villarreal, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 04/14/2010
The new health care law will substantially increase the tax burden of high-income workers and small businesses over the next few years. Those tax increases could be piled on top of other tax increases on the labor and investment income of high-income earners. The tax hikes will reduce the capital stock and discourage small business job creation–the opposite of what is needed to grow the economy. It would be better to simplify the tax code by implementing a flat capital gains rate of, say, 10 percent, for all income groups and investments. And forget about the additional Medicare taxes: In today’s struggling economy, we can ill-afford to impose additional taxes on productive workers and small businesses, or reduce the rate of return on capital investment.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Mercatus CenterTestimony, 04/14/2010
America’s financial situation is unsustainable. In 2009 the federal government spent $3.5 trillion but collected only $2.1 trillion in revenue. The result was a $1.4 trillion deficit, up from $458 billion in 2008. That’s 10 percent of gross domestic product, a level unseen since World War II. The Congressional Budget Office projects that we will be running large deficits for the foreseeable future. According to its data, the annual deficits could average $1 trillion during the next 10 years. Further the financial accounting of our financial troubles can lead us to underestimate the gravity of the situation. There are two many factors left out of calculations from many departments which results in two many people being left in the dark about the real financial situation.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Peter J. Boettke, Mercatus CenterLecture, 04/14/2010
The Adam Smith Award is the highest honor bestowed by The Association of Private Enterprise Education. It is given to recognize an individual who has made a sustained and lasting contribution to the perpetuation of the ideals of a free market economy as first laid out in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Peter Boettke was this years recipient and had laid out profound thoughts toward the notion that “good economic ideas lead to good public policy that result in good results; and bad economic ideas lead to bad public policy which result in bad results.”
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Luigi Zingales, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 04/14/2010
A growing body of evidence suggests that in the current recession, strategic default amongst homeowners exists and is rising. A simple solution to the problem is proposed of underwater mortgages. Envision a reform of the bankruptcy code that, in areas where house prices have dropped precipitously, would require lenders to give homeowners the option of resetting their mortgages to the current value of their houses. In exchange, the lenders would get 50 percent of the houses’ future appreciation. To keep homeowners honest—that is, to prevent them from doing minimal upkeep in the knowledge that they stood to gain less from a home-price increase—the capital gain would be measured based on an average of houses selling in the area, rather than on the change in the value of the actual house.
Health CareBy J.P. Wieske, Christie Herrera, American Legislative Exchange CouncilReport, 04/14/2010
While Congress debates federal health reform, some states have already begun implementing their own health reform initiatives — and these “reforms” should serve as a cautionary tale for federal and state policymakers alike. This Guide will help you: examine the demographics of the uninsured population and what to do about it; explore vital consumer protections that also preserve the private insurance market; analyze “hot topics” in health policy and discover related patient-centered reforms; learn common health insurance industry terms and definitions; and access model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council to help you in your statehouse. Now more than ever is there a time to act.
Budget & TaxationBy Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise InstituteRetirement Policy Outlook, 04/13/2010
States report that their public-employee pensions are underfunded by a total of $438 billion, but a more accurate accounting demonstrates that they are actually underfunded by over $3 trillion. The accounting methods that states currently use to measure their liabilities assume plans can earn high investment without risk. Should plan assets fall short, as is likely, taxpayers are required to make up the difference. But the value of this taxpayer guarantee is not disclosed. As a result, while states recognize that their public-employee pensions are underfunded, the situation is far worse than their accounting demonstrates. Without taking proactive steps now, taxpayers will be made to cover an enormous shortfall when the bills come due.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ali Alfoneh, American Enterprise InstituteMiddle Eastern Outlook, 04/13/2010
Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini controlled the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) by assigning personal representatives and commissars to IRGC units and offices. Initially, the system was dysfunctional because of multiple commissars and parallel control structures with overlapping responsibilities, but at the beginning of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s rule, the commissars consolidated their positions and exerted enough power to help stymie political reforms. Today, the system is again weak, and, increasingly, the commissars act more as spokesmen for the guards than as agents overseeing the IRGC and ensuring that the supreme leader holds power over the IRGC. This change undermines Khamenei’s authority over the IRGC and has allowed the IRGC greater autonomy to the detriment of outsiders who would engage the regime.
EducationBy Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise InstituteEducation Outlook, 04/13/2010
Reform-minded educators often run into obstacles when they try to bring their innovative ideas to schools modeled on twentieth-century factories. The challenge of “greenfield schooling” is to cultivate environments that invite entrepreneurial ideas and to provide an infrastructure that allows those ideas to succeed on a wide scale. Instead of embracing the “more, better” model of improving schools, the greenfield approach creates room for new ventures to take root. Entrepreneurs must embrace outcomes and judge their success by the extent to which new ventures promote new efficiencies, address unmet needs, or perform consistently at high levels.
Economic GrowthBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 04/13/2010
January ended on a note of diminished hope for a sustainable global recovery as stock markets retreated from their midmonth highs. Since mid-February, however, higher hopes for a sustainable global recovery have returned. Equity markets have rallied along with markets for corporate and global sovereign bonds. Some mitigation of perceived risks facing global investors has provided a chance for hope to “float up,” and it has done so. Tension over the cohesion of the European Monetary Union and, in particular, concerns over a possible sovereign-debt default by Greece have eased, and investors continue to hope that the debt problems in Greece will not spread to the rest of Europe.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Chris Berg, John Roskam, Andrew Kemp, Institute of Public AffairsBook, 04/13/2010
100 Great Books of Liberty is a comprehensive and accessible guide to the books which made liberty the most important idea of Western Civilization. From Plato’s The Republic and The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, to Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, these 100 books have laid the foundation for the modern world. The book covers history, biography, philosophy, politics, and fiction, 100 Great Books of Liberty is the indispensable guide to the foundations of Western Civilization.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/13/2010
The Obama Administration’s plan for ballistic missile defense and its proposed FY 2011 budget for the missile defense program would leave the program treading water. At the same time, the threat of ballistic missile attack on the U.S. and its allies will continue to increase as more state and non-state actors gain and improve the missile capabilities. Congress should begin to correct the Administration’s mistakes by adding $1.358 billion to the FY 2011 missile defense budget, preventing the Administration’s arms control initiatives from interfering with missile defense development and deployment, restoring the program to destroy ballistic missiles in boost phase, and resuming development of space-based interceptors.
Health CareBy Edmund Haislmaier, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/13/2010
In sharp contrast to the recently enacted federal health care reform, Utah is taking a targeted approach to expanding coverage while moving the system in a more patient-centered direction. Utah’s approach promises to increase the number of employers offering insurance, reduce the number of uninsured, provide true coverage portability, increase competition among insurers and health care providers, and provide better value to patients and consumers. Other states should follow Utah’s example by seeking to shield their citizens from the adverse consequences of the federal legislation and by pressing ahead with better reform designs, particularly ones that move their health insurance markets in more consumer-centered or patient-centered directions.
Health CareBy Chuck Donovan, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/13/2010
Advocates of family values in health care reform have reason to be deeply disappointed with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
National SecurityBy Ariel Cohen , The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 04/13/2010
By signing a flawed successor agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the Administration has squandered a golden opportunity.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Gregory Conko, Jerome Arnett, Competitive Enterprise InstituteOn Point, 04/13/2010
Over the past half-century, the FDA has made it increasingly harder for Americans to get access to innovative new drugs and medical devices. By raising the hurdles medical products manufacturers must clear before they get approval, the agency has increased the cost of new treatments and delayed their availability. Physicians and patients often have access to drugs and devices that can treat certain illnesses, but which have been approved by the FDA for other uses. This practice, called “off-label” prescribing, provides greater choice in treatment options for millions of Americans, but the FDA and many congressional critics have tried to stymie its use for decades. At Congress’s urging, the FDA has long forbidden drug and device makers from disseminating information about off-label uses, which makes it difficult for doctors and their patients to learn about important therapeutic options. This may change, however, if a pending lawsuit against the FDA is successful.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Christopher C. Horner, Regnery PublishingBook, 04/13/2010
If Obama and his “green” coalition get their way, we’re headed for blackouts, skyrocketing energy prices designed to bankrupt disfavored industries, and even greater government control of our economy. Obama’s green jobs agenda masks a declaration of war against America’s most reliable sources of energy—coal, oil, and natural gas. He seeks to shut them down and convert America to green energy—mostly wind and solar—in an irresponsible experiment that will guarantee an energy crisis and drive America from recession to depression. The Obama administration, working in collusion with green groups allegedly protecting the environment, unions protecting their paychecks, and local elites protecting their ocean views, is putting the special interests ahead of your interests.
Budget & TaxationBy Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Points, 04/13/2010
Pennsylvania faces a projected General Fund shortfall approaching $1 billion. In February, Gov. Rendell proposed a $29 billion budget for FY 10-11 that increases business taxes, imposes new taxes on natural gas and tobacco products, and expanding the sales tax to include many goods and services currently exempt. This is the fourth in a series of fact sheets on the state budget.
Budget & TaxationBy Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Points, 04/13/2010
Pennsylvania faces a projected General Fund shortfall of at least $500 million. Gov. Rendell proposed a $29 billion budget for 2010-11 that increases business taxes, imposes new taxes on natural gas and tobacco products, and expanding the sales tax to include many goods and services currently exempt. This is the third in a series of fact sheets on the state budget.
Budget & TaxationBy Josh Barro, Stuart Buck, Manhattan InstituteCivic Report, 04/13/2010
To all the other fiscal travails facing this country’s states and largest cities, now add their pension obligations, which are far greater than they may realize or are willing to admit. This paper focuses on the crisis in funding teachers’ pensions, because education is often the largest program area in state budgets, making it an obvious target for cuts. However, state pension funds set aside fewer assets than their counterparts in private companies to cover equal liabilities. The purpose of this paper is not to instruct pension funds in how to invest their funds. Rather, it is to recommend that they account for their liabilities in the manner of private pension plans, which must estimate the present cost of future liabilities on the basis of the lower returns that high-quality corporate bonds pay.
Economic GrowthBy Brandon Houskeeper, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 04/13/2010
The blind promotion of green jobs often comes at the cost of economic realities. Government’s preference for these jobs, over all other employment sectors, imposes significant costs on the existing economy and promotes public policies that are unproven and ultimately harmful to society and the environment. When the Governor claims growth in the green economy, it would be wise to follow the caution of the Employment Security Department which notes it is unlikely due to new job growth. In reality, the state is getting better at asking questions to get the answers they want than it is at creating jobs.
Health CareBy Paul Guppy, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 04/13/2010
In June 2002, Washington Policy Center published a study showing how state-imposed mandates add to the cost of health insurance. Since then state lawmakers have added new mandates, and the cost of insurance has continued to rise. Each time the lawmakers have adopted a new mandate, proponents have confidently predicted that policy change will increase the affordability and accessibility of health care coverage; while in fact research shows the opposite has happened. The only effective reform would move personal decisions about health care away from the political process and closer to the patient. Fewer mandates, greater patient choice and vigorous price competition among insurers would promote access to affordable, high-quality health care for all Washington citizens.