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Recent Policy Studies
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Vaclav Smil, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/31/2012
The powerful earthquake and high tsunami that struck the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan in March 2011, and that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, have been a perfect demonstration of our unwillingness to take adequate preventive steps against known risks that return with a very low frequency but whose effect can be extraordinarily large. These risks range from local and regional (caused, most often, by heavy floods and major earthquakes) to global, including viral pandemics and an encounter with an asteroid—a very low-probability event that could instantly obliterate our civilization. Japan stands alone among all modern, large, and affluent economies in facing an unpredictable but inevitable disaster. Unlike the United States, France, or Russia, the country lives with the terrible certainty that its capital, the world’s largest megacity, will eventually be hit by a strong earthquake that will amount to the most expensive disaster in history.
Economic GrowthBy Dane Stangler, Yasuyuki Motoyama, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/31/2012
Only rarely do studies view a state’s business climate from the perspective of individual firms and business owners. The best recent example of this approach is a research project by Thumbtack.com, an online marketplace for over 200,000 businesses of all kinds. Importantly, Thumbtack has been growing rapidly since its founding in 2009, adding over 5,000 new businesses to its listings every week. Working with the Kauffman Foundation, Thumbtack conducted a large-scale survey of listed businesses on “Small Business Friendliness” by state. Instead of measuring states by the ideology-driven criteria of a ranking report, the Thumbtack survey simply asked, “How would you rate your state’s support of small business owners?”
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nicolas Loris, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/31/2012
President Obama and his Administration have consistently applied practices that block oil production on federal lands, denying access to energy sources and economic activity. Nevertheless, success stories on non-federal lands demonstrate the power of the free market to apply human ingenuity to natural resources and create economic growth and jobs while protecting the environment. Production on private and state lands is largely responsible for the increased oil production that President Obama frequently touts. On federal lands, production fell in FY 2011. Heritage Foundation energy policy analyst Nicolas Loris suggests there are at least 10 actions that Congress can take to remove barriers to oil production and supply, and to stimulate economic growth and job creation in both the near and long term.
The Dangerous Impact of Barring Criminal Background Checks: Congress Needs to Overrule the EEOC’s New Employment “Guidelines”By Hans von Spakovsky, The Heritage FoundationLegal Memorandum, 05/31/2012
The EEOC’s new criminal background check “Enforcement Guidance” is potentially unlawful and certainly ill advised. In addition to lowering minority hiring rates and exposing employers to crushing liability, this new Guidance places employers in a vicious “Catch 22” situation: Business owners will have to choose between conducting criminal background checks and risking liability for supposedly violating Title VII or following the EEOC’s Guidance, abandoning background checks, and risking liability for criminal conduct by employees. Furthermore, failing to conduct such background checks places the public at risk, as violent offenders might go for years before lashing out at customers or co-workers. The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have already taken some actions to stop enforcement of this Guidance, but more is needed.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Henchman, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 05/31/2012
The U.S. Census Bureau reported last month that state tax collections in FY 2011 reached $764 billion, an increase of 8.9 percent over 2010. The amount is the second-highest ever, behind only the $781 billion collected in the bubble year of 2008. Each state saw growth in tax collections, in amounts ranging from 0.4 percent (Hawaii) to 44.5 percent (North Dakota). Individual income taxes, excise taxes, and sales taxes led growth, while property tax collections dropped due to assessments catching up with depressed home values.
A Changing Bureaucracy: The History of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary EducationBy Cara Stillings Candal, Ken Ardon, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchWhite Paper, 05/31/2012
Drawing from an extensive analysis of policy documents, press reports, and over 35 hours of interviews with policymakers and current and former leaders within the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other state education agencies, the following work provides a brief history of the agency, with a focus on its responsibilities in the post-education reform era. It further discusses the crafting and implementation of those specific reforms that have helped Massachusetts’ students rise to lead the nation in achievement. This work goes on to assess the “second wave” of education reform in Massachusetts in the context of the lessons of the past 20 years. It concludes with a set of recommendations for the Department, all of which aim to keep DESE focused on what it has done so successfully in the past—implementing policies that work to provide a higher quality of education for students and families across the Commonwealth.
Health CareBy Jonathan Ingram, Illinois Policy InstituteHealth Care Brief, 05/31/2012
In February, Gov. Pat Quinn told lawmakers that to rescue Illinois’ Medicaid program, the state would need to “reduce expenditures in the program by $2.7 billion” for fiscal year 2013. But so far, neither Quinn nor lawmakers have proposed a plan that does so. The Illinois Policy Institute has proposed reforming Medicaid into a premium assistance program, as outlined in Budget Solutions 2013. But as lawmakers race against the clock before the spring legislative session ends May 31, they are instead seeking ways to cut next year’s Medicaid bill. The Institute has developed the following menu of $1.7 billion in Medicaid reforms that cut spending and do not include any tax increases or the dramatic rate cuts that Quinn has proposed. These reforms, in addition to the $1.4 billion in savings that Quinn’s Medicaid working group has developed, allow the state to exceed the targeted $2.7 billion in savings.
EducationBy Michael Wille, Illinois Policy InstituteEducation Brief, 05/31/2012
Where choice in education is available, parents respond. Unlike the Elmores, most downstate and suburban parents have few alternatives to their local public schools. A mere 14 charter schools serve as alternatives. Only 3,600 stu¬dents attend these charter schools. Contrast that with Chicago, where charter schools are transforming the landscape. Nearly 1 out of every 8 Chicago students now learns in a charter school. That’s more than 45,000 stu¬dents at 110 schools across the city. And there are thousands more children on waiting lists. If downstate students attended charters at the same rate as Chicago students, more than 200,000 students would be enrolled in these schools of choice.
EducationBy Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesMonograph, 05/31/2012
Across America, states have implemented 35 school choice programs, including those with the biggest impact: 17 scholarship programs (including those for special needs students), and 17 programs offering tax credits or deductions for school choice. Effective education that equips our children for all of life’s opportunities is no pipe dream—whether it’s private or public. School choice has given hope to millions of students who might otherwise have no future. Twenty states altogether, including Washington DC, have already enacted school choice, with 13 states implementing or expanding programs in 2011 alone.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Steven Malanga, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 05/31/2012
In many states, including those where reformers had tried to make the process less political, redistricting has already determined the outcome of this year’s races for Congress and state legislature. In part, blame naivety for the reformers’ failure: redistricting isn’t easily drained of partisanship. But federal election law—especially the Voting Rights Act, which mandates a certain amount of legal gerrymandering to reach preferred racial outcomes—shares some of the blame. Though some states are inching toward ways of carving out fairer, less politicized electoral maps, reform is slow, and scheming over election districts remains nearly as important as it ever was to politicians’ fortunes, the composition of state legislatures, and even control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
EducationBy Marcus A. Winters, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 05/31/2012
The story of American education over the last three decades is one not of insufficient funds but of inefficient schools. Billions of new dollars have gone into the system, to little effect. Luckily, Americans are starting to recognize that we can improve schooling without paying an additional dime. In fact, by unleashing the power of educational choice, we might even save money while getting better results and helping the economy’s long-term prospects.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Robert Bryce, Manhattan InstituteReport, 05/31/2012
On the eve of World War I, the British Navy was worried about the security of its supply lines. It needed to be certain that British ships could get the oil they needed. Winston Churchill, who was serving as First Lord of the Admiralty, declared that, “Safety and certainty in oil lie in variety and variety alone.” In other words, Churchill knew that Britain needed to spread its bets. It couldn’t rely too heavily on Persia for its oil. It needed to diversify its suppliers. The United States now faces the same issue in the electricity sector. Maintaining a variety of generation sources—including natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and some renewables, as well as coal—will help assure that domestic electricity remains cheap, abundant, and reliable. Toward that end, the EPA should abandon its proposed rule aimed at banning new coal-fired electricity generation units.
Economic GrowthBy Luigi Zingales, Basic BooksBook, 05/31/2012
In A Capitalism for the People, Zingales makes a forceful, philosophical, and at times personal argument that the roots of American capitalism are dying, and that the result is a drift toward the more corrupt systems found throughout Europe and much of the rest of the world. American capitalism, according to Zingales, grew in a unique incubator that provided it with a distinct flavor of competitiveness, a meritocratic nature that fostered trust in markets and a faith in mobility. Lately, however, that trust has been eroded by a betrayal of our pro-business elites, whose lobbying has come to dictate the market rather than be subject to it, and this betrayal has taken place with the complicity of our intellectual class.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Bruce M. Owen, Mercatus CenterPaper, 05/31/2012
Getting rid of obsolete regulation of the broadcast and distribution of video programming is essential to the efficient operation of a market that has the potential to greatly increase the benefits to consumers. Services that increase video program distribution capacity have been delayed and suppressed for many years, and consumer benefits were lost as the Federal Communications Commission pursued ill-defined and ephemeral “public interest” and “localism” objectives.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Mercatus CenterAnalysis, 05/31/2012
Using different measures of government spending from the European Commission’s Eurostat and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the data show a reoccurring trend: While a few countries have reduced spending by slight amounts, most have not. Furthermore, the unseen (and less talked about) tax hikes and increased regulatory burdens continue to augment the façade of austerity in the Eurozone.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Patrick Adams, Independent InstituteWorking Paper, 05/31/2012
Is the tide turning regarding support for checkpoints? Some evidence seems to suggest that support is eroding for checkpoints, so I am cautiously optimistic. My hope is that legislation, education, and participation will contribute to reclaiming one slice of the fourth amendment.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Steven Greenhut, Reason FoundationReason, 05/31/2012
On May 17, the state Assembly voted 68-0 to support the most despicable piece of legislation that’s come through the halls in a while. The bill, AB 2299, allows a broad swath of public officials—police, judges, and various public safety officials—to hide their names from public property records. It is based on the unproven notion that criminals use such records to find the homes of law enforcement officers, then track them down to commit harm. The state is about to destroy the most significant source of public records, and create an open invitation to fraud and theft in order to combat a phantom threat.
Budget & TaxationBy Allister Heath, et al., TaxPayers' AllianceReport, 05/31/2012
To create the conditions for stronger economic growth and more jobs, while treating taxpayers fairly, the Government must reform taxes to make them lower, simpler and more transparent. To achieve this, six steps are needed: Taxes should be cut to 33 per cent of national income; marginal tax rates should not exceed 30 per cent, and the personal allowance should rise to ?10,000; taxes on capital and labour income disguised as business taxes should be abolished, and replaced with a tax on distributed income; transaction, wealth and inheritance taxes should be abolished; other consumption taxes need to stay for now, but transport taxes should be cut; local authorities should raise half of their spending power from local taxes.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Mark J. Perry, American Enterprise InstituteTestimony, 05/31/2012
The reality is that fossil fuel energy sources will continue to play a dominant role in providing stable supplies of affordable energy to America for decades to come, despite Obama’s embrace of alternative energies as the “energies of the future,” and his claim that oil is the “fuel of the past.” Hydrocarbon energy is America’s future, and it’s the energy treasures beneath our feet that will continue to power the U.S. economy for many generations. By favoring new, costly, subsidy-dependent alternative energy sources over traditional sources, and by not fully supporting the proven, job-creating, low-cost fossil fuels, it would be more accurate to describe President Obama’s costly energy strategy as “some of the above” instead of “all-of-the-above.”
Budget & TaxationBy Vincent H. Smith, Bruce A. Babcock, Barry K. Goodwin, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 05/31/2012
Imagine how much homeowners in California, Nevada, and Florida would have enjoyed if, in 2008, the government had guaranteed that no matter when they sold their homes, homeowners would receive no less than the price for which they could have sold their properties at the peak of the housing bubble. And just think how unreasonable and outrageously costly for the taxpayer such a program would be. Yet this is essentially what farmers are seeking, and what the congressional agricultural committees are considering providing.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ariel Cohen, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 05/31/2012
On May 31, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will begin her tour of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. In Scandinavia, she will address several forums on climate change and green energy. While in Sweden, she will also discuss Internet freedom, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. But it is in the Caucasus and Turkey that Clinton will face threats to U.S. friends and engage in intense geopolitical discussions. On June 4, she will meet with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan; on June 5, she will open the U.S.–Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission plenary session in Batumi, Georgia, and meet with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili; and on June 6, she will be meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.
Budget & TaxationBy Jason Richwine, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 05/31/2012
The generosity of pensions provided to public-sector workers has come under increased scrutiny as states and local governments search for ways to close their budget deficits. The intense and ongoing battle over public-sector collective bargaining in Wisconsin, for example, is in part a conflict over the generosity of public-pension benefits. Whether reducing pension benefits is a wise policy choice depends crucially on understanding the full costs to taxpayers. Unfortunately, the complexity of estimating pension costs has led to significant confusion among both policymakers and taxpayers. This paper is a short primer on the public-pension issue, starting with the basics and moving to the most politically salient aspects. Wisconsin is used throughout for illustration, but the broader points apply to pensions in general.
National SecurityBy Edwin J. Feulner, The Heritage FoundationAmerica at Risk Memo, 05/31/2012
All of our armed forces are under threat not from an outside adversary, but from budget battles in Washington. The Administration contends that its domestic priorities matter more than sustaining the greatest military force for good in the world. It appears willing to reduce the Department of Defense budget even beyond the roughly $500 billion it has already put on the chopping block by threatening to veto legislation that would defer or set aside automatic cuts under legislation signed by the President last year. This makes no sense.
Budget & TaxationBy Andrew Biggs, Jason Richwine, American Enterprise InstituteWorking Paper, 05/31/2012
Even following Act 10, pension benefits for Wisconsin public employees are roughly 4.5 times more valuable than private sector levels while health benefits are about twice as generous as those paid by larger private sector Wisconsin employers. This difference results in a combined salary-benefits compensation premium of around 22 percent for state workers over private sector workers, with varying but often larger pay advantages for local government employees.
Budget & TaxationBy Jason Richwine, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 05/31/2012
The existence of traditional defined benefit pensions in the public sector makes proper comparisons difficult. The cost to the employer of a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan is simply the amount of money contributed to the plan, but estimating the cost of defined benefit plans requires a host of complicated actuarial calculations inaccessible to the average voter trying to make informed choices. Taking advantage of the inevitable confusion, some public-sector advocates have used misleading data points in debates over the cost and generosity of pension benefits. In reality, the average public pension is several times more generous than 401(k)-style plans in the private sector. A proper understanding of the real cost of public pensions, especially in comparison to private-sector defined contribution plans, is the first step toward reform.
Budget & TaxationBy Maureen Martin, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 05/30/2012
Act 10 virtually eliminated Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion deficit by reducing state spending, especially state funding for local school district K-12 education, which was cut by about $749 million. Most controversially, Act 10 largely eliminated collective bargaining for general public union members employed by the state, local government, and schools. Opponents of the bill predicted the law would have dire consequences for educational quality: fewer teachers, larger class sizes, program cuts, and worse. According to early results, however, in all but a handful of districts the dire predictions have not come true. All evidence points to schools functioning normally. Many districts have balanced their budgets for the first time in years. Some even have surpluses and are hiring more teachers and reducing class size.
Budget & TaxationBy Mark Robyn, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 05/30/2012
Kansas is on the right track by broadening its tax base and lowering its rates, but should be cautious about favoring some businesses over others. A better path to encouraging economic growth is creating a tax environment that is not overly burdensome and treats all businesses well. Further, while tax reductions can have positive economic benefits, they will cost revenue and will ultimately have to be paid for either by cutting spending or increasing taxes elsewhere.
WelfareBy Kevin D. Williamson, Encounter BooksBook, 05/30/2012
Each year, the United States spends $65,000 per poor family to “fight poverty” – in a country in which the average family income is just under $50,000. Meanwhile, most of that money goes to middle-class and upper-middle-class families, and the current U.S. poverty rate is higher than it was before the government began spending trillions of dollars on antipoverty programs. In this eye-opening Broadside, Kevin D. Williamson uncovers the hidden politics of the welfare state and documents the historical evidence that proves that Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” was designed to do one thing: maximize the number of Americans dependent upon the government. The welfare state was never meant to eliminate privation; it was created to keep Democrats in power.
EducationBy Glenn H. Reynolds, Encounter BooksBook, 05/30/2012
America is facing a higher education bubble. Like the housing bubble, it is the product of cheap credit coupled with popular expectations of ever-increasing returns on investment, and as with housing prices, the cheap credit has caused college tuitions to vastly outpace inflation and family incomes. Now this bubble is bursting. In this Broadside, Glenn H. Reynolds explains the causes and effects of this bubble and the steps colleges and universities must take to ensure their survival. Many graduates are unable to secure employment sufficient to pay off their loans, which are usually not dischargeable in bankruptcy. As students become less willing to incur debt for education, colleges and universities will have to adapt to a new world of cost pressures and declining public support.
EducationBy Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Jonah E. Rockoff, Education NextEducation Next, 05/30/2012
Good teachers are of great value to their students, and value-added measures are a potentially valuable tool for measuring teacher performance. Finding policies to raise the quality of teaching is likely to yield substantial economic and social benefits.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Jay Cost, National AffairsNational Affairs, 05/30/2012
When political scientist Harold Lasswell, writing in the mid-1930s, defined politics as the decisions society makes about “who gets what, when, and how,” he might as well have been describing the debate over taxes and spending in the United States today. But what happens when the focus of the political debate changes from who gets what to who loses what? This concept is unfamiliar to Americans, who have enjoyed more than 100 years of (mostly) uninterrupted economic growth. The few examples in American history of the politics of loss suggest that the results tend to be explosive.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy George Weigel, National AffairsNational Affairs, 05/30/2012
In recent years, roiled as they have been by a global financial and economic crisis, the phrase “the handwriting is on the wall” has become a staple of the public conversation. It is a metaphor for the general sense of disorientation, unease, and fear for the future that seems epidemic throughout the Western world, and that is having so obvious an effect on the national cast of mind in this election season. The phrase may be ubiquitous, but how many of those who invoke “the handwriting on the wall” have looked closely at its source—the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible? The story told there is a striking one. Recalling it in full might help us come to grips with whatever is being written on the wall at this moment in our national history, and in the history of the civilization of the West.
Gratitude for Our Armed Forces Should Not Stop at the Schoolhouse Door: Providing Educational Choice through Military Education Savings AccountsBy Vicki E. Alger, Independent Women's ForumReport, 05/30/2012
Like too many families, military families are not always best served by their assigned public school and need more options when it comes to their children’s education. Children from military families are often required to move frequently and change schools at rates far exceeding those of their civilian peers. Today more than 200,000 children enjoy private school choice options across the country, including private school vouchers, tax credits, virtual school, and homeschooling. Congress and state lawmakers should allow armed forces personnel and military veterans to use their existing GI bill benefits for Military Education Savings Accounts to pay for the associated costs of sending their children to schools they think are best for their children—regardless of where they are stationed. They should also reform other education savings programs to broaden the options currently available to military families.
Regulation & DeregulationBy David L. Durkin, Robert A. Hahn, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 05/30/2012
FDA has long asserted that section 704 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act grants it the authority to take photographs in inspected establishments. Despite this assertion, the federal courts have never ruled on the narrow question of whether section 704 provides the agency that authority. The combination, however, of marginally supportive case law, decades of agency practice, the regulated industries’ desire for “good relations” with FDA, the agency’s ability to obtain an inspection warrant that invariably contains judicially approved authority to photograph, and the technological changes that have made photography and videography much more prevalent all make it unlikely that a court would rule today that FDA lacks statutory authority to take in-plant photographs.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jean-Cyril Walker, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 05/30/2012
Currently, E-disclosures are limited to violations of EPCRA, except for facilities in EPA Region 6, which can use the system to disclose violations of other federally enforceable statutes. An expansion of the E-disclosure system to all EPA Regions, with related self-disclosure protections, would seem to be a more effective way for EPA to husband its scarce enforcement resources and maximize compliance. Indeed, we believe the Agency should place a greater emphasis on compliance incentives like voluntary disclosures. Leaving aside the benefit of a program that encourages the implementation of management systems and promotes prompt discovery and correction of environmental violations, our experience has been that companies using the Audit Policy come away with a much more positive impression of EPA than under most other circumstances. Such companies are more likely to self-disclose in the future if permitted by the Policy.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Glenn M. Engelmann, James S. Cohen, Michael S. Ryan, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 05/30/2012
The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to require sponsors to submit “any television advertisement” for a drug at least 45 days before dissemination. On March 12, 2012, FDA described how it intends to exercise this authority in a long-awaited draft guidance. A critical unanswered question raised by the guidance is how quickly FDA will be able to provide sponsors with meaningful feedback to a pre-dissemination submission. Although the agency’s goal is to respond within 45 days of receiving a complete submission, the draft guidance acknowledges that, in some cases, it may take the agency longer to respond. In these cases, a sponsor may be put in the unenviable position of choosing to wait to begin marketing until FDA responds, or moving ahead with commercializing its product and subjecting itself to traditional enforcement actions for disseminating a false or misleading advertisement.
Higher Education in New Mexico: A Chicken in Every Pot, a Car in Every Garage, a College on Every CornerBy Paul J. Gessing, William Patrick Leonard, Rio Grande FoundationReport, 05/30/2012
New Mexico spends a lot compared to other states on higher education. According to the Legislative Finance Committee, no other state dedicates more of its citizen’s personal income to higher education than New Mexico. In FY08, about $17.39 per $1,000 of personal income was dedicated to higher education in New Mexico, while the national average was about $7.00. What are the taxpayers of New Mexico getting for their money? Not much according to the report CollegeMeasures.org.4 As the following chart from the New Mexico page detailing outcomes for public colleges, the state’s institutions underperform relative to other states.
Budget & TaxationBy Justin Owen, Ryan Turbeville, Beacon Center of TennesseePolicy Brief, 05/30/2012
Metro Nashville-Davidson County Mayor Karl Dean is proposing a 13 percent property tax increase in his recommended 2012-2013 budget. The proposed budget includes $125 million in new spending and only $3 million in specific reductions, a net spending increase of 7.85 percent. To account for a significant portion of this increase, the mayor wishes to bring in $100 million in additional revenue by raising property taxes. Without this increase, Dean claims that there would be severe cuts to education and police personnel, and as much as 20 percent reductions in certain city departments.1 By holding the line on new spending, cutting unnecessary waste, and implementing fundamental changes to the way government operates, the city could avoid a tax increase while preserving Metro Nashville’s long-term fiscal stability.
EducationBy James Golsan, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 05/30/2012
This paper will examine several metrics that have been proposed and/or are currently being employed to measure teaching excellence, and how those measures could be used most effectively in Texas.
Budget & TaxationBy Michael W. Thompson, Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public PolicyReport, 05/30/2012
By re-arranging some of our current taxes, Virginia could dramatically improve our economy and provide substantial tax relief to our citizens. At the same time we could eliminate three unfair and anti-competitive taxes that have harmed economic growth in our state. All of this can be accomplished in an overall “tax neutral” manner as outlined in this study. This means that the traditional “tax battle lines” should not be present in this policy discussion. Schools and transportation, the safety net and other social programs will not be impacted. There will be no overall tax increase or tax decrease. But by re-arranging the current taxes a substantial improvement in jobs and economic growth can occur.
EducationBy Liv Finne, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Brief, 05/30/2012
Washington lawmakers can continue to write rules and regulations that encourage school officials to increase student access to online learning programs, but these are no more likely to be successful than efforts of the past. Under current law, school districts have no meaningful incentive to change the traditional way they provide instruction. Public schools receive funding year after year, usually with increases, regardless of their ability to raise actual student achievement or to improve graduation rates. Education officials have no incentive to change. On the contrary, school districts have a strong financial incentive to avoid signing students up for online courses because it would mean that fewer teachers are necessary.
Budget & TaxationBy Chris Edwards, Cato InstituteCato Policy Report, 05/30/2012
Two decades ago Canada suffered a deep recession and teetered on the brink of a debt crisis caused by rising government spending. The Wall Street Journal said that growing debt was making Canada an “honorary member of the third world” with the “northern peso” as its currency. But Canada reversed course and cut spending, balanced its budget, and enacted various pro-market reforms. The economy boomed, unemployment plunged, and the formerly weak Canadian dollar soared to reach parity with the U.S. dollar. America needs to get its fiscal house in order, and Canada has shown how to do it. Our northern neighbor still has a large welfare state, but there is a lot we can learn from its efforts to restrain the government and adopt market-oriented reforms to spur strong economic growth.
Economic GrowthBy Ryan Bourne, Thomas Oechsle, Centre for Policy StudiesStudies, 05/30/2012
Econometric analysis of advanced OECD countries for the period 1965-2010 finds that a higher tax to GDP ratio has a statistically significant, negative effect on growth. For example, an increase in the tax to GDP ratio of 10 percentage points is found to lower annual per capita GDP growth by 1.2 percentage points. A similarly statistically significant negative effect on growth is found with a higher spending to GDP ratio. For the last 10 years, advanced small government countries have, on average, seen significantly higher growth rates than advanced big government countries.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 05/30/2012
While attention is focused on when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) might catch the U.S. in terms of GDP, it has already passed the U.S. on some measures of its monetary base. Such high liquidity typically precedes periods of stagnation or even outright economic contraction. It is one of the surer reasons for anticipating that China’s true economic growth might slow sharply, a possibility that has clear implications for American policy. Moreover, excess Chinese liquidity has already had an impact in the U.S. The two economies are linked by Beijing’s chosen balance-of-payments rules, which tie the yuan to the dollar and compel the PRC to hold excess reserves in American bonds. The U.S. has its own money supply management challenges, and communication between the two countries’ monetary authorities will be valuable.