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- Acton Institute
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- Mercatus Center
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- National Center for Policy Analysis
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- National Taxpayers Union
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Recent Policy Studies
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Amy Kaleita, Pacific Research InstituteIssue Brief, 02/28/2012
There are numerous flaws in the peer-review process. At the same time, there are opportunities for improvement, without abandoning altogether the idea of critical review by qualified specialists. A stronger peer review process will have numerous beneficiaries: paper authors, who will be treated more fairly through a system that minimizes bias and allows for a more open evaluation; journals, which will be able to generate higher quality publications; and perhaps most important, non-scientists – including policy makers and the general public – who will be able to have a little more confidence in the research that informs decision-making.
Budget & TaxationBy J. Scott Moody, Maine Heritage Policy CenterPath to Prosperity, 02/28/2012
As Maine’s state government grapples with budget shortfalls in the Department of Health and Human Services budget and a recent lawsuit aimed at rolling-back necessary pension reforms, the calls for higher taxes on Maine’s beleaguered private sector will grow louder. However, policymakers must resist the siren call for higher taxes as Maine’s tax burden is significantly higher than commonly believed. The standard tax burden calculation (as a percent of personal income) makes Maine’s tax burden appear smaller than it really is when adjusting for the fact that Maine’s private sector is one of the smallest in the country.
Health CareBy Nina Owcharenko, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/28/2012
Once again, Congress stopped a scheduled 27 percent payment cut to physicians who serve Medicare patients. This frequent exercise serves as a perfect example for the need to move Medicare away from its current price-control model toward a market-based, premium support model. Ten months from now, when faced with this predicament again, Congress should not focus just on yet another “fix” but attach structural Medicare policy reforms that end this dilemma for good.
Economic GrowthBy Arthur Laffer, Jonathan Small, Wayne Winegarden, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsMonograph, 02/28/2012
One of the great things about the United States of America is its diverse terrain and the unique sectors that are found across the states. Each state relies on a unique conglomeration of industries, but this still does not change the response of people to incentives. For any state competing for people, what better way for a state to position itself against a state with perceived industry advantages than to create the economic environment where people can receive the greatest after-tax return on their income?
Budget & TaxationBy Pamela Villarreal, Brian Bodine, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 02/28/2012
In December 2010, Congress extended the research and development tax credit through tax year 2011, but it has since lapsed and has not yet been renewed for 2012. The tax credit was first enacted in 1981 in an effort to improve the international competitiveness of American businesses by encouraging innovation and new technology. Concerned about the budgetary impact of lost tax revenue, Congress never made the credit permanent—though it has renewed it 14 times. This creates year-to-year uncertainty for firms that wish to plan for the long term.
Information TechnologyBy Adam Thierer, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 02/28/2012
Fear is an extremely powerful motivational force. In public policy debates, appeals to fear are often used in an attempt to sway opinion or bolster the case for action. Such “fear appeal arguments” are frequently on display in the Internet policy arena and often take the form of a full-blown “moral panic” or “technopanic.” These panics are intense public, political, and academic responses to the emergence or use of media or technologies. In the extreme, they result in regulation or censorship. While cyberspace has its fair share of troubles and troublemakers, there is no evidence that the Internet is leading to greater problems for society than previous technologies did. That has not stopped some from suggesting there are reasons to be particularly fearful of the Internet and new digital technologies. There are various individual and institutional factors at work that perpetuate fear-based reasoning and tactics.
Economic GrowthBy Joel Kotkin, Shashi Parulekar, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 02/28/2012
Post-financial-crisis reports of the Anglosphere’s imminent irrelevance have been exaggerated—wildly. English-speaking countries are not graying as rapidly as their historical European rivals are—notably, Germany and Italy—or as Russia and many East Asian countries are. Between 1980 and 2010, the United States, Canada, and Australia saw big population surges: the United States’ expanded by 75 million, to more than 300 million; Canada’s nearly doubled, from 18 million to 34 million; and Australia’s increased from 13 million to 22 million. By contrast, in some European countries, such as Germany, population has remained stagnant, while Russia and Japan have watched their populations begin to shrink. Immigration presents the most important long-term advantage for the Anglosphere, which has excelled at incorporating citizens from other cultures.
Economic GrowthBy Heather Mac Donald, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 02/28/2012
California is in the middle of a far-reaching demographic shift: Hispanics, who already constitute a majority of the state’s schoolchildren, will be a majority of its workforce and of its population in a few decades. This is an even more momentous development than it seems. Unless Hispanics’ upward mobility improves, the state risks becoming more polarized economically and more reliant on a large government safety net. And as California goes, so goes the nation, whose own Hispanic population shift is just a generation or two behind.
Economic GrowthBy Nicole Gelinas, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 02/28/2012
In the years leading up to 2007, the rules necessary to govern a flourishing market economy broke down, producing a financial and economic crisis. Rather than responding to the crisis by fixing those rules, the West aggressively repudiated market economics, and the repudiation continues to this day. Through their actions, government officials around the world have revealed a disturbing assumption: that they can decide how to allocate resources better than markets can.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Steven Malanga, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 02/28/2012
For half a century now, New Jersey has been home to the most activist state appellate court in America. Lauded by proponents of “living” constitutions who urge courts to make policy instead of interpret the law as written, the New Jersey Supreme Court has profoundly transformed the Garden State by seizing control of school funding, hijacking zoning powers from towns and cities to increase subsidized housing, and nullifying taxpayer protections in the state constitution. Its undemocratic actions have blown apart the state’s finances and led to ill-conceived and ineffective policies. If you want to understand what rule by liberal judges looks like on the state level, you need only look at New Jersey, which is teetering on bankruptcy though it remains one of America’s wealthiest states.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Robert Bryce, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 02/28/2012
Over the course of the last century, human beings have found ways to concentrate crops and energy production within smaller and smaller areas, conserving land while meeting the ever-growing global demand for calories and watts. This approach runs counter to the beliefs of many environmental activists and politicians, whose “organic” and “renewable” policies, as nature-friendly as they sound, squander land. The real organizing principle for a green future is density, which not only provides the goods that we need to survive and prosper but also achieves the land-preservation goals of genuine environmentalists.
Budget & TaxationBy Christian Schneider, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 02/28/2012
The unions’ battle against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s labor reforms has rested on the argument that the changes would damage public services beyond repair. The truth, however, is that the reforms not only are saving money already; they’re doing so with little disruption to services.
LaborBy Patrick J. Wright, Mackinac Center for Public PolicyLegal Brief, 02/28/2012
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation sued to end the Department of Human Services’ illegal diversion of so-called “union dues” from state subsidy checks received by home-based day care providers who watch children from low-income families. The “dues” were funneled to a government-employee union that purports to represent more than 40,000 of Michigan’s home-based day care providers, who are actually private business owners and independent contractors. The case was ruled moot by the Michigan Supreme Court after the Department of Human Services ceased to collect the dues and the director stated that these home-based day care providers are not public employees.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, Michaela Bendikova, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/28/2012
President Obama’s fiscal year budget request uses inadequate metrics to evaluate the strategic objective to “maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal to deter attack on the United States and on our allies and partners.” Two categories being evaluated are: “Number of formal Department of Defense-led meetings with international partners to reaffirm United States commitments to extended deterrence,” and “Passing percentage rate for Defense Nuclear Surety Inspections.” This is an overly simplified way to assess the safety, security, and effectiveness of the United States nuclear weapons arsenal. The Pentagon should realize the importance of the United States nuclear umbrella and adjust its metrics accordingly.
LaborBy Erin Shannon, Washington Policy CenterLegislative Memo, 02/27/2012
This Legislative Memo provides an overview and analysis of two bills, HB 2431 and companion bill SB 6302. These proposals would change the management of injured worker claims and compensation under the industrial insurance laws governing Washington state’s workers’ compensation system. While neither HB 2431 nor SB 6302 survived the deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin—and thus are considered “dead”—bills of this nature are often resurrected later in the session.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Seth L. Cooper, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 02/27/2012
Time Warner v. Hudson provides an important contribution to current First Amendment understanding by emphasizing the free speech rights of competing video service providers and corresponding protections against discriminatory regulatory treatment. Likewise, the decision fits with a growing number of recent federal court rulings that have declined to extend the pro-regulatory, disparate treatment of media speech and speakers that was set out in Supreme Court decisions in the mid- to late-20th Century.
EducationBy Martin West, Guido Schwerdt, Education NextEducation Next, 02/27/2012
Research suggests that school transitions lower student achievement but that attending middle schools in particular has adverse consequences for American students. These findings support ongoing efforts in urban school districts to convert stand-alone elementary and middle schools into schools with K–8 configurations. They are also relevant to the expanding charter-school sector, which has the opportunity to choose grade configurations without the disruption caused by school closures. More research is needed to see whether policy or pedagogical innovations can mitigate the effects of middle school. In the meantime, policymakers should exercise caution before extending the middle-school experiment to school districts that still enjoy the K–8 configuration.
EducationBy Patrick J. Wolf, David J. Fleming, John F. Witte, Education NextEducation Next, 02/27/2012
While the percentage of students in the voucher schools with disabilities is substantially lower than the disability rate in the public schools, it is at least four times higher than public officials have claimed. These statistical findings reinforce the view that the sectors cannot be easily compared to one another on this particular metric, because they operate under different legal obligations, financial incentives, and cultural norms. Special education is special in very different ways in public schools and in voucher programs.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy e21, e21: Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyCommentary, 02/27/2012
Thus far, the regulatory response to the financial crisis threatens a false choice: between (1) thwarted innovation and less external finance available for growing businesses and households; and (2) larger, more consequential financial crises. Policymakers should and can avoid falling into this trap by replacing the Dodd-Frank regulatory thicket, including the Volcker Rule, with simple rules, amendments to the bankruptcy code, and substantial increases in margin requirements and capital levels.
National SecurityBy Christopher Ford, et al, Hudson InstitutePolicy Study, 02/27/2012
Michigan remains a natural hub for movement along and across the North American heartland. The development of the homeland security sector in Michigan has yet to reach its full potential. A secure Michigan would help to secure both the United States and Canada—a northern gauntlet, protecting shared prosperity today and for future generations.
Budget & TaxationBy Talmadge Heflin, James Quintero, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 02/27/2012
Texas’ new budget for fiscal 2012-13 authorizes $173.5 billion in total spending, a decrease of $14 billion or 7.5 percent from the previous biennium’s spending levels. The good: state spending reduced by historic proportions; small number of state agency consolidations; no new major taxes or tax increases are passed; a pro-growth agenda is advanced; and Texas keeps a reasonable balance in its Economic Stabilization Fund. The bad: the state’s workforce grows; dependency on the federal government deepens; one-time stimulus monies become recurring costs, and no additional budget transparency. The ugly: heavy use of accounting gimmicks and no substantive changes made to limit the long-term growth of state spending.
EducationBy Lance T. Izumi, Encounter BooksBook, 02/27/2012
President Obama has laid the groundwork for an unprecedented centralization of education policy under the guise of promoting educational innovation, accountability, and improved student achievement. In reality, Obama’s new national standards, curricula, and testing shift the policy-making power from individuals and communities to the federal bureaucracy. Lance Izumi examines Obama’s education policies and reveals why Americans must protect and promote the power of individuals, especially parents, to control children’s education. We should look to the revolutionary school-choice and parental-empowerment laws passed by key states and other nations such as Canada. While Obama is pushing American education in the wrong direction, we can steer it back to local control.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Bast, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 02/27/2012
Sports stadium subsidies impose a huge cost to society. Unearned rent being held onto by professional sports franchises, made possible largely by public subsidies for new sports stadiums and arenas, is a huge injustice and deadweight loss to the nation. End the subsidies and enlarge the ownership of teams through fan ownership, and you end the injustice of more than $1 billion a year going to a small group of team owners and professional athletes.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/27/2012
Syria’s embattled regime is likely to hold out for many more months but eventually could implode with many dangerous consequences for the surrounding region. One of the risks is that chemical weapons—and possibly radioactive materials from its nuclear program—could fall into the hands of terrorists. The United States needs a strategy for the worst-case scenario. Washington must closely monitor the evolving situation in Syria and make contingency plans in cooperation with allies to prevent the proliferation of such dangerous weapons, if necessary. The United States government should also plan to help a Syrian successor government secure, destroy, and disable the Assad regime’s stockpile and production facilities.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Michael S. Greve, Harvard UniversityBook, 02/24/2012
Over the course of the nation’s history, the Constitution has been turned upside-down, Michael Greve argues in this provocative book. The Constitution’s vision of a federalism in which local, state, and federal government compete to satisfy the preferences of individuals has given way to a cooperative, cartelized federalism that enables interest groups to leverage power at every level for their own benefit. Greve traces this inversion from the Constitution’s founding through today, dispelling much received wisdom along the way. The Upside-Down Constitution shows how federalism’s transformation was a response to states’ demands, not an imposition on them. From the nineteenth-century judicial elaboration of a competitive federal order, to the New Deal transformation, to the contemporary Supreme Court’s impoverished understanding of constitutional structure, and the “devolution” in vogue today, Greve describes a trend that will lead to more government and fiscal profligacy, not less. Taking aim at both the progressive heirs of the New Deal and the vocal originalists of our own time, The Upside-Down Constitution explains why the current fiscal crisis will soon compel a fundamental renegotiation of a new federalism grounded in constitutional principles.
EducationBy Theodor Rebarber, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchWhite Paper, 02/24/2012
Implementation of the Common Core standards is likely to represent substantial additional expense for most states. While a handful of states have begun to analyze these costs, most states have signed on to the initiative without a thorough, public vetting of the costs and benefits. In particular, there has been very little attention to the potential technology infrastructure costs that currently cash-strapped districts may face in order to implement the Common Core assessments within a reasonable testing window.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Pierre Desrochers, Hiroko Simizu, PublicAffairsBook, 02/24/2012
Today’s food activists think that “sustainable farming” and “eating local” are the way to solve a host of perceived problems with our modern food supply system. But after a thorough review of the evidence, Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu have concluded that these claims are mistaken. In The Locavore’s Dilemma they explain the history, science, and economics of food supply to reveal what locavores miss or misunderstand: the real environmental impacts of agricultural production; the drudgery of subsistence farming; and the essential role large-scale, industrial producers play in making food more available, varied, affordable, and nutritionally rich than ever before in history. They show how eliminating agriculture subsidies and opening up international trade, not reducing food miles, is the real route to sustainability; and why eating globally, not only locally, is the way to save the planet.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Miguel Cervantes, Fred McMahon, Fraser InstituteSurvey, 02/24/2012
Since 1997, the Fraser Institute has conducted an annual survey of metal mining and exploration companies to assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulation affect exploration investment. Survey results represent the opinions of executives and exploration managers in mining and mining consulting companies operating around the world. The survey now includes data on 93 jurisdictions around the world.
EducationBy Katherine Kersten, Center of the American ExperimentPolicy Report, 02/24/2012
Minnesota’s continued democratic vitality and economic health will depend in large measure on our ability to put in place education reforms that will help poor, minority children boost their performance in school. Misguided plans that rely on racial balance to achieve this vital goal are doomed to fail, will make a bad situation worse, and threaten to bankrupt the State of Minnesota. We must reject these plans and devote our energy and resources to providing all children with an education that works.
ImmigrationBy Matt A. Mayer, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/24/2012
The Obama Administration has decided to kill one of America’s most successful interior enforcement programs to combat illegal immigration, Section 287(g). This decision will undermine state and local law enforcement, encourage additional illegal immigration, and make America less secure. Congress can reassert its legislative and oversight authority to preserve the ability of state and local law enforcement agencies to use the Section 287(g) program. Many local law enforcement agencies may decide not to use the program, but Congress can help ensure that those that do can continue to do so.
National SecurityBy Luke Coffey, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/24/2012
As part of a policy that is leading to strategic shrinkage in the world, the Obama Administration’s recent defense cuts heavily impact the United States military footprint in Europe. These cuts will send the wrong signal on America’s commitment to transatlantic security and will embolden United States adversaries in the Euro-Atlantic region. Most importantly, the move will reduce the ability and flexibility of the United States to react to the unexpected in Eurasia and the Middle East.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Eric Waeckerlin, Joe Green, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 02/24/2012
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of the Toxic Substances Control Act rulemaking, the fact is that the Environmental Protection Agency is encroaching on the decades-old state based regulatory scheme. Their involvement appears to be largely in response to media attention and anti-drilling pressure, and not the result of any credible evidence that hydraulic fracturing presents an unreasonable risk or that the states are failing to regulate. The Toxic Substances Control Act rule is the clearest sign yet that the Environmental Protection Agency is eager, sooner rather than later, to be in the business of comprehensively regulating the oil and gas industry.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Victor E. Schwartz, Phil Goldberg, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 02/24/2012
American jurisprudence does not allow the ends to justify the means. Businesses rely on contracts and indemnification clauses to order basic affairs. Courts should not turn indemnification into liability and create independent causes of action from contracts that specifically bar them. When judges set aside the law and plain, commonsense applications of private agreements for end-game oriented rulings, it casts a pall on the entire judicial system.
EducationBy Linus Wright, National Center for Policy AnalysisIssue Brief, 02/24/2012
America is losing its edge in producing highly intelligent, creative young adults equal to the tasks presenting themselves worldwide. American public education needs a complete restructuring in order to support the development of critical thinkers ready to assume their positions as productive citizens of a free society.
Budget & TaxationBy Josh Barro, Manhattan InstituteIssues, 02/24/2012
President Obama’s corporate tax reform plan has good ideas at its core and its problems can and should be fixed. Some of the ill-advised proposals, like expanded manufacturing deductions and tax credits for in-sourcing jobs, would cost revenue. Others, like new efforts to tax the foreign operations of United States firms, would raise it. As such, it may even be possible to eliminate the undesirable features of this corporate tax reform plan without significantly affecting the amount of revenue to be collected.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Allan H. Meltzer, Oxford University PressBook, 02/24/2012
A review of the headlines of the past decade seems to show that disasters are often part of capitalist systems. Disenchantment with the market economy has reached the point that many even question capitalism itself. Allan H. Meltzer provides a resounding answer to the question, “why capitalism?” Only capitalism, he writes, maximizes both growth and individual freedom. Capitalism does require a strong legal framework and it does not solve all problems efficiently. But Meltzer finds that its problems stem from universal human weaknesses—such as dishonesty, venality, and expediency—which are not specific to capitalism. Vigorously argued, sweeping in scope, Why Capitalism? reminds us of the fundamental vitality of the one economic system that has survived every challenge, and risen to dominate the globe.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Charles Blahous, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 02/24/2012
Beginning in December 2010, and continuing through to the present time, the federal government has embraced the policy of committing income taxes to subsidize benefits beyond those that Social Security itself can finance. Unless this policy is rapidly reversed, readers of this article who pay income taxes should brace themselves for the substantial new taxes they will soon be paying to bail out Social Security.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nicolas D. Loris, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 02/23/2012
Policies that restrict oil exploration, refining, and production should not artificially drive gas prices higher. America knows what works to effectively combat high gas prices: allowing the market to work by opening access to the country’s own oil and gas reserves, reducing onerous regulations, and allowing producers and consumers to respond to energy prices without Washington’s interference.
Combating Dangerous Medicines: Differences in Quality of Medicines Sold by Small Pharmacies and Large Chain PharmaciesBy Roger Bate, American Enterprise InstituteWorking Paper, 02/23/2012
Evidence from numerous studies shows that emerging markets have far more poor quality drugs than western markets. There are many reasons for this, but one reason, investigated in this paper, is the possibility that smaller, often privately-owned, pharmacies take greater risks with drug procurement than larger organizations, which are often franchises or major pharmacy chains. The limited data available weakly support the hypothesis, with 14.4% of samples from smaller pharmacies failing quality control and 9.4% of samples from larger pharmacies failing. Ongoing research will hopefully provide a more robust testing of the hypothesis, as well as provide a fuller explanation.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Mike Lee, The Heritage FoundationHeritage Lecture, 02/23/2012
President Barack Obama has stated that he made his “recess” appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board pursuant to the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause, but this ignores the history, purpose, and original meaning of the constitutional provision upon which he has relied. In unilaterally making appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was holding pro forma sessions, President Obama has attempted to fabricate a constructive, inferred, or imputed recess. Not only are President Obama’s January 4, 2012, appointments unconstitutional, but the justification for those actions does great violence to the Constitution’s separation of powers and system of checks and balances.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Robert Bryce, Manhattan InstituteReport, 02/23/2012
Rather than embrace what’s happening in shale gas and shale oil, the Obama administration continues to vilify the very industry that’s helping spur economic growth. America doesn’t need more slogans about “clean” energy. It needs more cheap, abundant, reliable energy.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Robin Harris, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 02/22/2012
It is now clear how the United Kingdom’s bipartisan model of governing has fared. First, little or no progress has been made in tackling either the budget deficit or the British economy’s underlying weaknesses. Second, no credible, coherent, or convincing path toward national recovery has yet been presented. For the United States, with its different constitutional system and electoral cycle, the applicable lessons would seem to be twofold. The first conclusion is encouraging. In the United Kingdom, an electorate not dissimilar from that in the United States has proved to be stoical if not enthusiastic when convinced that unpalatable economic medicine is required. The second conclusion constitutes a possibly timely warning: Failure to devise and present a clear analysis of the country’s ills before achieving power will leave even a well-intentioned and right-thinking government floundering as new, unforeseen challenges threaten to throw it off course.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Michael Sanera, John Locke FoundationRegional Brief, 02/22/2012
In late 2010, the Wake County Commissioners appointed a 55-member citizens’ task force to revise the county’s Environmental Stewardship Agenda by incorporating “strategies for sustainability and ‘green’ initiatives.” They met monthly for 18 months from January 2010 to June 2011. The task force focused on three areas: water resources conservation and management, solid waste reduction and management, and energy conservation and management. This Regional Brief critiques the process used by the Wake County Sustainability Task Force and its final report. The author was a member of the task force.
EducationBy Dan Lips, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Report, 02/22/2012
One approach to ending multi-generational poverty among Native Americans is for state and federal policymakers to expand educational opportunities for American Indian students via virtual or digital learning technologies. These learning technologies could greatly improve education for Native American students while protecting cultural heritage and tribal autonomy. Policymakers should use strategies to incorporate blended-learning programs into the classroom; provide a specific option for children attending Bureau of Indian Education schools to allow them to enroll in Arizona Online Instruction classes; expand private school choice programs to offer full or partial scholarships to American Indian students to enroll in virtual school courses; and create a Federal Bureau of Indian Education Virtual School.
Budget & TaxationBy Patrick Ishmael, Show-Me InstituteTestimony, 02/22/2012
Since the late 1990s, Missouri’s tax credit system has grown into one of the biggest burdens on the state’s annual budgets, expending billions of dollars over the last decade and setting the stage for significant budgetary crises in the near future. In fiscal year 2013, Missouri expects tax credit redemptions to cost the state as much as the state is spending on its correctional and public safety systems—roughly $700 million. Put in another context, the entirety of 2013’s projected deficit is less than the state’s expected tax credit payout by about $200 million. Suffice to say, this is real money that legislators will have to understand and grapple with, given the squeeze tax credits have put on the fiscal year 2013 budget and will put on state budgets in future years.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy The Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies, Federalist SocietyReport, 02/22/2012
This paper outlines the composition of judicial nominating commissions in Missouri Plan and hybrid states.
Budget & TaxationBy Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesReport, 02/22/2012
The fiscal year 2011-12 total operating budget of $63.4 billion, which included $27.1 billion in General Fund spending, represented the first year-to-year reduction in state spending in at least 40 years. However, as the economy continues to struggle out of a recession and with increasing costs in public welfare, corrections, pensions, and debt, the fiscal year 2012-13 budget will require even more difficult decisions by the General Assembly and Governor Corbett to put Pennsylvania on a path to prosperity.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Janice Kephart, Center for Immigration StudiesBackgrounder, 02/22/2012
The REAL ID Act was designed to protect identities and driver’s license and identification cards while eliminating fraud and improving the customer experience. There is substantial compliance sought across the board by all states and territories, even if there remains a wide gap between the strongest of state systems and the weakest. This assessment concludes that states (1) see tremendous value in pursuing REAL ID standards in reducing fraud, increasing efficiencies, improving customer service, and supporting law enforcement; (2) are willing to pay for those improvements with their own budgets outside of federal grant monies; and (3) are often exceeding REAL ID minimum standards in order to achieve more complete credentialing security.
EducationBy Andrew Gillen, Center for College Affordability and ProductivityPolicy Study, 02/22/2012
Over the past quarter century, a debate has raged within higher education policy circles over whether or not federal financial aid dollars contribute to college tuition increases. The theory that federal financial aid subsidies do enable colleges to raise their tuitions, a theory championed by former United States Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, has never been fully vindicated nor fully discredited by the evidence. This study provides additional refinements to the so-called “Bennett Hypothesis” by explaining the conditions under which federal financial aid can and does aid tuition increases and the conditions under which those aid programs (due to more effective targeting and design) provide little to no role in tuition increases.
Health CareBy Chris Stomberg, Arun Sharma, Cascade Policy InstitutePolicy Report, 02/22/2012
Methamphetamine usage in Oregon has declined since the 2006 prescription-only law was put into effect. However, Oregon’s decline in methamphetamine usage is consistent with a very similar decline in other states in the region and also more generally in the United States. There is little to distinguish the trend of methamphetamine usage in Oregon from states that have not adopted prescription-only laws.
Budget & TaxationBy Kevin Mooney, Capital Research CenterLabor Watch, 02/22/2012
California voters may soon get to decide whether to change the state’s public employee pension system. Supporters of a pension reform ballot initiative reject the half-measures favored by Governor Jerry Brown and his organized labor allies. They propose instead to amend the state constitution to reduce the state’s unfunded liabilities and make public employee pensions comparable to those in the private sector. If enacted, the measure will apply to all state and local government employees, including special district employees, school districts and California’s higher education system. A second initiative on the November ballot will prohibit payroll deduction of worker earnings for political purposes. Paycheck protection initiatives have been rejected twice before by California voters. Is the third time the charm?
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Bruce Thornton, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 02/22/2012
A pleasing and sentimental “nature fakery” is dangerous when it fuels policies that should be based on a rational cost-benefit analysis, and that should put people and their flourishing first. Rather than pleasing myths, we need what environmental writer Gregg Easterbrook calls “ecorealism,” the sober conviction “that logic, not sentiment, is the best tool for safeguarding nature,” and that an “accurate understanding of the actual state of the environment will serve the Earth better than expressions of panic.”
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Tristan L. Duncan, Jonathan S. Massey, Washington Legal FoundationWorking Paper, 02/22/2012
Recent high-profile legal scholarship argues that courts should permit plaintiffs to use admittedly policy-oriented lawsuits of questionable merit, such as tort suits alleging harm from climate change, as a means of “prodding” legislatures into taking action. Treating court proceedings as a form of “political theater” is at odds with the Constitution, undermines judicial legitimacy, and forces defendants to play the unwilling pawn in such lawsuits at their own expense.
The Health Care Compact: A Historic Opportunity to Restore Self-Government and Affordable Health CareBy Mario Loyola, Texas Public Policy FoundationTestimony, 02/22/2012
One promising tool that has enormous potential to retrace the vanishing boundary between state and federal authority is the interstate compact. With the consent of Congress, interstate compacts can shield whole areas of regulation from federal intrusion, allowing states and local communities to reassert their proper role as the primary instruments of self-government. Adopted in four states, with more on the way, the Health Care Compact will give each state the opportunity to chart its own path in the health care arena, without having to worry about giving up “federal matching funds” that the states have already paid for. The Health Care Compact will give states a formal mechanism for working together to roll back federal overreach in health care, and reassert state and local control at the right time and in their own way.
Regulation & DeregulationBy James Broughel, Jerry Ellig, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 02/22/2012
For more than three decades, presidents have instructed federal agencies to consider a wide variety of alternatives to regulation as well as alternative types of regulation. Agency compliance has been uneven at best—largely because agencies often decide what regulation to issue before they even consider alternatives. Agencies sometimes do examine the pros and cons of alternatives, but this is the exception rather than the rule. To remedy this problem, regulatory process reforms should require agencies to thoroughly analyze alternatives and publish that analysis for public comment before they propose a regulation.