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Recent Policy Studies
National SecurityBy Bruce Klingner, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/20/2010
The evidence is clear: North Korea is responsible for the torpedo attack that sank the South Korean naval frigate Cheonan. Now that North Korea’s culpability for this heinous act of aggression has been proven, South Korea and the United States must respond resolutely by imposing a comprehensive package of unilateral and multilateral actions. These sanctions should include severing inter-Korean economic relations, augmenting U.S.–South Korean naval forces and detection capabilities in the West Sea, and insisting that the U.N. Security Council approve a resolution condemning and punishing North Korea.
EducationBy Benjamin DeGrow, Independence InstituteIssue Backgrounder, 05/20/2010
Forty-two of Colorado’s 178 school districts bargain exclusively with a local teachers union. Often conducted by tax-funded district employees on both sides, negotiations forge policies that determine the use of taxpayer dollars. Yet only one of the 42 districts (Poudre R-1) has an established policy that thoroughly ensures the public’s right to observe bargaining negotiations.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Daren Bakst, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 05/20/2010
Just like a homeowner can decide whether a dog can come in his house, the restaurant owner has that same right with respect to his restaurant. A property owner does not lose his property rights because a business is open to the public—it still is private property. There is no conflict between property rights and health rights. Restaurant patrons can see for themselves whether pets are allowed and can make informed and voluntary decisions on their own as to whether they want to dine at a restaurant.
Budget & TaxationBy Kristina Rasmussen, Illinois Policy InstituteTax & Budget Brief, 05/20/2010
Until recently, the narrative in Springfield has been “Illinois state government isn’t spending enough; families and businesses should swallow a tax hike to make more funds available for government.” This perspective is reflective of the same backward thinking that put Illinois in a fiscal pickle in the first place. If we could truly tax, spend, and borrow our way into prosperity, Illinois would be a job creation powerhouse. Hundreds of thousands of Americans would be pouring into our borders instead of heading to low-tax, high-growth states like Texas, Arizona, and Florida. Distressingly, Illinois had a net out migration of 637,979 people from 1999-2008, putting us at 48th in the nation for attracting newcomers to call our state home.
EducationBy Collin Hitt, Illinois Policy InstituteEducation Brief, 05/20/2010
Nineteen studies have been conducted in cities and states where school voucher programs have been created. Eighteen of them find significant improvement in public school performance, suggesting that competition works.
EducationBy Collin Hitt, Illinois Policy InstituteReport, 05/20/2010
Throughout Illinois, a unique kind of public school is emerging: charter schools. Begun by non-profit groups, teams of teachers, or even universities, these new schools are trying innovative approaches to public education. Most importantly, they are creating additional choices for families, often in communities where public education has failed to meet the needs of parents and children. The “charter school movement,” as it has been called, has been a success in Illinois, but to date it has primarily been concentrated in Chicago. That is slowly beginning to change.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Steven F. Cherry, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 05/20/2010
In a notable recent decision, Starr v. Sony BMG Entertainment, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit addressed the pleading standard a plaintiff must satisfy to survive a motion to dismiss an antitrust conspiracy claim under sec. 1 of the Sherman Act based on alleged parallel conduct.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Beth Z. Shaw, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 05/20/2010
They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. This axiom certainly applies in the software development world, where you can infringe a copyright by distributing products that were made using free, “open source” software. And if you do, the open source community may find you and sue you.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Kelly Savage Day, Michael F. Healy, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 05/20/2010
There is a rapidly growing split of authority among courts as to whether FDA regulation of generic drug labeling preempts state-law failure-to-warn claims. Until the Supreme Court definitively decides the issue, generic drug manufacturers should anticipate increased product liability litigation and continue to assert the defense. Although Levine arguably makes it more difficult to succeed under a preemption defense in future cases, it should not preclude continued application of the doctrine in those cases where the FDA has specifically considered the particular risks at issue and has determined that the product’s labeling adequately warns of those risks. Likewise, state-law fraud-on-the-FDA claims against generic drug manufacturers should also remain preempted under Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Will W. Sachse, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 05/20/2010
RICO (the “Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations” statute) is a square peg that plaintiffs’ lawyers try to force into the round hole of drug and device litigation. So why has there been an increase in RICO cases? It could be the treble damages and lucrative attorneys’ fees that make a RICO claim attractive, or perhaps the highly profitable class actions under the law. Because it evokes images of gangsters, plaintiffs’ lawyers love to bandy about ominous words like “racketeering” and “wire fraud.” RICO, after all, was originally enacted to go after mobsters – but in today’s world of hungry and creative plaintiffs’ lawyers, RICO has gotten out of hand and is becoming a run-of-the-mill claim seen in many mass tort settings. Targeted businesses should thus be encouraged by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent RICO decision, Hemi Group, LLC v. City of New York. In Hemi Group, a plurality-in-part opinion by Chief Justice Roberts reaffirmed that RICO has a proximate cause requirement, and that requirement has teeth.
Budget & TaxationBy Robert McTeer, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 05/20/2010
While the United States’ status as a debtor nation is unlikely to pose a severe threat in the near future, it would still be wise to reduce the nation’s vulnerability sooner rather than later. There are multiple ways to do so: permanent tax incentives to encourage domestic saving would likely lower both the budget deficit and trade deficit; cuts in marginal tax rates reinforced by slower government spending growth might reduce the budget deficit, increase the domestic capital sock and encourage exports; reducing the budget deficit would reduce the vulnerability of the U.S. economy to foreign creditors. Entitlement programs should also be reformed to partially prefund health care and retirement spending. This would put the government on a different spending path, increasing job creation and domestic investment. As a result, the U.S. economy would be more productive and competitive with the rest of the world.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Kathleen Hartnett White, Texas Public Policy FoundationReport, 05/20/2010
The EPA’s scientific justification for establishing an ozone standard below 85 ppb is inadequate. A policy decision with repercussions this significant—federal non-attainment status in 666 U.S. counties, including remote Brewster County, Texas—should be based on more substantial science.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ronald Bailey, Reason FoundationReason, 05/20/2010
It’s sobering to compare this pessimistic 3 percent GDP loss as a result of climate change by 2100 to the CBO’s projected loss of up to 3.5 percent of GDP due to carbon rationing by 2050, five decades earlier. Unless carbon rationing is designed and implemented perfectly, the losses incurred from government policies that aim to combat climate change will easily outweigh the losses that could result from climate change. The Kerry-Lieberman carbon rationing scheme is far from perfect.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Bradley Smith, Jeff Patch, Reason FoundationReason, 05/20/2010
The DISCLOSE Act’s purpose, according to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen and other “reformers,” is simply to require disclosure of corporate and union political speech after the Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission held that the government could not ban political expenditures by companies, nonprofit groups, and labor unions. The bill, however, would radically redefine how the FEC regulates political commentary. A section of the DISCLOSE Act would exempt traditional media outlets from coordination regulations, but the exemption does not include bloggers, only “a communication appearing in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication…” In Citizens United, the Supreme Court explicitly rejected disparate treatment of media corporations and other corporations (including nonprofit groups) in campaign finance law.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Rob Bishop, Institute for Policy InnovationIssue Brief, 05/20/2010
Federalism/separation of powers was the vehicle designed to protect people. In Federalist 51, Madison admitted that citizens of the country had the primary responsibility to protect their own rights and “a dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government, but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” Separation of powers, both vertically and horizontally, was the “auxiliary precaution.” Madison, in Federalist 45, also envisioned how the vertical separation of powers (federalism) was to operate. He wrote, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution … are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite … . The Powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which … concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people …”
Budget & TaxationBy Hideo Hikida, Frances Nuar, Jamie Story, Grassroot Institute of HawaiiReport, 05/20/2010
The 2010 Hawaii Pork Report, much like its inaugural 2009 edition, is not pleasant reading for those who are a part of government or for the majority of citizens who work hard to fund the programs.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Theodore Bromund, Ray Walser, David Kopel, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/20/2010
President Barack Obama has called on the Senate to ratify CIFTA, the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacture of and Trafficking in Firearms, but the convention poses serious prudential risks to liberties guaranteed by the First and Second Amendments. The convention appears to be an end run around domestic obstacles to gun control. Furthermore, ratification of the convention would undermine U.S. sovereignty by legally binding it to fulfill obligations that some current signatories already disregard. The U.S. would be best served by continuing existing programs, cooperating with other countries on a bilateral basis, and making and enforcing its own laws to combat the traffic in illicit arms.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Theodore Bromund, Ray Walser, David Kopel, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2010
On May 19, Mexican President Felipe Calderón will arrive in Washington for a two-day state visit, during which he is likely to urge U.S. ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacture of and Trafficking in Firearms. The convention is purportedly necessary to stem the flow of firearms legally purchased in the U.S. and then illegally exported to Mexico. The U.S. should resist this pressure. The convention poses a series of prudential dangers to rights protected under the First and Second Amendments. It is also likely to impinge on U.S. sovereignty. Moreover, the convention has achieved little in practice. To the extent that it is not dangerous, it is irrelevant to security challenges in the Western Hemisphere.
Budget & TaxationBy Karen Campbell, Guinevere Nell, The Heritage FoundationCenter for Data Analysis Report, 05/20/2010
The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2010 would simplify the convoluted tax code and lower tax brackets for most Americans. Sponsored in the Senate by Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, this tax reform proposal would free productive resources to be reinvested and spur the economy, create 2.3 million more jobs per year, and significantly reduce public debt. A lower corporate tax rate would serve as an incentive both to keep domestic businesses in the U.S. and to attract foreign businesses to America. Higher taxes, as planned under current law, merely serve as an anti-competitive force and a drain on the economy. A financially sound business sector, on the other hand, contributes to the stability of household wealth and the economy overall—benefiting all Americans.
ImmigrationBy Jena Baker McNeill , The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/20/2010
Securing America’s southern border is more important than ever. Yet the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is preparing to drop key border security technologies that it has been developing since 2005. This is a decision that makes no sense. Given some of the problems that have occurred with SBInet—a program to deploy cameras, sensors, and radar technology at the southwest border—a review could help improve the program. Abandoning SBInet altogether, however, would be a complete waste of resources.
EducationBy Paul E. Peterson, Carlos Xabel Lastra-Anadón, Education NextEducation Next, 05/19/2010
Every state, for both reading and math (with the exception of Massachusetts for math), deems more students “proficient” on its own assessments than NAEP does. The average difference is a startling 37 percentage points.
Regulation & Deregulation
Rediscovering the ACC’s Roots: Returning to the Original Purpose of the Arizona Corporation CommissionBy Benjamin Barr, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Report, 05/19/2010
Arizonans now face the real threat that the Arizona Corporation Commission will continue to seize power meant to be held by the state’s legislative branch. Important decisions about energy policy, corporate governance, and other areas have been removed from the legislative process which, for all its faults, offers more transparency, citizen input, and accountability than the opaque and bureaucratic proceedings of the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Economic GrowthBy Devon Herrick, Pamela Villarreal, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 05/19/2010
The landmark health reform law signed by President Obama will require small businesses to provide health insurance to their employees. This burden will be offset by a tax credit for each employee covered. However, the credit is arbitrarily reduced as firms grow, penalizing employers that hire more workers or increase their salaries. Thus, the credit may discourage firms from hiring more workers or higher-paid workers.
Budget & TaxationBy Maurice McTigue, Daniel M. Rothschild, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 05/19/2010
As of March 2010, 49 states faced budget deficits totaling $174.1 billion for the current fiscal year, with higher deficits on the horizon. Largely due to federal stimulus dollars, mid-year spending reductions, and some creative accounting gimmicks, states technically complied with their constitutional requirements to balance their budgets in 2009–2010. These options however will likely not all be available for the next fiscal year. Moreover, many of these accounting practices are of dubious ethical and accounting value and only serve to postpone dealing with current problems at a higher future cost. This paper presents a toolkit of seven ideas and procedures for state policy makers to evaluate budget shortfalls and find opportunities for reform.
PhilanthropyBy Carol C. Adelman, Hudson InstituteReport, 05/19/2010
Philanthropy to the developing world remained steady in 2008 despite the global recession and dire forecasts. Remittances continued to grow in the same year as well. Our predictions for 2009 in last year’s Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances held true, as U.S. individual giving and global remittances declined less than expected (by single digits only). Philanthropy and remittances provided a much needed lifeline to poor people throughout the world. And they were more resilient to the downturn than private capital.
Information TechnologyBy Glen O. Robinson, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 05/19/2010
Americans today have access to more sources of information by orders of magnitude than they did a scant decade ago, thanks to the availability of multi-channel cable and satellite, the Internet and the literally countless content providers that feed these delivery systems. The FCC appears to believe nevertheless that it is not the right kind of information. The people just aren’t getting enough of the right stuff in their information diet — stuff like local news and entertainment, educational programs, and not least “accountability journalism” programs that keep government agents in line (including the FCC?). If that is true, it is probably because the people don’t want it, but what people want isn’t the FCC’s concern; the production function it prefers is one determined not by what they want but what they need. A number of years ago one wag coined the perfect phrase for this needful thing: “broccoli television.” With apologies to the ghost of Marie Antoinette, if the people want cake, “let them eat broccoli.”
Budget & TaxationBy Lise Bang-Jensen, Empire Center for New York State PolicyPublic Payroll Watch, 05/19/2010
Governor David Paterson is proposing an early-retirement option for the state and its local governments that he says is “designed to achieve cost savings for public employers and to avoid layoffs of public employees in this time of fiscal need.” However, based on past experience and the available information on the governor’s bill, it’s not clear that the plan will actually save any money in the long run.
Health CareBy John E. Calfee, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/19/2010
As a general rule, instead of trying to figure out what to make transparent and what to leave alone, we should let the market decide. The exception is when the market is rigged against transparency, and that should be the focus of legislation, if any. Retail prices for specialists, clinics, and especially hospitals seem to be unnecessarily obscure as a by-product of a deep bias in favor of employer-based group insurance. That bias is fostered by the fact that insurance premiums paid by employers are excluded from employees’ taxable income. One solution is to require retail prices—those paid by patients—be fully transparent in order to encourage shopping around and the like. But that is a second-best solution. If we fixed the tax code to remove the bias toward employer-based group coverage, we would free up a big part of the health care market, generating new regions of price transparency without a host of unintended adverse consequences.
Economic GrowthBy Michael Barone, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/19/2010
Despite net domestic outflow from our largest metro areas, most of the nation’s population growth is still occurring there, thanks to immigration inflow. But the large domestic outflow from what I call coastal metropolises is disturbing, and suggests a vote of no-confidence in what were previously our fastest-growing metro areas. In contrast, metro areas in Texas and states like Georgia and North Carolina have attracted substantial numbers of both Americans and immigrants and have enjoyed balanced growth, with room for high-education singles in “cool cities’” neighborhoods but even more space for families who will produce the workers and consumers of the future. That’s the kind of growth we should hope for in the decade ahead.
Health CareBy Roger Bate, et al., International Policy NetworkStudies, 05/19/2010
Many high quality drugs are manufactured in India, and the sub-continent has become the largest generics manufacturing location in the world. But it also has a significant problem with counterfeit and substandard drugs. The enforcement of private rights (notably trademarks) must be given more support, both domestically and in international fora such as at WHO and with respect to the EU. Further, the Government of India should not sponsor and promote reports which contain much misleading information concerning drug quality in India. Worse, some state governments have been very lenient towards local counterfeiters. In some instances officials have been directly bribed, and nearly all courts throughout the country have considerable backlogs of cases – allowing traders of potentially lethal products left free to ply an odious trade.
Economic GrowthBy Michael A. Clemens, Todd J. Moss, International Policy NetworkStudies, 05/19/2010
Is there any harm in promoting unrealistic goals? For an international aid goal to be useful as an actual practical target, it must be matched to the needs and conditions of recipients and also to the political process and budget priorities of the donors. Our interpretation is that 0.7% fails both of these tests.
National SecurityBy David H. Petraeus, American Enterprise InstituteLecture, 05/19/2010
I’m going to speak about a period in our Army’s recent history near and dear to my heart—and to the hearts of some in this room as well. This period has not received anywhere near the attention given to that of the surge in Iraq. Nonetheless, what we did during this period proved critical to the progress that we ultimately achieved in Iraq. The period in question—late 2005 through 2006—predates the surge. Indeed, it was during this period that we developed the intellectual underpinnings that proved so critical when additional forces were deployed to Iraq in 2007.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Roger F. Noriega, American Enterprise InstituteLatin American Outlook, 05/19/2010
As President Barack Obama receives Mexican president Felipe Calderón in Washington, D.C., this month, the two leaders must focus urgently on the shared responsibility of defending their people from the deadly drug trade that operates across the U.S.-Mexico border. At a time when the United States debates how best to respond to the drug-related crime and illegal immigration that are the products of an insecure border, Americans should consider the disastrous consequences that might occur should Mexico fail in its current offensive against the gangsters who thrive on the illegal cross-border traffic in drugs, cash, guns, and humans. Although Congress approved funding to support Mexico’s efforts under the Mérida Initiative in 2007, only a fraction of the assistance has been delivered. Any serious strategy for dealing with the porous border and drug-related crime in the United States must include more decisive and effective assistance for the Mexicans living on the front lines of this dangerous campaign.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jack Spencer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/19/2010
Senators John Kerry (D–MA) and Joe Lieberman (I–CT) released their much-awaited climate and energy bill, the American Power Act (APA), on May 12. While the economic harm caused by the bill’s cap-and trade-provisions makes it a non-starter, the nuclear title, with modification, provides a good start for a separate nuclear bill.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Brian Walsh, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/19/2010
For centuries, the concept of a “guilty mind” has been at the core of what makes someone a criminal. Most Americans rightly think that no one deserves criminal punishment unless he intended to break the law or knew that his conduct was unlawful or sufficiently wrongful so as to put him on notice of possible criminal liability. Thousands of federal laws make otherwise innocent acts wrongful simply because they are prohibited. Such acts include fishing without a permit and shipping items safely but in a manner inconsistent with federal regulations. Americans who violate one of these thousands of federal laws inadvertently or by an innocent mistake should, at worst, suffer a civil fine and not prison time.
National SecurityBy Steven Groves, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/19/2010
Maintaining sovereignty over determinations of national defense is an essential element of national security and a hallmark of any truly independent nation. The United States cannot preserve its sovereignty if it cedes authority—any authority—over its national security decision-making to another nation, a group of nations, the U.N. Security Council, the International Criminal Court, or any other international organization.
National SecurityBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/19/2010
In the past six months, the U.S. Coast Guard has played instrumental roles in relief efforts in Haiti and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico—in addition to its regular duties fighting drug smuggling and protecting America’s shorelines. Yet Congress and the Administration are still intent on gutting the Coast Guard’s resources, which are already stretched far too thin.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/19/2010
America’s current system for responding to oil spills was largely shaped by the reaction to the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill off Alaska. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 set up new procedures for offshore cleanups, one significant change being that the federal government, led by the U.S. Coast Guard, was put in charge of such activities. The Deepwater Horizon spill is the first major test of these procedures. While it is far too early to draw firm conclusions about the government’s performance, tough questions need to be asked in the months ahead about whether the response was as timely and effective as it should have been.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/19/2010
Despite its current troubles, Mexico, with its proximity to the world’s greatest democracy and most dynamic market, still has an unparalleled opportunity to, in cooperation with the U.S., harness the energy and creativity of its 110 million citizens and fuel mutually beneficial economic growth. Therefore, a primary objective of the Calderón visit should be keeping both parties focused on ways to develop a responsible cross-border relationship.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Charles Stimson, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/19/2010
As the Senate considers President Obama’s appointment of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, it should reflect on the Court’s increasing role in shaping national security. Specifically, Senators should consider President Obama’s authority as commander-in-chief to use military commissions, Predator drone strikes, prolonged detention, and other robust yet necessary wartime counterterrorism policies he has continued from the Bush Administration. Assuming that Senators want to reserve to the office of the President those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution, preserve those specific policy tools to assist the United States’ war against al-Qaeda, and deny foreign terrorists held in Afghanistan access to U.S. federal courts, they should question Kagan to ascertain whether her jurisprudence—at least as it applies to terrorism cases—will mirror Justice John Paul Stevens’s brand of judicial activism. Given that President Obama has stated that he plans to replace Justice Stevens with a person of “similar qualities,” such an inquiry is not only reasonable but absolutely essential.
State Private-Market Health Insurance Reform: Lessons on Health Insurance Exchanges, Progress, and Next StepsBy Orrin G. Hatch, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 05/19/2010
Perhaps the most powerful obstacle to state-based health care innovation is a federal government seeking to impose a single national system through regulations and mandates. There is an enormous reservoir of expertise, experience, and field-tested reform among the states, and we should take advantage of that by placing states at the center of health care reform efforts so that they can use approaches that best reflect their own needs and challenges. America’s Founders created a system in which the federal government may exercise only delegated powers that James Madison described as “few and defined.” The rest belong to the states or to the people. Not only does federalism protect liberty by limiting government, but it allows states to try different things, to test different solutions, to use different approaches.