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Recent Policy Studies
Regulation & DeregulationBy Seth Goldberg, Rachel Tennis, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 04/27/2012
Two lawsuits recently filed in federal court highlight the ongoing challenges of regulating manufactured nanomaterials and indicate that the federal government may be changing its approach. Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have recently stated that they may revise existing product approval processes to require evaluation of risks specifically associated with manufactured nanomaterials. Clarification of testing and data requirements for manufactured nanomaterials has the potential to reduce uncertainty costs in the regulatory process. In the meantime, however, the continuing absence of a regulatory definition for “nanotechnology” makes it difficult to know what products might be subject to new scrutiny. In addition, a failure to coordinate efforts or harmonize new rules with international standards may only increase uncertainty if regulators reach different conclusions about what products are subject to “nanospecific” requirements.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Donn C. Meindertsma, Ryan T. Scharnell, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 04/27/2012
On February 3, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit concluded in Lawson v. FMR LLC that the employee whistleblower protections found in Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act do not cover employees of most non-public companies. The decision is significant not only because it is the first federal appellate decision to address the issue, but also because it limits the reach of Section 806 and, in so doing, conflicts with the Department of Labor’s view that Section 806 protects employees of many private companies.
Budget & TaxationBy I. Harry David, Mark Robyn, Tax FoundationSpecial Report, 04/27/2012
State film tax incentives have exploded in popularity in the last decade. In 2000, only three states offered the subsidies. By 2010, the number of states offering incentives peaked had peaked at 40. As in many states, film subsidies in Alaska have been credited with bringing to the state the economic activity spurred by several productions. However, the commonly cited benefits of film subsidies are often overstated and fail to take into account offsetting economic effects. This paper will examine the common arguments for film incentives, focusing both on general arguments and arguments specific to Alaska.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Robert Poole, Reason FoundationPrivatization Report, 04/27/2012
This section of Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2011 provides a comprehensive overview of the latest on toll roads, high occupancy toll lanes and other news on privatization and public-private partnerships in surface transportation.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Robert Poole, Reason FoundationPrivatization Report, 04/27/2012
This section of Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2011 provides a comprehensive overview of the latest news on domestic and international airport privatization and the privatization of airport security.
Health CareBy Scott Beaulier, Brandon Pizzola, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 04/27/2012
Fiscal policy at both the federal and state levels is on an unsustainable path. Entitlement reform in America—particularly Medicaid reform—is shifting from a question of whether cuts should be made, to how much must be cut? To better understand best practices in Medicaid reform, this report explores five recent state-level Medicaid reforms and their ability to simultaneously reduce costs, maintain or increase access, and survive the politics of reform.
Information TechnologyBy Helle C. Dale, Paul Rosenzweig, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/27/2012
A new executive order, aimed at curbing the abuse of information technology, was intended to target Syrian and Iranian cyber-activists. Unfortunately, the executive order also targets the companies that produce the advanced technologies used by the Iranians and Syrians for cybercensorship or tracking, many of which are American companies. There are better ways to approach the problem of human rights in cyberspace. Instead of penalizing the companies, the Obama Administration should: spend Internet freedom funds wisely; speak out against Internet freedom’s worst offenders, and where possible, freeze their assets; and encourage other nations to join a coalition, which could provide the venue for “naming and shaming” offenders.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy David C. John, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/26/2012
By now, it should be clear even to casual observers that the Volcker Rule, which was intended to limit the “risky” activities of banks by banning them from certain types of transactions, will be nearly impossible to implement without severe unintended damage to the United States financial system and many other types of businesses both here in the United States and overseas. It is time to repeal this deeply flawed part of Dodd–Frank and to recognize that the Volcker Rule was a mistake.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 04/26/2012
To assess the Japanese experience, The Heritage Foundation reassembled a team of experts to evaluate Japan’s long-term efforts to recover from the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and to prepare for future catastrophes. Based on extensive literature and interviews with Japanese officials and experts, the team identified four critical areas that affect response to a catastrophe: recovery and resiliency of critical infrastructure, environmental remediation, compensation and disaster assistance, and population resiliency. In each area, the team made key observations, determined findings, and developed recommendations for learning from Japan’s experience.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/26/2012
While President Obama is drawing down United States troops in Afghanistan, he is attempting to negotiate with the Taliban—despite the fact that the Taliban has renounced neither terrorism nor its support for al-Qaeda. If the Taliban is able to regain influence in Afghanistan without breaking ties with international terrorism, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups could re-establish safe haven there. A Taliban victory in Afghanistan would also strengthen Islamist extremist forces in Pakistan, undermining civilian democracy and emboldening hard-line elements within the Pakistani security establishment, which controls the country’s expanding nuclear weapons arsenal. Rather than long-shot talks with the Taliban leadership, Washington should focus on strengthening anti-Taliban elements that share the United States’ interest in preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a safe haven for international terrorists.
Economic GrowthBy David W. Kreutzer, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/26/2012
A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report defines and counts the green jobs in the American economy. Cheerleaders for the President’s program of green jobs mandates and spending point to the study as confirmation of green jobs’ economic importance. However, analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data provides more data to support green jobs satire than green jobs subsidies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics study counts 3.1 million green jobs, 2.2 million of which are in the private sector. Just a little digging into the data shows that only a small fraction of the 3.1 million jobs could have been created by green subsidies and mandates. In addition, most of the green jobs in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study do not fit the popular image of green jobs or jobs of the future.
International Trade/FinanceBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/26/2012
Bilateral investment treaties extend fundamental trade principles, such as nondiscrimination among partners, to investment. In 2009, the Obama Administration began revising the model bilateral investment treaty, the outline that the United States initially provides other countries. This month, the revised model was released. The Administration touts it as improving labor and environmental standards, transparency, and treatment of state-owned enterprises. A good bilateral investment treaty helps the United States and the new model enables a number of good bilateral investment treaties. There are potential partners, though, for whom the new model is not nearly enough. Bilateral investment treaty negotiations with these countries should not proceed on the basis of the model. Much more needs to be done first.
Health CareBy Robert E. Moffit, Rea Hederman, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/26/2012
The contrast between competing visions for Medicare’s future has been underscored by the 2012 Medicare trustees report. Conservatives and liberals agree that Medicare is on an unsustainable course; the debate is about changing course and securing a better future. Faced with rapidly rising Medicare costs, President Obama wants to slash payment rates to doctors, hospitals, and medical professionals while increasing bureaucratic control over care delivery. In sharp contrast, The Heritage Foundation and many others want to allow markets to work through choice and competition. This would be done through a defined-contribution approach to Medicare financing, commonly called “premium support,” in which patient decision making and the professional independence of physicians are core features. The policy choice is stark.
National SecurityBy Michael Rubin, American Enterprise InstitutePaper, 04/26/2012
The fight against terrorism is no closer to success today than it was a decade ago. The problem is not simply that Western agencies are outfoxed by state sponsors of terror and trans-national groups, but rather that Western governments and international organizations continue to suffer self-inflicted wounds. These include a failure to reach consensus on what terrorism is; political correctness that leads Western officials to downplay or ignore the religious component to terrorism; the legitimization of terrorists’ grievances; and a failure to recognize that diplomacy often does more harm than good. Until and unless Western governments recognize that terrorist ideologies, religious or otherwise, must be delegitimized and that the military must have the primary role in defeating terrorism, then terrorists will continue to scourge Western societies.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Peter J. Wallison, Edward J. Pinto, American Enterprise InstituteFinancial Services Outlook, 04/26/2012
In less than twenty-five years, government “affordable housing” and other housing policies have turned a healthy market into a financial ruin. Until Fannie and Freddie’s market dominance and the government’s role in the housing finance system are substantially reduced or eliminated, the United States will continue to have an inferior and unstable housing market.
Budget & TaxationBy Harris Kenny, Adam Summers, Reason FoundationPrivatization Report, 04/26/2012
This section of Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2011 provides an overview of the latest on privatization and public-private partnerships in local government.
Budget & TaxationBy Leonard Gilroy, Lisa Snell, Reason FoundationPrivatization Report, 04/26/2012
This section of Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2011 provides an overview of the latest on privatization and public-private partnerships in state government.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Russell A. Berman, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 04/26/2012
Race and violence—and their politicization—are by no means exclusively United States phenomena. On the contrary, contemporary European societies display similar troubling tendencies, marked by the fragmentation of ethnically-mixed populations, the spread of extremist ideologies, a growing willingness among radicals to engage in violence, and the propensity of politicians to instrumentalize racial and ethnic anxieties for electoral purposes.
EducationBy Lindsey Burke, Rachel Sheffield, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/25/2012
Coverdell education savings accounts, created through the federal tax code, allow families to save money tax-free for K–12 and higher education expenses. Lifting the cap on contributions to Coverdell accounts would provide greater access to school choice options by allowing families to invest more money in their children’s education. Additionally, existing “529” college savings accounts should be expanded to allow families to save for K–12 education expenses. Both reforms would allow parents to use more of their money for a child’s private-school tuition or other education expenses. Since most states offer either tax credits or deductions to encourage saving in a 529 plan, expanding it to make K–12 expenses allowable would effectively create opportunities for millions of American families to open education savings accounts.
National SecurityBy James Jay Carafano, Steve Bucci, Jessica Zuckerman, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/25/2012
In 2007, The Heritage Foundation became the first and only organization to track thwarted terrorist attacks against the United States. That year, Heritage reported that at least 19 publicly known terrorist attacks against the United States had been foiled since 9/11. Today, that number stands at 50. The fact that the United States has not suffered a large-scale attack since 9/11 speaks to the country’s counterterrorism successes. But, one year after the death of Osama bin Laden, the long war on terrorism is far from over. Reviewing the terrorist plots that have been foiled since 9/11 can provide valuable information for understanding the nature of the threat, as well as best practices for preventing the next attack. The United States must also be ready to adapt its security strategies—such as to counter terror attacks by an increasing number of homegrown terrorists.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Ariel Cohen, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/25/2012
Congress should press for trade reforms that are in the best interests of the United States while supporting the cause of human rights for all. The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act is drafted in response to the death of Sergei Magnitsky in detention following his whistle-blowing on massive fraud allegedly committed by Russian officials. It provides a practical and balanced way forward and accommodates Russian membership in the World Trade Organization while signaling long-term American commitment to the rule of law.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Merrill Matthews, Institute for Policy InnovationIssue Brief, 04/25/2012
The first of the biotech seeds, Roundup Ready, goes off patent in 2014, and many more will soon follow. While the industry needs a process to govern how other seed companies create a generic seed, it should try to create a private sector process that relies on negotiations and contracts, and not the costly and litigious adversarial approach Congress imposed on the pharmaceutical industry.
Budget & TaxationBy Jonathan Ingram, Illinois Policy InstituteHealth Care Brief, 04/25/2012
Instead of targeting tobacco consumers, Illinois lawmakers must reform the spending obligations that prompt the call for higher taxes. Unreliable and unsustainable tax hikes and budget gimmicks cannot solve the structural problems Illinois’ Medicaid program faces. Structural problems need structural reforms.
Budget & TaxationBy Alex Raut, Mark Robyn, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 04/25/2012
After two years of falling revenue, total state government tax collections increased by nearly 9 percent during 2011, according to data released by the United States Census Bureau. Total collections were $757 billion last year, still slightly less than 2007 levels prior to the recession.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Morgan Lorraine Roach, Michaela Bendikova, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/24/2012
This year, Turkey celebrates its 60th anniversary as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance. As a Muslim-majority country with close ties to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Turkey’s participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is integral to the alliance’s influence beyond Europe’s borders. However, while Turkish membership provides the alliance with extended regional access, Ankara continues a reckless rapprochement with Iran.
EducationBy Jordan Lorence, Foundation for Individual Rights in EducationBook, 04/24/2012
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Guide to Student Fees, Funding, and Legal Equality on Campus provides a thorough explanation of the significance of student activity fees and their relationship with free expression and campus equality. This Guide provides students with the information they need to stand up for the fair distribution of student funds and educates administrators about the intricacies of this largely unexplored area of First Amendment law.
National SecurityBy Paul Rosenzweig, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/24/2012
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is a sensible and bipartisan bill designed to enhance United States cybersecurity efforts by providing private- and public-sector actors with threat information that can help them thwart incoming cyber-attacks. Through various amendments and changes, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act has addressed most, if not all, of the privacy concerns leveled against it. Importantly, these changes do not weaken the cybersecurity enhancements that the bill provides. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act avoids potentially harmful regulations and uses the innovation and resourcefulness of the private sector to make the nation more secure.
Will Americans Ever Control as Many of Our Own Health Dollars as the Swiss, the Swedes, or the Canadians?By John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstituteHealth Policy Prescriptions, 04/24/2012
Americans control a smaller share of our health spending than do residents of most other developed countries. In the late 1980s, the United States allowed patients to control more health spending than any other country, except Switzerland. In the twenty years to 2008, the share of United States health spending controlled directly by patients dropped by almost half. Reforms enacted during those two decades, such as Health Savings Accounts, did not result in reducing dependency on government and health insurers. After Obamacare is defeated, reversing this long-term trend must be the top priority of the real health reform that replaces it.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Adam Summers, Anthony Randazzo, Reason FoundationPrivatization Report, 04/24/2012
This report provides an overview of the latest federal insourcing, housing finance, private spaceflight and other news on privatization and public-private partnerships in the federal government.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Andrew Natsios, Oxford University PressBook, 04/24/2012
For thirty years Sudan has been a country in crisis, wracked by near-constant warfare between the north and the south. But on July 9, 2011, South Sudan became an independent nation. As Sudan once again finds itself the focus of international attention, former special envoy to Sudan and director of the United States Agency for International Development Andrew Natsios provides a timely introduction to the country at this pivotal moment in its history. Focusing on the events of the last 25 years, Natsios sheds light on the origins of the conflict between northern and southern Sudan and the complicated politics of this volatile nation. He gives readers a first-hand view of Sudan’s past as well as an honest appraisal of its future.
Economic GrowthBy John Stossel, Threshold EditionsBook, 04/24/2012
A self-described skeptic, John Stossel has dismantled society’s sacred cows with unerring common sense. Now he debunks the most sacred of them all: our intuition and belief that government can solve our problems. In No, They Can’t, the New York Times bestselling author and Fox News commentator insists that we discard that idea of the “perfect” government—left or right—and retrain our brain to look only at the facts, to rethink our lives as independent individuals—and fast.
EducationBy Jason Richwine, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/24/2012
Despite ongoing debates over the adequacy of teacher compensation, the design of merit pay systems, and the structure of pension benefits, there is broad agreement that teacher pay should be designed to recruit—and retain—the highest-quality teachers in a cost-effective manner. Policymakers should avoid across-the-board pay increases, and focus instead on performance pay by easing restrictions on entering the teaching profession and basing tenure decisions on performance in the classroom. Value-added models are helpful in identifying the best teachers, but they should be used cautiously in conjunction with other performance-based measures. Retirement benefits should take the form of 401(k)-style plans to avoid the cost overruns and irrational retirement incentives created by traditional pensions. Finally, policymakers should remember that teacher quality is just one of many factors affecting student achievement.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Dennis Prager, Harper CollinsBook, 04/24/2012
Conservative radio host and syndicated columnist Dennis Prager provides a bold, sweeping look at the future of civilization with Still the Best Hope, and offers a strong, cogent argument for why basic American values must triumph in a dangerously uncertain world. Humanity stands at a crossroads, and the only alternatives to the “American Trinity” of liberty, natural rights, and the melting-pot ideal of national unity are Islamic totalitarianism, European democratic socialism, capitalist dictatorship, or global chaos if we should fail. America is Still the Best Hope, as this eminently sensible, profoundly inspiring volume so powerfully proves.
National SecurityBy Kip Hawley, Nathan Means, Palgrave MacmillanBook, 04/24/2012
Since 2001 the Transportation Security Administration has accepted responsibility for protecting over two million people a day at United States airports and managing transportation operations around the world. But how effective is this beleaguered agency, and is it really keeping us safe from terrorism? In this riveting expose, Kip Hawley reveals the secrets behind the agency’s ongoing battle to outthink and outmaneuver terrorists, illuminating the flawed, broken system that struggles to stay one step ahead of catastrophe. Citing numerous thwarted plots and government actions that have never before been revealed publicly, Hawley suggests that the fundamental mistake in America’s approach to national security is requiring a protocol for every contingency. Instead, he claims, we must learn to live with reasonable risk so that we can focus our efforts on long-term, big-picture strategy, rather than expensive and ineffective regulations that only slow us down.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Victor Cha, Harper CollinsBook, 04/24/2012
Former White House official Victor Cha has written the definitive volume on North Korea, arguably the world’s most menacing and mysterious nation. In The Impossible State, Cha, a singular expert on the region, exposes North Korea’s veiled past; sheds light on its culture, economy, and foreign policy; and explores the possibilities of its uncertain future in the post-Kim Jong-il era. A timely and engaging insider’s look at a volatile, and isolationist Asian juggernaut, The Impossible State will carry readers far deeper into this frighteningly adversarial country than they’ve ever traveled before.
International Trade/FinanceBy Edward Gresser, Bryan Riley, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/24/2012
High protectionist tariffs on inexpensive footwear have been untouched since the 1950s. The industries that lobbied to put them in place are long gone. Today, they serve only to needlessly raise the price of shoes. The Affordable Footwear Act would repeal many of the disproportionately high tariffs on shoe imports and save American families as much as $3 billion a year. As we reduce tariffs in imported shoes, every dollar consumers save on shoes can be spent on food, clothing, or other products, creating jobs in retail and other industries.
Health CareBy Avik S. A. Roy, Manhattan InstituteReport, 04/24/2012
Though the United States urgently needs new treatments for common illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, the nation’s system for drug approval discourages innovation and investment, especially for our most pressing public health challenges. The main culprit is the high cost of Phase III clinical trials, which are required for Food and Drug Administration approval of most drugs. For any given drug on the market, typically 90 percent or more of that drug’s development costs are incurred in Phase III trials. These costs have skyrocketed in recent years, exacerbating an already serious problem. The current “all or nothing” approval system should be replaced with one that reflects the realities of scientific research and the profiles of chronic long-term conditions.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy David C. John, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/24/2012
Social Security’s finances significantly worsened last year, according to the new 2012 trustees report, because of a weakened economy and structural problems with the program. The April 23 report shows that all people who receive Social Security benefits face about a 25 percent benefit cut as soon as 2033—three years earlier than predicted in last year’s report. The program’s long-term deficit is now larger than it was before the 1983 reforms. In order to pay all of its promised benefits, Social Security would require massive annual injections of general revenue tax money in addition to what the program receives from payroll taxes. These additional funds would be needed for the next 75 years and beyond.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Fouad Ajami, Hoover InstitutionBook, 04/23/2012
In The Syrian Rebellion, Fouad Ajami offers a detailed historical perspective on the current rebellion in Syria. Focusing on the similarities and the differences in skills between former dictator Hafez al-Assad and his successor son, Bashar, Ajami explains how an irresistible force clashed with an immovable object: the regime versus people who conquered fear to challenge a despot of unspeakable cruelty. Although the people at first hoped that Bashar would open up the prison that Syria had become under his father, it was not to be—and rebellion soon followed. This book tells how a proud people finally came to demand something more than a drab regime of dictatorship and plunder.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Clint Bolick, Hoover InstitutionBook, 04/23/2012
When presidents name justices to the United States Supreme Court, they may be making significant decisions in terms of the lasting and direct impact on the American people and their freedoms. In this book, Clint Bolick sheds lights on why every American has a vital and direct interest in the appointment and confirmation of federal judges—which raises greatly the stakes in electing those individuals who have the power and responsibility to appoint and confirm them.
EducationBy Ken Ardon, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchWhite Paper, 04/23/2012
Despite being a relatively wealthy state, Massachusetts still has a significant share of its population living in poverty – approximately 600,000 people in the Bay State live below the poverty line. While low-income families are often concentrated in urban areas, rural areas also have deep pockets of poverty. This paper explores the extent and distribution of poverty in Massachusetts’s schools and then examines the performance of low-income-students in urban and rural areas.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Kristian Niemietz, Institute of Economic AffairsDiscussion Paper, 04/23/2012
Housing costs in the United Kingdom have exploded in recent decades. Real-terms house prices in 2011 were more than two and a half times higher than in 1975, with rent levels following suit. The empirical evidence from around the world shows, as conclusively as econometric papers get, that planning restrictions are a key determinant of housing costs. In the United Kingdom, where there are few insurmountable topographic obstacles to speak of, it is reasonable to assume that other factors can be almost ignored.
Economic GrowthBy Matt Patterson, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 04/23/2012
Through his nonprofit ONE Campaign, the rock star Bono advocates Western aid to help impoverished people in Africa and elsewhere. Liberal advocacy groups have long argued that poor countries are helpless, that their governments are victimized by corporate exploitation, and their people are in need of help from Western governments and nonprofits. But these ideas are increasingly questioned and rejected. For all his good intentions Bono and ONE may be making bad conditions worse.
Budget & TaxationBy Fred Lucas, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 04/23/2012
Planned Parenthood seems to thrive on the hostility it generates. It pursues its primary mission, abortion, under the protection of friendly politicians and nurtured by taxpayer dollars. Lately, however, the organization has come under renewed and intense government scrutiny. This time the authorities are focused not on the group’s morality, but on its money.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Morgan Lorraine Roach, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/23/2012
The Lord’s Resistance Army has caused enormous suffering and instability in central Africa, launching violent attacks in Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and newly independent South Sudan. While Congress and the Obama Administration have provided substantial political, financial, and military support aimed at eliminating the Lord’s Resistance Army and addressing the humanitarian consequences of its violent acts, the region’s fundamental challenges have contributed to the Lord’s Resistance Army’s ability to evade capture and continue its attacks. Unless governance improves and regional actors establish greater trust and coordination, efforts to eliminate the Lord’s Resistance Army will be hindered.
Health CareBy John C. Goodman, Independent InstituteBook, 04/23/2012
The American healthcare system is plagued with problems. Unfortunately, conventional thinking about how to fix those problems is marred by two false assumptions. The first is that our current system has too much freedom and therefore we should restrict what doctors can do and where patients can go for care. The second false assumption is that market prices should play little or no role in healthcare. John C. Goodman demonstrates how these and other false assumptions have undermined American healthcare, creating a host of problems that have prompted policymakers to put forth additional bad “solutions.” Relying on the economic way of thinking, Goodman offers a probing analysis of what’s wrong with our system—an unconventional diagnosis that allows him to think outside the box and to propose dozens of bold reforms that would liberate doctors and patients from the trap of the third-party payment system that stands in the way of affordable, high-quality healthcare.
Organizing for a Strategic Ideas Campaign to Counter Ideological Challenges to U.S. National SecurityBy Abram N. Shulsky, Douglas J. Feith, William A. Galston, Hudson InstituteBriefing Paper, 04/23/2012
Islamist extremism is a political ideology related to the religion of Islam but it is not the same as the religion. The ideology propagates the idea that the West is inevitably hostile to Islam, an idea that can in turn serve to justify hatred of and violent struggle against the West. There is a traditional disinclination on the part of United States officials to view national security threats in ideological terms. This disinclination has been especially pronounced in the case of Islamist extremism because of the understandable concern about appearing to oppose a religion. Yet there are compelling national security reasons to recognize Islamist extremism as a serious problem—not least because of the dangers of jihadist terrorism—and to develop strategy and doctrine to counter the ideology. The most effective means to counter Islamist extremism is not through public diplomacy or strategic communications by United States officials. Rather it is through dialogue among Muslims.
National SecurityBy Seth Cropsey, Hudson InstituteTestimony, 04/23/2012
The Navy’s 2013 30-year plan aims for a fleet of approximately 300 ships. This lowers the projected size of the fleet by 13 ships from what the Navy has for the previous six years said it requires to carry out its assigned missions. Is a reduction of 13 ships sufficient by itself to cause alarm? No. Is the continued drift toward a smaller and smaller Navy troubling? Yes. American seapower is the strategic keel of our foreign and security policy. Reducing it would be an exercise of history-making shortsightedness. Restoring it would be an act of statesmanship from which Americans and all who cherish political liberty would benefit for the remainder of this century.
Budget & TaxationBy Eileen Norcross, Benjamin J. VanMetre, Maryland Public Policy InstituteMaryland Journal, 04/23/2012
The call for spending discipline by the Spending Affordability Committee, a committee created to recommend prudent spending limits to Maryland’s Legislature and Governor, highlights the design flaws and erratic application of Maryland’s three decades-long experiment. Maryland’s unsuccessful approach to limiting spending can be evaluated against the experience of other states with tax and expenditure limits. The Spending Affordability Committee process is subjective, subject to gaming, and ties spending growth to anticipated revenue growth, functioning more as a spending target rather than a cap. The Spending Affordability Committee should be abolished and replaced with a clear, transparent, and easy to evaluate spending rule to guide the General Assembly’s and Governor’s budget deliberations.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Gary D. Libecap, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 04/23/2012
By far the most common response to providing environmental quality or to conserving natural resources has been command-and-control regulations where the government decides what actions shall be taken by individuals and organizations to meet an environmental objective and enforces them with its police powers. As one would expect, there are numerous problems with this approach.
Economic GrowthBy Edward L. Glaeser, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 04/23/2012
New York City has become too dependent on the financial industry. In 2008, 44 percent of Manhattan wages were earned by workers in finance and insurance; the following year, even after the financial crisis and economic downturn had battered the industry, that share stood at a still-enormous 37 percent. And the track record of one-industry towns isn’t good. New York shouldn’t try to hold finance back, of course, but it should try to reduce the cost and regulatory barriers that limit the growth of other sectors. If Gotham hopes to keep playing its historical role in leading the world’s economy, it needs to welcome companies in other fields—most likely, technology, business services, and a broad range of information-intensive industries.
Budget & TaxationBy Jeff Hooke, Gabriel J. Michael, Maryland Public Policy InstituteMaryland Journal, 04/23/2012
This paper examines the primary taxpayer subsidies for the initial phase of Baltimore City’s State Center, a project proposed to replace the current state facilities in mid-town Baltimore bordering Preston Street. Led by a public-private partnership, the project envisions a mixed-use complex containing state and private office space, retail and dining space, mixed-income housing, and a parking garage. The project has attracted significant attention as well as litigation due to its scope and expense. Lost in the debate, however, is a careful accounting of the project’s potential cost to the public.
Budget & TaxationBy James Quintero, Robert McDowall, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 04/23/2012
From fiscal year 1990 through fiscal year 2012, Texas state government spending has risen from $23 billion to $94.3 billion, an increase of 310 percent. By contrast, Texas’ population and general inflation increases over the same period are expected to grow by just a combined 132 percent. It is essential that legislators take steps to better align the growth of state government spending with the ability of Texas taxpayers to support it.
Budget & TaxationBy Talmadge Heflin, Robert McDowall, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 04/23/2012
Local government spending in Texas has soared in recent decades. Between fiscal years 1992 and 2009, aggregate local government spending in Texas increased from $40.3 billion to $121.4 billion, an increase of 201 percent. By contrast, the rate of population growth in Texas plus inflation totaled just 93 percent over the same period. It is critical that legislators address the growth of local government spending by expanding Texas’ constitutional tax and expenditure limit to include local spending.
Economic GrowthBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/23/2012
The United States government suffers from understandable but harmful confusion concerning Chinese economic reform. It is correctly understood that market reforms have been most often implemented gradually. However, that slowness is misperceived to be moderation. In fact, when market reforms have occurred, they have been clear and powerful. This confusion has mattered little in the past nine years because the current Chinese government is hostile toward the market. The political transition that starts in the fall, however, might change things. The natural expectation after an extended period of statism is for any market reforms to be mild. However, if reforms do occur, both history and the existing policy mix suggest that they are likely to be dramatic. The branches of the United States government that deal with the People’s Republic of China should prepare for this possibility by pushing Beijing for detailed plans of reforms that would actually matter.