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Recent Policy Studies
Regulation & DeregulationBy Neil Mohindra, Fraser InstituteStudies, 08/25/2011
Insurers and policyholders face several challenges after natural disasters, including some caused by government regulation. After Hurricane Katrina, many victims had insurance against wind damage, which was covered in standard insurance policies, but not flood damage, which was available only through a government program. The split in coverage resulted in payment delays and legal disputes.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Kyn Aizlewood, Richard Wellings, Institute of Economic AffairsReport, 08/25/2011
There is a significant risk that High Speed 2 (HS2) will become the latest in a long series of government big-project disasters with higher-than-forecast costs and lower-than-forecast benefits. HS2 is not commercially viable and will require substantial and increasing levels of subsidy. Taxpayers will therefore bear a very high proportion of the financial risks, which are wholly under-represented in the Economic Case presented by the Department for Transport.
Health CareBy John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstituteHealth Policy Prescriptions, 08/25/2011
The failure of the Utah Health Exchange is not idiosyncratic. It is the destiny of any unsubsidized and voluntary exchange. The reason is pretty straightforward: The administrative costs of operating an exchange plus the administrative costs to a small business of migrating to the exchange are almost certainly greater than the administrative costs of participating in the traditional small-group market (or taking a chance on other “work arounds” promoted by some insurance producers, as described below). Therefore, unless an exchange is subsidized from non-exchange sources (as per Obamacare), it will not attract many participants.
Budget & TaxationBy J. Scott Moody, Illinois Policy InstituteTax & Budget Brief, 08/25/2011
On August 5, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating from a sterling AAA to an AA+. While states were assured a few days later that Uncle Sam’s credit problems would likely not lower their own credit ratings, that pronouncement provides little comfort to Illinois taxpayers who have already suffered under numerous credit rating downgrades in the past few years. Unfortunately, Illinois’s credit rating is likely to take another beating – and not because of the national debt.
EducationBy Andrew Lefevre, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesPolicy Brief, 08/25/2011
For the past 10 years, Pennsylvania’s highly innovative and popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program has provided educational options to low- and middle-income families across the commonwealth. These families were searching for alternatives to the sometimes dangerous and oftentimes failing government-run school assigned to them according to their ZIP code. Through the direct engagement of businesses in the educational process, by providing the funding for scholarships in exchange for state tax credits, the EITC program has proven a tremendously successful partnership, awarding more than 284,000 scholarships worth $335 million.
Information TechnologyBy Gerald W. Brock, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 08/25/2011
Proposed regulations to protect current revenue streams against competition and technological progress are counterproductive. Instead, access charges should be abolished immediately in favor of the continuation of both the regulated reciprocal compensation system and the unregulated private contracts.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nick Sibilla, Todd Wynn, Cascade Policy InstituteReport, 08/25/2011
This report addresses the misconceptions behind creating “green jobs.” First, the term “green jobs” is a vague and vacuous concept. Second, the push to subsidize green jobs is based on faulty economics. Third, assumptions for job growth are inaccurate or downright false.
Economic GrowthBy Václav Klaus, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 08/25/2011
Europeans today prefer leisure to performance, security to risk-taking, paternalism to free markets, collectivism and group entitlements to individualism. They have always been more risk-averse than Americans, but the difference continues to grow. It seems that Europeans are not interested in capitalism and free markets and do not understand that their current behavior undermines the very institutions that made their past success possible. They are eager to defend their non-economic freedoms—the easiness, looseness, laxity and permissiveness of modern or post-modern European society—but when it comes to their economic freedoms, they are quite indifferent.
LaborBy Mark Mix, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 08/25/2011
Union officials funnel a huge portion of the compulsory dues and fees they collect into efforts to influence the outcomes of elections. In return, elected officials are afraid to anger them even in the face of financial crisis. This explains why states with the heaviest tax burdens and the greatest long-term fiscal imbalances (in many cases due to bloated public employee pension funds) are those with the most unionized government workforces. California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin represent the worst default risks among the 50 states. In 2010, an average of 59.2 percent of the public employees in these nine worst default-risk states were unionized, 19.2 percentage points higher than the national average of 40 percent. All of these states except Nevada authorize compulsory union dues and fees in the public sector.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Marlo Lewis, Capital Research CenterGreen Watch, 08/25/2011
On June 26, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill by a vote of 219-212. However, strong grassroots opposition to cap-and-trade contributed to Democratic Party losses in 2010 and, in a stunning turnaround, the Senate rejected a cap-and-trade bill last year. But keep a hand on your wallet. As Barack Obama said the day after Election Day 2010, “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end. And I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.” What was Obama’s “end”? In a moment of candor, presidential candidate Obama said in Jan. 2008 that his cap-and-trade plan would cause electricity prices to “necessarily skyrocket” and “bankrupt” coal. What are those other means? Although many In number, other ways of skinning the cat fall into three basic categories: market-rigging mandates, new regulatory burdens on power plants and other industrial facilities, and bureaucratic restrictions on access to natural resources.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Eric Claeys, National AffairsNational Affairs, 08/25/2011
In trying to persuade the country to elect a coalition determined to repeal Obamacare, the law’s opponents should ask: How can Obamacare claim to “regulate” interstate “commerce” when the act mandates that citizens purchase a service they do not want to buy? How can Obamacare claim to be “proper” under the necessary and proper clause when it bloats and constipates the national government? And how is it “proper” to divert regulation of health care and insurance from the state and local governments that are more accountable and responsive to the American people? When Obamacare’s opponents become adept at asking questions like these, they will make their case for repealing the law even more compelling than it is now.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Seth Lipsky, National AffairsNational Affairs, 08/25/2011
The history of the American debate over this question—the definition of the dollar—offers rich soil in which to plant a campaign for sound money. Reformers have looked at all kinds of ways to limit the freedom of action of our central bankers, from tying the dollar to a basket of goods (with specie merely one among them), to narrowing the Fed’s legislated mandate to battling inflation rather than increasing employment, to moving to a system of private money, to moving toward a classical gold standard. It is hard, in any event, to think of a moment when the logic of reform has been more clear.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Marc Dunkelman, National AffairsNational Affairs, 08/25/2011
As former Google CEO Eric Schmidt once explained, in the course of a single lifetime, the world has moved from one in which most everyone had very limited access to any information, to one in which most everyone has access to nearly every piece of information in the public domain. In turn, a new architecture of innovation has emerged to be a more central element of the nation’s greater economic strength. But an inadvertent consequence of the changes that tracked the latter years of the 20th century and the very beginning of the 21st—some of them technological, but others driven by the evolution of everyday American life—has been to dismantle the basic sociological architecture that persisted throughout much of our history. And the frustrations that Americans feel today—the sense, among many, that the United States is a nation in decline—are largely driven by that transformation.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Rich Trzupek, Encounter BooksBook, 08/25/2011
Environmental regulations aren’t always about environmental protection. Today, more than ever, regulations seem to have been designed by activists, rather than scientists. Regulators Gone Wild is the shocking inside story of how the green movement and big government have united to stifle American productivity and hamstring American innovation, not by design, but as the inevitable consequence of pursuing a utopian vision of environmental purity.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Sol Stern, Encounter BooksBook, 08/25/2011
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has launched an international campaign to achieve recognition by the United Nations for an independent Palestinian state. Abbas and his international supporters claim that only Israel (with the United States) stands in the way of this act of historical justice, which would finally bring about peace in the Middle East. In this eye-opening Broadside, Sol Stern debunks the Palestinians’ claim and shows that Abbas has been lying about the origins and history of the conflict. Palestinian leaders have rejected partition plans that would have given them much more land for their independent state than the Jews were offered for theirs. Rather than being the innocent victims of a “dispossession” at the hands of the Israelis, the Palestinians rejected reasonable compromises and instead pursued their aim of getting rid of the only Jewish state in the world.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Olufemi Olarewaju, H. Sterling Burnett, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 08/25/2011
Solar power may not be the best choice for many uses, but it does have a role to play for a growing number of people. Developing countries, especially, can benefit from the increased use of distributed solar power.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy H. Sterling Burnett, Wesley Dwyer, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 08/25/2011
The federal government should cease interfering with consumer choices for household goods and appliances. Subsidies and mandates for politically preferred green goods increase costs to consumers without commensurate environmental benefits.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Kennedy Meier, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 08/25/2011
Affordable energy is a key component of a prosperous economy. Higher energy prices and the loss of over 7 million jobs and billions of dollars of gross domestic product over the next two decades—with no offsetting public health or environmental benefit—will make present and future generations worse, not better, off. Congress should therefore act immediately to stop the EPA before it can further hamper our struggling economy.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy H. Sterling Burnett, Kennedy Meier, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 08/25/2011
The economy is still struggling and many people remain unemployed. The loss of more than 1 million jobs and soaring energy costs over the next decade will stifle economic recovery. Current clean air standards and technological improvements are already improving air quality. Accordingly, Congress should rein in the EPA’s assault on our already weakened economy.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Courtney O’Sullivan, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 08/25/2011
Many jobs could be performed by unlicensed individuals at a lower cost, without sacrificing safety or quality. Licensing decreases the rate of job growth by an average of 20 percent and costs the economy an estimated $34.8 billion to $41.7 billion per year, in 2000 dollars, reports the Reason Foundation. Registration and voluntary certification by professional and vocational organizations could offer comparable quality and safety standards, without the costly barriers imposed by licensing.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Nicole Gelinas, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 08/25/2011
In some ways, Kingsbridge’s credit-bubble experience was no different from the rest of the nation’s. As the bubble reached its greatest size in late 2006 and early 2007, the financial system—aided by dizzyingly intricate instruments and coddled by the government, which had long kept investors from facing the consequences of bad decisions—piled too much debt on Kingsbridge’s modest dwellings. As a result, the buildings’ owner abandoned them, leaving tenants to bear the brunt of somebody else’s mistakes. Yet Kingsbridge has also become a startling exception to what’s happening in the rest of the country. A few people, acting within New York’s regulation-strangled rental real-estate market, have produced a solution that harnesses the power of the marketplace to correct mistakes.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Victor Davis Hanson, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 08/25/2011
California’s water wars aren’t about scarcity. Even with 37 million people and the nation’s most irrigation-intensive agriculture, the state usually has enough water for both people and crops, thanks to the brilliant hydrological engineering of past generations of Californians. But now there is a new element in the century-old water calculus: a demand that the state’s inland waters flow as pristinely as they supposedly did before the age of dams, reservoirs, and canals. Only that way can California’s rivers, descending from their mountain origins, reach the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta year-round. Only that way, environmentalists say, can a three-inch delta fish be saved and salmon runs from the Pacific to the interior restored.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Roy C. Smith, Independent InstituteThe Independent Review, 08/25/2011
Putting the burden of reducing systemic risk on the banks themselves is a desirable, if unintended, result of the banking crisis and of the many efforts to resolve and reregulate banks in the United States and abroad.
Budget & TaxationBy Bruce Thornton, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 08/25/2011
The 2012 elections will be a referendum on democracy itself, a contest between Plato and Protagoras. It will show whether a critical mass of American voters are able to see beyond their own private interests and make decisions that, while causing themselves some pain, are nonetheless necessary for the long-term fiscal health of the country—or whether, consistent with the ancient critics of democracy and the fears of the founders, they will choose instead a government that uses its power to benefit those who are, as Polybius put it, “habituated to feed at the expense of others, and to have [their] hopes of a livelihood in the property of its neighbors.”
National SecurityBy Amy B. Zegart, Hoover InstitutionBook, 08/25/2011
Ten years after 9/11, the least reformed part of America’s intelligence system is not the CIA or FBI but the US Congress. In Eyes on Spies, Amy Zegart examines the weaknesses of U.S. intelligence oversight and why those deficiencies have persisted, despite the unprecedented importance of intelligence in today’s environment. She argues that many of the biggest oversight problems lie with Congress—the institution, not the parties or personalities—showing how Congress has collectively and persistently tied its own hands in overseeing intelligence.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Russell Muirhead, Hoover InstitutionEssay, 08/25/2011
Americans are often contrasted with Europeans by the way we take work seriously. We identify with our jobs, not our inheritances or our noble ancestry. Often the first question we are asked when we meet somebody is “What do you do?” which is shorthand for “Who are you?” We connect the working life to human dignity.
Budget & TaxationBy Autumn Hanna, et al., Heartland InstituteReport, 08/25/2011
Building on last year’s detailed cut lists, Green Scissors 2011 identifies more than $380 billion in wasteful government subsidies that are damaging to the environment and harming taxpayers.
Budget & TaxationBy Charles Blahous, e21: Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyAnalysis, 08/25/2011
Republicans and Democrats disagree on many things, but they do generally agree on one: spending on health entitlements remains a primary driver of the federal government’s financial predicament. Without reforms to correct the unsustainable path of federal health spending, no lasting solution to our budget woes is attainable. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that in 2011 federal spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other health entitlements will equal $870 billion in 2011, or 5.8% of gross domestic product.
EducationBy Cory Koedel, American Enterprise InstituteEducation Outlook, 08/25/2011
Students who take education classes at universities receive significantly higher grades than students who take classes in every other academic discipline. The higher grades cannot be explained by observable differences in student quality between education majors and other students, nor can they be explained by the fact that education classes are typically smaller than classes in other academic departments. The remaining reasonable explanation is that the higher grades in education classes are the result of low grading standards. These low grading standards likely will negatively affect the accumulation of skills for prospective teachers during university training. More generally, they contribute to a larger culture of low standards for educators.
Economic GrowthBy Vincent R. Reinhart, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 08/25/2011
Our examination of the fifteen worst financial crises in the second half of the twentieth century showed that economies persistently perform poorly after a financial crisis, with real gross domestic product (GDP) growth 1.5 percentage points slower in the decade after the crisis than in the one before. In ten of the fifteen cases, the unemployment rate did not return to its pre-crisis low for the entire decade after the fall. The United States is contending with an expected painful deleveraging cycle and excessive regulation that slows growth, but we may not have laid the foundation for sustained expansion. Real per-capita output is still 2.2 percent off its 2006 level, and effective fiscal consolidation and true tax reform are unlikely to come out of Congress in the run-up to the 2012 elections.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy David E. Bernstein, Cato InstituteBook, 08/25/2011
In this timely reevaluation of an infamous Supreme Court decision, David E. Bernstein provides a compelling survey of the history and background of Lochner v. New York. This 1905 decision invalidated state laws limiting work hours and became the leading case contending that novel economic regulations were unconstitutional. Sure to be controversial, the book argues that the decision was well grounded in precedent and that modern constitutional jurisprudence owes at least as much to the limited-government ideas of Lochner proponents as to the more expansive vision of its Progressive opponents. Tracing the influence of this decision through subsequent battles over segregation laws, sex discrimination, civil liberties, and more, Rehabilitating Lochner argues not only that the court acted reasonably in Lochner, but that Lochner and like-minded cases have been widely misunderstood and unfairly maligned ever since.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Edwin Meese III, The Heritage FoundationReport, 08/25/2011
Protecting the nation requires a unity of purpose and faculty, and it cannot be devolved to a committee or Congress. The Framers recognized as much, and their wisdom is our strength. The President, first and foremost, is responsible for ensuring America’s national security.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jack Spencer, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 08/25/2011
The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future has just released its recommendations on how to resolve America’s nuclear waste dilemma. The Blue Ribbon Commission has provided some sound analysis and introduced some new ideas, but overall, it has focused more on the symptoms of America’s failed approach to nuclear waste management than addressing the system’s structural deficiencies. U.S. nuclear waste management must transition to a more market-oriented system. Moving the responsibility for nuclear waste management away from the federal government will be difficult, but it is necessary for an economically rational and sustainable resolution to America’s nuclear waste dilemma.
ImmigrationBy Charles Stimson, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/25/2011
On May 26, the U. S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting. In a 5–3 decision, the Court upheld the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007, allowing states to force employers to use the E-Verify system and revoke the business licenses of employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. On the heels of that decision, Arizona recently petitioned the Supreme Court to hear Arizona v. United States, a case involving an Arizona immigration law called the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (S.B. 1070). That petition, and ultimate success in the Court, seems all the more likely now given the holding and rationale in Whiting and the not-so-secret fact that the federal government’s inaction on immigration enforcement has crippled states like Arizona.
National SecurityBy Matt Mayer, James Jay Carafano, Jessica Zuckerman, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 08/25/2011
Getting the national homeland security enterprise right is among the most difficult challenges in Washington because the problems in protecting the homeland are rooted in overcentralization, pervasive complacency, and entrenched politics—problems that often cause Washington to not work properly. This report marks a path through this obstacle course. The recommendations in this report are essential steps in establishing the right type of homeland security for the United States—one that is enduring and efficacious. The experience of the past decade is a better guide to the future than what was thought in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. These recommendations are drawn from research by Heritage Foundation analysts over the past decade and from extensive outreach to and engagement with many of the stakeholders in the homeland security enterprise.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 08/25/2011
Proposals to introduce new EU taxes or ban short-selling will not solve the problems of the euro, which are many. The euro was specifically created without a fiscal transfer mechanism so that prudent countries would not be forced to subsume the debts of imprudent ones, and at this time, EU elites lack the democratic mandate to introduce supranational economic governance. The bloated Greek social welfare system and the excessive sovereign debt of the other PIIGS have driven a stake through the heart of the euro. The object lesson for the U.S. is also clear: If the next U.S. President wants to save the American dream, then he or she will need to reduce the national debt substantially and keep federal spending and taxes low.
Foreign Policy/International Affairs
Accession to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Is Unnecessary to Secure U.S. Navigational Rights and FreedomsBy Steven Groves, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 08/25/2011
For more than 200 years, the United States has successfully preserved and protected its navigational rights and freedoms by relying on naval operations, diplomatic protests, and customary international law. U.S. membership in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) would not confer any maritime right or freedom that the U.S. does not already enjoy. The U.S. can best protect its rights by maintaining a strong U.S. Navy, not by acceding to a deeply flawed multilateral treaty
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Hans von Spakovsky, Alex Ingram, The Heritage FoundationLegal Memorandum, 08/25/2011
Citizens Without Proof, a report on voter identification requirements produced by the Brennan Center at New York University’s School of Law, is both dubious in its methodology and results and suspect in its sweeping conclusions. By eschewing many of the traditional scientific methods of data collection and analysis, the authors of the Brennan Center study appear to have pursued results that advance a particular political agenda rather than the truth about voter identification. Given that Citizens Without Proof is the study most frequently cited by opponents of voter identification requirements, its shortcomings cannot simply be dismissed—a tempting solution, given the study’s dubious methodology. Rather, the conclusions drawn by the Brennan Center must be contrasted with other, legitimate studies—a process that will reveal the truth about voter identification requirements.
National SecurityBy The Heritage Foundation Counterterrorism Task Force, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 08/25/2011
In June 2011, President Barack Obama released a new National Strategy for Counterterrorism. This document profoundly misreads the nature of the global transnational threat. Following this strategy for a few years will result in a resurgent threat as dangerous as that shortly after 9/11. Dealing with the “next wave” of transnational terrorism will require a different course. The strategy for the next wave must regain the initiative that has been lost by this President, bring a successful end to the long war, and leave behind an enduring and sustainable counterterrorism enterprise—one that can adeptly respond to future emerging threats.