- Budget & Taxation
- Crime, Justice & the Law
- The Constitution
- Economic & Political Thought
- Economic Growth
- Elections, Transparency, & Accountability
- Family, Culture & Community
- Foreign Policy/ International Affairs
- Health Care
- Information Technology
- International Trade & Finance
- Monetary Policy/ Financial Regulation
- National Security
- Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
- Regulation & Deregulation
- Retirement/ Social Security
- Transportation & Infrastructure
- Acton Institute
- Adam Smith Institute
- Alabama Policy Institute
- Allegheny Institute
- Alliance for School Choice
- Alliance for Worker Freedom
- America’s Future Foundation
- American Council on Science and Health
- American Enterprise Institute
- American Institute for Full Employment
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Americans for Tax Reform
- Arkansas Policy Foundation
- Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation
- Atlas Society
- Beacon Center of Tennessee
- Beacon Hill Institute
- Becket Fund
- Bluegrass Institute
- Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
- Business & Media Institute
- Calvert Institute
- Cascade Policy Institute
- Cato Institute
- Center for Consumer Freedom
- Center for College Affordability and Productivity
- Center for Equal Opportunity
- Center for Health Transformation
- Center for Immigration Studies
- Center for International Private Enterprise
- Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Center of the American Experiment
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
- Citizens Against Government Waste
- Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy
- Club For Growth
- Commonwealth Foundation
- Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Council for Affordable Health Insurance
- Empire Center for New York State Policy
- Ethan Allen Institute
- Evergreen Freedom Foundation
- Federalist Society
- Foreign Policy Research Institute
- Fraser Institute
- Foundation for Defense of Democracies
- Foundation for Educational Choice
- Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability
- Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment
- Free Congress Foundation
- Free State Foundation
- Galen Institute
- Georgia Public Policy Foundation
- Goldwater Institute
- Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
- Great Plains Public Policy Institute
- Heartland Institute
- The Heritage Foundation
- Heritage Libertad
- Hoover Institution
- Hudson Institute
- Illinois Policy Institute
- IMANI Center for Policy & Education
- Independence Institute
- Independent Institute
- Institute for Health Freedom
- Institute for Energy Research
- Institute for Humane Studies
- Institute for Justice
- Institute for Market Economics
- Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
- Institute for Policy Innovation
- Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
- Institute of Economic Affairs
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute
- International Policy Network
- International Republican Institute
- James Madison Institute
- John Jay Institute for Faith, Society & Law
- John Locke Foundation
- Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy
- Kansas Policy Institute
- Landmark Legal Foundation
- Leadership Institute
- Lexington Institute
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- Maine Heritage Policy Center
- Manhattan Institute
- Maryland Public Policy Institute
- Mercatus Center
- Mississippi Center for Public Policy
- National Center for Policy Analysis
- National Center for Public Policy Research
- National Taxpayers Union
- Nevada Policy Research Institute
- North Dakota Policy Council
- Ocean State Policy Research Institute
- Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
- Pacific Research Institute
- Palmetto Family Council
- PERC - The Property and Environment Research Center
- Philanthropy Roundtable
- Phoenix Center
- Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
- Progress & Freedom Foundation
- Property Rights Alliance
- Public Interest Institute
- Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia
- Reason Foundation
- Rio Grande Foundation
- Sam Adams Alliance
- Science and Public Policy Institute
- Show-Me Institute
- South Carolina Policy Council
- State Policy Network
- Sutherland Institute
- The Tax Foundation
- Texas Public Policy Foundation
- Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
- Thomas Jefferson Institute
- Virginia Institute for Public Policy
- Washington Legal Foundation
- Washington Policy Center
- Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
- Yankee Institute for Public Policy
- Young America’s Foundation
Recent Policy Studies
Economic GrowthBy Salim Furth, John Ligon, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 09/18/2012
Europe’s economic problems are already affecting the U.S. economy. An expanding European crisis could affect the U.S. through the financial sector, reduced demand for U.S. exports, disruption of global supply chains, and political disruption in Europe. The U.S. can best help Europe by pursuing sound economic policies at home, starting with pulling back from the approaching fiscal cliff. The U.S. should also encourage European states to implement policies that foster free markets, lower their tax rates, and reform their unsustainable welfare systems.
The Food Stamp Recovery: The Unprecedented Increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program 2008–12By Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Manhattan InstitutePaper, 09/18/2012
There is much concern surrounding the unprecedented increase in America’s SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program, which began in 2008. Food stamp participation has always increased during a recession and in the initial stages of a recovery. The purpose of this report is to determine whether the recent increase in SNAP participation is comparable to increases during other recent recessions. Its results demonstrate that levels seen since the end of this recession are far higher than in prior recoveries. While the 36 month periods following the recessions of the early 1980s saw decreases in food stamp usage, the recessions of the early 1990s and in 2001 saw increases between 1 and 2 percent over the same period, in comparison with an increase of 3.5 percent following the recession ending in 2009. In addition to the difficult job market, this is because of changes in the program that began in October 2008, including expansion of benefits and elimination of the cap for child care expenses.
Economic GrowthBy Thomas A. Hemphill, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/18/2012
After losing 6 million manufacturing jobs between 2001 and 2009, the American manufacturing sector has reemerged as a beacon in an otherwise lackluster economic recovery. While many Americans believe that U.S. manufacturing is dying, unbeknownst to most of them, U.S. factories today produce about 75 percent of what they consume. The future growth, however, of American manufacturing—for both domestic and export consumption—will be predicated on what is touted as “advanced manufacturing.” These advanced manufacturing opportunities are available now and will be in the future, if industry leaders and government policymakers are able to capitalize on them. Given focused business, educational, and public policies on human capital skills development, a business environment conducive to nurturing regional R&D and manufacturing clusters, and the maintenance of strong intellectual property rights protection, the prognosis remains favorable for the U.S. manufacturing sector.
Economic GrowthBy Steve Conover, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/18/2012
Although neither party denies that our growing debt is rapidly taking us in the wrong direction, neither party is giving the best remedy—economic growth enhancement—the attention it deserves. The Democrats’ focus on reducing inequality to correct perceived economic injustice crowds out the growth discussion. Likewise, the Republicans’ error of equating the debt “level” with the debt “burden” tends to narrow the debate to “cutting spending,” which also crowds out the growth discussion. When growth is crowded out of the debate, its major benefit fades into our past. The presidencies of Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton revealed the economic bonanza that growth can yield: A surprisingly large increase in federal tax receipts without the need for any increase in tax rates, and reduction or elimination of the burden of debt. Growth lifts all boats, and it deserves top billing in economic policy debates.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Pierre Desrochers, Hiroko Shimizu , American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/18/2012
What enthusiastic locavores fail to understand is that their “innovative” ideas are up against regional advantages for certain types of food production, economies of scale of various kinds in all lines of work, and the absolute necessity of large urban agglomerations reliant on long distance trade for economic development. These basic realities defeated very sophisticated local food production systems in the past. The locavores’ vision fails to acknowledge that the good old days were more akin to trying times and that long distance trade in all kinds of goods and services remains essential for human progress. The sooner they redirect their efforts toward real agricultural problems—from costly production subsidies to international trade barriers—the better humanity and the planet will be.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Peter J. Wallison, American Enterprise InstituteFinancial Services Outlook, 09/18/2012
Arguments that the biggest US banks should be broken into smaller entities because they are too big to fail (TBTF) have recently become more common. Breaking up the biggest banks would obviously have profound consequences for the US economy, but many who support the idea seem not to have given any serious thought to whether the benefits of a breakup exceed the associated costs. Even simpler questions—how small, for example, a bank would have to be before it is no longer considered TBTF—have been ignored. It is somewhat shocking that so many people who should know better have announced their support for the breakup idea without addressing this and other fundamental questions. This does not mean that breaking up the biggest banks is necessarily a bad idea, only that it is a matter of such potential consequence for the US economy that it deserves far more serious thought than it seems to have received thus far from those who favor it.
FCC’s Video Report Reveals Disconnect Between Market’s Effective Competition and Outdated RegulationBy Seth L. Cooper, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 09/18/2012
There is a mountain of evidence in the FCC’s recently-released Video Competition Report to support the conclusion that the video market is effectively competitive. Data contained in the Report regarding MVPD services demolishes any pretensions that the video market is now subject to a last-mile cable “bottleneck.” The Report makes evident the disconnect between the competitive state of today’s market and outdated legacy video regulations that continue to restrict video services.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy John Malcolm, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/18/2012
Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives reauthorized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), which expires at the end of the year. The Senate will take up the measure shortly. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and U.S. Attorney General (AG) Eric Holder have informed leaders in Congress that reauthorizing the FAA is “the top legislative priority of the national Intelligence Community,” and national security officials from the previous Administration have testified in favor of reauthorization. This Brief concurs, noting that the protections in existing law are sufficient to prevent abuse, and Congress should not deny the Executive the tools necessary to investigate and prevent potential future acts of terrorism and should therefore reauthorize the FAA.
Budget & TaxationBy Mark Milke, Fraser InstituteFraser Alert, 09/18/2012
This Fraser Alert reviews payments made to businesses over the last 30 years by Canada’s federal department of industry, a practice known as corporate welfare. The information was gathered through an Access to Information request to Industry Canada. This report closely examines corporate welfare at the department where subsidies to some of Canada’s largest corporations originate; it does not delve into individual businesses but instead focuses on the programs overseen by Industry Canada, and repayments and interest paid to the same department. The report finds that $6.6 billion was disbursed with no repayment ever expected; another $7.4 billion was given out and expected to be repaid eventually, though only 28.8% has been. Further, it turns out that only $9-million in interest has been received by the Department of Industry over the past three decades.
Economic GrowthBy James Gwartney, Joshua Hall, Robert Lawson, Fraser InstituteBook, 09/18/2012
Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $37,691 in 2010, compared to $5,188 for bottom quartile nations in 2010 current international dollars. In the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10% was $11,382, compared to $1,209 in the bottom in 2010 current international dollars. Interestingly, the average income of the poorest 10% in the most economically free nations is more than twice the overall average income in the least free nations. Life expectancy is 79.5 years in the top quartile compared to 61.6 years in the bottom quartile. Political and civil liberties are considerably higher in economically free nations than in unfree nations.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy John S. Baker Jr., Federalist SocietyWhite Paper, 09/18/2012
The public understanding of what is and is not a crime has eroded over time. The common law was clear: a crime requires the union of a prohibited act or actus reus and a guilty mind or mens rea. Increasingly, however, “strict liability” offenses requiring no proof of a mens rea are becoming more common. This article briefly reviews this development and proposals for addressing the trend at the state level.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Scott Roberts, Freedom FoundationReport, 09/18/2012
The best way to preserve threatened and endangered species is to engage communities and create collaboration. Legislators who want to protect a species should seek out ways to bring together seemingly disparate groups and individuals around that goal. Unfortunately, policymakers often rely solely on top-down land use regulation that creates an “us-versus-them” mentality and often has severe unintended consequences. The results of the regulatory approach often satisfy no one, divide communities, and inflame emotions. This domino effect begins with legislators who accept a false choice: save a species by top-down regulation or do nothing. There is another way. This report offers glimpses—true stories—of a better way to protect threatened and endangered species. People protect and conserve the natural environment for different reasons and in different ways. These pages tell their stories and give legislators insight into why and how they do it. This understanding can help all of us make better decisions.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy E.J. McMahon, Empire Center for New York State PolicySpecial Report, 09/18/2012
Thanks to a new government accounting standard, the true cost of this entitlement providing health insurance coverage for retired state and local government employees, is finally emerging from the depths of state and local finances. Based on a review of financial reports for the state and its largest local governments, school districts and public authorities, this report estimates that New York’s total unfunded liability for public-sector retiree health insurance comes to nearly $250 billion. This figure represents a mammoth potential transfer of wealth from future taxpayers to current government employees and retirees—for a type of benefit that is not available to the vast majority of private-sector workers. The burden of retiree health care is clearly unsustainable and unaffordable. This report, designed as a primer on the issue for taxpayers and government officials, recommends a four-step plan for curbing retiree health care costs before it is too late.
National SecurityBy Jessica Zuckerman, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/18/2012
Last Friday, the FBI arrested 18-year-old American citizen Adel Daoud in a plot to detonate a car bomb outside a local Chicago bar. Daoud, who was active in online Jihadi forums and vocal in his desire to commit violent jihad, considered 29 possible targets before settling on the Chicago bar. Thankfully, the car bomb had been deactivated by the FBI and the public was never in danger. This most recent plot marks the 52nd publicly known, Islamist-inspired terrorist plot since 9/11 and illustrates the continued threat of homegrown terrorism within the United States, and reminds us that our homeland security enterprise needs a true counter-extremist strategy and continued access to essential tools.
EducationBy Nathan A. Benefield, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy AlternativesTestimony, 09/18/2012
A commentary on the Keep Tuition Affordable Legislative Package, including a perspective on higher education in the state of Pennsylvania. There are two main problems with the status quo in higher education. The first is the rising cost of attending college. Tuition growth at public universities has far exceeded the rate of inflation in recent years. The second, and arguably more troubling trend, is the lack of academic performance by institutions of higher education. In light of these issues the Commonwealth Foundation offers three recommendations that should guide higher education reform to make Pennsylvania’s universities more responsive to the needs of students and lower the cost of higher education for families and taxpayers.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David W. Kreutzer, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 09/17/2012
The ethanol mandate in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard increases corn prices and food prices. This harms consumers and distorts the domestic and international commodity market. While waiving the mandate would be an improvement, eliminating it is the best choice.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Charles Blahous, e21: Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyCommentary, 09/17/2012
This commentary first explains how the Social Security shortfall is usually described and approached. It follows up with an explanation of why Social Security’s financial prospects are much grimmer than is commonly understood. Finally, it explains why this matters, i.e. – the likely consequences if the President and Congress continue to fail to balance its books.
ImmigrationBy Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration StudiesBackgrounder, 09/17/2012
Using the latest Census Bureau data from 2010 and 2011, this paper provides a detailed picture of the more than 50 million immigrants (legal and illegal) and their U.S.-born children (under 18) in the United States by country of birth, state, and legal status. One of the most important findings is that immigration has dramatically increased the size of the nation’s low-income population; however, there is great variation among immigrants by sending country and region. Moreover, many immigrants make significant progress the longer they live in the country. But even with this progress, immigrants who have been in the United States for 20 years are much more likely to live in poverty, lack health insurance, and access the welfare system than are native-born Americans. The large share of immigrants arriving as adults with relatively little education partly explains this phenomenon.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Peter J. Nelson, John LaPlante, Kent Kaiser, Center of the American ExperimentReport, 09/17/2012
In November, Minnesota voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would require people to present a photo ID before voting. In light of Minnesota’s loose voting rules and disputes over recent elections decided by razor thin margins, the amendment offers a sensible solution to help prevent fraud and maintain voters’ confidence in Minnesota elections.
ImmigrationBy Mark Krikorian , Center for Immigration StudiesTestimony, 09/17/2012
A degree of concern over profiling is natural among the minority of Americans who share the ethnic background of the overwhelming majority of illegal aliens. But the record of law enforcement has been very encouraging – even-handed, professional enforcement of the law, at the local, state, and federal levels. This record, combined with the essential role of state and local authorities in the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws, means we should applaud state and local initiatives such as those in Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, and elsewhere, and hope for more.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy W.D. Reasoner, Center for Immigration StudiesBackgrounder, 09/17/2012
This Backgrounder discusses one of the latest skirmishes in the federal-state boundary wars: efforts by state electoral officials to vet voter registration lists to prevent non-citizens from registering and casting ballots. Interestingly, it is once again the states that are demanding that the distinction between alienage and citizenship be enforced while the federal government again has acted to frustrate state efforts through denial of access to information and the filing of lawsuits. The author recommends several steps as essential to making progress on voting integrity.
ImmigrationBy Janice Kephart, Center for Immigration StudiesPaper, 09/17/2012
Today, the president is minimizing the value of ID security because ID security counters his amnesty policy. In addition, multiple attempts to repeal/change REAL ID failed. REAL ID is in place, yet there remains no proactive support at the federal level for most states who are trying to comply. Why are states complying? Many states recognize the value of the greater efficiencies, lower costs, minimized fraud, and catching criminals that REAL ID provides. REAL ID helps to secure issuance, but as long as entities like TSA and banks do not verify the issuance of the ID, then the fake ID market will thrive. Technology is the greatest asset to reducing fraud, adding efficiencies, and lowering cost. Without proactive federal guidance, industry must provide the technology to push driver’s license security forward. By placing innovative, reliable products in the market, industry drives national security in the ID space where the federal government does not. Most importantly, push forward with REAL ID compliance.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Alison Morris, Capital Research CenterReport, 09/17/2012
In February, President Obama touted his plan to fund algae biofuel as a domestic alternative fuel source. But years of government investment have failed to overcome the obstacles algae faces to becoming a viable source of fuel, and as with other alternative energy enthusiasms, disturbing connections have arisen between campaign contributors and government grants.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Ivan Osorio, Capital Research CenterReport, 09/17/2012
Bloated pensions and retirement benefits for unionized government employees threaten the finances of states and localities across the nation. New accounting standards and bold reforms in some states reveal the “best practices” for governments to use to regain control of their budgets.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lorianne Woodrow Moss, Megan Gregory, American Action ForumPaper, 09/17/2012
The U.S. drone program has become the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s counterterrorism strategy. Unmanned drones are the primary means for targeted killings, a tactic the Obama Administration is believed to use more extensively than any previous U.S. administration. Drones are relatively inexpensive, keep American pilots out of harm’s way, and are popular with the American public. Advocates believe the program has been effective in hobbling terrorist groups like al Qaeda. Critics disagree and fear the drone program is counterproductive. The targeted individuals are often replaceable. The program is resented abroad and serves as a recruiting tool for terrorist groups. Questions about the program’s legality hamper our foreign relations. Reports of civilian casualties – embellished or not – add to the anger. Despite these concerns, the next President should maintain the drone program, while making modifications to improve its effectiveness.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Lorianne Woodrow Moss, American Action ForumPaper, 09/17/2012
Outrageous attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and embassy in Cairo, Egypt, purportedly prompted by a video mocking the Islamic prophet Mohammed, left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. Stevens is the first U.S. Ambassador killed since 1979. These deplorable attacks – as well as the subsequent assault on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen – require a firm response by the American government. President Obama has committed to some measures but should do more, especially when it comes to defending free speech.
Economic GrowthBy Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Andrew Winkler, American Action ForumReport, 09/17/2012
According to the American Action Forum’s Housing Recovery Indices, permits and payrolls are improving in a majority of the country’s metro areas. The house price index, moving to just under 50 in recent months, means a near majority of U.S. metro areas are showing improved prices. Still, such improvement may be tempered by slowing GDP growth and a weak labor market. The housing recovery is jeopardized by, among other things, slowdowns in the foreclosure process. For example, the idea of using eminent domain ahs been floated in California as a way to solve continued problems in the housing market. Unfortunately, such a strategy would more likely back up courts and severely damage investor confidence, rather than ensure a sustained housing recovery. Such a recovery necessitates a stronger economy, more robust job creation, and growing incomes. Only policies that work to support the latter will truly help markets push off from the bottom.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Anastasia Killian, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 09/17/2012
California’s Proposition 37—which is included on the state’s November 2012 ballot—purports to empower consumers to make more informed decisions about genetically modified foods. Its expansive reach, in conjunction with its private attorney general provisions, suggest the law could more appropriately be said to empower attorneys to bring a flood of new litigation. This Legal Backgrounder assesses the scope of the proposition, its loopholes and inconsistencies, and the fit of its means to its ends.
LaborBy Patrick B. McGuigan, Oklahoma Council of Public AffairsReport, 09/17/2012
The Protect Our Jobs Act (POJA) is either an “economic death warrant” for the state of Michigan, or an assurance that health care workers have “a voice in the care” they provide. This “death warrant” summary came from a vice president of the National Right to Work Committee, while the “quality of care” assertion from a member of the Michigan Nurses Association. It seems the twain will not meet in this matter. POJA is either a deadly poison, or a promise of joy.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/17/2012
The Obama Administration continues to offer billions in aid to Egypt. However, the lax reaction of Egypt’s new Islamist government to the violent demonstrations at the U.S. embassy in Cairo has raised questions about the motivations of Egypt’s new Islamist leaders. Congress should monitor the Administration’s ongoing aid negotiations with Cairo and ensure that conditions are attached to any forthcoming aid that will advance U.S. national interests. Washington provides much less aid to Libya’s new government, which has reportedly been much more forthcoming in offering security help in the wake of the September 11th attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The U.S. should continue its small aid program as long as the Libyan government continues to cooperate in shoring up security for U.S. diplomats, tracking down the terrorists responsible for the Benghazi attack, and preventing al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremists from establishing a sanctuary inside Libya.
Economic GrowthBy Cecil Bonhanon , Mercatus CenterReport, 09/14/2012
The decade following World War II is fondly remembered as a period of economic growth and cultural stability. America had won the war and defeated the forces of evil in the world. The hardships of the previous fifteen years of war and depression were replaced by rising living standards, increased opportunities, and a newly emerging American culture confident of its future and place in the world. It is not surprising that politicians of all stripes harken back to those halcyon days to make a case for their agendas. But a closer examination of the actual events of the immediate postwar period provides a picture that is much more nuanced and at odds with the world view that government intervention is the essential ingredient of prosperity.
Budget & TaxationBy E.J. McMahon, Empire Center for New York State PolicyIssues, 09/14/2012
New York taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year on health insurance coverage for retired state and local government employees, many of whom are too young to be eligible for Medicare. But the mounting “pay-as-you-go” bill for retiree healthcare is just the tip of a much larger iceberg. Thanks to a new government accounting standard, the true cost of this long-term entitlement is finally emerging from the depths of state and local finances. Based on a review of financial reports for the state and its largest local governments, school districts and public authorities, this report estimates that New York’s total unfunded liability for public-sector retiree health insurance comes to nearly $250 billion. The burden of retiree health care is clearly unsustainable and unaffordable. This report, designed as a primer on the issue for taxpayers and government officials, recommends a four-step plan for curbing retiree health care costs before it is too late.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Michael Lowrey, John Locke FoundationPolicy Report, 09/14/2012
In recent years, an increasing number of local governments across the nation and across North Carolina have adopted “Smart Growth” policies. While the specific policies differ by community, the emphasis is invariably upon restricting the physical size of urban areas, imposing denser development standards in areas where development is allowed, and reducing funding for roads while spending heavily on transit in general and rail-based transit in particular. Instead of focusing on the past, North Carolina should look to the future and adopt a flexible growth agenda—Flex Growth. Flex Growth is a market-based system of principles for government land use and development policy, especially at the state and local government levels, based upon the idea that people—and not government bureaucrats and planners—know what is best for themselves. This report offers nine recommendations to guide policymakers when they consider various responses to growth and development.
EducationBy Mark Schneider, Andrew P. Kelly, Johns Hopkins University PressBook, 09/14/2012
President Obama recently laid out a national “completion agenda” with the goal of making the U.S. the best-educated nation in the world by the year 2020. Getting to Graduation explores the reforms that we must pursue to recover a position of international leadership in higher education as well as the obstacles to those reforms. This new completion agenda puts increased pressure on institutions to promote student success and improve institutional productivity in a time of declining public revenue. In this volume, scholars of higher education and public policymakers describe promising directions for reform. They argue that it is essential to redefine post-secondary education and to consider a broader range of learning opportunities—beyond the research university and traditional bachelor degree programs—to include community colleges, occupational certificate programs, and apprenticeships. The authors also emphasize the need to rethink policies governing financial aid, remediation, and institutional funding to promote degree completion.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Jason Mercier, Washington Policy CenterPolicy Brief, 09/14/2012
Initiative 1185 provides voters with an opportunity to clearly frame the state’s budget debate. As has been the case over the past 20 years that the supermajority vote for tax increases has been in effect, if reaffirmed for the fifth time, lawmakers’ attention would shift away from ways to raise new taxes and would focus on fundamental budget reform and restructuring state spending. If Initiative 1185 fails, voters will have indicated their openness for potential tax increases passed by a simple majority vote in the legislature. Rarely does the vote on one ballot initiative provide policymakers with so much clarity about what policy path voters would like them to take.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Josiah Neeley, Texas Public Policy Foundation09/14/2012
On February 24, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in Edwards Aquifer Authority v. McDaniel. The McDaniel decision definitively settled an issue that had remained unresolved in Texas law for more than a century, namely whether a Texas landowner has a vested property right, protected under the U.S. and Texas constitutions, in the groundwater in place under the landowner’s property. The Court held that the landowner does have such a right, and that the state could not deprive the landowner of this right without paying adequate compensation as required by Article I, Section 17(a) of the Texas Constitution.
Budget & TaxationBy Donna Arduin, et al., Texas Public Policy FoundationReport, 09/14/2012
If property taxes as a source of revenue were abandoned and that burden were placed on consumption, personal income in the state of Texas could potentially increase in the range of $3.60 to $3.68 billion in the first year. Over a five year period if the property tax burden were replaced dollar for dollar with a higher sales tax burden we estimated that personal income could, on a cumulative basis, increase between $22.85 and $63.0 billion; or an increase of 1.8 percent to 4.7 percent higher than it would have been otherwise. The proposed tax reform would lead to a net gain of new jobs, over a five year horizon, between 124.9 thousand and 337.4 thousand over the job growth Texas would have had if no tax reform were implemented.
Budget & TaxationBy David Block, Scott Drenkard, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 09/14/2012
The estate tax fails to raise significant revenue and reduce inequality. It causes serious damage to capital accumulation by reducing savings and also has high compliance costs. Its repeal would increase economic growth and some studies even find that it would raise tax revenues.
Budget & TaxationBy William McBride, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 09/14/2012
Obama’s tax plan is largely at odds with any commonly held notion of tax reform, including Simpson-Bowles. It would result in dramatically higher tax rates, on the order of 50 to 90 percent higher than the Simpson-Bowles tax rates on personal income and investment income. In contrast, Romney’s tax plan takes concrete steps in the direction of Simpson-Bowles, while not excessively taxing saving and investment. It lowers the top rate on personal income to match that of Simpson-Bowles and promises to reduce tax expenditures, although it appears Romney is not willing to expose the middle class, and perhaps other groups, to a full scrubbing of the tax code. It will take more specificity, leadership, and compromise to eliminate long-standing preferences like the mortgage interest deduction, but Romney is on the right track in lowering tax rates.
Economic GrowthBy e-21: Economic Policies for the 21st Century, e21: Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyCommentary, 09/14/2012
Rather than accelerating to return to the trend growth rate, the economy has actually grown at a slower average pace after the recession ended than it did before the recession began. This is anomalous because one would have anticipated an especially brisk recovery to match the size of the contraction. For the first time in U.S. economic history, the depth of the contraction and the strength of the recovery have been asymmetric, causing the economy to fall well below the level consistent with its long-run trend.
EducationBy Arnold Kling, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/14/2012
Education is in some respects one of the most stagnant of all major industries. A farmer from 150 years ago would not comprehend a modern farm. A factory worker from 150 years ago would not be able to function in a modern factory. But a professor from 150 years ago could walk into a classroom today and go to work without missing a beat. Is this about to change? Many entrepreneurs and commentators believe so. Here, I offer my own assessment of the prospects for technologies to revolutionize education. This essay will explain why I label various technologies as winners, losers, and magic bullets in the table below. My opinions are not based on exhaustive research.
Health CareBy Tom Miller, James C. Capretta, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/14/2012
The combination of continuous coverage incentives and high-risk pool subsidies won’t solve the more significant health policy challenges we face. But it will clear away the politically manufactured fog that obscures the need for better solutions to the problems that ObamaCare either ignores or aggravates. What American healthcare needs is the discipline and accountability that comes with a functioning marketplace. More than anything else, that will require transitioning away from today’s open-ended federal subsidies for insurance in Medicare, Medicaid, and job-based coverage toward a system of “defined contribution” support so that consumers who economize are rewarded with lower out-of-pocket costs. Those federal subsidies also need to be re-targeted based on an individual’s relative income and health status. Further, insurance regulation must foster responsible competition among the states and informed choice by consumers instead of regulatory coercion.
EducationBy Kenneth Gould, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/14/2012
Many Americans would agree that it is “unfair” for those with more means to get a break and that it is “fairer” for those with less means to get a break. But as it turns out, this seemingly humane aim has a fundamental flaw—the same flaw that afflicts all non-market based systems: When producers no longer need to compete, production costs always rise faster than they otherwise would. As a result, over time the cost of providing the good or service as a whole rises faster than it otherwise would. Also, the lower price provided to the person of few means gradually pays for less and less of the goods and services provided, requiring that those with more means pay a rapidly rising price. Eventually the price increases must be passed on to those of lower means, defeating the equal outcomes aim itself.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 09/14/2012
In a larger context, it is impossible to separate politics from economics in the realm of environmental policy. Would the process of democratic policy formulation result in a clean substitution of a purportedly efficient carbon tax in place of the current regulatory regime? The answer is far from obvious. Would a tax result in an increase or a decrease in the accountability of government for the effects of its policies, a crucial component of the “efficiency” concept? There are good reasons to suspect the latter, as the direct effects of a tax would be hidden in prices for goods and inputs. Would the wealth transfers (crudely, from red states to blue) created by climate change policies yield more or less “efficiency” over time? After all, it is at least plausible that the losers will have to be compensated directly or indirectly, which means that a carbon tax might have to be accompanied by other spending (and thus taxation); this is not a desirable outcome for those pursuing policy reform.
EducationBy Herbert J. Walberg, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 09/14/2012
The next logical step in attaining effectiveness and efficiency is for-profit competition, which has been tried in only one country in the West. In 1993, the Swedish government required local school district authorities to fund privately operated schools, including for-profit schools. Like traditional public schools, the flood of new private schools had to teach an approved curriculum and admit all applicants regardless of ability, socioeconomic level, and country of origin. The rapidly changed system yielded excellent achievement results and parent satisfaction. Responding to newly freed markets, for-profit schools grew fastest. By 2008, ten growing chains of schools operated, one with as many as 30 schools. The transformed system interjected not only competition among all schools but new technologies including frequent Internet reporting to parents on students’ progress. Given our long history of successful capitalism, for-profit competition among schools seems likely to work just as well in capitalistic America as social democratic Sweden.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Henry I. Miller, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 09/14/2012
Before they opt to obstruct agricultural advances, apple growers should take note of the experience of other agricultural sectors. There is little doubt consumers will like and even pay a premium for the non-browning trait in apples. Instead of fighting the introduction of this improved, consumer-friendly product (as well as others that could follow), the apple growers’ associations should sow the seeds of greater sales and security of their harvests by mounting a truthful, positive ad campaign to trumpet these new advances in molecular biology. New and improved technologies, such as recombinant DNA technology, offer greater resilience to farmers; and in agriculture as in evolution, resilience favors survival.
Economic GrowthBy Bruce Yandle, Mercatus CenterReport, 09/14/2012
Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney make clear that their platforms and promises describe two very different economic and social visions. Both candidates agree that spending must be cut and that tax modifications will be part of a deficit solution. They differ markedly on which taxpayers will feel the pain, and which will not. They also take sharply different positions on where to put our trust when problems arise: in government first or in the private behavior of unregulated human action. So, what about the year ahead? What might we see between now and June 2013? I provide my assessment in the last chart. For the most part the cookies for the year ahead are on the way to the oven, but having some certainty about tax and other policies might allow for a few more cookies to go on the cookie sheet. If looking for change, 2014 will be the year to watch. Who is in the driver’s seat may make a difference by then.
Economic GrowthBy Cecil Bohanon, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 09/14/2012
It’s important not to overgeneralize; each historical period reflects unique circumstances. No one would recommend embarking on a destructive conflict and subjecting the economy to draconian wartime regulations in order to generate economic health. Nevertheless, this historical episode indicates that it is possible for highly regulated economies to reduce government spending without generating a collapse in private spending. Central to this, however, is one important factor: The price mechanism must be free to efficiently direct resources to their best valued uses. This, in turn, implies that regulations that impede this market process must be eliminated as government spending declines. Ironically, it seems that the postwar prosperity that America enjoyed after World War II was less the result of a carefully crafted political agenda than a by-product of what government stopped doing.
Health CareBy Carolyn Needham, Irene Switzer, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 09/14/2012
The Independent Payments Advisory Board is a mechanism that will create a series of short-term solutions that do not deal with Medicare’s larger, systemic problems. The board will make recommendations to cut costs on a yearly basis; this is reactionary and shortsighted, not structural long-term reform. The method of cost cutting ignores the problem of the growth in health care costs in general.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Pamela Villarreal, National Center for Policy AnalysisStudies, 09/14/2012
For a number of years now, retirement and financial experts have bemoaned the fact that baby boomers and others who should be thinking about retirement saving are nowhere near ready to retire. Some blame the failure of 401(k) and Individual Retirement Account retirement plans to fill in the gaps left by elimination of corporate pensions. Others argue that American adults of all ages are simply not saving enough. What, if anything, changed over the past 20 years? Real incomes for these age groups have not changed much. But the portion of disposable income households spent on certain categories of goods and services has increased.
Economic GrowthBy Tim Kane, Hudson InstituteReport, 09/13/2012
The rate of job creation at startup companies was steady in the 1980s and 1990s at 11 startup jobs per 1000 people (i.e. among every 1000 Americans, 11 were newly hired at a company started that year). But the startup jobs rate has collapsed in recent years. In fact, the rate of startup jobs during 2010 and 2011, years that were technically in full recovery, are the lowest on record. The second figure shows how the rate declined during the recession years 2008-2009, but also shows that it continued to decline afterwards. The average rate for entrepreneurial job creation under the previous three presidents was 11.3, 11.2, and 10.8 respectively, but under President Obama it has been cut by one-third to 7.8.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Lee Lane, Hudson InstituteReport, 09/13/2012
With a stress on green energy or without one, China presents, not a better economic model, but a cautionary tale. This paper covers five points. First, for the PRC the task of maintaining high GDP growth rates will become increasingly difficult. Second, China’s institutions display deep flaws that, if not corrected, will make sustaining high growth harder still. Third, far from being a world leader in energy policy, the PRC has a very mixed record in the field, and its successes have come in spite of its institutions, rather than because of them. Fourth, while the PRC needs economic reform, the Party-state is likely to resist it. Fifth, for the United States, imitating Beijing’s dirigiste energy policies produces the same kind of wasteful patronage politics that plagues the PRC.
Budget & Taxation
Field of Schemes Mark II: The Taxpayer and Economic Welfare Costs of Price Loss Coverage and Supplementary Insurance Coverage ProgramsBy Vincent H. Smith, Bruce A. Babcock, Barry K. Goodwin, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 09/13/2012
The Price Loss Coverage and Supplementary Coverage Option programs have the potential to be hugely expensive for the US taxpayer and, to an even greater degree than the Senate’s Average Revenue Coverage shallow loss program, budget busters that will increase (not reduce) the federal deficit. They will create incentives for economic inefficiencies by distorting crop production choices and, in some areas of the country, will encourage expanded production on environmentally sensitive lands. The programs will channel most of the subsidies they provide to large wealthy farms and large land owners in an agricultural sector that is financially perhaps the most stable and successful sector of the US economy and least in need of government welfare checks. And they will almost certainly have a substantial adverse effect on US trade relations with other countries, both with respect to agricultural and non-agricultural export markets.
Economic GrowthBy James R. Copland, Manhattan InstituteProxy Monitor, 09/13/2012
Overall, empirical analysis of Proxy Monitor data, in 2012 and across the 2006-12 time span, challenges the efficacy of the shareholder-proposal process, at least from the perspective of the ordinary investor. The prominent role being played by a small number of investors, most prominently labor-union pension funds whose actions in this area appear to deviate from concern over share value, suggests that this process may be oriented toward influencing corporate behavior in a manner that generates private returns to a subset of investors while harming the average diversified investor. The significant influence of the proxy advisory firm ISS, along with its substantial deviation from shareholders’ observed preferences, amplifies concerns about whether shareholder voting on proxy ballot items is effectively working to improve share value.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Carrie Lukas, Sabrina Schaeffer, CreateSpaceBook, 09/13/2012
The Left has accused supporters of limited government of waging a “War on Women.” In Liberty Is No War on Women, Lukas and Schaeffer take this charge apart. They demonstrate that liberals’ recipe for ever-bigger government backfires on women by eroding opportunity and true financial security, and explain how returning power to the people is the real key to women’s freedom. As Lukas and Schaeffer conclude, the “War on Women” rhetoric is fundamentally insulting to independent women and should be soundly rejected by all Americans.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy J.D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee announced today that it would pursue $40 billion in additional monthly stimulus in the form of quantitative easing. Meanwhile, it will maintain its previous program of exchanging about $45 billion monthly in short-for-long-term securities. Quantitative easing, or QE, is purchasing long-dated government bonds and similar debt instruments. The policy is certainly well motivated: The U.S. economy is barely growing, as the latest jobs report underscored, predominantly because of severe regulatory and fiscal uncertainty. Under the circumstances, while Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s urge to “do something” is understandable, even commendable, the economy would be better off today—and in years to come—if he were to remember the expression “when you’re stuck in a hole, stop digging.”
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
It is well established that the vast majority of United Nations member states pay far less in dues than the United States pays, but the disparity is greater than most realize. Taking U.N. travel subsidies into account, two dozen countries pay roughly $1,000 or less in net contributions to the U.N. regular budget each year while enjoying the same voting privileges as the U.S., which pays nearly $567 million. No sovereign nation, no matter how poor, should pay so little. Worse, it undermines the incentives for these nations to oversee the U.N. budget properly. The U.S. should call for the elimination of the travel subsidy and for more equitable allocation of U.N. expenses among member states.
National SecurityBy Paul Rosenzweig, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
The discussion over improving U.S. cybersecurity has moved from a debate over different pieces of legislation to speculation and expectation that President Obama will issue an executive order. Congress repeatedly declined to adopt a regulatory approach to cybersecurity, yet the Administration has drafted an executive order that begins the development of a regulatory system. There is language in the pending continuing resolution (H. J. Res. 117) that appropriates funds that might be used to fund implementation of the cybersecurity executive order. This is a case of stealth government. Congress should be careful not to provide a blank check for an executive order that has not been published yet and could implement measures that Congress refused to put into law. That is the wrong approach to deciding Washington’s appropriate role in strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Andrew C. McCarthy, Encounter BooksE-Book, 09/13/2012
Every human heart does not yearn for freedom. In the Islam of the Middle East, “freedom” means something very nearly the opposite of what the concept connotes to Westerners – it is the freedom that lies in total submission to Allah and His law. That law, sharia, is diametrically opposed to core components of freedom as understood in the West – beginning with the very idea that man is free to make law for himself, irrespective of what Allah has ordained. It is thus delusional to believe, as the West’s Arab Spring fable insists, that the region teems with Jamal al-Madisons holding aloft the lamp of liberty. Do such revolutionary reformers exist? Of course they do … but in numbers barely enough to weave a fictional cover story. When push came to shove – and worse – the reformers were overwhelmed, swept away by a tide of Islamic supremacism, the dynamic, consequential mass movement that beckons endless winter.
Economic GrowthBy David Azerrad, Rea Hederman Jr., The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 09/13/2012
Today, on the Left and on the Right, everyone talks about rebuilding, saving, restoring, defending, or rescuing an American Dream that is slipping, fading, eroding or vanishing. The loudest voices, all coming from the Left, fulminate against the top 1 percent of earners and blame an unfair system that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. To protect the American Dream, these critics call for greater government involvement to make things more equal and ensure that everyone gets their “fair share,” and in doing so misunderstand the nature of free-market economics, which attempts to expand rather than divide the economic pie. Those who focus on income inequality have embraced a very different American Dream from the one that is familiar to most Americans. They still use the traditional language of opportunity, but their new dream has very little in common with the real American Dream.
Economic GrowthBy James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
The post-recession economy has undergone the slowest recovery in 70 years. In addition to more than 8 percent unemployment, labor force participation has fallen sharply since the recession began in December 2007. Today, nearly 5 million fewer Americans are working or searching for work. The drop in unemployment since 2009 is almost entirely due to the fact that those not looking for work do not count as unemployed. Demographic factors explain one-fifth of the decreased labor force participation. The rest comes from increased school enrollment and more people collecting disability benefits. Six percent of U.S. adults are now on disability insurance. This is no time to make it more difficult for businesses to create jobs.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Baker Spring, Michaela Bendikova, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
The U.S. and its allies face many grave dangers today, including the spread of ballistic missiles and nuclear know-how. The International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), designed to provide independent analysis and advisement regarding such issues for the Secretary of State, recently published a report titled “Mutual Assured Stability: Essential Components and Near Term Actions.” The report’s recommendations, however, are almost exclusively focused on improving relations with Russia and largely ignore the risks associated with a nuclear North Korea and Iran. Such an omission is dangerous.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Theodore Bromund, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
On August 27, Review Conference began for the U.N. “Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects” (PoA). The program originated with a U.N. General Assembly resolution in 1996 that established a Group of Governmental Experts on small arms and light weapons. The Group’s reports culminated in the creation of the PoA in 2001.The PoA contains a range of commitments on which participating nations have agreed to report biennially. It is not a treaty process: It is, in theory, a mechanism for encouraging voluntary cooperation. In practice, it has achieved little. On August 29, the U.N. released its International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS), which epitomizes the PoA’s promotion of gun control norms. Since the PoA is ineffective and seeks to constrain freedoms protected by the Constitution, the time has come for the U.S. to withdraw from it.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Theodore Bromund, Andrew Robert James Southam, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 09/13/2012
The 2003 Extradition Treaty between the United States and Great Britain is intensely controversial in the United Kingdom. The treaty resulted from a British process and is a modern and praiseworthy approach to extradition that is based on an objective evidentiary test, requires dual criminality in all cases, and has a proportionality standard. The European Union’s European Arrest Warrant does not have these virtues and therefore urgently needs reform, as does Britain’s participation in the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Extradition and acceptance of the jurisdiction of the supranational European Court of Human Rights. While Anglo–American cooperation on the treaty and on extradition and international criminal justice can be improved, the 2003 U.S.–U.K. Extradition Treaty is fair, balanced, and worth defending.
WelfareBy Robert Rector, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
In July, the Obama administration waived the core work requirements of the historic welfare reform law of 1996, which law required a portion of the able-bodied recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. The new bureaucratic directive from Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that in the future, neither states nor TANF recipients would have to obey these workfare requirements. It replaces those work requirements with new, vague standards devised by HHS without any congressional input, such as “employment exits” and “universal engagement.” Contrary to the claims of the mainstream press, this illegal waiver not only does not merely “tweak” the work provisions of the law, but often allows requirements to be bypassed entirely.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis Dubay, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
President Obama argues that President Clinton’s economic record is proof that the current economy would grow if Congress passed the tax hikes he has long proposed. The American public should not fall for this misleading argument. The historical record is clear: The economy grew slower than it should have in the years after Clinton’s 1993 tax hike. The strong economic growth that is associated with his presidency occurred only after he agreed with Congress to cut taxes in his second term. President Obama’s cursory and errant analysis of recent history has serious implications for policymaking today. If Congress raises taxes based on the faulty notion that tax hikes have no ill effects on economic growth, it will impede the still-struggling recovery and keep millions of Americans on the unemployment rolls far too long.
Economic GrowthBy Robert Rector, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 09/13/2012
Child poverty is an ongoing national concern, but few are aware that its principal cause is the absence of married fathers in the home. Marriage remains America’s strongest anti-poverty weapon, yet it continues to decline. As husbands disappear from the home, poverty and welfare dependence will increase, and children and parents will suffer. Since marital decline drives up child poverty and welfare dependence, and since the poor aspire to healthy marriage but lack the norms, understanding, and skills to achieve it, it is reasonable for government to take active steps to strengthen marriage. Just as government discourages youth from dropping out of school, it should provide information that will help people to form and maintain healthy marriages and delay childbearing until they are married and economically stable. In particular, clarifying the severe shortcomings of the “child first, marriage later” philosophy to potential parents in lower-income communities should be a priority.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
The lack of membership standards for the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) is a key reason behind the Council’s poor record and, sadly, there is little chance for establishing such standards. While the African Union’s nomination of Sudan for membership on the HRC caused justified outrage and eventually lead to Sudan’s withdrawal from the nomination, notorious human rights violators like Cuba, China, and Russia nonetheless currently sit on the Council, while other African countries with dismal human rights records remain virtually assured of election. The Administration’s current strategy of focusing limited diplomatic capital on annually blocking a particularly egregious country while other, only slightly less objectionable states win election is a losing game. Instead of lending credibility to this flawed institution, the U.S. should seek to eliminate it and work to establish a more effective human rights body with rigorous membership standards.
EducationBy Lindsey Burke, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
NCLB’s blunt attempt to drive accountability from Washington has resulted in many schools being labeled failing while doing little to improve results. However, waivers from selected provisions of the law create a bad precedent that provides neither long-term relief for states nor solves the underlying problem with NCLB: an accountability system directed toward bureaucrats, not parents. The Obama Administration does not need to abrogate proper legislative process in order to provide relief from NCLB. Proposals such as the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) would allow states to completely opt out of NCLB and direct dollars and decisions to the state’s most pressing priorities. State leaders should reject these waivers and demand genuine relief from NCLB. Options exist to provide that relief and create a path toward fundamentally reducing federal intervention in education.
Health CareBy Edmund Haislmaier, Drew Gonshorowski, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 09/13/2012
In its opinion on the Obamacare case, the Supreme Court found Congress exceeded its Constitutional authority by conditioning existing Medicaid funding on state adoption of the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare. The ruling effectively made the expansion optional. Supporters of Obamacare, as well as some health care stakeholders—particularly hospitals and clinics—have since contended that states should voluntarily adopt Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. They claim that expanding Medicaid will entail little to no cost to state governments, since the federal government will fund the vast majority of the additional costs. Indeed, some analyses project states achieving savings from adopting the expansion. However, state lawmakers should be wary of accepting such analyses at face value.
Budget & Taxation
Cutting up the Credit Cards: Seven Ideas to Reform the Culture of Debt in State and Local GovernmentBy Stephen Slivinksi, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Report, 09/13/2012
While Arizona’s constitution stipulates a state debt limit of roughly $8 million dollars, this has not been effective in actually limiting debt. Today, state-level bonded indebtedness equals $13.7 billion. All levels of government in Arizona have outstanding debt in one form or another of somewhere between $44 and $51 billion. This report proposes seven solutions to the problem of limiting Arizona’s debt-level, including the creation of a debt cap of no more than 6% of net assessed value of private property in the state, and applying the same cap to cities and counties, as well as requiring voter approval of all debt at the local level, and forbidding issuance of government-grade, tax-exempt bonds by non-elected bodies. If these as well as other suggested reforms are enacted, Arizona can move towards reclaiming its historic title as a state forged in the understanding that excessive public debt can trap future generations.
EducationBy Michael Q. McShane, American Enterprise InstituteEducation Outlook, 09/13/2012
By promoting choice, data, evaluation, and new pipelines of teachers, President Obama has signaled that reform is no longer strictly the purview of Republicans, and that Democrats can stand up to teachers unions and survive. In fact, both the NEA and the AFT have already endorsed his reelection bid, showing that a popular Democratic politician does not always have to do what is most favorable to the unions in order to get their vote. By taking these stands, the president has moved the left flank of the education debate toward embracing more dramatic reform of the American education system and has challenged common assumptions about reformers and what they hope to accomplish. Even if the substance of his reforms fails to live up to their hype, the resulting change in the politics of education will have positive effects on the education debate for the foreseeable future.
Foreign Policy/International Affairs
A Quest for Democratic Citizenship: Agendas, Practices, and Ideals of Six Russian Grass-roots Organizations and MovementsBy Leon Aron, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 09/13/2012
Although limited in scope, inductive, and decidedly qualitative, this study nevertheless suggests several important tendencies in the development of Russian civil society and its potential impact on the country’s politics. Its exploration of the agendas and ideals of the mostly young and mostly middle-class leaders and activists of six grassroots organizations and movements provides considerable evidence that a proactive civil society might be emerging. A free, democratic, and prosperous Russia, at peace with its own people, its neighbors, and the world, is among the most important geostrategic objectives of the United States. Thus, America’s stakes in the consolidation and expansion of a vibrant Russian civil society, the emergence of which we may have observed and recorded in this study, are undeniable and high. Ultimately, it is the only assured way of securing the attainment of this objective, so obviously and immensely beneficial to the peoples of Russia and the United States.