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Recent Policy Studies
ImmigrationBy Jena Baker McNeill, Paul Rosenzweig, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/04/2011
The Department of State is currently seeking public comment on its proposal to create a new biographical questionnaire for U.S. passport applicants. Reforms in the passport-issuance process are indeed necessary to prevent the misuse of passports by criminals and terrorists. However, the proposed questionnaire goes too far in requesting that all passport applicants fill out an extensive survey of their life details. Recognizing that there are legitimate situations in which a particular applicant might warrant additional scrutiny (e.g., an applicant lacking a birth certificate), the Administration should rethink the nature, scope, and application of the biographical questionnaire and design one that is reasonable in terms of data sought and from whom the information is requested. This should be accompanied by reforms in information sharing between the State Department and other federal agencies to better connect the dots in terrorism and criminal investigations.
WelfareBy Ryan Messmore, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/04/2011
Government anti-poverty programs share the flawed assumption that poverty in America is primarily a material problem that can be solved by increased welfare and entitlement spending. Poverty in America is often the result of a relational problem, such as fatherlessness or community breakdown, which government programs cannot adequately address. However, the institutions of civil society—family, churches, and other associations—are well suited to providing the personalized assistance needed to repair these relational problems, enabling people to overcome poverty and lead healthy lives. Instead of crowding out private efforts with welfare programs, government can best serve the poor by establishing and maintaining social conditions that allow families, churches, and other institutions of civil society the freedom to serve those who are in need.
Budget & TaxationBy Matt Patterson, Capital Research CenterLabor Watch, 05/04/2011
Wisconsin is the birthplace of American public-sector unionism. In 1930s the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) first organized in Madison. How ironic then that Wisconsin may also be the burial ground for public-sector unionism. Governor Scott Walker and the state legislature confront implacable and intractable union opposition as they struggle to bring Wisconsin’s finances under control. The Badger State has become ground zero in the battle between unions intent on expanding their health and pension plans and state governments determined to avoid bankruptcy.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Amanda Carey, Capital Research CenterGreen Watch, 05/04/2011
The pressure tactics of extremist environmental groups are forcing corporations to turn against the political candidates, nonprofits and issue campaigns that support their own best interests. Green groups have learned how to target the customers, investors and suppliers of corporations so they will put pressure on corporate management to cut off financial contributions to business-friendly causes and candidates. Greens also seek to circumvent “Citizens United,” the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that says laws that put limits on corporate (and union) political giving violate the First Amendment right of free speech.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Matthew Vadum, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 05/04/2011
This paper contains excerpts from the author’s new book Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers. Capital Research Center has been tracking ACORN since 1998. ACORN was most recently profiled in the November 2010 Organization Trends and in the November 2008 editions of Foundation Watch and Labor Watch. Summary: Reports of ACORN’s death have been greatly exaggerated. More than a dozen of the infamous group’s chapters have broken off and separately incorporated themselves in order to evade authorities. Vadum’s new book examines ACORN’s history of corruption and lawbreaking along with its brutal anti-social goals and tactics. It also examines the group’s intimate relationship with the Obama administration.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Jenet Jacob Erickson, The Heritage FoundationFamily Facts Report, 05/04/2011
This report reviews findings from the 30-year body of research evaluating the effects of non-maternal child care (day care) on children’s social-emotional development. Children who spend longer hours (30 hours/week) in day care are more likely to exhibit problematic social behaviors including aggression, conflict, poorer work habits and risk-taking behaviors throughout childhood and into adolescence. The negative effects of day care are more persistent for children who spend long hours in center-care settings. Although high quality day care has some positive effects, it does not reduce the negative effects associated with long hours in day care. Mothers whose children spend long hours in day care show a decrease in sensitivity in their interactions with their child during their child’s early years.
Foreign Policy/International Affairs
The Road to Fatima Gate: The Beirut Spring, The Rise of Hezbollah, and the Iranian War against IsraelBy Michael Totten, Encounter BooksBook, 05/04/2011
The Road to Fatima Gate is a first-person narrative account of revolution, terrorism, and war during history’s violent return to Lebanon after fifteen years of quiet. From the Cedar Revolution that ousted the occupying Syrian military regime in 2005 to the devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006 to Hezbollah’s slow-motion but violent assault on Lebanon’s elected government and capital, Totten’s account is both personal and comprehensive. He simplifies the bewildering complexity of the Middle East; gains access to major regional players as well as to the man on the street; and personally witnesses most of the events he describes. The Road to Fatima Gate should be indispensable reading for anyone interested in the Middle East, Iran’s expansionist foreign policy, the Arab-Israeli conflict, asymmetric warfare, and terrorism in the aftermath of September 11.
Budget & TaxationBy J. Scott Moody, Maine Heritage Policy CenterResearch, 05/04/2011
It is well-known that Maine and New Hampshire are polar opposites when it comes to tax policy. Maine has one of the highest tax burdens in the country at 12.6 percent of personal income (6th highest) while New Hampshire has one of the lowest tax burdens at 8.7 percent of personal income (49th highest). These 3.9 percentage points represent one of, if not the, largest tax differentials between any two states in the country and is the basis for “The Great Tax Divide.” Put simply, lowering Maine’s sales and excise taxes would likely increase retail sales to the point where greater business performance would increase other tax collections, such as the individual and corporate income tax, which would more than offset the lower sales and excise tax revenue.
Economic GrowthBy Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois Policy InstituteStudies, 05/04/2011
This guide provides concise summaries of the top public policy issues facing the state of Illinois, as well as specific recommendations for improving public policy in Illinois. Entries provide illuminating information in the areas of education, taxes, budget and spending, government reform, health care, transportation and energy, and the workplace. Good policy can change lives for the better, and Illinois needs real change. The state was once an economic powerhouse, known throughout the nation as a beacon of opportunity and prosperity. Today, Illinois is showing an alarming pattern of continually slipping behind other states in major national rankings of economic health. Putting the state back on the path to prosperity requires a new set of guiding principles, and policies, to govern our state. This guide offers a roadmap forward.
Budget & TaxationBy Milagros Palacios, Niels Veldhuis, Fraser InstituteResearch Studies, 05/04/2011
The Canadian tax system is complex and there is no single number that can give us a complete idea of who pays how much tax. That said, the Fraser Institute annually calculates the most comprehensive and easily understood indicator of the overall tax bill of the average Canadian family: Tax Freedom Day. This Alert examines what has happened to the tax bill of the average Canadian family over the past 49 years. It consists of an index of the tax bill, the Canadian Consumer Tax Index, for the period 1961 to 2010.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Megan L. Brown, Federalist SocietyEngage, 05/04/2011
This spring, the Supreme Court will hear and decide American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (“AEP”), a nationally important case concerning global warming and the appropriate judicial response thereto. At its core, this and other cases like it test the limits of federal courts’ authority to enact sweeping changes to the nation’s environmental, industrial, and economic policy. Since Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court’s last foray into climate change, federal courts—including two federal appeals courts—have been wrestling with lawsuits that would assign federal judges a pivotal role in setting national climate change policy. But, as each district court to have confronted these cases has concluded, these cases present a task for which the federal courts are institutionally and constitutionally ill-suited. In granting certiorari, the Court has signaled its intent to clarify the proper role of federal courts in addressing global climate change.
Budget & TaxationBy Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Points, 05/04/2011
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s FY 2011-12 budget proposal includes $63.6 billion in total operating spending—$27.3 billion in General Fund spending—a reduction of $3.3 billion from FY 2010-11. This budget restores overall spending to pre-stimulus levels and proposes no new taxes. This is the sixth in a series of fact sheets on the state budget; this fact sheet focuses on Pennsylvania’s education budget. Pennsylvania public school spending continues to grow, and public school staffing has increased while enrollment has declined. Additionally, K-12 public education performance has stagnated. Ultimately, school choice costs taxpayers less; in total, school choice saved taxpayers more than $4 billion.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/03/2011
The U.S. missile defenses are not keeping pace with the proliferation of threats. The Obama Administration has made massive cuts in the missile defense programs, cancelled promising programs, disappointed allies by pulling out of joint programs, and negotiated an arms reduction treaty with Russia that imposes sweeping restrictions on U.S. missile defense options. These changes in policy and programs indicate that the Obama Administration is seriously misreading the situation, both domestically and internationally, and trying to use Cold War–style deterrence to counter modern threats. Congress needs to put the U.S. missile defense program back on track and enact into law a U.S. “protect and defend strategy” to replace the outdated Cold War deterrence strategy.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Wendell Cox, John Locke FoundationReport, 05/03/2011
There has been debate in North Carolina about the wisdom of accepting grants under the federal high-speed rail program to add a third and fourth Piedmont train. Similar controversy has erupted in other states, leading three governors to refuse high-speed rail funding (Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio), while a legislative committee declined to include high-speed rail funding in the budget in a fourth state (Missouri). This report outlines issues with respect to the proposed expansion of passenger rail service. Because of the substantial risks to taxpayers of further passenger rail development, the minimal traffic impacts, the fact the passenger rail would reduce neither greenhouse gas emissions nor energy consumption, the minimal job impacts and the potential for reducing the value of the North Carolina Railroad, North Carolina should return the federal high-speed rail grant funding, withdraw its pending application, and seek no more funding for passenger rail.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Eli Lehrer, John Locke FoundationPolicy Report, 05/03/2011
North Carolina’s auto insurance system is unfair to low-risk drivers because it overcharges them in order to subsidize some of the state’s more risky and dangerous drivers. Every insured driver pays a hidden tax – which averages about 6 percent – that goes to the government-mandated, privately run insurance pool for risky drivers. Some private insurance companies like the system because it guarantees them a profit by allowing them to dump risky drivers into the government mandated tax-subsidized pool. While average rates in North Carolina are in line with other states in the Southeast, good drivers are still paying more than they should. The reforms suggested in this paper would simplify the current bureaucratic and secretive system and lower rates for many, if not most, drivers in the state.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Marc Levin, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 05/03/2011
Substance abuse takes a significant toll on Texas families and taxpayers. Given that the state has increasingly limited resources, it is an opportune time to evaluate those strategies that can produce the greatest reductions in substance abuse and related criminal activity with every dollar spent. While prisons are appropriately utilized to protect the public from drug kingpins and those whose illegal drug use is part of a pattern of criminal or gang activity indicating a threat to the community, the evidence indicates that for those low-level drug possession offenders who are not a danger to public safety, other approaches are oft en more cost-effective.
Budget & TaxationBy Donna Arduin, Arthur Laffer, Wayne Winegarden, Texas Public Policy FoundationPaper, 05/03/2011
The defined benefit pension system is the wrong compensation policy for state and local governments, since it acts like an entitlement system. This paper provides recommendations that Texas can implement to address the public sector pension problems facing the state without eroding Texas’ economic vibrancy. First, Texas should freeze the defined benefit (DB) plan to all new and unvested public sector employees. Second, all new or current unvested employees should be transferred to a defined contribution (DC) plan. Finally, either a hard freeze or soft freeze of system for current vested employees should be implemented.
Budget & TaxationBy Scott A. Hodge, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 05/03/2011
While it is undoubtedly true that U.S. multinational firms use numerous tax planning techniques to minimize their taxes on foreign earnings, IRS data shows that the subsidiaries of U.S. multinationals paid nearly $100 billion in income taxes to foreign tax authorities on roughly $392 billion in taxable income. Averaged across some 90 countries, U.S. companies paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent on that income. Reporters and lawmakers who criticize U.S. companies for “avoiding” taxes on their foreign earnings need to be more careful with their language and acknowledge that our worldwide tax system requires U.S. firms to pay taxes twice on their foreign profits—once to the host country and a second time to the IRS—before they try to reinvest those profits back home.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Langhorne Bond, Robert Poole, Reason FoundationCommentary, 05/03/2011
The Federal Aviation Administration’s two principal functions should be separated. This piece first presents some recent examples of problems with the status quo, problems that separation would address. Next, it examines current practice in other countries. Then, it discusses recent U.S. proposals for arm’s-length air safety regulation, and explains why the creation of the air traffic control (ATC) safety oversight office within FAA’s safety regulation division (AVS) falls short. It then looks specifically at the forthcoming implementation of NextGen and how that process would be different under arm’s-length safety regulation. Finally it explores how organizational separation might be carried out.
Economic GrowthBy Anthony Randazzo, Reason FoundationArticle, 05/03/2011
Over the past several decades, politicians in Washington have considered increasing homeownership to be a civic duty. And the reasons seem obvious; we’ve been told that home ownership is the only way low-income families can build wealth. The real story debunks the theory that housing is the best investment for everyone, and reveals that the desire of policymakers to preserve homeownership at all costs is completely backwards. In short, because it is politically difficult, the Congressional debate over housing finance is missing a key point: Without the homeowner putting equity into their home, there is no actual wealth building. And if the government juices prices, then there is no investment gain either. Policymakers must break from conventional wisdom and rethink homeownership when it comes to public policies that ignore fiscal responsibility in pursuit of a failed goal. Homeownership is a good store of value, but not a wealth creation machine.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Robert W. Poole, Reason FoundationPolicy Brief, 05/03/2011
In 1998 Congress created the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to provide credit assistance (loans and/or loan guarantees) for surface transportation projects. The intent of the program is to provide “gap” funding to worthwhile transportation infrastructure projects that have dedicated funding sources (such as tolls), but which might not be fully financeable without assistance in closing a funding gap. Why should fiscal conservatives support a federal loan program for infrastructure? Because states need to make productive improvements in their transportation systems at a time of limited resources, and tolling and public-private partnerships are powerful tools to help them do that. Congress should give states and localities increased tools for self-help funding. This will help them to transition away from their current heavy dependence on federal grant assistance, consistent with narrowing the federal role. TIFIA is a critically important tool for this purpose.
Health CareBy John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstituteHealth Policy Prescriptions, 05/03/2011
The Medicare part of the Ryan budget is superior to Obamacare but needs more definition. The current proposal would limit future Medicare beneficiaries’ choices to those selected from a federal exchange. Medicare beneficiaries would benefit more from Republicans’ clear commitment to restore Medicare Advantage, a popular alternative to the traditional Medicare monopoly that half of current beneficiaries will lose due to Obamacare. Republicans should advance Medicare reforms in a way that makes their benefits more clear to the public, by building on the popularity of Medicare Advantage and Medigap, rather than appropriating the language of “exchanges” from Obamacare.
Health CareBy Devon M. Herrick, National Center for Policy AnalysisPolicy Backgrounder, 05/03/2011
Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides medical care to more than 60 million low-income individuals and families. Over the next few years, Medicaid enrollment is expected to swell and spending is set to explode. Restraining the growth of Medicaid drug spending is a fiscal imperative for state budgets. A good place for states to start looking for ways to control spending is in their Medicaid drug benefits. There are billions of dollars in potential savings that could be realized without reducing access to needed care for any Medicaid enrollees.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Rob Bluey, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 05/03/2011
With the price of oil more than $100 per barrel, higher gasoline prices are eating into Americans’ budgets. Due to declining production at existing wells and bureaucratic delays on new wells in the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout in 2010, the federal government is forfeiting revenues of more than $4.7 million per day. At a time when voters are calling on the federal government to balance its budget, revenue from oil companies would be one way of helping out. The oil produced would reduce the price of gas at the pump, and oil company payments to the government could be used to reduce the deficit or the level of cuts legislators are considering, or both. The Obama administration should immediately begin to issue new permits for the Gulf of Mexico and explore other untapped domestic resources.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Carl Johnston, Lynne Kiesling, National Center for Policy AnalysisPolicy Report, 05/03/2011
Today, the production, delivery and use of electric power is undergoing revolutionary changes not seen since the era of Thomas Edison. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, energy prices rose more than projected and demand for electricity grew more slowly than anticipated. Regulation of electricity the 1970s and 1980s cost consumers an estimated $200 billion or more in today’s dollars. Meanwhile, in the 1970s and 1980s, deregulation of other network or utility-type industries reduced prices at least 25 percent below pre-reform levels. Thus, beginning in the late 1990s, a number of states restructured their retail power markets. Restructuring generally means that prices are set competitively, utilities shed generating plants and transmission lines, and consumers have a choice of providers. Two-thirds of the U.S. population lives in states that have introduced competition and choice. Electricity prices in these states reflect the actual cost of production better than politically determined rates.
National SecurityBy Jerry Brito, Tate Watkins, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 05/03/2011
Over the past two years there has been a steady drumbeat of alarmist rhetoric coming out of Washington about potential catastrophic cyber threats. The rhetoric of cyber doom, however, lacks clear evidence of a serious threat that can be verified by the public. As a result, the United States may be witnessing a bout of threat inflation and an emerging cyber-industrial complex. Part I of this working paper draws a parallel between today’s cybersecurity debate and the run-up to the Iraq War and looks at how an inflated public conception of the threat we face may lead to unnecessary regulation of the Internet. Part II draws a parallel between the emerging cybersecurity establishment and the military-industrial complex of the Cold War and looks at how unwarranted external influence can lead to unnecessary federal spending. Part III surveys several federal cybersecurity proposals and presents a framework for analyzing the cybersecurity threat.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Chris Israel, Institute for Policy InnovationIPI Policy Report, 05/03/2011
The development and deployment of clean technologies will play a major role in fueling economic growth and global policy in the coming years. There will be a variety of different policy approaches, but the basic formula will be the same—promoting innovation, commercializing breakthroughs, and finding global markets. We need to rely on core principles and policy makers need to provide certainty and clarity. As demonstrated in this report, incentivizing investment and protecting intellectual property must be absolute as the U.S. looks to lead the clean technology race. Recent developments have been encouraging and U.S. policy makers have shown a clear understanding of the link between dramatic advancements in clean technology and the need to protect the intellectual property rights that support it.
National SecurityBy J. D. Williams, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 05/03/2011
The Navy has worked hard to develop the command and control system for the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. Initial emphasis by both the Missile Defense Agency and the Navy was on acquiring a reliable ballistic missile interceptor. Only recently has there been a focused effort to develop the command and control system to support the currently available Standard Missile 3 Block IA BMD interceptor, which is on board select Navy cruisers and destroyers. The focus on improving Aegis command and control for BMD is necessary for two reasons. The first is to improve the reliability and effectiveness of the Aegis BMD system for countering short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which the system is already capable of countering. The second is to accelerate the plan for giving the Aegis BMD system the ability to counter long-range missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Health CareBy John F. Cogan, R. Glenn Hubbard, Daniel P. Kessler, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 05/02/2011
Are consumers of health care—and taxpayers in public financing—obtaining the highest “value” for the resources devoted to health care? That is, are we getting what we should in return for the investments that we make, as individuals and a society, in our health care? Achieving this objective stands the greatest chance of success if health care markets function well. Market-based reform is neither a silver bullet nor a cure-all. Yet markets cannot flourish without the appropriate institutional support for consumer incentives and choice, provider accountability, and competition. These needed features are held back in the United States in substantial measure by the unintended consequences of public policies in five areas. Any serious reform of the U.S. health care system must begin by changing these policies, which are discussed in this article.
LaborBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 05/02/2011
The Obama administration regards itself as an eager and reliable ally of organized labor: whatever labor wants, labor gets. Nowhere is that fealty more evident than in the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) decision to file unfair labor charges on behalf of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union against the Boeing Company. Why? Boeing had the audacity to invest $2 billion in a new South Carolina facility where it would assemble its 787 Dreamliner—-a job that Boeing assigned to 1000 non-union workers starting this coming July. In short, the National Labor Relations Act is unnecessary. There is no good reason to spend public funds to create massive rigidities in labor markets. The most effective way to keep system-wide wages high is to allow for employers to compete for labor by offering them higher wages and better conditions, in exchange for greater productivity.
Budget & TaxationBy Byron Schlomach, Goldwater Institute05/02/2011
Arizona’s current pension systems overstate their financial health by assuming unrealistically high rates of return. Moreover, the existing system enables abuse through double-dipping. While the Arizona Constitution makes wholesale reform difficult, there are several important reforms that can be taken now to put Arizona’s pensions back in the black. The most critical reform is to follow the examples of Michigan and Alaska and place all new government employees in a defined contribution retirement system similar to a 401(k) plan in a private business. These reforms will help stabilize public pensions and give individual workers more control over their retirement assets. Moreover, taxpayers, most of whom are responsible for their own financial planning and retirement, would not bear the additional risk of government employees’ retirement portfolios.
National SecurityBy Jim Talent, The Heritage FoundationAmerica at Risk Memo, 05/02/2011
The combination of increased deployment, reduced force structure, and underfunded procurement is causing a decline in America’s military capability. In fact, there are very few major modernization programs that are still actively underway at the Pentagon. As a result, each of the services has pressing needs that are largely unmet. Yet Washington is reducing, not increasing, what it had projected to spend for defense. Congress actually cut the Administration’s request for defense in fiscal year 2011—an unprecedented act in a time of war—and President Obama recently opined that an additional $400 billion could be cut from the defense budget over the next 10 years. However, defense spending is not the cause of the budget crisis, and it must be increased in order to keep America safe.
Economic GrowthBy J. Scott Moody, William J. Felkner, Ocean State Policy Research InstituteStudies, 05/02/2011
People are leaving Rhode Island for greener pastures elsewhere. This study examines why people are leaving. It examines Census data and IRS tax return information for all years available—the last 13 years—and attempts to identify the dynamics of RI’s population and wealth migration. Are they leaving? Where are they going? What is so attractive about those other states? The study ultimately provides an understanding of why people are leaving Rhode Island and what the financial costs of that out-migration. While the data is clear that people have been moving out of the state at a disproportionally high rate, the most significant impact has been due to states offering a more competitive estate tax environment.
National SecurityBy James Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/02/2011
The end of Osama bin Laden marks a victory in the long war against terrorism, but the war is not over. The President and Congress should renew their resolve to finish the job, which will require continued commitment. Now is the wrong time to take the foot off the pedal in the effort to crush the transnational terrorist threats aimed at the United States and its friends and allies. There is important work for Washington to do to ensure that the likes of al-Qaeda never threaten Americans with the likes of 9/11 again. The Obama administration and Congress must commit to finishing the job in Afghanistan and Iraq, while continuing to hold terrorists accountable. The US must stop doing stupid security while staying alert on the home front. Additionally, the US must continue to provide for the common defense, remembering that victory cannot be declared yet.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Bruce Klingner, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/02/2011
During his self-appointed mission to North Korea this week, former President Jimmy Carter engaged in yet another sanctimonious effort to impose his vision onto U.S. policy. His trip was the latest iteration of a predictable pattern of coddling dictators and blaming the shortcomings of those regimes on the United States and its allies. Once again, Carter has demonstrated a dangerously naïve misunderstanding of international affairs. The former President blames North Korea’s current conditions on international sanctions and diplomatic isolation rather than on the regime’s destructive economic policies, high military budget, and provocative behavior. After returning from Pyongyang, Carter declared that South Korea’s deliberate withholding of food aid constituted a human rights violation. Fortunately, Carter’s advocacy for removing sanctions and resuming dialogue with Pyongyang will have little traction in Washington or Seoul.
National SecurityBy Steven Groves, Theodore Bromund, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/02/2011
The Convention on Cluster Munitions is a misbegotten treaty that neither advances the laws of war nor enhances security. It is an unverifiable, unenforceable, all-or-nothing exercise in moral suasion, not a serious diplomatic instrument. It creates perverse incentives for insurgents to use civilian populations as human shields, undermines effective arms control efforts, inhibits nation-states’ ability to defend themselves, and denigrates the sovereignty of the United States and other democratic states. The U.S. should emphatically reject both the convention and the undemocratic Oslo Process that produced it and should instead continue to negotiate a realistic and enforceable protocol on cluster munitions that balances U.S. military requirements with the humanitarian concerns posed by unexploded ordnance.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 05/02/2011
Because Libya’s opposition movement was forged in an ad hoc manner under the pressure of fast-moving events, it lacks sufficient organization, technical expertise, military capabilities, and funding to pose an immediate threat to Muammar Qadhafi’s control of western Libya. While the Obama Administration should minimize its military involvement, Washington should assume a leadership role in supporting a credible opposition—one free of terrorist taint and committed to the interests of the Libyan people. The Obama Administration should provide non-lethal military equipment, provide intelligence on regime forces, bolster opposition finances, facilitate opposition efforts to export Libyan oil, and court traditional tribal leaders.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationFact Sheet, 05/02/2011
Federal criminal law has exploded in size and scope and deteriorated in quality. Today, an unimaginably broad range of socially and economically beneficial conduct is criminalized. More and more Americans who have worked diligently to abide by the law are being trapped and unjustly punished due to vague, overly broad criminal offenses. Congress must halt its overcriminalization rampage. New criminal laws must be necessary and precise, and Congress must justify all new criminalization. Additionally, bureaucrats should not be permitted to define new crimes. Honest mistakes should not result in prison time; ultimately, Congress must work to repeal unjust laws.
Budget & TaxationBy James Agresti, Just Facts FoundationReport, 04/29/2011
As of April 22, 2011, the official debt of the United States government is $14.3 trillion ($14,293,242,770,355). This amounts to: $46,249 for every person living in the U.S.; $121,605 for every household in the U.S.; and $304,013 for every U.S. household that pays more in federal taxes than they receive in benefits from the federal government. Publicly traded companies are legally required to account for “explicit” and “implicit” future obligations such as employee pensions and retirement benefits. The federal budget, which is the “federal government's primary financial planning and control tool,” is not bound by this rule.