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Recent Policy Studies
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Renato De Castro, Walter Lohman, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 08/08/2011
Recent developments in the South China Sea illustrate the urgent need for the Philippines to shift its focus from internal security to maritime defense. Internal security will continue to be important to the Philippines, as active insurgencies are not yet securely behind it. But the Philippines can and must find a way to perform both missions adequately. It is in the United States’ interest that it be able to do so. The U.S.–Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement, deeply embedded consultation mechanisms, and a century of friendship, cooperation, and mutual sacrifice give the U.S. the framework to assist its longtime ally. It need only be fully employed.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Anna Simons, Foreign Policy Research InstituteArticle, 08/08/2011
For ten years and counting, U.S. policy has rested on the misguided notion that it is somehow possible to separate “moderates” from “radicals,’’ or reconcilables from irreconcilables. Washington’s policy has been that if those espousing and participating in unjustifiable violence can be isolated, moderates should be wooable, and once they’ve been won over the irreconcilables can be eliminated. To accomplish this, the US only needs to persuade moderates to stop lending extremists support. The US should no more tolerate those who protect or surreptitiously support perpetrators of anti-American violence than citizens should tolerate leaders who govern so ineffectively they permit safe havens to exist.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Samuel Helfont, Tally Helfont, Foreign Policy Research InstituteE-Notes, 08/08/2011
No Arab state has been able to ignore the sweeping changes of the Arab Spring. It has dominated the Arab language news and changed the perceptions of millions about what is politically possible. Yet in each society the demands for change have manifested differently. The prospect of Jordan’s protests turning into a real force for change remains real as long as the activists continue to be committed and the population’s demands for reform go unanswered. If the protests gain traction, another staunch American ally in the Middle East could come under severe pressure to change its stance toward the West, and toward Israel.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy John P. Feldman, et al., Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 08/08/2011
In late April of this year, the Federal Trade Commission, in collaboration with a host of other government agencies, released “Food for Thought: Interagency Working Group Proposal on Food Marketing to Children.” The report’s proposal call for voluntary principles that restrict the types of food, times of day, kinds of media, and specific information advertisers may or may not utilize when engaging in commercial speech. But are the proposals really voluntary? Professor Martin H. Redish of Northwestern University School of Law argues that the proposed regulations, despite being labeled voluntary, “unambiguously contravene the First Amendment’s protection of commercial speech as currently established by clear Supreme Court doctrine.” The advertising community must hold fast to its First Amendment rights as the Interagency Working Group’s Proposal, and other initiatives like it, seek to address social issues by suppressing or compelling speech.
EducationBy Dan Lips, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsPolicy Papers, 08/08/2011
Across the nation, a growing number of students are benefiting from innovative online learning options. These options range from full-time online schools to part-time virtual course offerings and classroom-based blended-learning programs. According to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, at least 1.5 million K-12 students participated in online and blended-learning programs during the 2009-10 school year. But many more Oklahoma children stand to benefit from the option to learn online. This report offers Oklahoma policymakers a blueprint for policy reforms that will make the state a national leader in offering families the option to use online learning. Specifically, it recommends that policymakers enact a state-funded education savings account program to give families the power to choose the best learning options for their children, including online or virtual education programs.
Budget & TaxationBy Antony Davies, John Pulito, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 08/08/2011
This paper explores the relationship between high-income tax rates and the interstate migration of high-income households. Controlling for property-tax rates, sales-tax rates, high income tax brackets, unemployment, and state/county-specific and time-specific effects, the authors find that higher state income-tax rates do cause a net out-migration. Not only does this migration apply to just higher-income residents, but to residents of lower wage levels as well. Drawing from the data, the authors conclude that states lose households to more tax-friendly states through three specific measures: lowering the “high-income” threshold so as to capture more households, increasing high-income tax rates, and increasing property-tax rates.
National SecurityBy James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/08/2011
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) produced by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at high altitude or as the result of unusually powerful solar activity (often called severe space weather) could produce catastrophic destruction in the United States. Congress has long deliberated this threat, but it has not produced substantive legislative guidance or demonstrated effective oversight. The Administration and federal agencies remain mostly ambivalent. It is time to make August 15 National EMP Awareness Day to wake up America’s nation’s leaders. This should be recognized as a clear and present danger—one that could be devastating if it finds the nation ill-prepared.
International Trade/FinanceBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 08/08/2011
The scheduled autumn visit of China’s next Communist Party General Secretary, Xi Jinping, to Washington is a good opportunity for the U.S. to re-examine its often mismanaged economic diplomacy with China. Policymakers from both parties frequently point to the seemingly exceptional importance of China to the American economy, yet have created an inadequate, almost random, set of institutions to guide bilateral economic relations. Heritage Foundation China and international economics expert Derek Scissors identifies the problems and offers ways to improve the institutional toolkit.
Economic GrowthBy e-21, e21: Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyCommentary, 08/08/2011
Across the U.S., foreclosure filings in the first half of 2011 were down nearly 30% from filings in the first six months of 2010. Unfortunately, the drop in foreclosures is not a sign of improvement in the mortgage market, but rather a reflection of the delays in filings. The pace of foreclosures is likely to remain slow until large banks reach an agreement with government officials that establishes new loan servicing and foreclosure standards. The delay in foreclosures increases the “shadow inventory” of properties likely to be auctioned by banks. This not only increases supply and depresses future prices, but also contributes to the current price reduction trend as potential buyers rationally delay purchases until new supply comes on line. More ominously, the proposed resolution to the foreclosure mess may make it less likely the private sector will ever return to the home mortgage market.
Economic GrowthBy Joel Kotkin, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 08/08/2011
Los Angeles began the twentieth century with barely 100,000 residents. By century’s end, 4 million people were living there, making it the nation’s second-largest city, while another 6 million were occupying the rest of Los Angeles County. But in the new century, Los Angeles has begun to fade, and it can’t blame its condition on the recent recession. The unemployment rate is one of the highest among the nation’s largest urban areas. Businesses and residents are fleeing. In virtually every category of urban success, from migration of educated workers to growth of airport travel, Los Angeles lags behind not only such fast-growth regions as Dallas and Raleigh-Durham, but also historical rivals like New York. The only way for Los Angeles to get out of this downward spiral and fully recover is for sweeping change in its political culture.
EducationBy Himanshu Kothari, American Enterprise InstituteWorking Paper, 08/08/2011
In this paper, finance specialist and education real estate expert Himanshu Kothari explores the causes of the nation’s $300 billion funding shortfall in K-12 facilities and offers concrete recommendations to address this troubling trend. Kothari posits that public-private partnerships are a promising avenue for tapping the resources needed to address capital needs, but that current financial conditions in K-12 scare off potential investors. By overhauling facilities financing and exploring innovative approaches, policymakers can create the space for private investors to support school facilities. To better meet their facilities needs, Kothari specifically advocates: Holding educators and schools accountable for academic and financial performance; loosening regulations that limit the reach of charter schools and other nontraditional programs; and creating more opportunities for schools to take advantage of nontraditional financing options.
Economic GrowthBy J.D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/08/2011
Late on Friday, August 5, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the United States credit rating from AAA, and really best in class, to AA+. In one fell swoop, S&P sent two separate and powerful messages. First, as The Heritage Foundation and many others warned, the spending reductions in the deal negotiated by President Obama to raise the debt ceiling were entirely and woefully inadequate. Second, the global economy, the national economy, and state finances have all in their own ways been delivered a mighty and frightening body blow. The objective for the nation, the President, and the joint select committee is clear: drive down spending—including and especially on entitlement programs—toward a balanced budget while protecting America and without raising taxes. Properly done, this would lead to economic growth, more jobs, less government, and a restoration of the nation’s credit rating.
Budget & TaxationBy Robert C. Carlson, Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public PolicyPaper, 08/05/2011
In some states and cities, government retirement funds are causing a huge budgetary problem because the costs are rising and unpredictable. These retirement systems were set up decades ago when the strain on government expenditures was far less burdensome. Yet The Virginia Retirement System continues as a defined benefits program even though that type of retirement program is becoming less and less available in the private and non-profit sectors. This paper suggests that Virginia move toward a combined retirement program that includes partially a defined benefits program and added to this should be a defined contributions program. Such a balanced system would make the Commonwealth’s costs lower and more predictable while providing attractive benefits to employees.
Economic GrowthBy John Friar, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchWhite Paper, 08/05/2011
Like the nation as a whole, Massachusetts is emerging from its third recession in twenty years. Unlike the rest of the country, Massachusetts never fully recovered the jobs lost in the state during the 2001 recession and, 10 years later, has even further to go to recover. So why does Massachusetts appear to take longer than the rest of the country to bounce back from recession? One of the chief contributing factors is the fact that young firms (defined as 3 years or less) created jobs for four years following the 1990-1991 recession. Older firms began creating jobs starting only in the fifth year after the recession. For policymakers, therefore, efforts to stimulate new firm creation must be increased (particularly in the face of declining firm sizes). Old firms cannot be relied on to create jobs for a fairly significant number of years coming out of a recession.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Eamonn Butler, Adam Smith InstituteBook, 08/05/2011
Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations is one of the most important books ever written. Smith recognized that economic specialization and cooperation was the key to improving living standards. He shattered old ways of thinking about trade, commerce and public policy, and led to the foundation of a new field of study: economics. Yet his book is rarely read today because it is written in a dense and archaic style that is inaccessible to many modern readers. The Condensed Wealth of Nations condenses Smith’s work and explains the key concepts in The Wealth of Nations clearly. It is accessible and readable to any intelligent layman. This book also contains a primer on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith’s other great work that explores the nature of ethics.
Economic GrowthBy Rea Hederman, James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/05/2011
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced this morning that the U.S. economy added 117,000 jobs in July and that the unemployment rate fell from 9.2 to 9.1 percent, due in large part to people leaving the labor force. While the report indicates that the economy is still weak, it is a slight improvement from the previous month’s report. Not only is today’s report a reminder of how weak the U.S. employment market remains, but it also challenges Congress to change course in its effort to stimulate the economy. Obviously, massive government spending has done nothing to improve the country’s economic prospects. Congress should take today’s report and the worldwide crisis to significantly lighten the tax and regulatory burden on businesses and reduce spending, thus allowing firms to expand their activities at much lower costs.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Russell A. Berman, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 08/05/2011
Whatever happened to anti-Americanism in Europe? The war of words and the angry demonstrations that defined trans-Atlantic relations during the Bush administration seem to have subsided. Today, Europe is more focused on some of its own problems, notably the pending financial crisis that threatens to spread beyond Greece and Portugal. It is not easy to blame Europe’s bad fiscal habits on the United States. However, Anti-Americanism comes into play when the specifics of particular issues are linked to negative stereotypes of Americans or American culture in general.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/05/2011
The Obama Administration and Congress need to recognize that its “reset” policy with Russia, which requires huge payoffs for small results, is in dire need of a reassessment. The U.S. should pursue its national interests in relations with Moscow instead of chasing a mirage. The U.S. and Russia have mutual interests in opposing Islamic radicalism and terrorism, nonproliferation, counter-narcotics, boosting trade and investment, and expanding tourism, business, and exchanges. Russia can benefit from access to U.S. science—especially health sciences, technology, and investment—if Moscow improves its foreign and domestic policies. However, Congress and the Administration should not tolerate Russian mischief, either domestic or geopolitical. The U.S. should not shy away from articulating its priorities and values to its Russian partners—and play hardball when necessary.
Budget & TaxationBy Steve McMillin, e21: Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyCommentary, 08/05/2011
As the renewed partisan sniping suggests, the recently passed Budget Control Act of 2011 defers at least as many arguments as it settles. The big numbers and bold assertions about what will happen over the next ten years were necessary embellishments to gather enough votes to pass the bill, and avoid the political and market chaos that would have ensued if the government stopped paying some of its bills. But the real work of deficit reduction remains unsettled, meaning months or even years of continued uncertainty over future spending and tax policy, with both parties’ gaze fixed firmly on the next election.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Charles Calomiris, et al., Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 08/05/2011
On March 4, 2011, the New York Times described a settlement proposed by a consortium of state attorneys generals to large mortgage servicers. The claims to be settled reportedly relate to failures to follow existing procedural rules relating to the foreclosure process. The settlement would make dramatic changes in those rules, and reportedly require a mortgage loan principal reduction program of $20 to $25 billion. These negotiations continue to create uncertainty in the housing market and have the potential to stall foreclosure proceedings nationwide. This essay reviews how such a settlement will affect the larger economy and extend the foreclosure crisis.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Cynthia Ward, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 08/05/2011
In October 2008, Joseph Vranich, an expert on high-speed rail in the U.S., testified before a hearing of California’s State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. Vranich had come to offer his thoughts on the state’s plan to build a high-speed rail line from Orange County to San Francisco. “This is the first time I am unable to endorse a high-speed rail plan,” he told the senators, saying that he found the California High Speed Rail Authority’s work to be “the poorest I have ever seen.” Less than a month after his testimony, voters approved Proposition 1A, authorizing Sacramento to sell a few billion dollars in bonds for the project most experts—which now includes the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office and the University of California—say will cost a stunning tens of billions of dollars more than the official $43 billion estimate.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 08/05/2011
Rarely does a fiscal year pass without some type of emergency requiring a response from the federal government. In most cases the timing is such that the need for funding cannot wait until the next appropriations cycle. As a result, most supplemental appropriations are enacted as standalone legislation. This paper examines the use of supplemental spending over the last 25 years. It reveals that, in recent years, supplemental bills have been effectively used to hide the cost of programs that do not address emergencies or unexpected circumstances—such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—and to expand spending beyond budget limits. In addition, because of a serious lack of congressional oversight, lawmakers riddle supplemental bills with pork and other projects that would not be funded on their own actual merits.
Health CareBy Joel Allumbaugh, Maine Heritage Policy CenterMaine View, 08/05/2011
On May 17, 2011, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law a major health reform package to help contain the spiraling cost of health insurance for all Mainers. The state's previous law made coverage available to everyone but made the cost of coverage unaffordable for many in the process. In fact, Maine has some of the highest insurance premiums in the country. It is important that citizens evaluate the merits of the new health reform law in the context of Maine’s past reform efforts which drove young adults out of the insurance market. This new law addresses our ailing insurance market by recognizing the basic principles that allow it to operate effectively. Learning from our past experience, this new law is a long overdue step in the right direction for Maine.
National SecurityBy Alan W. Dowd, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 08/05/2011
If the so-called “super-committee” created by the recent debt deal does not reach agreement on future spending cuts, it would trigger automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion divided evenly between domestic programs and defense. In other words, the Pentagon could have to cough up an alarming $600 billion over the coming decade. Reading between the lines, it seems a smaller military may serve a larger objective for the president, namely an America that is less engaged and less involved in the world. But there will be consequences to this military retrenchment. In fact, we are already seeing glimpses of an America more interested in “nation-building here at home,” as the president describes it, than in fulfilling the global role it has played since World War II.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Warren Kozak, Wisconsin Policy Research InstituteReport, 08/03/2011
The greatest consequence of competition has been its impact on the American economy. Competition has electrified it, indeed it has charged it with an unprecedented fire and pushed it past every other nation on earth. It can be as mundane as watching the service improve and the prices fall at your local grocery when a competitor opens up across the street. And it also impacts the highest echelons of American business—Durant and Ford, Lauder and Revson, or Jobs and Gates—it was competition that drove all of them to succeed. But as critical as competition is in our lives and in the unprecedented success of our country, few of us understand the first thing about it. We don’t know its origins, why it pushes us forward, why some people are more competitive than others or why artificial constraints on competition will stifle an entire population.
EducationBy Dennis J. Nielsen, South Carolina Policy CouncilReport, 08/03/2011
There is a significant—and rapidly growing—demand for full time and blended online schooling options in South Carolina. If online learning is to be fully embraced as and integral part of the public educational system, the stakeholder—including the public, educators and policy makers—must be educated about the benefits, costs, opportunities and limitations of online education. Already, online learning is emerging as an effective option to: meet the needs of at risk students not excelling in a traditional classroom setting; deliver high-quality courses to students in rural and high poverty areas; and offer a wider array of advanced and technical courses to all students, including gifted and talented and those wishing to take AP courses.
LaborBy Kay S. Hymowitz, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 08/03/2011
Early this past spring, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a much-anticipated report called Women in America. One of its conclusions struck a familiar note: today, as President Obama said in describing the document, “women still earn on average only about 75 cents for every dollar a man earns. That’s a huge discrepancy.” So why do women work fewer hours, choose less demanding jobs, and, as the President stated, earn less than men do? The answer is obvious: kids. In fact, a number of researchers have found that if you consider only childless women, the wage gap actually disappears.
Health CareBy Jagadeesh Gokhale, Angela C. Erickson, Kansas Policy InstituteStudies, 08/03/2011
This study estimates the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) effect on future Medicaid expenditures in Kansas by constructing and comparing state Medicaid expenditure projections with and without PPACA mandates. The assessment shows that Kansas would spend $20.8 billion on Medicaid during the first ten years (2014-23) of PPACA’s implementation, which is $4.7 billion larger than projected spending without PPACA. If Kansas continues to operate its Medicaid program as in past years and implements PPACA, spending on Medicaid will quadruple, going from $713 million in 2010 to $2.8 billion in 2023. Kansas historical budget share trends suggest that large and growing budget pressure from Medicaid expansion under PPACA would compel reductions in education, infrastructure and other primary functions.
Budget & TaxationBy Ralph Benko, Kansas Policy InstitutePolicy Brief, 08/03/2011
Exorbitant retirement benefits are threatening the ability of states and municipalities to deliver essential government services, and, in up to 20 states and hundreds of municipalities, are threatening their very solvency. Fortunately, a more appealing remedy than bankruptcy exists. It is contained in two U.S. Supreme Court cases, Energy Reserves Group v. Kansas Power & Light and United States Trust Company of New York v. New Jersey. States and, with state authority, municipalities, can unilaterally reduce excess retirement benefits under circumstances now widely prevailing. There is a widespread misunderstanding in many states that the U.S. Constitution prohibits these adjustments, but there is no such prohibition.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ariel Cohen, Stephen Blank, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/03/2011
According to the Obama Administration, the U.S. is not competing with Russia for global influence. Unfortunately, Moscow has not received this memo. Instead, Russia attempts to extend its influence to constrain U.S. policy. Russian leaders like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov habitually invoke a “polycentric” or multipolar model of the world, with Russia working with her partners toward a future where U.S. power is so diminished that it cannot act without Moscow’s permission. A “reset” policy that ignores Russia’s global efforts to undermine the U.S. recalls the ill-fated détente of the 1970s. It ran aground on Russian expansionism and wars in the Third World, especially Afghanistan. Despite profound changes since then, Russia’s basic anti-American strategic orientation, “reset” rhetoric aside, seems to be the same. In the trying times ahead, when it comes to global challenges, the U.S. should relearn and practice international balance-of-power politics.
Budget & TaxationBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 08/03/2011
What political and economic forces have led the United States on its downward path to fiscal irresponsibility? It is clearly the uneasy combination of high government expenditures and modest government. Congress needs to stop making Government bigger by borrowing money, imposing progressive taxes and through tax expenditures. Although the current debate over the debt ceiling has been resolved, the only real solution is painful cuts in entitlement spending. As long as liberal politicians treat those expenditures as untouchable, then the death of the American economy will soon be upon us.
Health CareBy Chuck Donovan, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/02/2011
The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) new preventive services guidelines are a disaster for freedom of conscience and a fresh illustration of the political hammerlock “reproductive rights” organizations have on the Obama Administration. Forcing private insurance plans to pay for morally controversial offerings such as contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients raises obvious questions regarding freedom of conscience. Federal law requires respect for the conscience of health care providers on many of these issues. Unfortunately, the new HHS guidelines show disrespect for freedom of conscience.
LaborBy Patrick J. Reilly, Capital Research CenterLabor Watch, 08/02/2011
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been in the news recently for siding with Washington machinists’ union members who are angry with Boeing for locating some of its airline production in South Carolina. Less well known – though no less important – is the Board’s push to help unions replace the millions of members they’ve lost in recent decades at the expense of religious freedom. Example: In violation of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause, the NLRB has repeatedly ignored or distorted rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal appeals court against interfering with religious education. Twice this year, the Board has judged that two Catholic colleges are not sufficiently religious and therefore must submit to its broad authority over labor relations.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Fred Lucas, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 08/02/2011
The George Soros-funded Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) enjoys making lofty pronouncements about its nonpartisan status, but it still attacks Republicans more than Democrats. The left-leaning group also has some odd ideas about public disclosure laws. This report gives an overview of CREW’s board of directors and their record of political contributions should dispel the idea that CREW is a nonpartisan organization purely dedicated to good government.
Economic GrowthBy E.J. McMahon, Robert Scardamalia, Empire Center for New York State PolicyResearch Bulletin, 08/02/2011
New York lost a net 1.6 million residents to other states between 2000 and 2010, according to 2010 Census data. The domestic migration outflow, coupled with a slowdown in foreign immigration, ensured that New York’s share of the nation’s population continued to slide in the first decade of the 21st century. This paper traces the ebb and flow of migration trends to and from New York in the past 50 years. To fill in the gaps in the historical statewide data, it relies on a combination of decennial census records, annual population estimates and state vital statistics dating back to 1960.
EducationBy Larry Sand, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 08/02/2011
Teachers like smaller classes, and understandably so. The advantages include fewer papers to grade, students to manage, and parents to deal with. The teachers’ unions like smaller classes, too. Smaller classes mean more teachers—and more union dues. And parents like smaller classes because they believe that their children benefit from more individual attention. Everyone agrees that smaller classes are better, right? In a word: no. Much of the rhetoric supporting small classes is demagogic and runs afoul of the research. For many, the possibility that reducing class sizes may have negative effects on student achievement might at first seem counterintuitive. Considering the fiscal straits in which California finds itself, continuing to insist on smaller classes is foolhardy.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Gregory Conko, Competitive Enterprise InstituteStudies, 08/02/2011
Doctors and their patients both reap tremendous benefits from off-label prescribing; a practice where a physician is able to prescribe a drug or medical device that has been approved by the FDA for a different condition. Unfortunately, FDA’s ban on manufacturer promotion of off-label uses compromises the ability of doctors to learn about important treatment options that can help their patients. And although courts recognize that the government has an interest in protecting public health, the ban on off-label promotion silences the very speakers who have accumulated the most information about the risks, benefits, and various on- and off-label uses of their products. Given the recognized value of open discourse on scientific and health matters, it is far from clear that the blanket restrictions on off-label promotion actually advance the government’s broader interest in promoting public health.
Budget & TaxationBy Josh Barro, Manhattan InstituteCivic Report, 08/02/2011
In light of budget deficits and the need to identify ways to reduce spending in states across the U.S., increasing public discussion has focused on health-care costs for public employees. Much of that discussion has focused on the relatively low share of insurance premiums paid by government workers, when compared with their private-sector counterparts. Although this is a real phenomenon, it is not the only, or even the most important, reason for high health-insurance costs. This report explores the reasons that government-employee benefits cost more, and it makes concrete recommendations for how costs can be brought into line with those of the private sector.
National SecurityBy Kim R. Holmes, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/02/2011
The deep cuts in defense spending envisioned in the just-announced debt ceiling deal raise a fundamental question for Americans: Will we let a deal stand that promises to end American security as we know it? Or will Americans demand that the deal, born of crisis-driven politics in Washington, be abandoned as they come to understand what is at stake? If Congress does not enact a sufficient deficit-reduction plan by this December, the deal calls for an automatic sequestration that would authorize making half of the cuts only in security spending, with the bulk coming out of the Department of Defense. As if that were not enough, there are no automatic cuts in entitlement benefits. We will have to sacrifice the future security of all Americans without actually getting at the cause of the debt crisis—namely, runaway spending on Social Security and the other big social entitlements.