- Budget & Taxation
- Crime, Justice & the Law
- The Constitution
- Economic & Political Thought
- Economic Growth
- Elections, Transparency, & Accountability
- Family, Culture & Community
- Foreign Policy/ International Affairs
- Health Care
- Information Technology
- International Trade & Finance
- Monetary Policy/ Financial Regulation
- National Security
- Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
- Regulation & Deregulation
- Retirement/ Social Security
- Transportation & Infrastructure
- Acton Institute
- Adam Smith Institute
- Alabama Policy Institute
- Allegheny Institute
- Alliance for School Choice
- Alliance for Worker Freedom
- America’s Future Foundation
- American Council on Science and Health
- American Enterprise Institute
- American Institute for Full Employment
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Americans for Tax Reform
- Arkansas Policy Foundation
- Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation
- Atlas Society
- Beacon Center of Tennessee
- Beacon Hill Institute
- Becket Fund
- Bluegrass Institute
- Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
- Business & Media Institute
- Calvert Institute
- Cascade Policy Institute
- Cato Institute
- Center for Consumer Freedom
- Center for College Affordability and Productivity
- Center for Equal Opportunity
- Center for Health Transformation
- Center for Immigration Studies
- Center for International Private Enterprise
- Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Center of the American Experiment
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
- Citizens Against Government Waste
- Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy
- Club For Growth
- Commonwealth Foundation
- Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Council for Affordable Health Insurance
- Empire Center for New York State Policy
- Ethan Allen Institute
- Evergreen Freedom Foundation
- Federalist Society
- Foreign Policy Research Institute
- Fraser Institute
- Foundation for Defense of Democracies
- Foundation for Educational Choice
- Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability
- Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment
- Free Congress Foundation
- Free State Foundation
- Galen Institute
- Georgia Public Policy Foundation
- Goldwater Institute
- Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
- Great Plains Public Policy Institute
- Heartland Institute
- The Heritage Foundation
- Heritage Libertad
- Hoover Institution
- Hudson Institute
- Illinois Policy Institute
- IMANI Center for Policy & Education
- Independence Institute
- Independent Institute
- Institute for Health Freedom
- Institute for Energy Research
- Institute for Humane Studies
- Institute for Justice
- Institute for Market Economics
- Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
- Institute for Policy Innovation
- Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
- Institute of Economic Affairs
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute
- International Policy Network
- International Republican Institute
- James Madison Institute
- John Jay Institute for Faith, Society & Law
- John Locke Foundation
- Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy
- Kansas Policy Institute
- Landmark Legal Foundation
- Leadership Institute
- Lexington Institute
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- Maine Heritage Policy Center
- Manhattan Institute
- Maryland Public Policy Institute
- Mercatus Center
- Mississippi Center for Public Policy
- National Center for Policy Analysis
- National Center for Public Policy Research
- National Taxpayers Union
- Nevada Policy Research Institute
- North Dakota Policy Council
- Ocean State Policy Research Institute
- Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
- Pacific Research Institute
- Palmetto Family Council
- PERC - The Property and Environment Research Center
- Philanthropy Roundtable
- Phoenix Center
- Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
- Progress & Freedom Foundation
- Property Rights Alliance
- Public Interest Institute
- Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia
- Reason Foundation
- Rio Grande Foundation
- Sam Adams Alliance
- Science and Public Policy Institute
- Show-Me Institute
- South Carolina Policy Council
- State Policy Network
- Sutherland Institute
- The Tax Foundation
- Texas Public Policy Foundation
- Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
- Thomas Jefferson Institute
- Virginia Institute for Public Policy
- Washington Legal Foundation
- Washington Policy Center
- Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
- Yankee Institute for Public Policy
- Young America’s Foundation
Recent Policy Studies
Budget & TaxationBy Kenneth Gould, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 12/17/2010
Senator Sanders recently gave a speech in which he offered a quote by Theodore Roosevelt from Roosevelt’s New Nationalism speech, delivered in 1910: “Therefore, I believe in ... a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.” Senator Sanders was clear that if the estate tax provisions advocated by the president and the Republicans were passed, it would violate the spirit of Roosevelt’s principle. It is this principle which appears to generate the anger of Senator Sanders and the House Democrats. A review of the history of the estate tax, however, brings this view strongly into question. In fact, it appears that neither Theodore nor Franklin Roosevelt would have endorsed the Democrats’ preferred tax rate and top tax bracket choices.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jack Spencer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/17/2010
Senator Harry Reid’s (D–NV) re-election campaign against Sharron Angle provides a historic new opportunity to establish a new Yucca Mountain policy that benefits Nevadans and the U.S. Unfortunately, the omnibus spending bill currently under consideration would de-fund the program. While Reid’s staunch opposition to the project has brought it close to the point of termination, the end of Yucca would not benefit Nevada or the nation. Instead, Reid should use his victory to establish a new path forward. As Angle argued throughout her campaign, science and technology have advanced to the point where Yucca Mountain would not simply be a nuclear waste dump; instead, it could provide the underpinning for a commercial nuclear industrial complex.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Douglas W. Caves, Laurits R. Christensen, Joseph A. Swanson, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/16/2010
Thirty years ago, our paper entitled “The High Cost of Regulating U.S. Railroads” (Regulation, January/February 1981) appeared in this journal. At the time, the Staggers Act had just been signed into law. Our paper provided an analysis of the U.S. railroad industry’s performance for the generation immediately preceding the legislation. Since that time, the railroad industry has had a generation to respond to regulatory incentives under the Staggers Act.The regulatory framework appears to work without introducing strong distortions, inefficiencies, or moral hazards. The architects of transportation deregulation policies did a good job. The framework has been maintained and has delivered the intended consequences.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Calli Bailey, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 12/16/2010
Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” moved immigration law to the forefront of national debate. Soon after the bill passed in April, the U.S. government and civil liberties groups filed legal challenges focused mostly on federal preemption grounds. On July 28, Judge Susan Bolton ruled that federal law preempts parts of the Arizona law. But the struggle between federal control and state and local involvement in immigration enforcement is not the only legal issue surrounding Arizona’s renewed effort to crack down on illegal immigration within its borders. One overlooked issue, which only the American Civil Liberties Union raised in court and which the District Court referenced only briefly, is the law’s First Amendment implications.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Neil F. O’Flaherty, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 12/16/2010
One of the two primary ways that medical devices are authorized for commercial marketing in the United States is through the review mechanism known as the premarket notification 510(k) process. Under this review process, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will clear a medical device for commercial marketing if the agency determines that the device is “substantially equivalent” to an already legally marketable predicate device that meets certain criteria. FDA faces many challenges in identifying and implementing desirable changes to its 510(k) review program. In its desire to make such changes, many of which will be beneficial to the medical device industry, the agency must be careful to avoid creating undue burden upon an already highly regulated business sector.
Crime, Justice & the Law
Emerging Risks for U.S. High Tech: How Foreign “Public Interest” Regulation Threatens Property Rights & InnovationBy Lawrence A. Kogan, Washington Legal FoundationWorking Paper, 12/16/2010
In cases where governments indirectly facilitate development, promotion, enactment, adoption, implementation and/or enforcement of government policy preferences and/or prescriptions by private standards bodies or consortia, GATT/WTO case law holds that there may exist enough of an imprimatur of government involvement in a given case to hold the government culpable under WTO law. Thus, the relevant inquiry in each case should be whether foreign high technology competitors employing a product-based business model dependent on patent protection have been directly or indirectly disadvantaged economically as the result of a preference for a business model based on royalty-free and/or proprietary free services.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Adam H. Charnes, Chad D. Hansen, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 12/16/2010
While the parameters of false patent marking claims brought under Section 292 have recently been clarified, the constitutionality of Section 292(b) under Article II of the Constitution remains unresolved. To date, district court judges in two cases—Harrington v. Ciba Vision (W.D.N.C. 2009) and Pequignot v. Solo Cup (E.D.Va. 2009)—have upheld the constitutionality of Section 292(b) on incomplete records, but neither decision was appealed. Several other courts faced with the issue have disposed of the underlying cases without reaching the constitutional issues. Nevertheless, it is only a matter of time before the constitutionality of Section 292(b) reaches the Federal Circuit—and ultimately the Supreme Court.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Dean Cheng , Derek Scissors, Walter Lohman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/16/2010
As a new Congress prepares to convene, it is important to understand that while a rising China is a potentially dangerous challenge, it is not today an adversary. China is too integrated into the global economic and diplomatic networks to be treated as such. At the same time, the U.S. should position itself to guard against the growing list of Chinese challenges to American interests and prepare itself for the possibility that China will become much more openly and consistently hostile to those interests. In this light, there are five key areas that Congress should put on its agenda.
LaborBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/16/2010
The Obama Administration recently rolled back union financial transparency reforms. New regulations will exempt many union trust funds, such as strike funds and apprenticeship programs, from financial disclosure laws. These regulations also end financial reporting for many government unions. Congress already has the tools to prevent these reforms from being rolled back: The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn newly issued federal regulations. Congress has only until early April to invoke this authority. Congress should force the President to publicly choose between union members and self-interested union leaders. Rank-and-file union members deserve to know where the President stands.
EducationBy Mark Schneider, Kevin Carey, Palgrave MacmillanBook, 12/16/2010
In Accountability in American Higher Education prominent academics, entrepreneurs, and journalists assess the obstacles to, and potential opportunities for, accountability in higher education in America. Key issues include new measures of college student learning, power education data systems, implications for faculty tenure, accreditation, for-profit higher education, community colleges, and the political dynamics of reform. This volume provides insightful analysis that legislators, administrators, and consumers can use to engage institutions of higher education in the difficult but necessary conversation of accountability.
EducationBy Mark Schneider, American Enterprise InstituteEducation Outlook, 12/16/2010
D.C. offers considerable school choice, but without many options. As a result, parents are forced to bet on their child’s education in lotteries and untested schools. As witnessed in the popular movie Waiting for Superman and studies in other cities such as Denver, St. Louis, and Milwaukee, this is a problem found across the country. For school choice to work as it should, the United States needs to radically expand its supply of high-quality schools. The federal government has the opportunity to help states do this when it reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
EducationBy Gabriel H. Sahlgren, Institute of Economic AffairsDiscussion Paper, 12/16/2010
This paper suggests that, although not a panacea, school competition in Sweden improved educational achievement and conditions for teachers. In addition, independent schools enjoy higher levels of parental satisfaction. Using data from the Swedish National Agency for Education and Statistics Sweden, it provides quantitative evidence indicating that the overall effects of for-profit and non-profit schools are comparable. Furthermore, for-profit schools benefit students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and the effect is the strongest for students from families with low levels of education.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Jerry Ellig, John Morrall, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 12/16/2010
Congress and the executive branch have attempted to improve the quality of regulatory decisions by adopting laws and executive orders that require agencies to analyze benefits and costs of their decision options. This paper assesses the quality and use of regulatory analysis accompanying every economically significant regulation proposed by executive-branch regulatory agencies in2008 and 2009. It considers all analysis relevant to the topics covered by Executive Order 12866 that appears in the Regulatory Impact Analysis document or elsewhere in the Federal Register notice that proposes the rule.
Budget & TaxationBy Tim Kane, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 12/16/2010
Some have said uncertainty haunts the U.S. recovery, particularly the uncertainty about whether Congress will extend the temporary income tax cuts from 2001 and 2003. Critics will claim that a flexible tax rate will cause constant uncertainty, making it difficult for employers and employees to plan. Such critics confuse cyclical variation with real uncertainty. Do the four seasons hinder farmers from harvesting wisely? Cyclical variations in tax rates would, in fact, cushion concerns about profitability during downturns. More importantly, employers would know—reliably, if not predictably—that relief from taxes would come immediately during a recession.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Bill Thomas, American Enterprise InstitutePapers and Studies, 12/15/2010
On May 20, 2009, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, was enacted into law, creating the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. According to the Act, the FCIC was established to “examine the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” The law requires that today, December 15, 2010, the FCIC submit “to the President and to the Congress a report containing the findings and conclusions of the Commission on the causes of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” This primer contains preliminary findings and conclusions released by Vice Chairman Bill Thomas, Commissioner Keith Hennessey, Commissioner Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and Commissioner Peter J. Wallison, and represents a portion of the findings and conclusions resulting from our work on the FCIC.
Health CareBy John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstituteHealth Policy Prescriptions, 12/15/2010
Medicare cuts, federal control of medical practice, reduced incentives to invest in medical innovation, and general economic sluggishness; such are the wages of Obamacare, which also conscripts the states to do much of its dirty work. It dramatically expands Medicaid, such that 16 million to 18 million Americans will become dependent on this welfare program. State Medicaid programs sentence low-income Americans to worse access to medical care than if they had private health insurance. Obamacare further encourages states to institute so-called “exchanges” that will limit residents’ choice of health insurance to policies determined by politicians and bureaucrats. These exchanges will be significantly more expensive than advertised by the Administration.
Budget & TaxationBy J. Scott Moody, Illinois Policy InstituteTax & Budget Brief, 12/15/2010
Illinois families are struggling. Businesses face uncertainty. The economy remains stuck in the doldrums. In the midst of this precarious situation, Governor Pat Quinn is pushing a state income tax increase that will result in a $1,353 personal income hit for each Illinois household or a loss of over 100,000 private sector jobs. This study shows that the total economic cost to the economy is 2.3 times larger than the tax increase itself. Clearly, the better option is to shelve tax increases and reduce government spending, which would, in turn, expand the private sector. The private sector could then get back to work increasing incomes and creating new jobs.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Michael Auslin, American Enterprise InstitutePapers and Studies, 12/15/2010
Ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific region will be the primary foreign policy challenge for the United States and liberal nations over the next generation. Doing so successfully will provide the greatest economic and political opportunities for the next quarter century. Conversely, a failure to maintain stability, support liberal regimes, create cooperative regional relations, and uphold norms and standards of international behavior will lead to a region, and world, of greater uncertainty, insecurity, and instability.
EducationBy Marcus Winters, Manhattan InstituteIssue Brief, 12/15/2010
New York City’s leading teachers’ union signaled last week that it won’t give up its fight to keep the city from closing bad schools. Last year, the United Federation of Teachers convinced a judge that the Department of Education had offered only a “pretense of compliance” with a state law governing school-closure. UFT president Michael Mulgrew has already warned that the union is prepared to sue again to prevent this year’s proposed closures. Every kid in New York deserves to attend an excellent school. The twenty-six schools designated by the city for closure will never meet that distinction. They should be closed, and replaced with new schools that are capable of keeping students safe and helping them learn.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis Dubay, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 12/15/2010
The federal tax code takes a heavy toll on the economy. Among its many problems, the U.S. tax code slows down economic growth because it makes American businesses uncompetitive in the global marketplace. It also destroys jobs by discouraging individuals from working and investing, and businesses and entrepreneurs from taking on new risks. The longer that Congress waits to address these and the host of other problems created by the tax code, the more American businesses will fall behind their competitors, and the more American jobs will be lost. With economic recovery slowing down and job creation stalled, businesses, workers, and families cannot wait any longer for Congress to act.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy H. Sterling Burnett, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 12/15/2010
The Obama administration recently appointed a negotiator to work with the United Nations on a treaty to regulate international trade in small arms. The ostensible goal is to staunch the flow of illegal weapons to drug cartels, terrorists and guerillas. If the United Na¬tions is put in charge of U.S. gun policy, American sovereignty will be reduced with no corresponding decrease in international violence. The biggest killers of people have been governments and their surrogate militias, not individual citizens. Indeed, before every attempted or successful genocide, those in power disarm the group targeted for extinction, aided by laws requiring firearm licensing and registration.
National SecurityBy Jena Baker McNeill, James Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/15/2010
Today, few individuals in government have all of the skills necessary to lead the national homeland security enterprise. In essence, Washington does not think very well. The Department of Homeland Security—as well as other federal actors who work on security matters—like other arms of government, use tired thought processes to analyze public policy choices that simply do not reflect the new threat realities—which will not help the U.S. outthink its enemies. Absent extensive professional development in the realm of homeland security, it has and will continue to have a profound impact on the ability of the United States to protect, prepare for, and respond to terrorist attacks and other disasters.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Wesley Dwyer, H. Sterling Burnett, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 12/15/2010
Critics argue that genetically modified plants violate the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has yet to allow commercial production. Genetically modified trees have many potential benefits. The federal government should not allow unsubstantiated fears to inhibit this potentially beneficial line of research, nor should it prohibit commercialization through excessive regulation in response to such fears, absent proof of likely harm.
Economic GrowthBy James Sherk , Karen Campbell, John Ligon, The Heritage FoundationCenter for Data Analysis Report, 12/15/2010
The Obama Administration’s $862 billion stimulus bill was an expensive failure that increased the federal deficit, contributed to America’s deteriorating fiscal health, and failed to reduce unemployment. Instead of repeating this mistake, Congress should alleviate business fears and economic uncertainty by maintaining the current tax policy (extending the 2001 and 2003 tax rates) and freezing costly new regulations. Then, Congress should rescind unspent stimulus funds, suspend federal regulations that unnecessarily suppress economic activity, conclude pending free trade agreements, and adopt other pro–free market steps.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Jack Goldstone, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 12/15/2010
Europeans had lost most of their core classical texts between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the reimportation and rediscovery of those texts in the 11th century. European intellectuals thus focused on studies of the Bible and patristic theology during this period. The history of the ‘great divergence,’ properly understood, is thus a history built on a great disengagement of the West from the dominance of its core classical traditions, and the birth of a new model of society. It was that new model, conjoining limited government and free inquiry, which had no counterpart outside of Europe, and propelled Europe forward relative to other major civilizations.
National SecurityBy Mackenzie Eaglen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/15/2010
The actions taken by the House of Representatives to freeze defense spending are irresponsible and should be rejected by the U.S. Senate. Congress should support a spending bill that properly resources those in uniform for FY 2011 that matches the minimum amount needed that was requested by the President. Congress should not have to be reminded that it is irresponsible to give yesterday’s equipment to tomorrow’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. The harm on defense priorities from the House CR would cut deep for not only 2011 but several years following. Congress should ensure it passes a responsible defense spending bill for FY 2011 that robustly meets the needs of those in uniform.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Marc D. Weidenmier, American Enterprise InstituteEnergy and Environment Outlook, 12/14/2010
This study has several implications for policymakers. First, it shows that analyses of oil price shocks on the entire U.S. economy suffer from aggregation bias. The impact of a large rise in oil prices on a U.S. state depends on the size of its energy sector. From a policy perspective, expanding oil exploration and drilling on public lands and offshore (in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans) is likely to create jobs and help offset the negative effects of oil price shocks.
Budget & TaxationBy Eileen Norcross, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 12/14/2010
To fix the systematic underestimation of pension liabilities, governments should legally require that actuarial firms hired to value state and local pension plans calculate the market value of liabilities based on the return on U.S. Treasury securities and use this to determine what the plan owes to retirees over the 30-year time horizon (which includes calculating what this requires annually in their CAFR reports). Only when states have an accurate accounting of what they owe their workers over a 30-year period can pension reforms be fully successful in stabilizing pension systems, government budgets, and protecting taxpayers.
National SecurityBy Christopher A. Ford, Hudson InstituteBriefing Paper, 12/14/2010
Our current Counter-Terrorism posture is thus to some extent cynical, opportunistic, and tendentious, amounting more to a perception management game than to a wholesale reorientation of national policy. At the same time, and in its own fashion, it is also to some degree ambitious and high-minded. Whatever the odd admixture of these elements, however, it is far from clear how well the Obama Administration’s changes – such as they are – will actually help fight terrorism. Yet as long as the administration can avoid political damage from any perceived “weakness” in the face of terrorism, operational effectiveness may be beside the point.
National SecurityBy Christopher Ford, Hudson InstituteBriefing Paper, 12/14/2010
Countervailing reconstitution – also known as “weaponless deterrence” or “virtual nuclear arsenals” – is a concept with roots going back to the beginning of the nuclear age, but which became a part of modern disarmament debates with Jonathan Schell’s book The Abolition in 1984. This paper explores a range of issues raised by countervailing reconstitution’s central insight of trying to find a way to take advantage of nuclear deterrent dynamics in order to help provide stability against “breakout” from a regime abolishing nuclear weapons.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy James R. Copland, Manhattan InstituteCivil Justice Report, 12/14/2010
By specifying which crimes were applicable to corporations per se, legislatures would ameliorate the antidemocratic defects of regulation by prosecution and better align federal and state law with international norms and those developed in the Model Penal Code. Limiting corporate crimes to major offenses committed by major agents of the corporation would help guard against prosecutorial abuse and return criminal law to its historical role of punishing deliberate acts by intentional actors deserving of moral opprobrium.
National SecurityBy Dean Cheng, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 12/14/2010
The People’s Republic of China is a major U.S. trading partner and a potential antagonist. Thus, the United States has good reason to exercise some control over U.S. exports, particularly of sensitive technologies. However, current U.S. export controls are often counterproductive, failing to deny opponents and potential opponents access to sensitive U.S. technologies, while inhibiting cooperation with U.S. allies and placing U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage in the world market.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Reason FoundationReason, 12/14/2010
When state and local governments want to spend more than they collect in revenues, they issue bonds. Such bonds are a longstanding feature of the American landscape, going back at least as far as 1812, but during the last decade they have spun out of control, as states and cities have increased their borrowing to indulge in more and more spending on new stadiums, schools, bridges, and museums. They have even started borrowing to cover their basic operational expenses.
Budget & TaxationBy Jason J. Fichtner, Katelyn Christ, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 12/14/2010
Kicking the tax reform can down the road introduces a new element into ongoing political discussions. At a time of growing concerns about issues including mounting federal deficits and entitlement reform, the consensus seems to be to extend the current tax code only until these problems can be fully addressed and then tackle tax reform. However, the environment of uncertainty that a temporary extension of the current tax rates imposes in the meantime will have disastrous consequences.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Bill Peacock, Ryan Brannan, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 12/13/2010
All property insurers in Texas must participate in Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and must help pay losses. Although TWIA was intended to provide windstorm insurance coverage only to those who could not purchase insurance in the voluntary market, it is no longer an insurer of last resort. Allowing insurers to calculate windstorm rates based on market conditions is an easy way to improve the health of Texas’ windstorm insurance market. TWIA’s rates will move closer to actuarial soundness and, as a result, the skyrocketing of TWIA’s exposure will be curbed. Ultimately, Texas’ taxpayers and TWIA policyholders stand to gain the most from this policy shift.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Helle Dale, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 12/13/2010
One of the mysteries surrounding U.S. international broadcasting is why more money spent each year is buying less and less airtime. Even as the budget for such operations continues to grow, U.S. broadcasting services are being cut back—and, no less, in parts of the world that are of immense strategic value to the U.S. The new Congress should ask questions about the long-term strategic goals of U.S. international broadcasting and how best to meet those objectives while adapting to a changing environment.
Budget & TaxationBy Stephen Bowen, Maine Heritage Policy CenterReport, 12/13/2010
Two years ago, the Maine Heritage Policy Center identified the 40 fastest-growing state programs funded by the state’s General Fund. That January 2009 report was developed in response to attempts by legislative budget writers to balance the state budget by making across-the-board cuts to all state programs and funds. The problem with that fair-sounding approach is that not all state programs are equally responsible for the state’s budget woes. Rather, a handful of programs are driving the bulk of state spending growth. A number of state programs, in fact, are actually spending less today than they were ten years ago. Simply put, some programs are more responsible for ongoing budget shortfalls than others.
Health CareBy Robert Moffit, James C. Capretta, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 12/13/2010
Medicare is an entitlement program intended to secure health care for senior and disabled citizens. But its current design, based on government central planning and price controls, falls far short of guaranteeing access to high-quality care for current and future retirees. A better Medicare program, with a range of personal choice and a system of governance broadly similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, will give Medicare patients control over the flow of dollars and freedom to make decisions about how they access medical services.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Steven Groves, Theodore Bromund, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 12/13/2010
By announcing a review of U.S. landmine policy, the Obama Administration has reopened the possibility that the U.S. could become a party to the fatally flawed Ottawa Convention, which bans the use of all anti-personnel landmines. Such a ban applied to the U.S. would seriously degrade the ability of the U.S. to defend itself and its allies, particularly in Korea. Furthermore, the very process by which the convention was created is objectionable because it undermines responsible diplomacy and the sovereignty of the United States and other nation-states.
LaborBy Alan Hyde, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/13/2010
Law students laugh when they first learn that the law will only enforce a covenant not to compete—that is, an employment agreement that the worker will not leave the firm and go to work for a competitor—if the covenant is judged “reasonable.” A vaguer legal standard is hard to imagine. The American Law Institute, currently preparing an authoritative restatement of employment law, makes things only a little clearer: An employer seeking to enforce a noncompete must demonstrate a”legitimate interest,” and simply not wanting competition is not a “legitimate interest.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Gresham’s Law of Green Energy: High-cost Subsidized Renewable Resources Destroy Jobs and Hurt ConsumersBy Jonathan A. Lesser, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/13/2010
While the U. S. economy continues to struggle, politicians, green energy advocates, and energy regulators have adopted a “green jobs” mantra. They espouse the view that policies mandating renewable resources will provide not only environmental benefits, but economic salvation as well. Industries that require never ending subsidies simply cannot increase overall economic welfare. To conclude otherwise is to believe in “free-lunch” economics of the worst kind. Yet, free lunch economics are driving the push for renewable energy.
Health CareBy David A. Hyman, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/13/2010
To summarize, money matters—meaning that if you get the incentives right, most of the big problems will take care of themselves, leaving a far smaller and more tractable set of problems to be addressed through regulation, litigation, and benign neglect. But if you do not get the incentives right, no amount of speeches, op-eds, law review articles, whining and hectoring, moral preening, regulatory oversight, legislation, lawsuits, or lectures about fairness and justice can take their place. Reformers should accordingly focus on getting the incentives right—and legislation that does not address the underlying incentive problem is not, in fact, “reform,” no matter what else it may accomplish.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Arthur C. Brooks, Peter Wehner, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 12/13/2010
The model of human nature one embraces will guide and shape everything else, from the economic system one prefers to the political system one supports. At the core of every social, political, and economic system is a picture of human nature (to paraphrase 20th-century columnist Walter Lippmann). The suppositions we begin with—the ways in which that picture is developed—determine the lives we lead, the institutions we build, and the civilizations we create. They are the foundation stone.