- Budget & Taxation
- Crime, Justice & the Law
- The Constitution
- Economic & Political Thought
- Economic Growth
- Elections, Transparency, & Accountability
- Family, Culture & Community
- Foreign Policy/ International Affairs
- Health Care
- Information Technology
- International Trade & Finance
- Monetary Policy/ Financial Regulation
- National Security
- Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
- Regulation & Deregulation
- Retirement/ Social Security
- Transportation & Infrastructure
- Acton Institute
- Adam Smith Institute
- Alabama Policy Institute
- Allegheny Institute
- Alliance for School Choice
- Alliance for Worker Freedom
- America’s Future Foundation
- American Council on Science and Health
- American Enterprise Institute
- American Institute for Full Employment
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Americans for Tax Reform
- Arkansas Policy Foundation
- Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation
- Atlas Society
- Beacon Center of Tennessee
- Beacon Hill Institute
- Becket Fund
- Bluegrass Institute
- Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
- Business & Media Institute
- Calvert Institute
- Cascade Policy Institute
- Cato Institute
- Center for Consumer Freedom
- Center for College Affordability and Productivity
- Center for Equal Opportunity
- Center for Health Transformation
- Center for Immigration Studies
- Center for International Private Enterprise
- Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Center of the American Experiment
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
- Citizens Against Government Waste
- Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy
- Club For Growth
- Commonwealth Foundation
- Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Council for Affordable Health Insurance
- Empire Center for New York State Policy
- Ethan Allen Institute
- Evergreen Freedom Foundation
- Federalist Society
- Foreign Policy Research Institute
- Fraser Institute
- Foundation for Defense of Democracies
- Foundation for Educational Choice
- Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability
- Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment
- Free Congress Foundation
- Free State Foundation
- Galen Institute
- Georgia Public Policy Foundation
- Goldwater Institute
- Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
- Great Plains Public Policy Institute
- Heartland Institute
- The Heritage Foundation
- Heritage Libertad
- Hoover Institution
- Hudson Institute
- Illinois Policy Institute
- IMANI Center for Policy & Education
- Independence Institute
- Independent Institute
- Institute for Health Freedom
- Institute for Energy Research
- Institute for Humane Studies
- Institute for Justice
- Institute for Market Economics
- Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
- Institute for Policy Innovation
- Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
- Institute of Economic Affairs
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute
- International Policy Network
- International Republican Institute
- James Madison Institute
- John Jay Institute for Faith, Society & Law
- John Locke Foundation
- Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy
- Kansas Policy Institute
- Landmark Legal Foundation
- Leadership Institute
- Lexington Institute
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- Maine Heritage Policy Center
- Manhattan Institute
- Maryland Public Policy Institute
- Mercatus Center
- Mississippi Center for Public Policy
- National Center for Policy Analysis
- National Center for Public Policy Research
- National Taxpayers Union
- Nevada Policy Research Institute
- North Dakota Policy Council
- Ocean State Policy Research Institute
- Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
- Pacific Research Institute
- Palmetto Family Council
- PERC - The Property and Environment Research Center
- Philanthropy Roundtable
- Phoenix Center
- Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
- Progress & Freedom Foundation
- Property Rights Alliance
- Public Interest Institute
- Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia
- Reason Foundation
- Rio Grande Foundation
- Sam Adams Alliance
- Science and Public Policy Institute
- Show-Me Institute
- South Carolina Policy Council
- State Policy Network
- Sutherland Institute
- The Tax Foundation
- Texas Public Policy Foundation
- Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
- Thomas Jefferson Institute
- Virginia Institute for Public Policy
- Washington Legal Foundation
- Washington Policy Center
- Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
- Yankee Institute for Public Policy
- Young America’s Foundation
Recent Policy Studies
Economic GrowthBy Philip Booth, et al., Institute of Economic AffairsBook, 01/23/2012
Explicit attempts by government to control GDP, or rapidly increase GDP growth, have normally failed. Such a target-driven mentality is part of the conceit of central planning. Attempts to centrally direct policy towards improving general wellbeing will also fail. Contrary to popular perception, new statistical work suggests that happiness is related to income. This relationship holds between countries, within countries and over time. The relationship is robust and also holds at higher levels of income as well as at lower levels of income. This calls into question the assertion that people are on a ‘hedonic treadmill’ that prevents them becoming happier as their income rises beyond a certain level of income.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Michael Mukasey, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 01/23/2012
The message lurking in the structure of the Constitution is that those acting lawfully under it deserve at least the benefit of the doubt when they act to protect the common good. That is not meant to be a statement or a suggestion of a jurisprudential standard, a standard of law; but it is meant as a prudential standard, a standard of civics and public discourse. This standard will help keep intact the system that we depend on to preserve the nation that Abraham Lincoln called the last, best hope of earth—words that are truer today than they were when he spoke them during another time of trouble.
EducationBy Charles Murray, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 01/23/2012
The Department of Education has no track record of positive accomplishment—nothing in the national numbers on educational achievement, nothing in the improvement of educational outcomes for the disadvantaged, nothing in the advancement of educational practice. It just spends a lot of money. If the Department of Education disappeared from next year’s budget, would anyone notice? The only reason that anyone would notice is the money. The nation’s public schools have developed a dependence on the federal infusion of funds. As a practical matter, actually doing away with the Department of Education would involve creating block grants so that school district budgets throughout the nation wouldn’t crater. Sadly, even that isn’t practical. The education lobby will prevent any serious inroads on the Department of Education for the foreseeable future.
EducationBy Paul E. Peterson, Ludger Woessmann, et al., Education NextEducation Next, 01/23/2012
Given the integration of the world economy, a global perspective is needed for assessing the performance of U.S. schools, districts, and states. High-school graduates in each and every state compete for jobs with graduates from all over the world. Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering and president emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has warned, “America faces many challenges…but the enemy I fear most is complacency. We are about to be hit by the full force of global competition. If we continue to ignore the obvious task at hand while others beat us at our own game, our children and grandchildren will pay the price. We must now establish a sense of urgency.”
EducationBy Jay P. Greene, Josh B. McGee, Education NextEducation Next, 01/23/2012
American education has problems, almost everyone is willing to concede, but many think those problems are mostly concentrated in our large urban school districts. In the elite suburbs, where wealthy and politically influential people tend to live, the schools are assumed to be world-class. Unfortunately, what everyone knows is wrong. Even the most elite suburban school districts often produce results that are mediocre when compared with those of our international peers.
EducationBy Eric A. Hanushek, Education NextEducation Next, 01/23/2012
But in all the acrimonious discussion surrounding NCLB, surprisingly little attention has been given to the actual impact of that legislation and other accountability systems on student performance. Now a reputable body, a committee set up by the National Research Council (NRC), the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, has reached a conclusion on this matter. In its report, Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education, the committee says that NCLB and state accountability systems have been so ineffective at lifting student achievement that accountability as we know it should probably be dropped by federal and state governments alike. Unfortunately, the NRC’s strongly worded conclusions are only weakly supported by scientific evidence, despite the fact that NRC’s stated mission is “to improve government decision making and public policy, increase public understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge.”
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Randal R. Rucker, Walter N. Thurman, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterPERC Policy Series, 01/23/2012
We live in an imperfect world full of problems. That fact contributes to the ongoing media drumbeat over imminent catastrophe. Horror stories sell; news items about incremental improvements are not interesting except to people in the industries working to make life a little bit better. One horror story is that of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious phenomenon affecting honey bees. It is a real problem that not long ago produced headlines such as “Bee Colony Collapses Could Threaten U.S. Food Supply” (Associated Press, May 3, 2007). Two prominent agricultural economists, Randy Rucker and Wally Thurman, look at the bee problem in a new light. The problem still exists but gets little news because, once again, the sky did not fall. People in the beekeeping industry reacted to the problem so swiftly that pollination continued and the food supply was saved.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Laura Huggins, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterPERC Policy Series, 01/23/2012
Fisheries around the world suffer abuse due to the lack of property rights. The result is environmental destruction and economic waste. In a few instances, when fisheries were in collapse, developed nations were spurred to adopt individual quotas or some other rights-based approach that produced better environmental and economic results. Unique about Namibia is that a catch-share system was adopted in a poor nation with a population consisting of several deeply-rooted tribes. This development shows that market-based reform is not a Western notion that somehow conflicts with traditional values. The lessons from Namibia and other fisheries success stories discussed in this essay illustrate that property rights and environmental protection can happen anywhere.
PhilanthropyBy Kirk MacDonald, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 01/23/2012
Do you care that Adbusters Media Foundation is an obscure Canadian foundation run on a shoestring budget? That its magazine attacks “consumerism” and mocks capitalism and the advertising industry? That its founder dislikes the United States and Israel? How about that it’s behind the Occupy Wall Street movement?
PhilanthropyBy Matthew Vadum, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 01/23/2012
Few outside the world of philanthropy have heard of the nearly 60-year-old Arca Foundation but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been effective. Founded by a tobacco heiress, Arca has been on the cutting edge of radical left-wing causes, embracing Fidel Castro’s Cuba, the Palestinian cause, Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing, and the never-ending social justice campaigns of the Left.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Michael Marinaccio, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 01/23/2012
Last year’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission drove the activist Left to madness. The decision affirmed a principle that corporations, like individuals, have free speech rights, which liberal doomsayers predict will lead to nothing less than the downfall of American democracy. To combat the ruling, the Obama White House has drafted an executive order that, if issued, will compel both for-profit and non-profit corporations (including labor unions) to disclose their political contributions whenever they apply for federal grants and contracts.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy J. Christian Adams, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 01/23/2012
Liberal foundations, public interest law firms and advocacy groups have created a permanent network of experts and organizations devoted to an arcane but critical task: monopolizing the narrative on election laws and procedures. Cloaking their actions in the rhetoric of civil rights and the right to vote, they seek to affect the outcome of the election. They challenge any effort to protect the integrity of the ballot box by denying the possibility of vote fraud and crying “Jim Crow.”
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Amanda Carey, Capital Research CenterGreen Watch, 01/23/2012
Despite the environmental movement’s enormous effort and great expectations Congress has enacted no comprehensive climate change legislation. There’s no carbon tax, no cap-and-trade. In 2009, a cap-and-trade bill did pass the House but it was pulled from the Senate calendar. True, the federal government continues to tighten air quality standards, fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and emission controls for plants and factories. But environmentalism’s Holy Grail remains elusive: there’s been no bill signing ceremony that recognizes global warming as a man-made planetary threat requiring nationwide controls over carbon emissions. What happened?
EducationBy Dick M. Carpenter II, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceReport, 01/23/2012
Idaho already offers tax credits for donations to private schools, including religious schools, through the Schools, Libraries and Museums Credit. Through this program, taxpayers may take a credit for charitable contributions to Idaho public and private (including religious) nonprofit schools, including elementary, secondary and higher education, as well as Idaho public libraries, the Idaho State Historical Society and a list of other nonprofit organizations. This tax credit boosts private funds available to private schools and other organizations. Similarly, a scholarship tax credit would simply encourage private donations to private organizations so that scholarships could be made available for families to choose from a wider variety of schools—in some cases, the very same schools currently receiving donations through the Schools, Libraries and Museums Credit.
PhilanthropyBy Nachum Gabler, Charles Lammam, Niels Veldhuis, Fraser InstituteFraser Alert, 01/23/2012
An increasingly smaller proportion of the population in most provinces is giving to charity over time. Most notably, how ever, the index shows that private monetary generosity in Canada is considerably lower than in the United States. This generosity gap undoubtedly limits the power and potential of charities to improve the quality of life in Canada.
Health CareBy Bacchus Barua, Mark Rovere, Brett J. Skinner, Fraser InstituteFraser Alert, 01/23/2012
Waiting times for elective medical treatment have in creased since last year. Specialist physicians surveyed across 12 special ties and 10 Canadian provinces re port a total waiting time of 19.0 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of elective treatment. At 104 percent longer than it was in 1993, this is the longest total wait time recorded since the Fraser Institute began measuring wait times in Canada.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Ibn Warraq, Encounter BooksBook, 01/23/2012
The West in general, and the United States in particular, has witnessed over the last twenty years a slow erosion of its civilizational self-confidence. Under the influence of intellectuals and academics like Susan Sontag and Noam Chomsky, and destructive fashions from postmodernism to multiculturalism, the West has lost all security in its own values, and is surprisingly incapable and unwilling to defend those values against aggressive challengers across the globe. In Why the West Is Best, Ibn Warraq, an Islamic scholar and a leading figure in Koranic criticism, offers a frank and authoritative defense of the West from the outside looking in. Warraq examines the strengths and freedoms often taken for granted in the West and contrasts them with the stunning lack of freedoms in the majority of societies in the world, tackling taboo subjects of racism in Asian culture, Arab slavery, and Islamic Imperialism along the way.
Economic GrowthBy Amy Handlin, Broadside BooksBook, 01/23/2012
Crony capitalism is as much of a problem at the state and local level as it is at the federal level. Drawing on her personal experiences, Amy Handlin paints a colorful picture of some of the political insiders who’ve used their positions of power to advance their own financial interests at the expense of the public welfare. Handlin concludes with a set of practical recommendations that average citizens can undertake to fight crony capitalism in their own back yards.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Karla L. Palmer, Jeffrey N. Gibbs, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2012
A federal court in Florida held recently that the Federal Food and Drug Administration lacked the authority to enjoin the practice of pharmacists filling a veterinarian’s prescription for a non-food producing animal by compounding from bulk substances. After undertaking a thorough historical, regulatory and legal analysis of pharmaceutical compounding, the court found that FDA’s assertion of authority over “traditional pharmacy compounding in the context of a pharmacist-veterinarian-patient relationship is contrary to [the] congressional intent” of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The court also held that the undisputed evidence in the case demonstrated that allowing FDA to enjoin a pharmacist’s traditional, widespread, and state-authorized practice of bulk compounding of animal drugs “could destabilize the pharmacy profession and leave many animal patients without necessary medication.”
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Paul Smith, Katherine Fallow, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 01/23/2012
Variations in courts’ approaches to commercial speech raise the question of whether the Court ought to be more consistent about demanding real proof of claimed justifications in reviewing laws that restrict free expression. Justice Breyer certainly has a point that the huge differential between regulation of violence and sex seems puzzling as an empirical matter. How about commercial speech and other expression subject to intermediate scrutiny? Should “common sense” justifications continue to be allowed there? We believe not. As Judge Posner put it in an earlier video game case, “common sense is sometimes another word for prejudice.” Or, to quote a recent philosophical article, “[m]odern science was founded on the basis of a skepticism about the value of common sense for explaining the world—a laudable, fertile skepticism about our cognitive capacities and what is immediately given to them, about the received views and explanatory systems passed on within cultures.”
Regulation & DeregulationBy Dick Thornburgh, David R. Fine, Washington Legal FoundationCounsel's Advisory, 01/23/2012
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for assistance in resolving a case involving the rights of minority shareholders who believe they were “squeezed out” in a cash-out merger, and the result will decide whether a Pennsylvania appraisal statute provides those minority shareholders with their exclusive remedy. On the path to that result, Mitchell Partners, L.P. v. Irex Corporation also demonstrates how federal courts may determine novel state-law questions.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy J. Russell Jackson, Washington Legal FoundationCounsel's Advisory, 01/23/2012
The decision in Pilgrim is strong authority supporting the efficiency of a motion to strike class allegations where it is clear from the complaint that the proposed class would involve the application of fifty states’ laws, which cannot be performed consistent with the predominance and superiority requirements of Rule 23(b)(3).
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Michael E. Clark, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2012
The threat of enforcement actions being pursued against companies and individuals for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has dramatically increased for various reasons, which include more aggressive use of the law by its enforcers (the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the globalization of business markets, and a sea-change in attitudes of officials in most developed countries about the importance of rooting out corruption. This paper focuses on a hot issue in FCPA enforcement now that foreign-owned entities are increasingly targeted in enforcement proceedings—namely, what constitutes a foreign official?
Crime, Justice & the Law
Punitive Damage Awards, The Rest Of The Story: A Response To The Center For Justice And Democracy White PaperBy Victor E. Schwartz, Cary Silverman, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2012
A recent white paper issued by the Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D), “What You Need to Know About . . . Punitive Damages,” argues that punitive damage awards, unconstrained by procedural safeguards or statutory or constitutional limits, are needed to protect Americans from corporate misconduct and unsafe products. This Legal Backgrounder highlights some of the significant flaws and half-truths in the CJ&D white paper’s reasoning. Ironically, contrary to its assertions, aspects of the white paper demonstrate the importance of proportionality and due process safeguards, and how punitive damages overkill can eliminate the public’s access to beneficial products.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Beth Shaw, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 01/23/2012
The Act’s provisions should help to correct joinder abuse in patent litigation, going forward, by creating an additional constraint on plaintiffs who allege that their patents are being infringed by a broad spectrum of corporate defendants. A plaintiff must include in the complaint allegations that each defendant made or used the same product or process, and must include “questions of fact common to all defendants,” or the plaintiff must sue the defendants separately. Separate suits will allow defendants more opportunities to seek transfer to an appropriate venue. The new joinder section also potentially adds some major litigation costs for non-practicing entities. In addition to litigation costs, if a plaintiff sues twenty separate defendants in twenty separate suits, it potentially puts the validity of the patent in suit at stake every time the case is tried.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Cory L. Andrews, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 01/23/2012
Last May, the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children released its Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulation (IWG Proposal). In a nutshell, the IWG Proposal advocates sweeping nutritional standards and marketing restrictions on the food and beverage industries. Though well-intentioned, the proposal would, among other things, severely hinder a company’s ability to provide consumers of all ages with constitutionally-protected information about their products. What the public has largely overlooked, however, is how the IWG Proposal would hamper or eliminate the many worthwhile philanthropic and community activities that the food and beverage industries have long sponsored. In recent congressional testimony, a senior Federal Trade Commission official pledged that the final IWG Proposal would account for the concerns described below. It remains to be seen, however, whether the entire Working Group would embrace such changes.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Karina Sargsian, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 01/23/2012
The framers intended to minimize the government’s ability to punish. Whether a punishment is civil or criminal in nature, however, is a subjective determination. Understandably, the courts, in order to allow constitutional provisions to protect defendants from punitive civil sanctions, found trouble distinguishing a punitive from a non-punitive sanction. This created a blurry and unpredictable divide between civil and criminal punishments, resulting in inconsistent outcomes. With the resurrection of Ward’s two-prong test, the confusion surrounding these issues will considerably decrease. Courts will now first defer to legislative intent. If the legislature has labeled the punishment as civil, no constitutional protection will arise. Only in exceptional cases, where there is the clearest proof of sufficiently punitive sanctions, will certain constitutional protections be extended in civil cases.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Citizen Suit Settlement Impels Federal Listing Action on 250 Species: But Will It Reduce ESA Litigation?By Alison Suthers, William G. Myers III, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2012
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has developed a work plan to review more than 250 species for possible protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the next several years. The plan is part of settlement agreements between FWS, WildEarth Guardians, and the Center for Biological Diversity in a major consolidated lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit alleges that FWS failed to meet deadlines for making ESA listing determinations for a number of species. Under the settlement agreements, FWS has not committed to list any of the species under the ESA but has committed to make decisions about whether to list the species.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Peter L. Gray, Christopher H. Marraro, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 01/23/2012
A lawsuit that the New York Attorney General recently filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt development of natural gas in Marcellus Shale Formation brings into sharp relief the need to reform the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), or at the very least to refocus its implementation. NEPA is a procedural statute; it directs all federal agencies to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before undertaking a “major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” The EIS must include an analysis which, among other things, identifies unavoidable adverse environmental impacts of the proposed action, as well as alternatives to the proposed action. With NEPA now being used to prevent development of green energy, such as the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts and cleaner-burning natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation, we have come full circle.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Michael Volkov, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 01/23/2012
The Justice Department fails to provide transparency to the voluntary disclosure process which would ensure that all parties are treated consistently and fairly. As a result, DOJ becomes a virtual Star Chamber, defining and enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act without any meaningful judicial review. The Justice Department and the SEC need to adopt and disseminate standards and policies governing the voluntary disclosure process, or Congress needs to provide some mandatory disclosure process to assist companies. The absence of such standards is unfair, breeds disparate treatment of similarly situated companies, and undermines the fair administration of justice.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Patricia Millet, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2012
If the trends hold, either a strong textual hook or a plausible claim of impossibility will now be required for a successful claim of preemption, because the standard for successfully invoking purposes-and-objectives preemption has become far more rigorous and exacting. An agency’s claim of impairment alone will certainly not suffice. Of course, the end result of that doctrinal shift may simply be that many of the considerations that previously would have informed purposes-and-objectives analysis will be reformulated into a statutory interpretation dispute over how properly to read a preemption or savings clause. In general, however, if an entity claiming preemption can point to statutory text or plausible impossibility triggering the non obstante analysis, the disappearance of the presumption against preemption will make preemption more readily available.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Robert A. Armitage, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2012
The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, the world’s first truly twenty-first century patent act, contains all the elements needed for a patent system to operate effectively, efficiently, economically, and equitably. If the decade ahead yields greater international patent cooperation and harmonization among patent systems around the world, the starting point for that effort should lie in the incorporation of its provisions into patent laws across the globe. Should that promise be realized, then the act will have realized its full potential as the most significant patent act since 1790, not only for the United States, but for inventors and creators everywhere, as well as those who invest in the creation of new inventions, those who are employed producing and selling them, and, of course, those who are then able to benefit from them as consumers.
Health CareBy Marshall P. Meringola, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2012
As the number of Americans suffering from chronic pain continues to escalate – now surpassing the number of those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined – the use of prescription opiods for relieving pain has become prevalent as an effective and medically proven treatment for a variety of patient pain levels. Unfortunately, Washington State recently enacted burdensome regulations on prescription opiods, redefining the patient-physician relationship such that physicians are often forced to choose between “providing access to pain medications for those who need them and managing the variety of risks posed by [opioid] analgesic drugs.” The regulations were intended to reduce prescription drug abuse, but in actuality, they place physicians in an unenviable position, and threaten the ability of medical providers to appropriately evaluate and prescribe personalized treatment for all patients.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy John R. Fleder, Anne K. Walsh,, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2012
Many federal prosecutors and investigators believe that private counsel hinder the government’s ability to gather evidence in civil and criminal matters. To circumvent the involvement of company counsel in such investigations, government officials have increasingly turned to catching potential witnesses and defendants off-guard. Investigators frequently employ the practice of visiting the homes of current and former officials of a company that is under investigation. Companies need to have procedures in place to protect themselves and their employees before such visits occur.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Eli Lehrer, R.J. Lehmann, James Madison InstituteBackgrounder, 01/19/2012
The ways that Floridians purchase coverage to protect their property and insure their vehicles has, increasingly, placed a significant drag on the state’s economy. Both the state’s automobile insurance system—particularly the “no-fault” personal injury protection (PIP) portions of it—and the state’s homeowners insurance system have very serious flaws that threaten the state’s business climate and, indeed, the financial well-being of all its citizens. Some of Florida’s problems, particularly those that relate to property insurance, stem from its location. But nearly as many result from deliberate, interconnected policies pursued by the Legislature, previous governors, or the Office of Insurance Regulation. As it convenes for its 2012 session, the Florida Legislature should consider major reforms in its homeowners and vehicle insurance systems. Florida, quite simply, faces a dual crisis in its insurance markets and needs to make serious changes to overcome it.
Economic GrowthBy Paul Guppy, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Brief, 01/19/2012
The U.S. economy is officially in recovery, but people in Washington state are still struggling. Traditionally, small businesses have led the way out of recession as entrepreneurs create jobs and stimulate the economy. Unfortunately small businesses have been especially hard hit by the recession. As financial markets dropped and consumer confidence plummeted, the lines of credit and new loans vital to small companies dried up. To spur Washington along the road to recovery, policymakers in Olympia need to create the best possible environment for opportunity, confidence and economic growth so that small business owners can begin hiring again.
EducationBy Mike Ford, Wisconsin Policy Research InstituteReport, 01/19/2012
Wisconsin’s teacher compensation system is outdated, out-of-touch, and not designed to attract and retain top talent. Lessons from the public and private sector, advances in data systems, and the information available on teacher motivations should be the backbone of a new system that reflects the values of Wisconsin and the needs of teachers and students. Current work in Wisconsin to create a new assessment system can be developed with the proposed framework in mind. Similarly, efforts being spearheaded by Gov. Scott Walker to create a school grading system should recognize the importance of attainment and measure success with variables that include graduation rates and future measures of success. If properly designed, a school grading system could complement if not supplant the presented categories for defining success.
EducationBy James Golsan, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 01/19/2012
The Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Legislature have determined that efficiency in the public schools means “equal ability to raise taxes.” This approach led to Texas public school expenditures increasing by 334.5 percent from 1987 to 2007, an increase of 142 percent when adjusting for inflation. Texas policymakers and courts should instead seek to bring real efficiency into our public schools so that they deliver a high quality education with the minimum use of resources.
Health CareBy Arlene Wohlgemuth, Spencer Harris, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 01/19/2012
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) attempts to provide comprehensive and universal insurance coverage for the nation. In order to accomplish this goal, it imposes numerous new requirements on our state’s businesses. These requirements pose significant burdens on Texas business.
Health CareBy Spencer Harris, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 01/19/2012
Medical Loss Ratios can be a useful tool to assist consumers in choosing an insurance plan; however, MLR regulations are generally more damaging than useful. Historically, when states institute high MLR regulations it has led to insurers leaving the market, decreasing competition, and rising premiums.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Julie Gunlock, Independent Women's ForumPolicy Focus, 01/19/2012
Reasonable parents understand it is their responsibility—not governments’—to make healthy choices for their children. And parents have more choices than ever before because cereal companies have responded to a variety of health concerns and dietary restrictions. When it comes to cereals, parents can now select gluten and nut-free cereals, as well as those with reduced fat, sugar and carbohydrates. In other words, parents have plenty of healthy options for their children. Government has no business targeting one type of ingredient, or one industry, for regulation. Such efforts are bound to fail and are an inappropriate government intrusion into Americans’ private lives.
EducationBy Vicki E. Alger, Platte Institute for Economic ResearchPolicy Study, 01/19/2012
This report examines Nebraska’s existing teacher selection and evaluation policies and recommends five reforms adopted in Florida that have helped raise achievement and graduation rates dramatically across student sub-groups. Specifically: 1) Allow multiple teaching paths to attract talented professionals to the classroom 2) Incentivize student success through a professional pay structure 3) Define teacher effectiveness in terms of student learning 4) Make student learning a core measure of teacher evaluations 5) Bring teacher contracting into the 21st Century
Information TechnologyBy Randolph J. May, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 01/19/2012
When Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the most significant change to the Communications Act since its adoption in 1934, it was thought by many that the enactment of the new statute meant there would be a meaningful deregulatory shift in communications policymaking in light of the then-developing marketplace competition. But, unfortunately, there has been no such paradigm shift – which means
States Must Protect the Health Care Freedom of their Citizens by Saying No to Federal Health Insurance ExchangesBy Diane Cohen, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Memo, 01/19/2012
Whether state- or federally established, health insurance exchanges are government-sanctioned cartels where only government-approved insurers can sell only government-approved insurance. While proponents claim that states should establish an exchange in order to fend off a federally established one and preserve state control, a review of the law and proposed regulations reveals that establishing an exchange will accomplish none of these objectives. Following are select provisions of the law and the proposed regulations that show the extent of federal control over the exchanges. These provisions show that states will not be able to maintain any meaningful control or “flexibility” by establishing an exchange. Likewise, they show that any state that establishes an exchange will be enforcing the individual mandate and infringing on their citizens’ rights to choose the health care and insurance that best suits their needs.
Budget & Taxation
Investing in Arizona: How the Legislature Can Get Arizona’s Economy Moving Again by Reducing the Barriers to Investment and Job CreationBy Stephen Slivinski, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Memo, 01/19/2012
Fundamentally reforming the state’s tax code is the best thing that Arizona lawmakers can do to increase investment and job growth in Arizona. It simply cannot be done by cherry-picking industries to favor or tweaks to the tax code that favor one type of investment over another. The ideas that follow range from large-scale, broad-based tax reforms that may need to be phased-in over a few years or not take effect until a later date, to things the legislature can do this year that will make the state’s tax code the most friendly to job creators.
Budget & TaxationBy Nick Kasprak, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 01/19/2012
Taxpayers who itemize deductions have the option of deducting state and local taxes from their income. In doing so, each individual taxpayer must decide to deduct either the income tax withheld from his or her wages, or the total sales tax he or she paid during the tax year. The option to deduct sales tax, rather than income tax, is a temporary provision that must be extended each year. States vary widely in the percentage of taxpayers who use each deduction. In general, more taxpayers elect to deduct income taxes than sales taxes. However, as one might expect, states that have no (or low) income taxes tend to see most taxpayers deducting sales taxes instead. Taxpayers in these states therefore have the most to lose should this option not be extended each year.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Thomas Stratmann, J.W. Verret, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 01/19/2012
The unexpected application of the 2010 proxy access rule to small firms caused approximately $335 million in losses to the value of shares in small firms. Subsequent to the events of this study, the D.C. Circuit overturned the 2010 proxy access rule on the grounds that it did not contain sufficient economic analysis demonstrating that the costs of the rule exceeded its benefits.12 The SEC has indicated its intention to revisit the rule in the future. This study offers evidence that proxy access may be harmful to publicly traded companies. In particular, this study demonstrates that proxy access is harmful to smaller companies. It also indicates that regulators should remain cautious in writing new rules to affect the balance of power between shareholders and boards of directors, as the potential for unintended consequences and the costs of those consequences could be significant.
Health CareBy Henry I. Miller, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 01/19/2012
“If we can save only one child’s life…” is a phrase frequently used to justify one initiative or another. It has been invoked in recent years to promote causes ranging from the installation of seat belts in school buses to anti-alcohol campaigns directed at pre-teens. But when it comes to saving lives through certain infant vaccinations, public health officials seem not to grasp the concept. Consider meningococcal disease, a rare but devastating bacteria-caused illness that primarily affects infants and children. Its elimination has been on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s list of priorities since 1999, but in early 2010, around the same time that a vaccine to prevent meningococcal disease in infants was submitted to the FDA for approval, the CDC began to show signs of retreating from its earlier resolve. Its motives are unclear.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy James Huffman, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 01/19/2012
Though the smart money will be with a forecast of more doctrinal incrementalism when the Supreme Court hears the legal challenge to Obamacare, we should demand and expect better from our nation’s highest court. As recently as its last term in Bond v. United States, the Court suggested a foundation for what might be called, in today’s parlance, a “reset” of commerce clause doctrine in particular and federalism doctrine in general.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Richard B. Belzer, Competitive Enterprise InstituteReport, 01/19/2012
There is nothing wrong in principle with publishing periodic reports identifying substances that pose carcinogenic risks to humans. But it would be a mistake to continue basing these reports on scientific knowledge and primitive technology dating from the 1960s. The National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) Report on Carcinogens (RoC) is one such periodic report. The NTP has interpreted its statutory charge in a way that never was consistent with the law authorizing its preparation, resulting in Reports that never could live up to Congress’ original intent. Though the law requires the NTP to estimate the number of Americans actually exposed, and to list substances only if a significant number of Americans are exposed to them, the NTP functionally ignores exposure. The law also requires the NTP to estimate the reduction in cancer incidence resulting from regulatory standards, but it does not perform that required task, either.
The Constitution/Civil Liberties
Renewing Federalism by Reforming Article V: Defects in the Constitutional Amendment Process and a Reform ProposalBy Michael B. Rappaport, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 01/19/2012
The constitutional amendment procedure of Article V is defective because the national convention amendment method does not work. Because no amendment can be enacted without Congress’s approval, limitations on the federal government that Congress opposes are virtually impossible to pass. This defect may have prevented the enactment of several constitutional amendments that would have constrained Congress, such as amendments establishing a balanced budget limitation, a line-item veto, or congressional term limits. The increasingly nationalist character of our constitutional charter may not be the result of modern values or circumstances, but an artifact of a distorted amendment procedure. Article V should be re¬formed to allow two-thirds of the state legislatures to propose a constitutional amendment which would then be ratified or rejected by the states, acting through state conventions or state ballot measures. Such a return of power to the states would militate against our overly centralized government by helping to restore the federalist character of our Constitution. Moreover, a strategy exists that would allow this reform to be enacted.
National SecurityBy Thomas Donnelly, Danielle Pletka, Maseh Zarif, American Enterprise InstituteBook, 01/19/2012
Though containment and deterrence are possible policies and strategies for the United States and others to adopt when faced with a nuclear Iran, we cannot share the widespread enthusiasm entertained in many quarters. Indeed, the broad embrace of containment and deterrence appears to be based primarily on an unwillingness to analyze the risks and costs described. It may be the case that containing and deterring is the least-bad choice. However, that does not make it a low-risk or low-cost choice. In fact, it is about to be not a choice but a fact of life.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise InstituteEnergy and Environment Outlook, 01/19/2012
Rhetorical support among public officials for renewable electricity is broad and bipartisan, and the direct and indirect subsidies for renewable electricity from the federal and state governments are substantial. At the federal level, this support takes the form of large financial support for the production of renewable power and for investment in renewable generation capacity. At the state level, the major form of support for renewable electricity is the ongoing implementation of “renewable portfolio standards”—guaranteed market shares—for power produced from renewable sources. Despite this support, renewable electricity has only a small share of the market, and ongoing developments in the market for competitive fuels—in particular, the prospect of declining prices for natural gas—make it likely that renewable electricity will continue to face severe constraints in terms of competitiveness for many years to come.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise InstituteEnergy and Environment Outlook, 01/19/2012
Public policy support for renewable electricity—wind and solar power in particular—is substantial, taking the form of large subsidies both direct and indirect. A number of rationales usually are offered in support of those public policies; whatever their surface plausibility, they are deeply problematic both conceptually and in terms of the available data. In short, they are wholly unpersuasive and provide a weak basis for policy formulation. This second in a three-part Outlook series discusses these rationales.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise InstituteEnergy and Environment Outlook, 01/19/2012
Despite widespread political support and large direct and indirect subsidies from both the federal and state governments, renewable electricity—wind and solar power, in particular—produces only 3.6 percent of US power generation. This small market share suggests inherent limitations that can be overcome only at very high cost. This first in a three-part Outlook series discusses these limitations.
LaborBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
By reducing the need to look for new work, extended UI benefits cause some unemployed workers to take longer to find new work. Studies show that extending UI benefits to 99 weeks has increased the national unemployment rate by roughly 0.5 percentage points.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy William Reinhardt, Ronald Utt, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/19/2012
Given tight federal budget restraints and shrinking transportation trust fund revenues, states and the federal government need to find alternative financial resources to finance needed transportation infrastructure projects, especially maintaining and expanding the capacity of the Interstate Highway System. Increased use of public–private partnership contracts (P3s) promises to help finance some of the needed infrastructure projects, but the federal government needs to allow states more freedom to use P3s, and states need to adopt the policies and practices needed to use P3s effectively. P3s are not the solution to every transportation infrastructure challenge, but they can be used to address some of the challenges.
Information TechnologyBy Paul Rosenzweig, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) are well-intentioned House and Senate proposals aimed at stopping the theft of intellectual property through foreign-based websites. It is common to find free copies online (often of pretty good quality) of many recent movie and recording releases that can be downloaded and enjoyed without the original creators receiving compensation. That is fundamentally wrong, and the intent of the pending bills—to end online piracy—is the right idea. But the manner in which these bills attempt to achieve their ends likely would not work. In fact, they would make the Internet generally less secure for everyone.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nicolas Loris, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
Allowing the ethanol production tax credit and 54 cent-per-gallon tariff to expire are long overdue steps to removing market distortions from the energy sector. This will save taxpayers money and allow for more competition, but there is more to be done. Congress should repeal the ethanol mandate and eliminate targeted tax credits for all transportation fuels and technologies. This will continue to drive America’s energy policy in the right direction.
Economic GrowthBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
China today announced that gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2011 slowed to 9.2 percent. Over the next days and weeks, there will be a stream of pontificating about what this means. There is a good chance that everyone involved will be pontificating about nonsense. China’s economic statistics are usually inconsistent—and occasionally wildly inconsistent—and do not seem to be improving in quality. For 2011 GDP in particular, Beijing is very likely exaggerating growth. (Some years it understates.) Rather than focusing on reported figures, the United States should prepare for a weak Chinese economy but one that may begin to rebalance in 2012. It should also engage in long-overdue independent estimation of China’s performance.
EducationBy Lindsey Burke, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
The experiment in bureaucratic accountability under No Child Left Behind has not achieved its objectives. The Student Success Act is a good first step in replacing the wrongly directed accountability of No Child Left Behind with transparency about school results to parents and taxpayers.
Budget & TaxationBy David John, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
Congress should have little or no role in state and local government employee pension plans. It should not step in and attempt to impose a solution, a model for reform, or a bailout of severely troubled states. Just as states and local governments created the public pension problems they now face, it should also be their responsibility to deal with these situations. Even with the best intentions, it would be fairly easy for a reform plan to end up including a full or partial bailout as an incentive for states to act.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Jessica Zuckerman, James Dean, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
The recognition of Taiwan by the U.S. Department of State as a candidate for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program represents an important first step in expanding the program. The recent election, resulting in Ma Ying-jeou’s election to a second term as president of Taiwan, demonstrated the stability of the political process in the country. Taiwan’s rapid growth—to become the 18th-freest economy worldwide—has demonstrated that it is a capable and vital U.S. partner. It is well past time to bring Taiwan into the Visa Waiver Program and pave the way for the Administration to move forward in working with other interested nations.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis Dubay, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
The President’s call to tax more heavily U.S. businesses operating abroad conflicts with his stated position favoring corporate tax reform, and it would move in exactly the wrong direction. The U.S. needs to embrace competition and provide its champions with a tax code suitable to a global economy. While the President pursues this unwise policy, the U.S. continues to lose out on new investment—and the jobs that would follow—as expanding businesses, both U.S. and foreign, look to other developed countries, because the highest-in-the-world U.S. corporate tax rate makes those locales more appealing.
National SecurityBy Dean Cheng, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
For the U.S., the ability to meet its commitments in the Pacific depends heavily on maintaining not only a substantial navy but also a robust space capability. China’s space white paper makes clear that it is intent on advancing its space footprint. The U.S. should not ignore its implications.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/19/2012
After the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in May 2011, Pakistani political leaders played up their country’s relations with China, touting Beijing as an alternative partner to Washington. But China’s concerns over Pakistan’s future stability will likely limit the extent to which it will help Pakistan out of its economic difficulties. While China has an interest in maintaining strong security ties with Pakistan, the economic relationship is not very extensive and the notion that Chinese ties could serve as a replacement for U.S. ties is far-fetched. Instead of wringing hands over Chinese influence on Pakistan, the U.S. should seek cooperation from Beijing in encouraging a more stable and prosperous Pakistan—which will benefit all parties involved.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 01/19/2012
The Obama Administration should focus on expediting the fall of the Assad regime through non-military means, not on restraining the opposition from defending itself against a predatory regime. Syria’s faltering economy, weakened further through multilateral sanctions, will increasingly erode the Assad regime’s narrow base of support and undermine its ability to finance the repression of its own people. Eventually the regime will implode if the opposition coalition can reassure nervous Alawite, Christian, and Druze minorities and the Sunni mercantile elites that they would be better off under an inclusive representative government than under the current regime.
Budget & TaxationBy Fergus Hodgson, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 01/18/2012
Given the current desperation of North Carolina’s UI trust fund deficit, one might be surprised to learn that it is poised to get worse. Currently, the federal government is financing the entire EB program for the 80-to-99-week period. That complete funding runs out on March 6, 2012, however, and it remains precarious. Typically, states shoulder half of the cost—in North Carolina that would translate to another $212 million of annual UI payments. The 1935 UI program, in the middle of the Great Depression, began with benefits at only 16 weeks. Since then the period of total eligibility, given North Carolina’s level of unemployment, has grown by 519 percent to 99 weeks. That level of coverage is simply unaffordable in the present context, particularly given that elected officials set aside nowhere near enough money to justify it.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Ohio Farmer, Ashbrooke CenterBook, 01/18/2012
The Ohio Farmer is not one person, but a group of citizens seeking to preserve constitutional self-government in America. The Farmer's letters are written in the tradition of the Federalists and Antifederalists in the American founding who penned newspaper articles debating the new form of government proposed in the Constitution of 1787. They wrote using pen names such as Publius, Federal Farmer, an American Citizen, and an Old Whig to allow their arguments to speak for themselves and be judged on their own merits. The letters from the Ohio Farmer are offered in this same spirit.