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Recent Policy Studies
EducationBy Cara Stillings Candal, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchWhite Paper, 03/16/2012
Thought leaders in education, especially in Massachusetts, rarely acknowledge the precedent that Catholic education sets and the model that it has long provided in offering high quality educational options to students of all backgrounds. Education policy conversations that include Catholic schools are successful with diverse populations of students because they offer a diversity of schooling options, all of which emphasize academic excellence. Generally speaking, Catholic school options in Massachusetts can be described in terms of four models, which are loosely differentiated by their governance structures and, to a lesser extent, the philosophical approach that they take to education. The following work describes these four models in detail, outlining the hallmark of each model and highlighting how each model is working to provide high quality educational options for diverse groups of students and families across the Commonwealth.
EducationBy Jason Bedrick, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchWhite Paper, 03/16/2012
The first scholarship granting organization created under Rhode Island’s corporate scholarship tax credit program was the Foundation for Rhode Island Day Schools, which awards scholarships to students from low-income families attending Providence Hebrew Day School and the Jewish Community Day School. This paper explores the experience of the Foundation and these two schools under the corporate scholarship tax credit program.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Paul Larkin, The Heritage FoundationLegal Memorandum, 03/16/2012
Under the Lacey Act, it is a federal offense to import fish, wildlife, or plants “in violation of any foreign law.” Such legislation violates one of the fundamental tenets of Anglo–American common law: that “men of common intelligence” must be able to understand what a law means. The recent explosion of federal criminal law has rendered this standard a mere fiction, a problem exacerbated by the fact that the Lacey Act makes it a crime to violate a foreign nation’s law. Then the common law fiction becomes a contemporary fantasy that can lead to miscarriages of justice. Two bills recently introduced in Congress—each one called the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures Act—promise to defang the Lacey Act and secure a victory for Americans opposed to overcriminalization.
Budget & TaxationBy Chris Cargill, Max Nelson, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 03/16/2012
The Pasco School District is one of the fastest growing in the state of Washington. As a result, it faces increasing challenges to house its student population. Enacting a $4,683 fee on new homeowners will not provide the additional resources needed to build new schools. It will only depress the housing market in Pasco. Other options are available to ease the overcrowding of Pasco schools: year-round schooling, ending the green mandate and public-private partnerships. These alternatives are better for students than discouraging developers in Pasco and punishing new homeowners with massive fees.
Respected Iowa Test of Basic Skills Is the Most Cost-effective Way to Meet National Testing RequirementBy Liv Finne, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Note, 03/16/2012
The new Iowa Test of Basic Skills meets federal requirements and provides a high-quality alternative to the current plan. In addition, the Iowa Test costs much less to administer than the proposed Common Core test. Lawmakers should not impose the Common Core test in Washington schools, and should instead adopt the proven and less expensive Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
Economic GrowthBy Erin Shannon, Washington Policy CenterLegislative Memo, 03/16/2012
The intrinsic flaw in the proposal to establish a Washington Works Corps is that government cannot create the jobs that will spur economic recovery. The state would simply be shifting money from working taxpayers to select beneficiaries, not creating net economic growth. The private sector—small businesses specifically—creates the jobs that will pull Washington state out of the recession. History shows that the entrepreneurs who run small businesses, not government bureaucrats, create the jobs that become the catalyst for long-term economic growth and revitalization.
National SecurityBy Paul Rosenzweig, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 03/16/2012
Cyberspace vulnerabilities are not driving the policy debate today in Washington. Instead, what seems to have seized the imagination of so many is the prospect of a true cyberwar. But we’ve never had a real cyberwar so there is no solid data on the threats that exist. We can only assess the potential for cyberwar by measuring the capabilities or our possible adversaries, and then only by educated guess work. We have no clear sense of true intent. As a result we lack a solid quantifiable risk assessment of the cyber threat to national security and this leaves policy makers only with speculation as to the extent of our risk from a cyber attack by a willful cyber opponent. The uncertainty does not, however, prevent us from thinking about the problem.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ariel Cohen, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/15/2012
Russia is pursuing a Middle Eastern policy that is designed to reduce United States and Western influence in the Middle East, even at the risk of Islamist terrorism, which is a growing problem in Russia. It views the recent upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa as an American conspiracy to undermine Russia and friendly regimes in the region. Russia’s Soviet legacy of good relations with Middle Eastern dictators and lucrative arms sales are driving this policy. The Obama Administration needs to suspend its “reset” policy to Russia and use diplomacy, economic sanctions, and “naming and shaming” from the bully pulpit to convince Moscow that its disruptive Middle East policy is self-defeating.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Chris W. Bonneau, Federalist SocietyPolicy Analysis, 03/15/2012
The purpose of this paper is to articulate some of the most common arguments against judicial elections and evaluate them in light of the relevant empirical data. Current empirical evidence suggests that some of the concerns raised by opponents of judicial elections are not justified. According to data: voters participate in these elections, they participate meaningfully, elections do not lead to a loss of legitimacy, and elections do not produce inferior or less diverse judges. However, there are other areas where we need more data before we can say anything definitive, such as whether and to what extent justice might be “for sale,” the viability of public financing, and so forth. Additionally, there is a need for more research into judicial elections at the trial court level. Generally speaking, the empirical evidence seems to refute many of the claims made by opponents of judicial elections, regardless of the level of court being discussed.
EducationBy Paul E. Peterson, Education NextEducation Next, 03/15/2012
Is parental income the cause of a child’s success? Or is the connection between income and achievement largely a symptom of something else: genetic heritage, parental skill, or a supportive educational setting? The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, a coalition of education professors and interest-group leaders, including the heads of the country’s two largest teachers unions, have concluded that family income itself determines whether or not a child learns. In reality, the unique effects of family income on student achievement are modest.
ImmigrationBy W.D. Reasoner, Jessica Vaughan, Center for Immigration StudiesMemorandum, 03/15/2012
This report is the second in a series examining outcomes of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s Secure Communities program and how those outcomes have been misleadingly described by one widely circulated paper, “Secure Communities by the Numbers: An Analysis of Demographics and Due Process,” from the Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, Law School, and then uncritically re-told by major news media outlets. This second review in the series focuses on the set of assertions relating to alleged discrepancies in the number of Latinos taken into custody by Secure Communities, versus national averages, which the Warren report cites as potential evidence of racial or ethnic profiling.
ImmigrationBy W.D. Reasoner, Jessica Vaughan, Center for Immigration StudiesMemorandum, 03/15/2012
In October 2011, the Earl Warren Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, Law School and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law jointly published a report, “Secure Communities by the Numbers: An Analysis of Demographics and Due Process”. The report focuses on the Secure Communities program operated by an agency within the Department of Homeland Security: Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Secure Communities initiative uses electronic systems to compare fingerprints of individuals taken into custody by state and local police against a fingerprint repository to identify aliens arrested for crimes who may be subject to removal from the United States. Some of the report’s findings and assertions regarding arrests of United States Citizens, racial and ethnic profiling, and due process of law were disturbing. After review, the Center for Immigration Studies determined that the Secure Communities by the Numbers report is flawed in several significant areas.
Economic GrowthBy Nick Schulz, American Enterprise InstituteSpeech, 03/15/2012
Free enterprise, when functioning properly, undergirds morality by penalizing certain kinds of behavior – bribery, corruption, and lawlessness among them. The reason it does so? Citizens in a free-market society have a huge stake in discouraging such behavior, because it’s a dagger aimed straight at the heart of prosperity. Americans want economic growth driven by free enterprise not just because it will bring home the bacon. They want it because it will make the world a better place, beyond the material comforts it brings. There is a moral case for enterprise and growth. We shouldn’t be afraid to make it.
Budget & TaxationBy Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsPolicy Papers, 03/15/2012
With Oklahoma government spending at an all-time high, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs believes it’s time to set priorities and exercise spending discipline. Here is their model state budget that respects your family budget.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Lee Lane, et al., Hudson InstituteTranscript, 03/15/2012
A conference entitled “Energy, Water, and Debt: Linked Problems, Common Solutions?” was held on January 12, 2012, at Hudson Institute’s Betsy and Walter Stern Conference Center in Washington, DC. The conference sought to explore issues central to the links between water and energy. It did not intend either to solve those problems or to produce consensus. It did not do so. It did, however, map out several options for grappling with the water energy problem.
Budget & TaxationBy Sallie James, Cato InstituteFree Trade Bulletin, 03/15/2012
Throughout its history, the Export-Import Bank of the United States has limited its activities mostly to financing and guaranteeing United States export transactions. But in anticipation of the Export-Import Bank’s charter expiry, the Obama administration has called for a massive and unprecedented new role for the Export-Import Bank: to finance United States corporations’ domestic sales, as well. A state credit agency that dispenses tens of billions of taxpayer dollars mainly to large United States corporations to underwrite their export sales distorts markets enough. But if the bank’s supporters and the Obama administration have their way, the Export-Import Bank will start to finance the purchase of American goods in the United States as well, clearing the way for even more intervention in international commerce and the domestic economy than already exists.
Budget & TaxationBy David S. Addington, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 03/15/2012
With his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan needs to make substantial progress toward six conservative goals that are fully addressed in Saving the American Dream: The Heritage Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity. The Chairman should make at least the following progress with his budget proposal: tighter budget, balanced budget, fixes to entitlements, no tax hikes, job-creating pro-growth tax reform, and strong national defense.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Roland Priddle, Philip John, Robert Hage, Macdonald-Laurier InstitutePolicy Papers, 03/14/2012
In recent years, a series of Opposition Bills in Parliament have proposed a ban on oil-tanker traffic through specific Canadian West Coast waters. Bill C-211, introduced in the summer of 2011, strikes the same theme by recommending pre-emptive action to prevent a potential environmental catastrophe, an oil spill. Such a ban would also have direct implications for the viability of the proposed Northern Gateway project. If passed, the Bill would directly damage the legitimate and profitable use of Canada’s petroleum resources, add little to the goal of environmental safety, and open a Pandora’s box of legal problems.
National SecurityBy Seth Cropsey, Arthur Milikh, World Affairs InstituteWorld Affairs, 03/14/2012
Alfred Thayer Mahan offers the intellectual arguments that address what the United States stands to lose economically and militarily—and all that China will gain—if there is a profound shift of power in the Western Pacific. Mahan saw correctly that American greatness depends on dominant sea power. He understood the close connection between domestic prosperity and maritime preeminence. The acceptance of his ideas at the beginning of the twentieth century helped immeasurably in encouraging both, the condition of which is the only one in the memory of Americans alive today. But perpetual permanence is indeed the illusion of every age, as the possibility of a much diminished United States Navy raised by ongoing budget negotiations should be a reminder.
Health CareBy Roger Bate, American Enterprise InstituteArticle, 03/14/2012
There is no globally agreed definition on drug standards. While ideally one wants all versions of a drug, innovator and often myriad generics, to be bioequivalent, in reality bioequivalence is rarely established, and even if it is, each batch is not tested for it (to do so would be ludicrously expensive and counterproductive), but not all copies of drugs are equal.
Budget & TaxationBy James M. Hohman, Mackinac Center for Public PolicyPolicy Brief, 03/13/2012
This study considers the supposed ‘transition costs’ that would be effected by Michigan’s switch from a defined-benefit to defined-contribution retirement system. In it, the “transition costs” are found to be nonbinding and discretionary. In addition, the study offers the state a series of reforms that would diffuse such costs, as well as consideration for the long-term fiscal improvements that would arise from payment of the pension’s unfunded liabilities.
Budget & TaxationBy Gabriel J. Michael, Maryland Public Policy InstituteMaryland Policy Report, 03/13/2012
As part of an initiative to narrow Maryland’s persistent structural deficit, this year exceeding $1.1 billion, both the Governor’s office and various state legislators have proposed several sweeping income tax increases that, if passed, will affect hundreds of thousands of Maryland households. This policy update provides an overview of these proposed tax increases, explaining their mechanisms and offering estimates of potential effects.
Budget & TaxationBy Ted Dabrowski, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, Jonathan Ingram, Illinois Policy InstituteReport, 03/13/2012
This is the Illinois Policy Institute’s fourth annual alternative vision for Illinois. This report charts a path that significantly reduces the state’s backlog of bills without borrowing and without new taxes, while meeting its pension liabilities. In addition, the state returns billions of dollars to taxpayers by repealing the January 2011 tax hikes. This vision allows for an Illinois that puts taxpayers first, restrains state spending and puts the state back on the path to fiscal solvency.
EducationBy Matthew Ladner, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoicePolicy Study, 03/13/2012
Governor Jindal recently called for the adoption of one of the boldest parental choice measures ever: expanding the scholarship program statewide. Designed to help low- and middle-income families in underperforming public schools, this program would empower more parents to choose the best schools for their children. In considering this proposal, Louisiana policymakers would benefit from studying the policy success of a neighboring state. Jindal’s 2012 choice initiative resembles a bolder version of one of Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s signature reforms: the A+ Opportunity Scholarship Program.
Budget & TaxationBy E.J. McMahon, Empire Center for New York State PolicyResearch Bulletin, 03/13/2012
Opponents of New York's proposed Tier 6 pension reform like to point out that the average annual benefit paid by the state pension system in 2011 was $19,151.But that commonly cited figure is very misleading. It includes payments to former employees who only minimally vested in a public pension plan–those who worked only part of their careers and those who worked only part-time. In reality, the average benefit for newly retired general government employees is considerably higher than $19,151 – more than two and half times as high, in fact.
Budget & TaxationBy Ivan Osorio, Capital Research CenterLabor Watch, 03/13/2012
Like the rest of the nation, New England is reeling from the economic recession. With their state finances deep in deficit, New England state lawmakers are looking for places to cut the budget. The fattest target: government employee compensation.
EducationBy Karen D. McKeown, The Heritage FoundationDiscussion Paper, 03/13/2012
With the tuition cost of traditional colleges and universities soaring and education technology advancing, online courses and degree programs are becoming more common. Some critics argue that an online degree cannot provide all the important features of a traditional college education, from extracurricular activities to new professional networks, but the evidence disputes much of that criticism, especially for certain groups of students. Indeed, some aspects of online education may provide a better experience than a traditional bricks-and-mortar college for some students.
LaborBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 03/13/2012
By treating the question of women’s empowerment as a business and social issue, the market and society will marshal the needed resources to address it. By treating it as a bureaucratic imperative, the political intrusions will generate resentments from the very leaders whose support is needed.
Regulation & DeregulationBy James Gattuso, Diane Katz, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/13/2012
During the first three years of the Obama Administration, 106 new major federal regulations added more than $46 billion per year in new costs for Americans. This is almost four times the number—and more than five times the cost—of the major regulations issued by George W. Bush during his first three years. Hundreds more regulations are winding through the rulemaking pipeline as a consequence of the Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming crusade, threatening to further weaken an anemic economy and job creation. Congress must increase scrutiny of regulations—existing and new. Reforms should include requiring congressional approval of major rules and mandatory sunset clauses for major regulations.
Crime, Justice & the Law
Supreme Court of California: Manufacturers Are Not Liable for Injuries Caused by Someone Else’s ProductBy Curt Cutting, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 03/12/2012
In recent years, plaintiffs nationwide have been asking courts to expand the traditional boundaries of products liability by holding manufacturers accountable for injuries caused by other manufacturers’ products. These plaintiffs contend that a manufacturer should be liable if it knows, or can reasonably foresee, that its product will be used with someone else’s defective product. According to a 2007 law review article, the California high court is the most influential state supreme court in the nation—its opinions are followed more often than any other, with the Washington Supreme Court running a distant second. Now that both of those courts have rejected attempts to hold a manufacturer liable for another manufacturer’s products, the plaintiffs’ theory appears destined for the legal scrap heap.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Arvie J. Anderson, Steven P. Caltrider, Washington Legal FoundationContemporary Legal Note, 03/12/2012
There is a widening gap between the judicial application of the patent utility requirements in Canada and other major jurisdictions including the United States and Europe. While all three jurisdictions find basis for their laws pertaining to patentable utility within their respective statutes and applicable treaty obligations, only Canada looks to the quantum of evidence to establish or “soundly predict” usefulness at the time of filing rather than assessing patentability as usefulness in fact. By doing so, Canada requires a heightened utility standard both as to the necessary disclosure and as to the quantum of proof. This contemporary legal note compares and contrasts the requirements for usefulness in Canada, the United States, and Europe, and encourages the Canadians to return the law to its pre-2002 standard of utility-in-fact either through case law or legislative reform.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy David Biderman, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 03/12/2012
In 1990 Congress enacted the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act as part of a federal effort to “help millions of Americans make healthier choices about their diet.” The Act mandated that food manufacturers provide standardized information about their products’ contents, which is displayed in the now familiar “Nutrition Facts Panel” appearing on nearly every food product package. In the 2011 case Turek v. General Mills, the court ruled that when federal legislation tells food manufacturers what they should disclose about their products, private litigants cannot thereafter sue to require disclosure beyond the federal requirements. The decision stands as a victory for the food industry and should curtail some consumer class actions against food manufacturers.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Marc Levin, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 03/12/2012
With some one million Texans arrested every year, county jails play a vital role in the criminal justice system, but come with a pricetag. Fortunately, there are proven solutions that policymakers can pursue to protect public safety and control costs.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Josiah Neeley, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 03/12/2012
Attempts by the federal government to force Texas to alter its restrictions on Medicaid funding for abortion providers and affiliates contradict state sovereignty and federal case law.
Economic GrowthBy Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Manhattan InstituteIssues, 03/12/2012
The mandated $2,000 tax per worker in the new health care law, effective 2014 and levied on employers who do not provide the right kind of health insurance, is discouraging hiring. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 will raise the cost of employment when fully implemented in 2014. Companies with 50 or more workers will be required to offer a generous health insurance package, with no lifetime caps and no copayments for routine visits, or pay an annual penalty of $2,000 for each full-time worker. Moving from 49 to 50 workers will cost a firm $40,000 a year. Employers see these penalties coming, and they are adjusting their workforces accordingly.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Thomas Mayor , Independent InstituteThe Independent Review, 03/12/2012
Hunter-gatherer societies can shed light on one of the most fundamental issues bearing on political economy—whether man is better adapted to individualism or to collectivism. The evidence suggests that for millennia before the agricultural revolution, man lived in a state of political autonomy and economic freedom and acted basically as a self-interested individualist, not as the altruist depicted in much of the socialist literature.
Economic GrowthBy Joshua P. Hill, Independent InstituteThe Independent Review, 03/12/2012
Development assistance has failed to put the world’s poor on the road to prosperity, but one proposal has great potential: a privately funded annual prize given to the leaders of poor countries that rise the most on an index of economic freedom. This approach would avoid many of the pitfalls of conventional aid programs, cost less, align the market’s creative forces and local actors’ specific knowledge, and promote opportunities for a broad cross-section of society.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Jody W. Lipford, Bruce Yandle, Independent InstituteThe Independent Review, 03/12/2012
James Madison and John Calhoun were right to worry that the wrong fiscal regime would spell the demise of limited government. The enactment of the federal income tax eroded a traditional constraint on government spending and set the stage for the redistribution of wealth from taxpayers to tax consumers.
Budget & TaxationBy John Nothdurft, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 03/12/2012
Municipalities and other taxing districts in Cook County, Illinois – the second-most populous county in the United States and home to the City of Chicago – are raising taxes faster and falling much deeper in debt than is widely understood. While many studies have analyzed the current debt level of the federal government and to a lesser extent that of state governments, less attention has been paid to how this is playing out at the county and municipal levels.