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Recent Policy Studies
Health CareBy Mario Loyola, Texas Public Policy FoundationReport, 07/03/2012
The Supreme Court’s decision in ObamaCare was historic on many levels. The main provisions of ObamaCare were upheld, on the basis of a questionable distinction between a “tax” and a “tax penalty.” But a majority of the Justices agreed on a remarkable number of quintessentially Tenth Amendment propositions, sometimes in dramatic departures from longstanding precedent. The Court struck down the Medicaid expansion provisions of ObamaCare. In doing so, a majority of the Justices embraced important federalist principles, sometimes departing from longstanding precedent. In its ruling on Medicaid, the Court agreed with the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s view that conditions attached to a federal program must not go beyond the manner in which federal funds are spent. States will now be shielded from some of the worst excesses of federal overreach.
Economic GrowthBy William McBride , Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 07/03/2012
Who are the rich? It depends who you ask and when. Numerous reports have pointed to the growth in high incomes over the last few decades. However, at least among the highest income earners, the fortunate 400, there has been no growth in wages since 1992. Rather, virtually all of the growth is from pass-through business income and capital gains. The volatile nature of this income, particularly capital gains, means that high-flier status is fleeting. Most members of the fortunate 400 remain so for just one year, likely because of the sale of one big asset, such as a family farm, business, or stock. The fortunate 400 pay a lot of income tax—about enough to fund the National Science Foundation and the Department of Interior, which includes the National Park Service. At the peak in 2007, they funded the State Department. Taxes have doubled, in real terms, since 1992. Likewise, the fortunate 400’s share of income taxes paid has doubled to 2 percent—almost the share paid by the bottom 69 million filers.
Health CareBy John R. Graham, Pacific Research InstituteHealth Policy Prescriptions, 07/03/2012
Congress has just re-authorized the Medical Device User Fee Act for five years. This continues a decade-long program whereby the medical-device industry supplements the Food and Drug Administration’s appropriated budget with user fees. Even though the FDA’s budget for licensing new medical devices has grown by almost half, in real terms, from 2003 through 2011, it has not increased its approvals of new medical devices. One simple estimate of productivity shows a 29 percent drop. This failure to make productive use of its increased financial resources threatens the future of research and development in medical innovation in the United States. Americans should use the reauthorization of the Medical Device User Fee Act to demand that the FDA finally make good on its promises of improved regulatory effectiveness.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Matt A. Mayer, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsAnalysis, 07/03/2012
The federal government is financially broke. Because it is not restricted by a balanced budget requirement, it constantly spends money it doesn’t have. With the upcoming presidential election, there is no better time than now to have a vigorous debate on how we can best pull our country back from the fiscal brink and reinvigorate American Exceptionalism. The discussion must be moved to the real issue—where do Oklahomans want the locus of government power over their lives to reside? The answer lies in the Constitution, which grants the use of competitive federalism to solve our nation’s problems.
Economic GrowthBy William B. Conerly, National Center for Policy AnalysisPolicy Report, 07/03/2012
More than 75 years since the system was created, unemployment insurance is still a contentious issue. Whether the problem is a lack of available work or the resistance of the unemployed to seek new work, the unemployment system itself seems to be failing to do its job. However, we could speed the re-employment of the unemployed by using staffing agencies to match people with available positions.
Economic GrowthBy Charles Blahous, Jason J. Fichtner, Crown Publishing GroupBook, 07/02/2012
Unless the U.S. economy recovers more quickly, the country could be mired in debt for years to come and millions of Americans will be pushed to the sidelines of the economy. The 4% Solution offers clear ideas on ways to revive America’s economy by removing government constraints and encouraging saving, investment and job creation. Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellows Charles Blahous and Jason Fichtner have a chapter, “Social Security Reform and Economic Growth,” that discusses what reforms are needed to the Social Security program to encourage work and personal saving. Their chapter speaks to how Social Security might be reformed to better facilitate economic growth, by removing disincentives under current Social Security law with respect to saving, labor supply and even child-rearing. The book contains chapters by five Nobel Laureates in Economics: Robert Lucas, Gary Becker, Edward Prescott, Vernon Smith and Myron Scholes.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Stefano Clò, Emanuele Vendramin, Istituto Bruno LeoniSpecial Report, 07/02/2012
The EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) has caused many inefficiencies and market distortions. Despite being subjected to the same European regulations, national firms and sectors faced different reduction efforts depending on the country in which they are located. This lack of a level playing field has distorted competition, creating undesirable economic consequences at the expense of effective EU common market integration. Most of the ETS related inefficiencies would be avoided by opting for a carbon tax. Member States’ opportunity to free ride on other countries’ efforts by adopting protectionist policy in favor of national industries would be avoided. Moreover, a carbon tax would constitute the easiest and cheapest instrument to support the competitiveness of low carbon technologies, fostering their diffusion and innovation.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/02/2012
On June 22, Paraguay’s legislature removed leftist President Fernando Lugo from office for “poor performance of duties.” In response of this peaceful, public action by multi-party supermajorities in both houses of the legislature, several leftist South American leaders have labeled Lugo’s dismissal a “coup” and demanded punitive measures aimed at restoring him to the presidency. Vice President Federico Franco of the Liberal Party assumed the office of president. While the Obama Administration has expressed concern about the rapidity of the process by which Lugo was removed from office, it has not called the action a “coup.” The Obama Administration has supported the dispatch of a fact-finding mission to Asuncion led by the Organization of American States (OAS). The position for the U.S. should be one that recognizes the legitimacy of the Franco interim government coupled with a concerted effort to reinforce democratic governance rather than punish Paraguay.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Emily Goff, Alison Acosta Fraser, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/02/2012
Senate and House conferees have reached an agreement to fund surface transportation programs through 2014. The bill, MAP-21 (H.R. 4348), should be measured against how it steers the country away from its current path of reckless spending and whether it improves congestion, mobility, and safety. Lawmakers deserve credit for including reforms such as environmental review streamlining, consolidating or eliminating programs, and giving states more flexibility on how to use their federal transportation dollars. However, the bill spends too much and does not keep spending in line with what the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) brings in through the federal gas tax.
Health CareBy Mark Rovere, Bacchus Barua, Fraser InstituteFraser Forum, 07/02/2012
The Swiss have a universal health care system, as does Canada. However, instead of relying on government health insurance monopolies to purchase medically necessary services as Canadians do, the Swiss purchase their health insurance in a competitive private market. Switzerland provides universal health care without having to rely on a government-run health insurance monopoly. Importantly, Switzerland spends less of its GDP on health care than Canada (when adjusting for the age of the population), and yet appears to have superior access to, and availability of important medical services and resources. Moreover, in contrast to Canada, Swiss residents have greater control over their health insurance. Canada has a lot to learn about alternative ways to finance their universal health care system, and the Swiss have a lot to offer.
Health CareBy Nadeem Esmail, Fraser InstituteFraser Forum, 07/02/2012
In 2011, an estimated 46,159 Canadians received nonemergency medical treatment outside Canada. In some cases, these patients needed to leave Canada due to a lack of available resources or a lack of appropriate procedure/technology. In others, their departure will have been driven by a desire to return more quickly to their lives, to seek out superior quality care, or perhaps to save their own lives or avoid the risk of disability. Clearly, the number of Canadians who ultimately receive their medical care in other countries is not insignificant.
Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling: The Case for Harmonized Canada-US Beef and Pork Regulatory RegimeBy Alexander Moens, Amos Vivancos Leon, Fraser InstituteFraser Forum, 07/02/2012
The new MCOOL label imposes by necessity a tracking, segregating, and recording system that adds significant costs to the integrated system of meat production. As a result, any final product that involves a non-American animal or non-American stage of production faces a much higher label processing cost than the equivalent “all-American-all-the–time” product. The large discrepancy in transaction costs is driving a wedge into the integrated industry and is acting as a severe protectionist measure against Canadian and Mexican products. As a result, consumers on both sides of the border will eventually face higher prices for red meats and both Canada and the United States will lose their relative competitiveness. The lesson of MCOOL is that regulatory barriers to trade are among the chief threats Canada faces in its dealings with the United States.
Budget & TaxationBy Fergus Hodgson, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 07/02/2012
The General Fund portion of North Carolina’s $51.7 billion state budget for 2013 is now $20.18 billion. This exceeds planned spending, by $242.2 million, but it does not necessitate a tax increase. All of this year’s General Fund proposals from the House, Senate, and gov¬ernor have been for more spending than planned. Tax revenues for fiscal year 2012 proved greater than projected by $232.5 million. The Fiscal Research Division also predicts a two-year total of $253.5 million over previous projections. North Carolina’s Rainy Day Fund is just 1.6 percent of the General Fund, but legislators have approved spending 95.6 percent of the revenue surplus. By taking the lower cost of each General Fund component from the House and Senate proposals—”reverse logrolling”—with a couple of exceptions, one could achieve a General Fund total of $19.85 billion. That would save $330 million from the enacted General Fund and $87 million from last year’s plan.
Health CareBy Charles Blahous, e21: Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyCommentary, 06/29/2012
Much attention has been given to the argument that without the individual purchase mandate, other parts of the health care law would become unworkable. Much less attention has been given to the fact that without the states forced to be on board with the Medicaid expansion, the law’s health exchange subsidies might be fiscally unworkable. The Supreme Court may have just set in motion of chain of events that could lead to the law’s being found as busting the budget, even under the highly favorable scoring methods used last time around.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Matt Patterson, Capital Research CenterGreen Watch, 06/29/2012
“Never use human beings as a means to end” is a fundamental principle of ethics. It is shameful that the most prominent environmentalist special interests—including the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association—so frequently invoke children in order to level baseless allegations of abuse against those with whom they disagree. Contrary to what environmentalist organizations would like the public to believe, a vote to check President Barack Obama’s overweening EPA is not a vote against children’s health. Rather, the opposite is true. EPA’s job-killing regulatory agenda is anathema to the health and well-being of Americans, young and old. By reining in this rogue agency, Congress could unleash wealth creation that has been stifled by EPA’s unjustifiable intrusions. Wealth creation, in turn, will produce the means by which parents can care for their children, properly and fully.
Economic GrowthBy Johnny Munkhammar, American Enterprise InstitutePaper, 06/29/2012
The financial crisis and recession of 2008-2009 were countered in many countries with Keynesian-inspired stimulus policies with, among other measures, large increases in public spending. Along with falling tax revenues, a sizeable increase in public spending has produced a serious debt crisis, which has in turn led to lower economic growth and higher unemployment rates. Some explanations for the failure of Keynesian policy include the so-called crowding out effect, unproductive and inefficient government decisions, poor timing, and growing public deficits and debt. By contrast, countries that have cut public expenditure, upheld fiscal policy frameworks for balanced budgets, emphasized tax cuts, and reformed the economy for competitiveness have fared better. This paper explores the crisis-response policies of major developed economies and argues that stimulative policy has intensified the financial crisis, not solved it.
EducationBy Todd Grindal, American Enterprise InstituteSpecial Report, 06/29/2012
Public-sector programs are often less able to meet parents’ employment-related child care needs, and these programs often do not have the capacity to serve the millions of families of children three years old and younger. Private enterprise is critical to filling these gaps. Yet, the for-profit model may fall short in preparing children for school success. To maximize the potential of private enterprises to support the needs of young children and their families, parents must be given the tools to better observe the most important elements of program quality. Moreover, public policies must provide all programs—public, for-profit, and private nonprofit alike—with equitable levels of oversight and support.
Regulation & DeregulationBy James V. DeLong, James V. DeLongBook, 06/29/2012
People do not regard government as legitimate when it has become a tool of special interests, and our politics grow increasingly bitter. The result of Big SIS is that the nation is steadily drifting into a crisis over political legitimacy, over the moral basis of our government. To avoid serious upheaval, we must return to three great guiding principles of the Old Republic. Legislation, regulation, and spending should promote the general interest of the nation, not special interests; systemic corruption - corruption that is then fed back into the supporting the government -- rots the republic; and the government can be a facilitator of many things, but should not be regarded as being in charge of and responsible for any sector of the domestic economy or society. We must rely on our civilization, which is our market economy and civil society, not on our government.
Budget & TaxationBy Hanns Kuttner, Hudson InstituteBriefing Paper, 06/29/2012
The origin- and destination-based approaches are substantially similar when buyer and seller are in the same state or in different states with the same sales tax rate. In these cases, the sales tax rate is the same under both models. The two approaches can have different results when buyer and seller are in different states with different sales tax rates. Moving from a destination-based sales tax to one that is origin based brings trade-offs. Some problems get solved, others created. Many of these problems result from federalism: each state setting its own rules adds complexity. The only way to simplify the sales tax is federal action—harmonizing a destination-based sales tax through an agreement such as the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement—or an assertion of federal authority involving a move to an origin-based tax.
Health CareBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 06/29/2012
The culture of the FDA is beyond repair by external exhortation. The FDA is a bureaucratic monopolist. Currently, in the name of protecting the American public, the FDA represents a major systematic threat to drug innovation and public health. It should be stripped of its power to block the entry of new drugs and medical devices into general use. Break the monopoly and the FDA may actually reform itself in order to remain relevant as a source of information about drugs for patients. Keep the monopoly in place, and the delays in getting drugs like Elaprase and Replagal onto the market will prolong the suffering of innocent people, young and old alike.
Budget & TaxationBy David R. Henderson, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 06/29/2012
We often hear that big cuts in government spending over a short period of time are a bad idea. But if such claims were true, wouldn’t history confirm them? After the biggest percentage government spending cuts in American history—the cuts in government spending after World War II—the economy boomed. There are, of course, policy lessons to be drawn from the post-war experience—lessons that we can apply to today’s fiscal crisis. Since we must cut the federal budget deficit, the best way to do so is with cuts in spending.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Peter J. Wallison, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 06/28/2012
As the second anniversary of the act approaches, its role in slowing our economic recovery is coming into focus. GDP growth shrunk immediately after the law passed and has never recovered, while key terms in the law remain undefined. It is rare that a single law can have a significant adverse effect on the enormous U.S. economy. But there has never been anything like the Dodd-Frank Act. Signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010, its extraordinary effect in slowing the economy is coming into focus as its second anniversary approaches.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Michael M. Rosen, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 06/28/2012
“Every crowd has a silver lining,” P.T. Barnum once quipped, but the New Textualists—a group of liberal legal theorists espousing a new explication of and fidelity to the Constitution’s text—should be taking the famous promoter seriously in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision affirming a key part of ObamaCare. Indeed, as political and legal liberals celebrate the narrow survival of the individual mandate of the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, and while conservatives of all stripes mourn the defection of Chief Justice Roberts, some New Textualist observers—including Yale Law School’s Akhil Reed Amar and Jack Balkin, and Harvard’s Einer Elhauge—stand out among the crowd.
Budget & TaxationBy David Stokes, Show-Me InstituteTestimony, 06/28/2012
The dirty little secret that nobody seems to want to recognize, or even attempt to uncover, is that Enhanced Enterprise Zones (EEZ), Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Community Improvement Districts (CID), and other subsidies do not work. They do not succeed in growing the local economy. The panoply of subsidies that come into play when a large area is declared blighted can have a number of adverse side effects. They shrink the local tax base, encourage more government planning of the economy, and increase the chances of eminent domain abuse. As a famous Swedish economist once said, “It is not by planting trees or subsidizing tree planting in a desert created by politicians that the government can promote . . . industry, but by refraining from measures that create a desert environment.”
National SecurityBy Steven P. Bucci, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 06/28/2012
The federal government could realize significant savings by migrating many information technology functions to the cloud. While the government should take full advantage of the advantages of cloud computing, it should take care to avoid common cloud computing pitfalls. Congress and the Administration also need to update the laws on cybersecurity, privacy, and information, which have become outdated.
Childish Reaction to Supreme Court Immigration Ruling: Obama Administration Ends a Key Joint Program with ArizonaBy Matt A. Mayer, John G. Malcolm, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 06/28/2012
The Administration should rescind the actions it took after the Supreme Court’s decision and treat Arizona as a true partner. The Obama Administration should rescind the actions it took in its initial reaction and treat Arizona as a true and legitimate partner. Congress should use its power of the purse to push the Administration to enforce federal law. Beyond its disregard of Congress’s intent, it goes without saying that the Obama Administration will be responsible for any future criminal activity committed by those released individuals, including the serious injury to or death of American citizens.
Economic GrowthBy Mark Wilson, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 06/27/2012
Decades of economic research show that minimum wages usually end up harming workers and the broader economy. Minimum wages particularly stifle job opportunities for low-skill workers, youth, and minorities, which are the groups that policymakers are often trying to help with these policies. If the government requires that certain workers be paid higher wages, then businesses make adjustments to pay for the added costs, such as reducing hiring, cutting employee work hours, reducing benefits, and charging higher prices. Some policymakers may believe that companies simply absorb the costs of minimum wage increases through reduced profits, but that is rarely the case. Some federal and state policymakers are currently considering increases in minimum wages, but such policy changes would be particularly damaging in today’s sluggish economy. Instead, federal and state governments should focus on policies that generate faster economic growth, which would generate rising wages and more opportunities for all workers.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Sherzod Abdukadirov, Mercatus CenterResearch, 06/27/2012
A change in administration will be followed by a “lame duck” session, during which politicians are all-but freed from normal political constraints. For an administration, this period provides what is often its best—and sometimes last—chance to push through sweeping and controversial regulations. Mercatus Center scholars examined the phenomenon of “midnight regulations”. They found that surges occur regardless of election outcome, the quality of regulatory analysis is poor, any review of regulation by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is rushed, and that midnight regulations are often difficult to repeal.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Jerry Ellig, James Broughel, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 06/27/2012
A sound baseline analysis helps an agency determine whether to regulate and how to regulate. A realistic baseline is crucial to obtaining accurate measurement of the true costs and benefits of federal regulation. Only a proper baseline—one that assesses what the world would look like in the absence of a particular regulation—can ensure an agency that its proposed regulation will likely achieve its intended results. The Mercatus Center’s Regulatory Report Card has uncovered some good examples of baseline analysis, but the low average scores for analysis of baselines suggest that in many cases, baselines need more attention.
Budget & TaxationBy Stephen Zierak, Grassroot Institute of HawaiiReport, 06/27/2012
While there are some good aspects to Hawaii’s tax system, Hawaii is part of some of the negative trends. Personal income tax rates were raised rather than the tax base broadened. There is no “Heartland Tax Rebellion” in today’s Hawaii, and no one is arguing for ending any of the major taxes. Hawaii’s estate tax might be a good candidate for abolition. The “rainy day” fund is a joke. Cigarette taxes are outrageous, and tend to apply to lower income citizens. If they were dedicated to health issues related to smoking, it might be possible to justify such a tax. However, the tax simply fills the coffers of the general fund. There may be future attempts to find a way to tax internet sales, and Hawaii’s legislature has already shown interest by passing a bill, which went down by veto. There is a lot of work to do to make the Hawaii tax system work for economic growth, while minimizing political favors or penalties for groups “in” or “out.”
Information TechnologyBy Adam Thierer, Mercatus CenterResearch Papers, 06/27/2012
Even as viewing options multiply from new sources, America’s traditional video marketplace—broadcast television, cable TV, and satellite TV—remains encumbered with many layers of federal regulation. This prevents a truly free market in video programming from developing and simultaneously threatens to extend old regulations to new online platforms and services. Even if some broadcasters might not do as well in a deregulated marketplace as they do today, that should not thwart policy reform. The goal of deregulation is not to advance the interests of producers or distributors but to benefit consumers. Reforming archaic video regulations will advance that objective.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Energy-Related Tax Preferences and Job Creation: Which Industries Provide the Best Value for Taxpayers?By Robert Bryce, Manhattan InstituteIssues, 06/27/2012
Each wind-energy-related job costs taxpayers between nine and 39 times as much as a job created by the oil and gas sector. If natural gas–fired electricity generators were given the same 2.2 cent-per-kilowatt-hour production tax credit as is now given to the wind-energy sector, the cost to federal taxpayers would be more than $22 billion per year. If the big conventional sources of electricity generation—coal, nuclear, and natural gas—were given the same level of subsidies as wind energy, the cost to taxpayers would amount to more than $76 billion per year.
Information TechnologyBy Seth L. Cooper, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 06/27/2012
DOJ reportedly is looking into whether so-called data caps on the volume of consumers’ monthly broadband Internet usage are harming the ability of online video distributors (OVDs) to compete in the market. Supreme Court precedent regarding regulated industries imposes a possible impediment to DOJ’s investigation of cable companies. DOJ would face difficulty in restricting or altering business practices so as to conform to DOJ’s own ideas for better promoting competition. Ultimately, any antitrust analysis of the video market must treat the overall welfare of consumers as its touchstone. By contrast, the law does not look favorably upon protecting competitor interests alone. An assertion that government intervention will bolster competitiveness might be used to try to sway some in the court of public opinion. But it will not be enough to carry the day in a court of law.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis S. Dubay, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 06/27/2012
Buried in the fine print of President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal is an expansion of his cap on itemized tax deductions—to now include exemptions and exclusions. Applying the cap to exemptions and exclusions is yet another way the President has devised to increase the already sizeable tax burden shouldered by families and small businesses who earn $200,000 or more a year. This policy change so badly violates the basic tenets of sound taxation that it is little more than a move to further punish the most successful Americans with yet another confiscatory tax increase. Congress should reject the President’s cap, like it has in the past, and focus on revenue-neutral fundamental tax reform that would lower tax rates and improve neutrality to encourage economic growth.
Budget & TaxationBy Patrick Louis Knudsen, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 06/27/2012
As congressional budgeting has unraveled in recent years, the government’s fiscal health has worsened. The Appropriations Committees can best contribute by following through on what they have begun: completing each of their spending bills separately, on time, and in the manner envisioned by the Congressional Budget Act. There is no legitimate reason for another high-cost, end-of-year debacle over these annual spending bills. If they run late, it will be the result not of a “broken” budget process and not of circumstance but of a deliberate choice.
ImmigrationBy Hans A. von Spakovsky, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 06/27/2012
The statutory tools that remain in Arizona’s legal quiver will allow the state to regulate some key elements of federal immigration law. But the Supreme Court upheld the main provision of S.B. 1070 that allows Arizona law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of individuals they arrest, stop, or detain if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally. This was the provision that was constantly attacked by President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder. All statutory provisions that survive a facial challenge are liable to as-applied challenges; Justice Anthony Kennedy’s statement is little more than a truism.
Monetary Policy/Financial Regulation
Government Barriers to Georgia’s Growth: How Dodd-Frank Price Controls Poach the Peach State’s ProsperityBy John Berlau, Georgia Public Policy FoundationIssue Analysis, 06/27/2012
With Dodd-Frank, the Durbin Amendment, and the general trend toward federal regulation on steroids, Georgia’s banks of all sizes are facing disruptions that impede their ability to once again fuel the state's prosperity. One of the central tenets of the capitalist system that has made Georgia and the U.S. economic powerhouses is opposition to redistributionist policies and pursuit of policies to grow the proverbial pie. Right now, the federal government is aiming many knives at Georgia’s pie through Dodd-Frank and its noxious Durbin Amendment, as well as thousands of other regulations that hit banks, consumers and entrepreneurs. Everyone in Georgia should realize the best way to restore prosperity is to unite in removing the knives that are keeping the Peach State pie from growing as big as it could be.
EducationBy Kansas Policy Institute, Kansas Policy InstitutePolicy Report, 06/27/2012
The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) last revised the student achievement performance categories in 2006. New definitions were established for the categories and a new assessment test was created with new ‘cut scores’ (the minimum percentage of correct answers required for inclusion in each performance category). Based on information provided by KSDE in January, 2012, KSDE originally reported that the 2006 standards replaced those in place since 2000; it has since learned that the 2000 standards were modified in 2002 and changed again in 2006. The original conclusion – that the Kansas Department of Education lowered their Math and Reading standards – is unchanged. This new information shows that it was a two-step process instead of occurring all at once in 2006. If anything, the updated material provides even more evidence that standards were reduced.
Budget & TaxationBy Nick Gillespie, Reason FoundationReason, 06/27/2012
America is flat-out broke at every level of government. Do we in fact have our staffing levels for teachers, cops, and firemen right? Could we get by with fewer of these sorts of employees or do we need yet more, to make up for the supposedly draconian cuts that have descended upon schoolhouses, police departments, and firehouses like Herod’s minions murdering innocents? The stimulatarians would keep increasing government expenditures and padding public payrolls as the one true route to prosperity. Tax increases are OK in this scenario (or at least not worthy of much serious discussion) because they might help to keep more folks on the public payroll which is, in Paul Krugman’s analysis, “the big difference this time.” But we plainly don’t need more teachers, more cops, or more firemen to educate our kids, protect our streets, or put out our fires.
Budget & TaxationBy Justin Owen, Christopher Butler, Ryan Turbeville, Beacon Center of TennesseeReport, 06/27/2012
The 2012 Tennessee Pork Report exposes $468 million in government waste, including the fat in Tennessee’s state budget and wasteful spending at the local level. From perennial losers to newfound waste and largesse in 2012, Tennessee’s governments prove to be poor stewards of taxpayers’ money. To protect tax dollars from this waste, fraud, and abuse, state and local elected officials need to make several changes that support governance that is as fiscally responsible as Tennesseans expect. In addition to the outright elimination of the various examples of waste, fraud, and abuse laid out in these pages, the state legislature should enact stricter spending laws. This would prevent further erosion of state tax dollars on needless pork projects.