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Recent Policy Studies
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Karl Crow, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 06/03/2010
Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. FEC on January 21, 2010 a robust debate has pitted defenders of free speech against their primarily left-wing opponents. The debate has been rife with deliberate mischaracterizations and apocalyptic predictions. While the actual holding simply upheld constitutional protections for political speech, there are sure to be many unanticipated and complex short-term consequences for American politics.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy F. Vincent Vernuccio, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 06/03/2010
Al Gore’s crusade for carbon emission controls is poised to enrich those with a vested interest in government regulation. It has likely made the former vice president the world’s first “carbon billionaire.” Gore and his investor pals have set up networks of private firms and nonprofits that stand to benefit from government controls despite a major international science scandal that calls into doubt the received wisdom on man-made global warming.
LaborBy Robert VerBruggen, Capital Research CenterLabor Watch, 06/03/2010
Corruption is usually the main topic of news stories about American labor unions. Why? One problem is structural. Labor law gives unions monopoly power. Collective bargaining gives unions a way to tap into employers’ and workers’ pockets. And a compliant U.S. Department of Labor looks the other way. National Review Associate editor Robert VerBruggen looks to labor law in other countries for possible ways to cut down on union corruption in the future.
ImmigrationBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
The United States was established on principles that support the welcoming of new residents to its shores to learn and embrace American civic culture and political institutions through the processes of immigration and naturalization. Over the past several decades, however, immigration policy has become skewed, falsely presented as an uncompromising decision between unfettered immigration and none at all. Recently, the Obama Administration has begun to call for granting amnesty to the some 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. as part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Heritage Foundation instead proposes a phased approach to immigration reform centered on border security, interior enforcement, and legal immigration processes. This paper offers a comprehensive review of The Heritage Foundation’s most recent work on the border security component of immigration reform.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Randal O’Toole, Beacon Center of TennesseePolicy Report, 06/03/2010
Public transit is frequently depicted as both a more environmentally friendly and cheaper alternative to our everyday reliance on the automobile. Almost every major city n the United States, including those in Tennessee, has launched its own public transit system – complete with buses, trains, trolleys, and more. However, these large transportation networks rarely stay out of the red and end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars every year. In Tennessee alone, the gap between transit expenditures and revenue collecterd from riders totaled $112 million 2008. Mass transit also fails to live up to its promise of being a greener alternative. Tennessee buses emit almost 50 percent more CO2 per passenger mile than the average car.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Bill Peacock, Ryan Brannan, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 06/03/2010
In seeking the best outcome for all consumers, the Public Utility Commission of Texas should not adopt a rule that would require (or forbid) a retail electric provider to extend a deferred payment plan to any consumer. This is especially true with the current proposal that shift s the basis for the payment plans from public health to income assistance. To the extent there is a need to help low-income consumers with their electric bills, there are more effective means of accomplishing this policy goal.
Economic GrowthBy Nick Gillespie, Reason FoundationReason, 06/03/2010
To confront the public policy options for America’s decaying cities, reason, reason.tv, and the Reason Foundation teamed up with Price Is Right host Drew Carey—one of Cleveland’s most famous native sons and tireless boosters—and worked on ways to get the city out of the doldrums. The result was a series of videos, policy papers, and articles, all viewable at reason.tv/cleveland, urging Clevelanders to take a hatchet to their regulations, privatize government functions, abandon corporate welfare projects, and bring consumer choice to the schools to win back businesses and residents. The series made the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer twice, and the City Council has invited Carey to come make a presentation in person. If nothing else, we have started a conversation about some of urban America’s most intractable problems. This article provides condensed descriptions of Reason Saves Cleveland segments and corresponding Reason Foundation policy briefs.
Budget & TaxationBy Peter Suderman, Reason FoundationReason, 06/03/2010
According to the CBO, if you scrap a few of the bill’s more fanciful assumptions—cuts to Medicare payments, a slowing of the growth of insurance subsidies, implementation of the tax on “Cadillac” insurance plans (which union lobbyists already have managed to delay by five years)—the deficit will grow “in a broad range around one-quarter percent of GDP,” or about $600 billion, in the second decade.
Budget & TaxationBy Adam B. Summers, Reason FoundationPolicy Study, 06/03/2010
The defined-benefit structure of the vast majority of government worker retirement plans forces governments (that is, taxpayers) to pay more during recessions to make up for shortfalls in pension fund investments. Not only is the defined-benefit pension system unsustainable, it is unfair to taxpayers in the private sector, who are forced to pay more to recession-proof government workers’ pensions even as they are struggling to save for their own retiree health care costs and seeing their own retirement benefits reduced during rough economic times.
Budget & TaxationBy William Ahern, Tax FoundationSpecial Report, 06/03/2010
The scheduled but nevertheless unexpected repeal of the federal estate tax in 2010 and the prospect of its reinstatement in 2011 bring debate over the estate tax, or “death tax,” to the fore again. Some of the arguments are new: Would it be constitutional for Congress to reinstate the estate tax retroactively for 2010? But some of the arguments are a century old or more: Does the estate tax accomplish any worthwhile social purpose? Is it a good way to raise revenue? Here we condense and update some earlier Tax Foundation studies on this age-old topic, with specific reference to the recent, surprising death and potential new life for the estate tax.
Budget & TaxationBy Scott A. Hodge, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 06/03/2010
Recently released IRS data for 2008 shows how progressive the U.S. income tax system has become. Taxpayers earning under $50,000 collectively earned 22 percent of the total adjusted gross income (AGI), but paid just 8 percent of all income taxes at an effective tax rate of 5 percent. Meanwhile, taxpayers earning over $200,000 collectively earned 29 percent of total AGI but paid more than half of all income taxes at an effective rate of 22 percent. While the national figures are quite progressive, the distribution of federal income taxes varies quite widely for each state. Some states have a fairly even distribution of federal income tax liability while other states have a far more progressive distribution than the national average.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Henchman, Kail Padgitt, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 06/03/2010
Rhode Island has shown its willingness to tackle its problematic tax system. Tax pundits were surprised when the state became a flat-tax pioneer, and the broad consensus for improvement means that this may be the Ocean State’s moment. Rhode Island can compete with its border states and beyond, and it has recently shown the political will to do so. As the economy improves, capital and investment will flow to those states best positioned for it. Rhode Island has a chance to welcome that opportunity, and frankly, the state has nowhere to go but up. The state should not get rid of the optional flat tax lightly but the proposal under discussion is an improvement, albeit a modest one. Tackling the state’s high corporate income tax rate, particularly as it eliminates credits and deductions used by many businesses, may be politically essential. But the plan echoes the advice of tax experts everywhere: broad bases and low rates.
Budget & TaxationBy Arushi Sharma, Joseph Henchman, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 06/03/2010
It is irrational to conclude that commercial property owners are the only beneficiaries of a public improvement erected in a defined public improvement district. If such a theory survived constitutional scrutiny, legislative classifications could routinely overburden select groups of private property to finance benefits enjoyed by the broader public. Such classifications could then be prone to a federal takings challenge because as a classification becomes increasingly specific to a certain type of property, a tax based on benefits conferred takes the nature of a special assessment. The General Assembly’s chosen route to raise revenues for the Metrorail construction may be administratively and politically convenient, but it creates exactly the type of discriminatory tax classification that the Virginia Constitution prevents. The General Assembly should not have the power to burden specific types of private property for public benefit under the guise of district-wide taxes.
Health CareBy Biff Jones, Joe Barnett, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 06/03/2010
Proponents argue that the CLASS program will save Medicaid funds because care in the home is often less expensive than institutional care. Over the first 10 years, however, the CBO projects that Medicaid will save less than $2 billion. As the CLASS program begins to add to the deficit, there will likely be calls to expand the pool of participants to include healthier populations that are less likely to use the benefits. However, the only way to get healthy people to participate in a program that overcharges them to subsidize the less healthy is to make the program mandatory.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Jerry Ellig, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 06/03/2010
This paper summarizes lessons learned from a ten-year research project that evaluated the quality of annual performance reports produced under the Government Performance and Results Act by the 24 U.S. federal agencies that account for more than 95 percent of all federal spending. GPRA has significantly improved the quality of performance information. A focused strategic plan with outcome-oriented goals and measures is one necessary condition for a high-quality GPRA performance report. GPRA has improved the availability and use of performance information in agencies. There is little evidence that GPRA has altered congressional budget decisions.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, David Bieler, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 06/03/2010
President Obama recently described PAYGO as a very simple restraint: “Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere.” This oversimplification ignores the very limited scope of the rule. PAYGO is full of exceptions: It only applies to new or expanded entitlement programs that may increase the deficit. It does not apply to existing programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Nor does it apply to discretionary spending, which represents roughly 40 percent of the budget. Furthermore, by focusing on deficits rather than spending, PAYGO does not prevent simultaneous increases in spending and taxation that would hinder economic growth. Finally, PAYGO has traditionally suffered from political manipulation that undermined its effectiveness. Achieving long-term fiscal stability will require a much broader approach to reform and a far more serious commitment from policy makers.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Thomas Stratmann, Gabriel Okolski, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 06/03/2010
One rationale for government spending is the provision of public goods and services, mitigating externalities, and correcting other market failures. But government spending is often driven by other factors, such as interest group pressure, voters’ desires for income redistribution, and bureaucratic budget padding. This paper starts by outlining theories and research explaining government spending and government growth. We then examine two factors that may influence government spending: voter turnout and political contributions. While these factors may indicate the level of citizen information and participation in the political process, they may also represent citizens’ rent-seeking efforts to have government expenditures funneled to them. Analyzing data from the U.S. states between 1980 and 2008, we find that voter turnout and political contributions are positively correlated with government spending. This suggests that government size is driven by more than the desire to provide public goods and services and to correct for market failures.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Stefanie Haeffele-Balch, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 06/03/2010
In May 2009, the federal government forced South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to take his state’s share of federal stimulus funds and spend the money on new programs rather than on paying down debt. Many free-market advocates claimed this alarming move threatened the fiscal federalism, but fiscal federalism has been threatened for decades. The growth of the federal government and its ever-increasing number of grants and subsidies to state governments have eroded fiscal federalism and competition among states substantially.
National SecurityBy Stewart A. Baker, Hoover InstitutionBook, 06/03/2010
Stewart A. Baker examines the technologies we love—jet travel, computer networks, and biotech—and finds that they are likely to empower new forms of terrorism unless we change our current course a few degrees and overcome resistance to change from business, foreign governments, and privacy advocates. He draws on his Homeland Security experience to show how that was done in the case of jet travel and border security but concludes that heading off disasters in computer networks and biotech will require a hardheaded recognition that privacy must sometimes yield to security, especially as technology changes the risks to both.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Henry I. Miller, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 06/03/2010
At a time when drug development should have been spurred by huge increases in R&D expenditures—which increased by more than 50 percent between just 2004 and 2008 (to $65.2 billion)—and by the exploitation of powerful new technologies, drug approvals by the FDA have been disappointing. The 18 new medicines approved in 2007 represent the lowest figure in a quarter century, and the 2008 and 2009 tallies of 24 and 25, respectively, represent scant improvement. Current trends in regulatory policies and requirements will cause further deterioration in drug R&D and approvals. The imposition of additional regulatory requirements and changes in policy by both the legislative and executive branches of the government will only further increase the time and costs of drug development, diminish competition, and make fewer new products available.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Mark Blitz, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 06/03/2010
One general way to secure liberty’s conditions without subverting liberty itself is to look for mechanisms of policy that use the very characteristics whose enhancement is their goal. This is why, as we have said, conservatism favors private choice and action even when effecting a government purpose. This standpoint, however, hardly solves all tensions among these goals or in government’s service to them. Politics is necessarily imperfect. It belongs to conservatism to acknowledge the merits of the moderation that stems from a recognition of imperfection. A fair look at American conservatism also shows, however, that it wishes above all to conserve our equal freedom. This radical standpoint, when properly considered, belies the view that conservatism is selfish, irrational, and a friend of privilege. On the contrary, it is based on a liberty that each can acknowledge and understand.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Ronald W. Dworkin, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 06/03/2010
We’ve experienced a more than 100-fold increase in the number of professional caregivers over the last 60 years, although the general population has only doubled. What accounts for this great change? True, professional caregivers aggressively promote themselves, but that fails to explain why their services are in such high demand. The answer lies in the people themselves—in the general culture. The American people want professional caregivers. And yet the conventional cultural explanation for their desire is equally flawed. Many conservatives view psychotherapy with suspicion; they think it encourages self-absorption, which leads to more emotional trouble that can only be treated with more therapy. Yet this narrative is only half true.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ying Ma, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 06/03/2010
China’s views and actions on climate change reflect its domestic circumstances and national interests. They encompass the priorities of a country that refuses to bind its growth to international quotas and the ambitions of an authoritarian regime resolved to grab market leadership in a hot new industry. As a result, China’s participation in international climate change politics has earned it much reproach, whereas its domestic push for a green economy has engendered endless praise. In the climate change debate that incessantly calls for bold, swift, and collective action but features nasty food fights at international forums like the Copenhagen summit and embarrassing scandals like those involving the scientists who compiled the IPCC’s latest report, China’s action and inaction on climate change offer the world not so much bad behavior to condemn or authoritarian chic to ogle, but one more reason to keep an open mind.
Economic GrowthBy Julie R. Grier, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 06/03/2010
It is critical that the people now working in and with Haiti recognize that their actions and decisions can have consequences that shape an entire society, for better or worse. Plans need to be actionable, sustainable, and sensible. Most importantly, they need to actually happen, rather than remaining in the realm of talking points. By incorporating Haitians into this process, through employment and education in particular, it is possible to rekindle the amazing Haitian spirit into the burning fire it once was, to show them that better is possible, to help them become truly resilient and not just survivors of yet another tragedy.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Lee Harris, Hoover InstitutionPolicy Review, 06/03/2010
The lesson of history is stark and simple. People who are easy to govern lose their freedom. People who are difficult to govern retain theirs. What makes the difference is not an ideology, but an attitude. Those people who embody the “Don’t tread on me!” attitude have kept their liberties simply because they are prepared to stand up against those who threaten to tread on them. To the pragmatist, it makes little difference what ideas free people use to justify and rationalize their rebellious attitude. The most important thing is simply to preserve this attitude among a sufficiently large number of people to make it a genuine deterrent against the power hungry. If the Tea Party can succeed in this all-important mission, then the pragmatist can forgive the movement for a host of silly ideas and absurd policy suggestions, because he knows what is really at stake. Once the “Don’t tread on me!” attitude has vanished from a people, it never returns. It is lost and gone forever—along with the liberty and freedom for which, ultimately, it is the only effective defense.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Paul Driessen, American Legislative Exchange CouncilThe State Factor, 06/03/2010
Laws and policies that restrict access to America’s abundant energy resources drive up the price of energy and consumer goods,” Congress of Racial Equality chairman Roy Innis points out. “They cause layoffs and leave workers and families struggling to survive. They roll back the progress for which civil rights revolutionaries like Dr. Martin Luther King struggled and died.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Lawrence J. McQuillan, Hovannes Abramyan, Pacific Research InstituteReport, 06/03/2010
The U.S. Tort Liability Index: 2010 Report measures which states impose the highest, and the lowest, tort liability costs both in absolute and in relative terms. The study also measures relative tort litigation risks across states. Finally, it examines which states have rules on the books that, if implemented and enforced, help reduce lawsuit abuse and tort costs, resulting in a more balanced, predictable, and affordable civil-justice system.
EducationBy Thomas Dee, Brian Jacob, Education NextEducation Next, 06/03/2010
So how has NCLB accountability affected student achievement? Our results suggest that its consequences have been mixed. Specifically, we find that the accountability provisions of NCLB generated large and broad gains in the math achievement of 4th graders and somewhat smaller gains for 8th graders. Our results suggest that NCLB accountability had no impact on reading achievement for either group.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Marc Gustafson, Cato InstituteForeign Policy Briefing, 06/03/2010
The war in Darfur has become one of the most misunderstood conflicts in recent history. Analysts and activists have oversimplified the causes of the war, slighting its historical and systemic causes. For years, public commentators ignored important changes in the scale and nature of the violence in Darfur, causing important misperceptions among the public and in the policy community.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy John E. Calfee, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 06/03/2010
The President has endorsed Attorney General Eric Holder’s already high-profile criminal investigation into the behavior of BP in the run-up to the drilling platform explosion and the consequent massive leak from 5,000 feet below. It is hard to imagine a more counterproductive strategy. In two other areas where human error can have disastrous consequences—medical practice and airline operations—it has become clear that in the essential task of finding out what happened and how to prevent it, a crucial tool is the absence of an immediate criminal or civil penalties investigation.
Budget & TaxationBy Kevin A. Hassett, Alan D. Viard, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 06/03/2010
Economic theory provides strong support for the view that consumption, rather than income, is the best tax base. Under a consumption tax, all investment income would face a zero effective tax rate on the margin. By increasing overall taxes on investment income, the tax bill recently passed by the House of Representatives moves the tax system further away from the consumption-tax ideal. Of course, given that the United States has an income tax rather than a consumption tax, there is a legitimate interest in adopting income tax rules that allocate capital efficiently. In some cases, tax changes that raise the overall tax burden on investment and thereby tend to shrink the capital stock can be justified if they promote a more efficient allocation of the (smaller) capital stock. But such changes should be accepted only when there is a compelling case that they will produce a significantly more efficient allocation. That case has not been made for the provision to tax carried interest.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Mark Milke, American Enterprise InstituteRegulation Outlook, 06/03/2010
As Americans head into the summer travel season, there is a lesson they could learn from the European Union (EU): how to make airfare cheaper. The EU instituted an “open-skies” policy in 1997, resulting in more routes, more airline competitors, and lower fares. The European market is distinct from the airline market in North America, where both U.S. and Canadian regulations prohibit foreign-owned airlines from offering domestic flights—that is, from picking up and dropping off a passenger in-country—within the United States or Canada. North American policymakers would do well to follow Europe’s example and establish open-skies agreements.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 06/03/2010
While it is indeed true that no man—or nation—is an island, especially not in a world of highly integrated financial markets, it is important to be clear that the southern European crisis was not inevitable. It sprang mainly from the failure to implement the fiscal discipline required of nations that participate in a single currency area, especially nations with widely divergent rates of productivity growth and limited labor mobility among them. The crisis makes clear that countries that cannot demonstrate a credible return to fiscal discipline should not be part of the EMU, since a lack of fiscal discipline in some countries compromises the credibility of the euro as a viable store of value.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Arthur C. Brooks, Basic BooksBook, 06/03/2010
America faces a new culture war. It is not a war about guns, abortions, or gays—rather it is a war against the creeping changes to our entrepreneurial culture, the true bedrock of who we are as a people. The new culture war is a battle between free enterprise and social democracy. Many Americans have forgotten the evils of socialism and the predations of the American Great Society’s welfare state programs. But, as American Enterprise Institute’s president Arthur C. Brooks reveals in The Battle, the forces for social democracy have returned with a vengeance, expanding the power of the state to a breathtaking degree. The Battle offers a plan of action for the defense of free enterprise; it is at once a call to arms and a crucial redefinition of the political and moral gulf that divides Right and Left in America today.
Economic GrowthBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
While India’s economic success is taken for granted by some, per capita income and other measures show the development road remains a long one. It is also treacherous: A strategy that appears to work for the moment but is not sensible for the long term could stall progress for a decade. To navigate this road, India should embrace market liberalization tailored to its strengths as well as its sharpest challenges. In particular, clarification and formalization of rural property rights should have the highest priority. Simultaneously, the industrial labor market should be liberalized. As a complementary action, trade should also be liberalized to capture gains from what will be increasingly competitive manufacturing.
EducationBy David Muhlhausen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
Even if some eligible children are being denied access to Head Start, the best available scientific evidence suggests that they are very likely to be no worse off than if they had attended the program. And they may eventually possess better kindergarten math skills than those children participating in Head Start. While Congress is correct to be concerned about cases of fraud committed by Head Start grantees, Congress should not mislead the public about the effectiveness of Head Start.
National SecurityBy Bruce Klingner, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
Mending the U.S.–Japan alliance will not be easy. The DPJ’s coalition partners, as well as factions within the DPJ itself, will feel betrayed by Hatoyama’s Futenma decision. The DPJ has not yet articulated its security and foreign policies, nor has it defined its vision for Japan’s global security role. Despite clamoring for an “equal alliance” with the U.S., the DPJ has failed to define its terms or display a willingness to assume greater responsibilities commensurate with such a role. The U.S.–Japan alliance remains critical to maintaining peace and stability in Asia as well as guaranteeing shared values of freedom and democracy. It is essential that the two administrations step up public diplomacy efforts to better explain the benefits of the alliance as well as the necessity of forward-deployed U.S. military forces.
National SecurityBy Jim Talent, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
Those who have not done so recently would benefit from studying what the United States Constitution says about the federal government’s responsibility to provide for the common defense. Most Americans had to memorize the preamble to the Constitution when they were children, so they are aware that one of the purposes of the document was to “provide for the common defense.” But they are not aware of the extent to which the document shows the Founders’ concern for national security.
Health CareBy James C. Capretta, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
The President and congressional leaders have argued that a primary benefit from the health law will be reduced long-term budget pressure and thus a brighter future for coming generations of taxpayers. But when the cost estimate is adjusted for omissions, gimmicks, double-counting, and unrealistic assumptions, it is clear that the new health law will increase the burden, not lessen it.
Budget & TaxationBy Brian Riedl, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 06/03/2010
The 2010 edition of “Federal Spending by the Numbers” shows spending and deficits continuing to grow at a pace not seen since World War II. Washington will spend $30,543 per household in 2010—$5,000 per household more than just two years ago. While some of this spending is a temporary result of the recession, President Obama’s latest budget would replace this temporary spending with permanent new programs. Consequently, by 2020—a time of assumed peace and prosperity—Washington would still spend nearly $36,000 per household, compared to $25,000 per household before this recession (adjusted for inflation).
National SecurityBy Peter Brookes, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
While Americans focus on the significant challenges at home, they must also not forget the growing national security challenges that our nation faces abroad. The world remains a dangerous place, populated with states and groups that hold—or could hold—America and its interests around the world at risk.
National SecurityBy Bruce Klingner, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
As soon as possible, the new Japanese government should indicate its intention to abide by the Guam Agreement. It should honor the commitment Japan made in 2006 and that Prime Minister Hatoyama himself ultimately endorsed. Hatoyama may have ultimately sacrificed his government for the U.S.–Japan alliance; he also vastly complicated what should have been a much easier repositioning of U.S. forces on Okinawa. At this point, public opinion polls show strong Japanese support for the alliance with the U.S. but also strong disapproval of Hatoyama’s decision to renege on his campaign promise to evict a U.S. Marine Corps unit from Okinawa.
Budget & TaxationBy James C. Capretta, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
President Obama is of course trying to lock in his health care ambitions even as he is also trying to maneuver his political opponents into cooperation on a budget plan that incorporates the massive new health spending obligations he favors and pushed through Congress. Republicans should insist on an entirely different sequencing. To get agreement on a bipartisan budget plan, health care has to be bipartisan, too. That means starting over on health care, repealing what has been passed, and building a bipartisan health care reform program into a larger budget plan that does not add to the deficit. In other words, the President cannot expect to get broad bipartisan support in Congress for a budget that locks in place the just-completed and highly partisan health care plan, which would remake one-sixth of the economy. It just does not work that way.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 06/03/2010
The U.N. Human Rights Council’s record over its first four years is gravely disappointing. Contrary to claims made by the Obama Administration, U.S. membership on the council has not appreciably improved its performance. However, the council can now claim added legitimacy for its decisions and resolutions because of U.S. support and membership. The council’s performance is unlikely to improve without drastic reforms to improve its membership, such as barring states with grave human rights violations from membership and requiring competitive elections. If membership reform efforts fall short, the Obama Administration should explore creating an alternative human rights organization composed of governments that respect and observe human rights.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 06/03/2010
The NPT can and should remain a vital tool for protecting the U.S. and its allies against the spread of nuclear weapons. Indeed, a proliferated world would be a much more dangerous world for the U.S. and its allies. This is why it is so discouraging to see the results of this review conference. The Final Document is a clear attempt to twist the meaning of the treaty so that it is easier to turn it against the U.S. and its security interests. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has acquiesced to these attempts at the review conference. The next review conference will not take place until five years from now, but it is already clear that a successful outcome then will depend on undoing the damage that was done at this conference
Health CareBy Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Cameron Smith, American Action ForumStudies, 06/02/2010
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAC) will have profound implications for U.S. labor markets. The PPAC is fiscally dangerous, raising the risk of higher labor (and other) taxes at a time when the job market is struggling. It provides strong incentives for employers – with the agreement of their employees – to drop employer-sponsored health insurance for as many as 35 million Americans, perhaps leading to widespread turmoil in labor compensation and employee insurance coverage – and raising the gross taxpayer cost of the subsidies to roughly $1.4 trillion in the first 10 years. Finally, the bill exacerbates the already-high effective marginal tax rates on low-income workers. Every worker forced onto the subsidized exchanges will face higher barriers to upward mobility and the pursuit of the American Dream.