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Recent Policy Studies
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/17/2011
Between March 19 and 23, President Obama will embark on a rapid visit to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador. This is his first visit to South or Central America as President. Despite considerable fanfare, the trip comes at an awkward time, when global attention is riveted on the tragedy in Japan and continued unrest in the Middle East, particularly Libya’s brutal civil war. The President’s trip is an important symbol of the continued need for strong U.S.–Latin American cooperation. President Obama must use his visit to cement personal ties to the region’s democratic leaders, build public and private confidence in strong U.S. international leadership, and rediscover the foundations for a bipartisan U.S. policy at home.
WelfareBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationFact Sheet, 03/17/2011
In 1996, Congress reformed the largest cash assistance program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The new law instituted work requirements and renamed the program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. As a result of these changes, welfare roles decreased dramatically, as did child poverty rates. However, despite this reform, the growth of welfare spending is unsustainable and will drive the U.S. into bankruptcy if allowed to continue unreformed. US policymakers must account for welfare spending, get costs under control, and promote work rather than government dependence.
International Trade/FinanceBy Loren B. Thompson, Lexington InstituteStudies, 03/17/2011
If the United States fails to put an end to the European practice of subsidizing Airbus planes, it will continue to lose market share in the commercial transport business, just as it has in steel, electronics and other sectors where it was once a dominant global player. With the United States currently running a trade deficit of over a billion dollars per day in manufactured goods, European aircraft subsidies have become a test case for the future of free trade and America's global competitiveness. The issue is likely to influence how the U.S. military goes about buying a future aerial refueling tanker, since one of the planes that has been offered is based upon the heavily subsidized Airbus A330.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy David John, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/17/2011
An obscure, technical provision in the massive Dodd–Frank financial regulation bill will make it harder for consumers to use debit cards, hurt banks and credit unions, and increase fees that banks change consumers for other bank services. Inserted in the bill at the insistence of Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL), the provision was supposed to help consumers, but it is so flawed that portions of it have been criticized by most of the financial services regulators. Legislation has already been introduced to delay the effective date of the provision while its potential effects are thoroughly studied, but Congress should not stop there. Instead, it should repeal the provision entirely.
WelfareBy Brian Blase, John S. Hoff, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/16/2011
Among Obamacare’s hundreds of pages was tucked a new government-run long-term care program, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program. CLASS was poorly designed, and actuaries criticized it as being unsustainable well before the passage of Obamacare. It appears from three recent congressional appearances by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the Obama Administration has caught up with the actuarial analysis. While the Secretary now acknowledges that CLASS is fundamentally flawed, she has argued that the law grants her flexibility to make changes that ensure its solvency. However, HHS does not have the legal authority to make significant changes to CLASS. Even if it had the legal authority to make the changes she has suggested, these would not fix the inherent problems in CLASS. According to the Secretary’s own statements, CLASS should be repealed since it cannot be fixed.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Michael J. Clark, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 03/16/2011
Recent academic work has attempted to change the interpretation of Adam Smith from the founder of free-market economics to a proponent of something more akin to the modern welfare state. This paper refutes those approaches by analyzing Adam Smith’s views on strategic politeness. Smith advocated an approach for political discussion that utilizes strategic yielding and caution when necessary. Smith related the approach to that of the Athenian official Solon who put forth laws that attempted to be ?the best that the people can bear. The approach can lead one to moderation, non disclosure, or fudging of extreme views. According to Smith, there was virtue in considering and at times yielding to the prejudice of the public. The cautious nature of Smith’s approach has been misinterpreted in modern literature. Ultimately, this paper defends the interpretation of Adam Smith as a strong proponent of liberty based on his strategic approach.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Helle Dale, Nick Zahn, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/16/2011
Recent strategic decisions by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) on Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts to China suggest that the time has come for Congress to take a serious look at the way the U.S. government manages its international broadcasting services. Congress should seriously consider replacing the BBG with a more professional broadcasting management structure or potentially giving it advisory responsibility. A $750 million corporation in the private sector could ill-afford the absence of fully engaged and accountable leadership. The five international broadcasters that the BBG oversees represent a staff of nearly 4,000 personnel and need a non-partisan, paid, full-time president and CEO with the resources and time to engage in long-term planning and implementation strategies for U.S. international broadcasting. Congress itself should also take a far more active role in oversight of this important tool of U.S. foreign policy.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Morgan Roach, Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/16/2011
Sudan’s many challenges underscore the significant role the U.S. must play in the peace process. The Administration is working with Juba and Khartoum to ensure that the South develops the capacity to become an independent state and that the North does not seek to undermine the South’s pursuit of self-determination. In order to achieve this, the Obama Administration should assist development of the South, hold Juba accountable for good governance, keep eyes on Khartoum, assist in writing constitutions for the North and the South, and reevaluate incentives offered to the North.
ImmigrationBy W.D. Reasoner, Center for Immigration StudiesBackgrounder, 03/16/2011
“Birthright citizenship” is shorthand for the right enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution that persons born on American soil may claim United States citizenship. This issue has gotten caught up in the larger, and oftentimes superheated, debate over illegal immigration. This Backgrounder examines the issue of births to short-term visitors. The author estimates that nearly 200,000 children are born here annually to foreign women admitted as visitors; that is, tourists, students, guestworkers, and other non-immigrant categories. There is a national security dimension to this issue, as illustrated by the case of one individual in this category: Anwar al Awlaki, the American-born cleric and spiritual adviser to terrorists.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David G. Tuerck, Paul Bachman, Michael Head, Cascade Policy InstituteReport, 03/16/2011
In 2007 Oregon passed Senate Bill 838 (SB 838) which established a state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The RPS mandates large utilities to supply a minimum percentage of electricity sold to retail customers derived from new renewable resources, including solar, wind, ocean thermal, ocean wave power, geothermal, hydrogen derived from renewable sources, biomass and small hydroelectric facilities. Specifically, SB 838 requires that Oregon’s public electric utilities increase the percentage of electricity generated from new renewable energy sources. Since renewable energy generally costs more than conventional energy, many have voiced concerns about higher electricity rates. Moreover, since Oregon has a limited ability to generate new renewable energy, the state will start from a low power generation base. In addition, some renewable energy sources require the installation of conventional backup generation capacity for cloudy, windless days. Oregonians will begin to see higher costs on their electric bills this year.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Michael S. Greve, American Enterprise InstituteLegal Outlook, 03/16/2011
Federal transfer programs have contributed significantly to the states’ fiscal crisis and the stranglehold of public-sector unions over state politics. The states’ fiscal crisis is structural, not cyclical. Real recovery and reform will require drastic changes to our federal architecture. A critical, urgent task is to restore a federal precommitment against bailing out states. A bankruptcy option for states may be a useful step in that direction.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise InstituteTestimony, 03/16/2011
The fiscal crisis at the state and local level has many causes. The proximate cause is the significant economic recession from which the U.S. economy still struggles to recover. However, the recession has revealed a number of underlying trends which pose dangers to the future of state and local finance. Public sector pensions are one such underlying trend. Public pension accounting standards encourage state and local governments to promise too much, fund too little and take too much risk with their investments. Adequate disclosure of the true state of pension financing will provide markets the opportunity to impose discipline on municipal governments and give policymakers the incentive to act responsibly with regard to these obligations.
Health CareBy Peter J. Wallison, American Enterprise InstituteFinancial Services Outlook, 03/16/2011
Friedrich Hayek, the famous free-market critic of central planning, would oppose many modern-day regulations because—from the perspective of their effect on competition—they are as destructive as central planning. Hayek would oppose ObamaCare because it impedes competition in health care through regulations that distort the price system. Hayek would also oppose the Dodd-Frank Act because it interferes with competition by applying different regulations and rules to financial institutions that are deemed “systemically important.”
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/16/2011
The U.S. faces difficult and ongoing challenges in Afghanistan. There have been setbacks, delays, and stumbling blocks in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but now is not the time to begin large-scale troop withdrawals or to cut civilian aid programs. By deploying 30,000 additional troops last year, the U.S. has begun to achieve military gains, particularly in the Taliban’s traditional strongholds in the South. The Obama Administration must now focus on leading a process of genuine political reconciliation—with help from Pakistan—to stabilize Afghanistan and reduce the chances that the country will once again become a safe haven for terrorists. This Backgrounder explains how the current U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan has a good chance of succeeding if fully resourced and given the appropriate amount of time.
International Trade/FinanceBy Brett Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/16/2011
The power of the purse places clear responsibility on Congress to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are used prudently. That responsibility is not limited to funds expended by the U.S. government; it also extends to U.S. funds provided to international organizations like the U.N. Congress should use the hearing process to press the Administration on its efforts to reduce wasteful or unnecessary spending at the U.N. and improve oversight and accountability for those funds.
Budget & TaxationBy Kailee Tkacz, Mark Robyn, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 03/15/2011
Facing a $3.2 billion deficit, newly elected Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (D) recently proposed a FY 2012 budget that would increase taxes by $1.5 billion, cut spending by $758 million and reduce public employee costs by $1 billion. The budget proposes many tax changes, including a fairly broad income tax increase, an increase in the general sales tax rate from 6% to 6.25%, an expansion of the sales tax to some currently exempt items, and increased excise taxes. The tax increases would raise about $425 per person in Connecticut. This study examines many of the proposed tax changes and finds that some are advancements toward sound tax policy while others are steps in the wrong direction.
Budget & TaxationBy Scott A. Hodge, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 03/15/2011
The U.S. is less than a month away from having the highest overall corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, when Japan lowers its top rate on April 1. Remarkably, 2011 marks the 20th year in which the statutory U.S. corporate tax rate has exceeded the simple average of the non-U.S. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations and the twelfth year in which our rate has exceeded the weighted average OECD rate. Cutting the U.S. rate while eliminating “loopholes” will not reduce the rate enough to meaningfully improve our ranking within the OECD and relative to our major economic competitors. If the U.S. is to “move to the middle,” lawmakers may have to find other budgetary offsets or abandon a strict policy of revenue-neutrality. The economic evidence suggests that a lower corporate tax rate will improve long-term economic growth and increase workers’ wages without necessarily diminishing tax revenues.
Budget & TaxationBy Alex Wood-Doughty, Kail Padgitt, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 03/15/2011
Overall, Michigan Governor Snyder’s budget proposal will likely improve Michigan’s competitiveness. While Michigan policymakers will certainly debate Snyder’s corporate and individual income tax proposals, his plan deserves praise for the way it raises revenue within the individual income tax. While some states have targeted income tax increases on high-income individuals, Snyder’s approach broadens the base of the tax. By eliminating tax credits and closing loopholes in both the corporate and individual income taxes, Snyder seeks to bring more people into the tax base while eliminating unjustifiable distortions. The result would be a more level playing field for both businesses and individuals.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Leonard Gilroy, Harris Kenny, Reason FoundationPrivatization Report, 03/15/2011
Ongoing municipal fiscal challenges, the end of federal stimulus funding and other market developments are prompting municipal policymakers to explore public-private partnerships (PPPs), according to the companies surveyed in this report. The companies noted that inquiries into private investment and longterm asset management contracts were “coming at a record pace.” The potential passage of federal legislation that would lift the volume cap on Private Activity Bonds (PABs)—tax-exempt bond financing made available to private developers of certain types of public infrastructure—and the expiration of stimulus funding and federally subsidized Build America Bonds are likely to be key factors driving increasing interest in PPPs among municipalities, according to industry experts.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Reason FoundationReason, 03/15/2011
Nearly every state offers defined-benefit pension plans for public employees. A defined-benefit plan represents a contractual obligation to dole out a set amount in annual payments for as long as the recipient lives, regardless of whether there are sufficient assets in the fund at the time of the employee’s retirement. One would think this obligation to pay no matter what would have led states to invest conservatively and plan ahead. Instead, they have been following accounting rules that ensure that the funds will be unsustainable. Once states’ pension plans run out of money, the payments will have to come out of general funds, meaning taxpayers’ pockets. If states want to avert that, they need to push through reforms as soon as possible. A first step would be to switch to accounting methods that show the true market value of their liabilities; then, lawmakers could consider moving away from defined benefit pensions.
Health CareBy John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstituteHealth Policy Prescriptions, 03/15/2011
The government forces most Americans to take health “benefits” chosen by human resources managers who work for their employers. This leads to fragmentation, frustration and bureaucracy. Giving individuals ownership of their health dollars relies on reforming the federal tax code to give the tax benefits of health insurance to individuals instead of employers. This tax benefit can be either a tax credit or a tax deduction. Each has positive and negative consequences, which proponents of consumer-driven health reform need to appreciate.
Health CareBy John C. Goodman, National Center for Policy AnalysisTestimony, 03/15/2011
Republicans and Democrats must agree on Medicare reforms that will really control runaway entitlement spending. Congress should begin by voting to repeal the worst features of health care reform. That means no individual mandates, no individual or employer fines, and no regulations of the type that might cause an employer, such as McDonald’s, to drop coverage for 30,000 low-wage employees and the 3M Corporation to drop coverage for all its retirees. Then Congress should come to the rescue of senior citizens. In the meantime, the approach should be to cancel cuts that are never going to be made anyway and pay for the cancellation by delaying the implementation of key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Just as the draconian cuts to Medicare provider fees get postponed year after year, the dates of other PPACA provisions should also be postponed year after year.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Michael Lea, Anthony Sanders, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 03/15/2011
One of the central arguments in the ongoing discussion about the fate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is the importance of the 30-year fixed-rate pre-payable mortgage (hereafter referred to as the FRM). Are the benefits of the FRM worth the costs? Would the FRM disappear if Fannie and Freddie were no longer financing it? Are there viable mortgage alternatives to FRM? This paper seeks to answer these questions. It starts with a brief history of the FRM, emphasizing the ongoing role of the government in enhancing its presence. It then discusses the benefits of the FRM to the consumer and the economy. Additionally, it explains the costs of the FRM to consumers, investors and taxpayers. This paper ends with a depiction of a world in which the FRM is no longer supported by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy William F. Shughart II, Independent InstituteArticle, 03/14/2011
Only 25 percent of the respondents to a survey conducted in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina identified government as their most important source of aid. Government relief to disaster victims is often less effective than aid provided by volunteers, non-profit organizations, and commercial enterprises, and it often facilitates corruption, encourages growth in disaster-prone areas, and crowds out self-help.
Health CareBy Robert Moffit, The Heritage FoundationLecture, 03/14/2011
Over the past two years, Americans have come to realize that Washington’s political class has become distant from them. Nowhere has that mental and emotional distance been clearer than in the national debate on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Even though most Americans did not support the health care bill, many Members of Congress simply ignored the majority of their fellow Americans. It is time to repair to first principles. The next phase of the intense and bitter battle over the health care law, complementing new congressional efforts to repeal, block, or defund it, will take place in state capitals. Regardless of what happens in Washington, state officials can seize the high ground in health care policy, fashion solutions to match their specific problems, and change the facts on the ground for Congress and the White House.
EducationBy Rickard Vedder, Matthew Denhart, Heartland InstituteLegislative Principles, 03/14/2011
There is a widespread feeling that university training is important for economic success at the individual level as well as to the nation, yet increasing evidence suggests U.S. institutions of higher education are less efficient and decreasingly effective at creating the foundations for such success. Can something be done to reverse these trends? Adherence to sound principles can lead to reforms of higher education that make it more affordable, more productive, more efficient, and more useful to society. Alternatives to existing modes of educational delivery can and are being developed, including training more appropriate for the aptitudes and interests of students. The ten principles in this piece show how our higher education system can be restructured to provide a better education to Americans at a lower cost.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Eli Lehrer, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 03/14/2011
This report reviews four major problems with Texas’s insurance environment and proposes four categories of action that elected leaders should take in order to remedy them. The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association’s (TWIA) management, its costs, the retreat of many private insurers, and inadequate coastal mitigation efforts are Texas’s biggest property insurance problems. To solve them, efforts should be undertaken to reform TWIA’s structure, change regulations to attract insurers, and invest in coastal mitigation. Although the problems with Texas’s property insurance system are significant, the right actions will make the state more fiscally stable, safer, and more resistant to nature’s worst.
Budget & TaxationBy Drew Johnson, Goldwater InstituteStudies, 03/14/2011
Arizona state government is in the midst of a $700 million budget crisis. Cities, counties, and school districts across the state are struggling to make ends meet. The federal government is drowning in record deficits and mounting debt. Some politicians are quick to blame declining revenues for government budgetary woes. However, too much spending, not too little tax revenue, is the real culprit. The 2011 Arizona Piglet Book exposes 147 pork projects, bad ideas, and misuses of power that have wasted over $1.2 billion.
Budget & TaxationBy Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Georgia Public Policy FoundationAgenda 2011: A Guide To The Issues, 03/14/2011
A low overall state and local tax burden cannot be maintained without controlling government spending at both the state and local level. All too often, tax reform simply shifts the tax burden from one class of taxpayers to another rather than reducing the tax burden or simplifying the tax code. In the end, a low tax burden on citizens is dependent upon keeping government spending under control, focusing on core government functions and prioritizing needs vs. wants. Government needs to be reminded that an additional dollar of taxes is a discretionary dollar taken away from a family. A decision to raise taxes is an explicit decision that a government program has a higher priority than these individual decisions. This piece discusses current and proposed tax scenarios for the state of Georgia.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Georgia Public Policy FoundationAgenda 2011: A Guide To The Issues, 03/14/2011
Traffic congestion, while inconvenient, is a sign of Georgia’s thriving economy. The cost of congestion, however, includes economic and quality-of-life consequences. Transportation policy must be centered on improving mobility, relieving congestion, meeting needs versus wants, and increasing the role of the market where possible. Projects need to be prioritized, local governments need to be more accountable for transportation spending and users need to be educated on the value of their trip and time to prepare them for growing costs and limitations. Rising fuel prices and fuel-efficient vehicles reduce revenue; shifting to user fees instead of relying on fuel taxes is therefore vital. Additionally, adding roads is a critical component of Georgia transportation policy. While transit remains a necessary tool in transportation solutions, it must be objectively selected, comparing criteria of need, benefits and cost and the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the various modes.
Budget & TaxationBy Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersReport, 03/11/2011
“USA Inc.” is a non-partisan report that looks at the U.S. federal government (and its financials) as if it were a business. It examines the country’s income statement and balance sheet, aiming to interpret the underlying data and facts, and illustrate patterns and trends in easy-to-understand ways. The report also analyzes the drivers of federal revenue and the history of expense growth, and discusses basic scenarios for how revenue and expense growth might change to help America move toward positive cash flow.
National SecurityBy William H. Tobey, Judith Miller, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 03/11/2011
Are current fears of nuclear Armageddon justified? Only if Washington fails to continue the extraordinary progress that Republican and Democratic administrations have made to complicate terrorists’ ability to acquire nuclear devices. Despite the continuing spread of nuclear expertise and efforts by Iran to become a nuclear power, the battle to limit the spread of destructive weapons and fissile material has been hugely successful—so far, at least—and Americans are safer from a nuclear strike today than when the Berlin Wall fell. Every day, in hundreds of ways, then, intelligence, nuclear-security, and law enforcement agencies have been struggling to wind back the Doomsday Clock. The success of such efforts to date should instill confidence but not complacency. So long as Osama bin Laden and like-minded enemies of civilization remain determined to obtain nuclear weapons, their intended targets must remain even more determined to stop them.
Health CareBy Nadeem Esmail, Fraser InstituteFraser Forum, 03/11/2011
The current physician supply in Canada is insufficient to meet the demand for physician care under the present structure of Medicare, and falls well short (in terms of the supply of physicians relative to population) of what is being delivered in other developed nations that also maintain universal approaches to health care insurance. Without a significant intake of foreign physicians, the physician-to-population ratio will fall in the coming years because there are not enough new doctors being trained in Canada. It would seem that a government-imposed limitation on the number of physicians being trained in Canada is a policy choice that is not serving the best interests of Canadians, be they patients in need of a physician, or capable students who wish to become doctors, but who are unable to access medical training in this country.
Health CareBy Amy Lischko, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchWhite Paper, 03/11/2011
The 2011 Massachusetts health care landscape, while significantly altered, is still facing the same core issue as in 2006 of increasing costs. The 2006 law has delivered on many of its promises, but has failed to achieve affordability and choice for health insurance coverage for many residents in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority (Connector), the exchange entity responsible for implementing the health reform law, was designed to assist both individuals and businesses in acquiring affordable, high-quality health care coverage. Legislators, Connector board members and staff should take this opportunity to fully evaluate the Connector’s strengths and weaknesses and determine where it can make changes to better position itself in the post-ACA environment. Such reforms could include greater consumer control of health dollars and choice, an emphasis on wellness, and greater transparency within the overall health care system. This issue brief provides some recommendations for moving Massachusetts forward.
Budget & TaxationBy Barry W. Poulson, Kansas Policy InstitutePaper, 03/11/2011
The extent of Kansas’ public employee retirement system (KPERS) funding crisis is likely to be considerably worse than commonly understood. Given the magnitude of unfunded liabilities in KPERS, the employer contribution rates that would be required to meet these pension obligations and the economic consequences of meeting the future cost of the existing defined benefit plan would be severe. Kansas must enact pension reform quickly to ensure the future viability of the system and to prevent catastrophic funding shortfalls in the near future. This study proposes a menu of comprehensive reform of the KPERS plan based on successful pension reforms enacted in other states.
Budget & TaxationBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstituteProposal, 03/11/2011
Budget Solutions 2012 is a balanced budget proposal for the state of Illinois that does not require budget gimmicks, tax increases or borrowing. Tax dollars cannot support state government at its current size. Budget Solutions 2012 is an alternative to the failing strategy of overtaxing, overborrowing and overspending. It is a plan to fund core government services, reduce excess spending, pay down past due debt and even pave the way for tax relief. It is a budget proposal – the only detailed plan yet published – that would allow state government to live within its means and put Illinois on a path toward prosperity. In order to distinguish between Budget Solutions 2012 and the path that Illinois is currently on, this alternative budget is presented side-by-side with the budget delivered by Governor Quinn earlier this year.
Budget & TaxationBy Matthew J. Brouillette, Bob Williams, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Brief, 03/11/2011
Reality-based budgeting serves citizens well by ensuring government delivers essential services as efficiently and effectively as possible. It maximizes the value of each hard-earned tax dollar, which is an important responsibility of legislators. It protects vulnerable programs from election-year rhetoric. It provides a logical place for legislators in cash-strapped states to begin meaningful debate and restructure spending. It focuses on the results of the legislative and budget process rather than the intentions, as good as they may be. Moving to reality-based budgeting is not a partisan issue. Pennsylvania policymakers should adopt reality-based budgeting, designing a reality-based budget from the ground up based on priorities and performance.
Budget & TaxationBy Nathan A. Benefield, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Brief, 03/11/2011
Pennsylvania’s budgetary challenges are rooted in the growth of state spending—not a lack of tax revenues. Increased borrowing, ongoing deficits in unemployment compensation, and deferral of payments for pensions and health care costs along with investment losses have left taxpayers with significant long-term fiscal challenges. Pennsylvania taxpayers already face one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, which has undermined economic growth. This policy brief looks at the entire state operating budget. Building a reality-based budget requires legislators to first understand the causes of Pennsylvania’s fiscal challenges—years of overspending. Only then can they begin to confront and solve our public policy problems while also respecting the lives, liberty, and property of the taxpayers who fund the state’s $65 billion annual operating budget.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Peter Brookes, James Phillips, James Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/11/2011
Libya’s increasingly bloody conflict has inspired more calls for U.S. military intervention, with many clamoring for the imposition of a no-fly zone over the North African country. Imposing a no-fly zone could raise the morale of “rebel” forces, back Colonel Muammar Qadhafi into a tighter corner politically, and fill a reflexive need felt by western powers to do something beyond rhetoric and economic sanctions in the wake of the unfolding three-week-old crisis. However, while such a military operation would address some of the symptoms of Libya’s civil war, it would not address the cause: the continued repression meted out by Qadhafi’s dictatorship. Washington should resist the impulse to impose a no-fly zone just to do something. Washington and its allies should carefully consider other options that will decisively impact the Libyan crisis.