- 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
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Ryan Olson, James M. Roberts, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 10/19/2012
The historically pro-American multilateral organization known as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has been struggling for decades to form a regional “Single Market and Economy” (CSME) to integrate the disparate islands and sub-continental economies of the Caribbean Basin into a common market based on sound democratic institutions and pro-market policies. The obstacles to this integration have been plentiful, but none has been as daunting in recent years as the assault on free enterprise in the Caribbean mounted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Since taking power in 1999, Chavez has been enticing and outright bribing member countries to join instead his own statist regional creations: the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) and “PetroCaribe.” The U.S. should strongly support market democracy and free enterprise in the Caribbean while simultaneously encouraging CARICOM to reject and withdraw from ALBA and PetroCaribe.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Ronald E. Merrill, Marsha Familaro Enright, Open Court PublishingBook, 10/19/2012
Ayn Rand (1905–1982) is unique in human history. Scorned by the established critics, she wrote brilliant popular novels that have become permanent best-sellers, and founded a comprehensive philosophical and cultural movement which, decades after her death, is shaking the foundations of the post–New Deal American political order. Ayn Rand Explained gives a comprehensive survey of Rand’s wide-ranging contributions: her literary techniques; her espousal and then rejection of Nietzschean philosophy; her contradictory attitude to feminism; her dismissal of religious faith; her forays into ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics; the development of her political creed; her influence on—and yet hostility to—both conservatism and libertarianism.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy David C. John, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 10/19/2012
Americans’ ability to build a secure retirement is increasingly in danger. In addition to Social Security’s rapidly approaching fiscal problems and underfunded traditional defined-benefit pensions, the retirement savings system is available to only about half of the workforce and needs other improvements before today’s workers can create sufficient retirement income. This is not a small issue. Social Security, the foundation of retirement income, is so underfunded that every retiree faces 25 percent benefit cuts in just over 20 years. In addition, many taxpayers face massive tax increases to pay for underfunded state and local government pension plans. However, the biggest problem may be the retirement savings system, and the need to improve this crucial aspect of retirement security receives scant press and virtually no legislative action. This is definitely not to say that the retirement savings system is so broken that it must be replaced. But the system does need significant reforms.
National SecurityBy Jessica Zuckerman, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 10/18/2012
On Wednesday, federal authorities arrested a man outside the Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan in an attempt to detonate a van he believed to be laced with explosives. The man had been under close surveillance by the FBI for some time, and the explosives were rendered inoperable. While it appears that the public was never in danger, this latest attempted attack marks the 53rd thwarted terrorist plot against the United States since 9/11 and serves as a stark reminder that terrorists continue to plot against America.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy James Simpson, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 10/17/2012
The Southern Poverty Law Center began with an admirable purpose but long ago transformed into a machine for raising money and launching left-wing political attacks. Lately it’s become more of a threat to free speech and civil debate than a defender of the weak or a foe of violent extremism. It has also taken in millions from the Picower Foundation, whose own funds came largely from founder Jeffry Picower’s “investing” in his old friend Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy James Simpson, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 10/17/2012
Using its for-profit business to generate left-wing political donations, Credo/Working Assets has launched a new campaign aimed at unelecting 11 (not 10) Tea Party members of Congress. Even as the group protested super PACs, it formed a super PAC of its own to accomplish this goal.
PhilanthropyBy Maryan Escarfullett, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 10/17/2012
The Bloomberg Family Foundation is one of the largest private charities in the United States. It is funded for the most part by mayor of New York and financial entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg. As Bloomberg’s third and final term as mayor of New York winds down, many look at his foundation for clues as to what the mayor’s political future may hold.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ian Boisvert, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterPERC Reports, 10/17/2012
The coastlines of New Zealand are powerful not just in wave energy but also as sources of cultural identity, commerce, and conflict. Coastal conflict ebbs and flows to the extent to which patrons seek space for aquaculture or ocean renewable power projects, or, in the case of Maori, property rights. According to the author, Tradable Ocean Rights (TORs) would allow market transactions to facilitate who occupies marine space and thus encourage negotiation. Occupational rights could significantly reduce economic waste and conflict inherent in the existing coastal allocation process while remunerating the public for commercial use of the resource.
Economic GrowthBy Robert J. Miller, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterPERC Reports, 10/17/2012
American Indian governments must do everything they can to develop the entrepreneurial spirit in reservation residents and to ensure that more businesses are located in Indian country. Such businesses will provide jobs and economic activity that will stimulate the development of even more businesses and more economic activity. Once there are a sufficient number of tribal and privately owned businesses operating on a reservation, a functioning economy can develop from the effects of money circulating and re circulating between reservation consumers and businesses, employees and owners. This is a laudable goal. A functioning economy will help native communities create employment, adequate housing, and the needed infrastructure to help escape poverty and to begin to restore their historic communities that were once prosperous, healthy, vibrant societies sustained over thousands of years.
Economic GrowthBy John Koppisch, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterPERC Reports, 10/17/2012
To explain the poverty of Indian reservations, people usually point to alcoholism, corruption or school-dropout rates, not to mention the long distances to jobs and the dusty undeveloped land that doesn’t seem good for growing much. But those are just symptoms. Prosperity is built on property rights, and reservations often have neither. They’re a demonstration of what happens when property rights are weak or non-existent.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Norman Podhoretz, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 10/17/2012
Podhoretz considers the nature of American exceptionalism, arguing, among other things, that the United States is exceptional for attributes which include the fact that (1) unlike all other nations past or present, this one accepted as a self-evident truth that all men are created equal (2) in all other countries membership or citizenship was a matter of birth, of blood, of lineage, of rootedness in the soil and (3) in all other nations, the rights, if any, enjoyed by their citizens were conferred by human agencies: kings and princes and occasionally parliaments. He concludes by calling upon readers to vote in favor of keeping America exceptional, rather than turning it “into a facsimile of the social-democratic regimes of western.”
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Eamonn Butler, Harriman HouseBook, 10/17/2012
Friedrich Hayek was one of the leading economists of the 20th century and the leading contemporary critic of Keynes. He did pioneering work on monetary theory and trade cycles, but achieved international fame through his 1944 critique of totalitarian socialism, The Road to Serfdom. He went on to map out the principles of a free society in a series of books including Law, Legislation and Liberty and became the leading proponent, along with Milton Friedman, of economic and political liberalism. Setting him in context as well as incorporating criticism since his death 20 years ago, this book explores several major areas of Hayek’s thought and argument.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Gregory L. Schneider, NYU PressBook, 10/17/2012
In this history of the “other Sixties,” Gregory L. Schneider traces the influence of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative political group that locked horns with the New Left and spawned many of the major players in the contemporary conservative movement, from the Goldwater campaign in 1964 to Reagan’s revolution in the 1980s. Cadres for Conservatism reveals how young political conservatives, unlike their leftist counterparts, avoided fracture in the wake of the Sixties. Rather, YAF continued to serve as a seedbed for future conservative leaders, many of whom drew on the contacts and (counter-)activism of their youth to consolidate conservative power. Schneider’s talent for trenchant archival research is supplemented by a plethora of detailed interviews with virtually every past national chairman and executive director of the YAF, as well as important sponsors such as William F. Buckley, William Rusher, and M. Stanton Evans.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Morgan Lorraine Roach, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 10/16/2012
The eruption of the “Arab Spring” nearly two years ago created a number of unintended consequences for the region. As the proliferation of terrorist activity rippled across North Africa and into Africa’s Sahel region, it manifested itself in northern Mali. As Mali struggles to regain its occupied territory, the priority of interim leaders should be the stabilization of the central government rather than combating the northern insurgency.
Budget & TaxationBy Diana Fuchtgott-Roth, Yevgeniy Feyman, Manhattan InstituteIssues, 10/16/2012
America’s corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the industrialized world. Currently, the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, compared with an average of 23 percent for its industrialized competitors. Under fundamental corporate tax reform, America would reduce the top rate to bring it in line with its major competitors and broaden the base by eliminating some tax preferences. It should (1) reduce the corporate tax rate to a top rate of 15 percent, below the OECD average and equivalent to that of Germany and Canada, as well as (2) switch to a territorial tax system for earned income. The territorial tax systems of the majority of OECD countries reduce America’s attractiveness as a location for a global headquarters. Finally, the United States ought to (3) exclude 95 percent of foreign dividends from U.S. taxation, leaving an effective rate of 1.25 percent upon repatriation to guard against tax avoidance.
Budget & TaxationBy James D. Agresti, Just Facts FoundationReport, 10/16/2012
This research contains comprehensive facts about taxes in the United States. It notes, among other things, that in 2011, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $3.8 trillion in taxes or an average of $31,774 for every household in the U.S. Between 1929 and 2011, the portion of the U.S. economy collected in federal, state and local taxes has ranged from 10% to 29%, with the median being 25% and the average 24%. In 2011, the figure was 25%. At the close of the federal government's 2011 fiscal year, the federal government had $60.9 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded Social Security/Medicare obligations. This equates to $195,140 for every person living in the U.S. or $513,380 per household.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Donald P. Racheter, Public Interest InstituteInstitute Brief, 10/16/2012
Iowans should not feel guilty for recalling judges for holding positions contrary to their own, specifically in the case of the “vote No on Wiggins” initiative this fall. If they are challenged, they should point out that they are fulfilling the “good government reform” role designated for them when the Missouri Plan was adopted in their Constitution.
Information TechnologyBy Dan Oliver, Don Racheter, Public Interest InstituteInstitute Brief, 10/16/2012
The news that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating Google’s search business should worry all Internet users. The details of the Federal Trade Commission’s concerns about Google’s business practices are not public yet (that is standard practice), but the assumption is that the FTC believes that when Google displays the result of a search, it gives priority to results that relate to its own services—and that there is something wrong with that. This brief argues against that assumption, stating that in the search business today there is neither market failure nor consumer harm—and even if there were, the market would solve the problem long before government regulators, or the rest of us, could figure out what was wrong or how to fix it.
Budget & TaxationBy Deborah D. Thornton, Public Interest InstituteInstitute Brief, 10/16/2012
This brief discusses Iowa state subsidies and incentives given to Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) in order to build a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant. Governor Branstad has now publicly stated that one of his goals for the next Legislative session is addressing the corporate tax structure so that special incentives for individual companies are not necessary. This brief argues that h is proposal should be solid and robust – addressing the wide range of special interest loopholes in the Iowa tax structure, simplifying the process, and lowering the rates for everyone. If Iowa can continue to win companies from Illinois and other states and facilitate the growth of locally owned businesses by having a better tax structure for all businesses and not just for some, this will be a win – not a scam – for everyone.
Health CareBy Josh Archambault, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchPolicy Brief, 10/16/2012
This brief examines the impact of the so-called “Cadillac tax” included in ObamaCare. Despite promises that the tax would only affect the very wealthy, in reality over half the individuals on private insurance plans working for employers with three or more employees will be subject to this tax in 2018, and many more if healthcare costs continue to rise faster than inflation. The tax does not discriminate and will add costs for the lower-middle class, the upper-middle class and everyone in between. Further analysis of the comprehensive impact of this new tax is needed. This brief should spark a conversation among policymakers about whether this is the best strategy to contain insurance costs and finance new federal spending. Economists on both the right and left agree that linking insurance to employment creates many perverse incentives in our current system, and is especially tough on entrepreneurs and small businesses. Accordingly, the debate should focus on the best way to break this link.
Health CareBy James Madison Institute, James Madison InstitutePolicy Brief, 10/16/2012
In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the central components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), States must now decide whether to shoulder major responsibilities in administering the Act’s key coverage provisions or leave it to the federal government to do so. This brief offers a number of recommendations in light of this issue. It argues that overall, Florida should continue to look for opportunities to mount legal challenges to PPACA generated federal rules, and challenge any specific provisions of the Act that exceed the constitutional authority of the federal government.
Economic GrowthBy Joseph V. Kennedy, Maryland Public Policy InstituteStudies, 10/16/2012
In Maryland, an amendment to the state constitution is being proposed which would further expand gaming for the first time since a 2008 amendment passed legalizing commercial gaming for the first time. This study clarifies the referendum in a political and economic context and analyzes the impact such a change would have on state revenue and economic activity, arguing that it would have negative effects on this regard. It finds, among other things, that the main purpose of the gambling expansion – to bring in revenue for the state education budget – is unlikely to be realized. It references a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers which estimates that additional revenues to the Education Trust Fund that are unlikely to benefit students. Further, a separate study by the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute argues that there is no legal requirement that revenues to the Fund be devoted to net new spending. The state is free to reduce funding from other sources.
WelfareBy Carrie Lukas, Independent Women's ForumPolicy Focus, 10/16/2012
Americans overwhelmingly support the concept of having a safety net to help those who are in need or who cannot provide for themselves. However, the growth of these programs is concerning. Annual federal deficits in excess of 1$ trillion, a 16$ trillion national debt, and numerous states that are struggling to meet expenses and are worrisome. Taxpaying Americans will find that a growing portion of their earnings is being collected by government and transferred to other Americans who depend on government for basic support. More fundamentally, these programs discourage behaviors critical to long-term prosperity. Government initiatives also crowd our private aid initiatives, which tend to be more personal and likely to address the unique circumstances and challenges of the recipient.
EducationBy Joshua Dwyer, Ted Dabroswski, Illinois Policy InstituteReport, 10/16/2012
Too many of Chicago’s children don’t reach their full potential because traditional public schools are failing them. However, Chicago’s charter schools are proving, once again, that low-income children can succeed if given a chance. Not only are charter schools outperforming their peers on the ACT, a comparison of Chicago’s top 10 charter high schools to the top 10 open-enrollment, non-selective, traditional public high schools shows that charter schools’ pace of improvement is significantly greater. Since 2007, top charter school scores have increased by 17 percent, while the top traditional schools have gained nearly 5 percent. Charter schools offer a real alternative for Chicago kids. A path to better education for Chicago public school students has already begun. State and local officials must work side by side to offer more options to Chicago parents eager to find a place where their children can truly succeed.
Information TechnologyBy Seth L. Cooper, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 10/16/2012
Regardless of whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grants waivers to for certain regulations for cable set-top boxes, it should leave extraneous issues out of the proceedings. The FCC shouldn’t use waiver proceedings involving cable set-top box rules to resurrect its ill-conceived AllVid proposal to regulate the designs of all MVPD-provided next-generation video devices. Instead, the FCC’s AllVid proceeding should be closed. Let the market forces that are now delivering new video products and services continue on their course.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Gerry Angevine, Vanadis Oviedo, Fraser InstituteStudies in Energy Policy, 10/16/2012
To assess the economic impacts from exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to markets in the Asia-Pacific region, the authors of this study have developed a development scenario compatible with Canada’s National Energy Board’s most recent long-term forecast of BC natural gas production. The study also offers some policy proposals pertinent to this issue, and which addresses questions regarding time and the cost of regulatory procedures, conflicting toll-setting methodologies on federally regulated pipelines, objections by First Nations, environmental hazards and environmental assessments.
Health CareBy Diane Calmus, The Heritage FoundationCenter for Policy Innovation Research Summary, 10/15/2012
The rush to issue regulations for implementing the most popular parts of the President’s health insurance bill resulted in eight “economically significant” regulations of remarkably poor quality, according to Jerry Ellig of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and Christopher Conover of Duke University. They detailed major deficiencies in the regulatory process, including poor analysis, inadequate cost–benefit analysis, a bias toward regulatory solutions, and a failure to consider alternatives. The authors suggest that the “interim final rulemaking” process used to promulgate these regulations contributes to the problem, much as it did when the Department of Homeland Security used the same process to issue final rules after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jack Spencer, Katie Tubb, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 10/15/2012
On a tract of private land in Virginia, 119 million tons of uranium ore lie buried—the nation’s largest known uranium deposit. The Virginia General Assembly is currently considering whether to issue regulations that allow this resource to be developed. The debate has been overtaken by purposeful misinformation, decades of cultural bias, and manipulation by special interests. A closer analysis, however, reveals that uranium mining is conducted around the world safely and to great economic benefit. Studies show that the net economic benefit of construction and operations will yield almost $5 billion for Virginians over the life of the mine—around 35 years. With modern technology, efficient regulation, and 21st-century best practices, uranium mining is safe for workers, the environment, and surrounding populations.
Budget & TaxationBy Stephen Entin, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 10/15/2012
Governor Romney has proposed to fund a portion of his tax package by limiting itemized deductions, suggesting a $17,000 cap as a talking point. This could reduce concerns (largely unfounded) that the tax plan is not sufficiently progressive, or that it would otherwise require raising taxes on the middle class. In short, the plan is nearly revenue neutral. It illustrates that the tax package can indeed be made to work without raising taxes on middle income families (except in rare cases). Nonetheless, this is a bit of a blunt instrument which does not address the merits or demerits of the different types of deductions. It is also not clear whether Congress will go along with major reductions in some types of the deductions involved. A series of spending reductions in the least valuable or most wasteful federal spending programs might be a better way to proceed.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Arnold King, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 10/15/2012
When it comes to QE3, while there is no solid professional consensus on which to draw, one can boil the issue down to two questions. First, will QE3 raise inflation? That is, will inflation be higher than it would have been without QE3? Second, will the inflation-unemployment tradeoff be favorable? That is, will there be a large gain in employment with relatively little pain in terms of higher inflation? Or will there be a result of a lot of pain for little or no gain? This article offers three possible outcomes to the based on how QE3 operates; specifically, that (1) there is a 20% chance the economy will continue the way it would have without QE3; (2) there is a 30% that it will lead to a slightly higher inflationary path with significantly lower unemployment; and (3) that there is a 50% chance that it will put the nation on a significantly higher inflationary path with little effect on unemployment.
Health CareBy Wayne Winegarden, Donna Arduin, Pacific Research InstituteReport, 10/15/2012
Dental Service Organizations exemplify the types of health care benefits private sector firms can create—but only if the policy environment does not impede their contributions. DSOs effectively provide dental services to lower income children who would otherwise not receive regular dental care. However, They have a lower cost of operations than traditional dental practices. Through increased scale, DSOs are able to create operational efficiencies such as lower accounting costs and lower capital costs (through bulk purchases and greater negotiating power). Through specialization, DSOs can also create efficiencies in administration, which is particularly important when dealing with state Medicaid programs. DSOs also bring marketing expertise and other business skill sets that are not part of the traditional dentist training programs. When combined together, these benefits not only increase the overall profitability of dental practices, dental practices are also empowered to profitably serve Medicaid patients at the current reimbursement rates.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Brian Bodline, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 10/15/2012
The unemployment numbers show that employers are still struggling to create jobs. Two distinctly different approaches to job creation have been proposed at the federal level. One piece of legislation, the Jumpstart Our Business Act (JOBS Act), was recently passed and signed into law. It should improve small business access to start-up capital by reducing the burden of some federal regulations. Historically, start-up firms have been a major source of new jobs. In contrast, neither house of Congress has passed the American Jobs Act, proposed by the White House more than a year ago. The American Jobs Act would have used $194 billion in additional deficit spending to create jobs—mostly government jobs. The money would have been used for a variety of special items, including hiring new teachers and rehiring laid-off ones, protecting public employees from layoffs, funding additional public infrastructure projects, and renovating public school buildings.
Budget & TaxationBy Carmine Scavo, Emily Washington, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 10/15/2012
This paper proposes a methodology for evaluating the operation and success of state government streamlining commissions. These commissions—typically appointed by governors or state legislatures—became increasingly popular in the last decade as a way to identify potential savings in state government by reducing redundancies and increasing efficiencies in state spending. Such changes contribute to creating a more business-friendly environment in states resulting in increased state competitiveness in economic development. The paper proposes a series of case studies conducted on a subset of nine of the thirty one states in which streamlining commissions are currently active. Qualitative analysis is being conducted to determine the degree of success that the commissions have had based on commission structure. A series of hypotheses about the relationship between commission structure and success is introduced and discussed.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy John Garen, Mercatus CenterResearch, 10/15/2012
Large governments with broad powers engender competition for influence over those powers. This leads to cronyism, where certain groups obtain special privileges in exchange for political support. The academic literature indicates that, in addition to other negative effects, cronyism can cause public mistrust in government that limits the effectiveness of core government functions such as maintaining property rights and other individual rights. Survey data show a large decline in trust in government, much of which has occurred while government grew rapidly. Evidence indicates that government growth has been associated with rent-seeking and cronyism, leading to a withdrawal of trust. Thus, cronyism—bad government—can undermine even the appropriate functions of government. The literature also suggests that trust can be restored by the practice of good government. It seems that the best way to do so is with a smaller, more focused government that is centered on carrying out its core functions and to steer clear of cronyism.
Budget & TaxationBy Antony Davies, Devin Bowen, Mercatus CenterResearch, 10/15/2012
Politicians employ gimmicks to hide tax increases from voters. In this paper, we discuss four types of gimmicks. Legislative gimmicks use the wording of the tax law to hide who is being taxed or how much they are being taxed. Economic gimmicks use economic forces to hide who is being taxed and by how much. Communication gimmicks are ways of communicating tax legislation to voters so as to hide the effect or circumstances of tax legislation. Perceptual gimmicks use the voters’ psychologies against them so as to encourage the voter not to be aware of the tax.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Richard B. Belzer, Mercatus CenterResearch, 10/15/2012
Most federal agencies are required to conduct benefit-cost analyses for their largest regulations. Benefit-cost analysis is intended to objectively inform decision makers about the myriad effects of a range of potential alternatives. For many regulations, benefit-cost analyses depend on health risk assessment. It is well-established that a clear conceptual distinction must be established and maintained between (positive) risk assessment and (normative) risk management. Decision makers cannot ensure that regulatory choices conform with their intentions if they cannot discern where the science in an analysis ends and value judgments begin. In practice, the distinction between risk assessment and risk management has become thoroughly blurred. This paper provides an introduction to how risk management choices are embedded in risk assessments, and how this leads to biased and misleading benefit-cost analyses. Restoring objectivity to health risk assessment is an essential prerequisite for objective regulatory benefit-cost analysis.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Charles Blahous, Mercatus CenterResearch, 10/15/2012
In December 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation to reduce Social Security’s payroll tax collections and allow the program to draw on substantial direct subsidies from the government’s general fund. This is a departure from historical practice dating back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, carrying the potential to transform the future policy debate. For most of Social Security’s history, bipartisan support remained for FDR’s self-financing principle, both to ensure fiscal discipline and to ensure benefits enjoyed special political protection from near-term pressures arising elsewhere in the federal budget. It remains to be seen what lasting policy effects will arise from lawmakers having waived the longstanding requirement that payroll tax assessments be sufficient to finance benefit payments. Continuation of recent practice could prompt renewed consideration of policy options such as means testing and other cost controls traditionally applied to what have been popularly thought of as welfare programs.
Regulation & Deregulation
The Industry-Specific Regulatory Constraint Database (IRCD): A Numerical Database on Industry-Specific Regulations for All U.S. Industries and Federal Regulations, 1997-2010By Omar Al-Ubaydli, Patrick A. McLaughlin, Mercatus CenterReport, 10/15/2012
The Industry-specific Regulatory Constraint Database (IRCD) is a new database that quantifies federal regulation. IRCD offers a novel and objective measure of the accumulation of regulations in the economy overall and for all the different industries in the U.S. IRCD uses text analysis to count the number of binding constraints in the text of federal regulations, which are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). In addition, it measures the degree to which different groups of regulations target specific industries.
WelfareBy Russell Sykes, Manhattan InstituteReport, 10/15/2012
While the dispute over the legality of the Department of Health and Human Services’ in unilaterally waiving existing Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) requirements actions continues—and could even result in litigation—the department’s offer to waive the established TANF work guidelines will remain in effect. The risk remains that some of the progress of the past 15 years will be squandered. If the new HHS policy survives a potential legal challenge and ongoing congressional challenges, it is hard to see how it would not undermine the clear work participation rates in TANF. When the latest TANF extension expires in late March of 2013, Congress should fully reauthorize the program, making necessary changes and maintaining the measurable focus on work. Returning to the old days of welfare—when virtually any assignment counted as work—is a step in the wrong direction and a truly bad idea.
Budget & TaxationBy Daniel DiSalvo, Manhattan InstituteCivic Report, 10/15/2012
Public-employee unions have used the ballot process in California to stave off changes that they opposed and have occasionally won things that are very important to them, and what is in the unions’ interest is probably not also in California’s. Even if one of the viable tax-increase initiatives passes this fall, it will not likely solve the problems of the schoolchildren in whose name they are being offered. Even though the measures are framed as a way to save public education in the state, little money is ultimately likely to be left over once the state pays other bills. California’s problem is a set of structural drivers of ever greater state spending, not a lack of revenue. The drivers of this growth are benefits for existing government employees and retirees, Medicaid, the prison system, and the tax structure. The solution offered in the ballot measures does nothing to address the real problem.
Economic GrowthBy William Ratliff, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 10/15/2012
The Venezuelan people have spoken: In their presidential election of last Sunday, some 45 percent favored the center-left opposition challenger Henrique Capriles to incumbent Hugo Chavez, who secured 55 percent of the vote. During the campaign, Chavez had obliquely threatened the middle class and rich, suggesting they too should vote for him since only he could guarantee national stability. When Capriles conceded the election, Chavez made some conciliatory noises. But he is certain to regard his victory as a landslide and press ahead with his plans to implement 21st Century Socialism, digging Venezuelans into a still deeper hole to have to climb out of in the future. For now, the opposition will work on winning the December elections, trying to prevent more violent polarization even as they prepare to pick up the pieces if Chavez insists on pushing the country over the edge.
Economic GrowthBy Henry I. Miller, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 10/15/2012
The recent jobs report—a paltry 114,000 jobs created in September, 17 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, and the unemployment rate at 7.8 percent—reflects poorly on President Obama’s management of the economy. Moreover, the outlook for growth in the U.S. economy looks weaker now than it did three months ago. This article discusses policies supported and enacted by the Obama administration which are hostile to economic growth. In addition to the redistribution of wealth, stultifying, job-killing regulation has been a hallmark of the Obama administration. Compared with George W. Bush’s first term, the Obama administration has finalized roughly 30 more “economically significant” regulations—those with impacts of $100 million or more. There are many others on the way: fully a third of the final major rules with private sector impacts have been postponed. Consider also the usurpation by the White House of a regulatory decision on a genetically engineered, fast-maturing Atlantic salmon that should have been made by the Food and Drug Administration.
Budget & TaxationBy Peter Ferrara, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 10/15/2012
By selecting House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney reframed the 2012 presidential election as a contest between Ryan’s 2013 proposed budget, which was adopted by the entire Republican House, and President Barack Obama’s 2013 proposed budget, which can be taken as Obama’s most authoritative and detailed statement of what he would do in a second term. The differences between the two budgets are stark. Obama’s budget establishes a future course that exacerbates the current fiscal problem, what the author of this report has called elsewhere “America’s ticking bankruptcy bomb,” into an even worse nightmare scenario. Ryan’s budget fixes the problem so it doesn’t eat alive the United States’ world-leading standard of living. That stark contrast is explained in detail in the following paper.
EducationBy Johnathan Butcher, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Report, 10/15/2012
Higher spending per student hasn’t bought students higher test scores. Arizona student achievement has been virtually unchanged for 20 years despite increases in per-pupil spending. Indeed, these consistent funding increases haven’t even led to more money being spent in the classroom. In 2011, Arizona districts only spent 54.7 percent of their funds on classroom expenses, “a record low since [the auditor’s office] began monitoring classroom dollars 11 years ago” according to the state auditor general. Today, nearly 3 out of 4 fourth graders can’t read at grade level. And, although their scores still rank near the bottom on many indicators, Arizona students score as well as or better than students in some states where per student funding is double or almost triple what we spend. In short, there is not a direct relationship between money and achievement.
National SecurityBy Robert P. Haffa Jr., The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 10/15/2012
Much of what is written today about the capabilities required by the military services is offered within the context of fiscal restraint, national budget austerity, and cuts in the defense budget to ensure that the armed services pay their “fair” share of deficit reduction. This study argues for building an Air Force to support a joint force that can meet current and future threats to American security without regard for arbitrary fiscal guidelines and ceilings. It is time for the United States to adopt an asymmetric strategy linking objectives and resources, emphasizing the role of air power, and maximizing U.S. Air Force contributions to that strategy.
Left Out of No Child Left Behind: Teach for America’s Outsized Influence on Alternative CertificationBy Alexander Russo, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 10/15/2012
Russo argues that it was primarily luck that TFA was able to escape the No Child Left Behind process unscathed. After that scare, TFA recognized that it would do well to engage policymakers more systematically and aggressively so it could pursue federal funding, expand to new locales, and retain flexibility around teacher certification. Russo draws key lessons from TFA’s experience with NCLB, specifically that future reform groups should try to get their programs in early during relevant debates on the Hill, that the cultivation of bipartisan support is necessary for their bills to pass, and finally that these reform groups must learn to build coalitions in support of their favored legislation.