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Recent Policy Studies
Health CareBy James C. Capretta, Texas Public Policy FoundationReport, 12/19/2012
One way or another, Texas—and every other state—will be forced to make changes in Medicaid to reduce costs. The only question is how they will do it. The reform recommended here would ensure that the program’s participants have just as much incentive as the state to get the best and highest value use out of every available Medicaid dollar. With incentives properly aligned, and with more budgetary control provided to the state government, Texas would have the levers necessary to make adjustments over time to balance the needs of the program’s participants with the costs imposed on taxpayers.
EducationBy Thomas K. Lindsey, et al., Texas Public Policy FoundationReport, 12/19/2012
Texas’ system of public higher education, like that of every state in the union, finds itself today fighting a war on two fronts: it simultaneously is battling to restore not only affordability but also quality. The average cost of tuition at Texas public universities has increased five percent a year—every year—since 1994. In this Texas is far from unique: in the last 25 years, tuitions across the nation have increased 440 percent—twice the rate of the increase in health-care costs. To pay for these historic price increases, students and their parents have been burdened with historic debt. Total student-loan debt today stands at roughly one trillion dollars. For the first time in American history, total student-loan debt exceeds national credit-card debt.
Budget & Taxation
Corporate Income Tax Elasticity: How Republicans Can Have Lower Tax Rates and Democrats Can Collect More Tax Revenue!By Arthur B. Laffer, John A. Martilla, W. Grant Watkinson, Pacific Research InstituteStudies, 12/19/2012
With the net national debt climbing to more than 70 percent of the nation’s GDP, the deficit at unsustainable levels, unemployment and underemployment remaining stubbornly high, and economic indices faltering, Americans have been bombarded with pleas on the one hand for the nation’s businesses and wealthy to pay their fair share (i.e., higher taxes) and on the other for no new taxes. But what if in one bold move, the Republicans could have lower tax rates and the Democrats could have greater tax revenues? Historical evidence and macroeconomic modeling suggest that in the case of corporate income taxes this may not just be possible, but even likely.
Economic GrowthBy J.R. Clark, Beacon Center of TennesseeBook, 12/19/2012
The most frequently asked question of almost any economist is what can be done to improve the economy? This study addresses that question directly and specifically as it applies to the state of Tennessee. It identifies the State’s most critical economic issues and the public policy behind them. It examines those issues with objective economic research and provides comprehensive policy prescriptions to accelerate prosperity in Tennessee.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David G. Tuerck, Paul Bachman, Michael Head, Beacon Hill InstituteStudies, 12/19/2012
Pennsylvania’s current Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard law will raise the cost of electricity by $2.55 billion for the state’selectricity consumers in 2021, within a range of $1.71 billion and $3.24 billion. Pennsylvania’s electricity prices will rise by 11.9 percent by 2021, due to the current AEPS law.
Budget & TaxationBy Peter Ferrara, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 12/19/2012
In addition to the fiscal cliff, Americans are facing a raft of new regulatory costs and burdens the Obama Administration delayed until after the election. Those burdens include new global warming regulations, which will raise costs for U.S. producers that manufacturers in growing economies from China to India to Brazil will not face. Still more regulations are slated to come from ObamaCare, including the costly employer mandate, which will require employers with 50 or more workers to buy expensive health insurance for their employees. Economic growth and prosperity for working people and the middle class does not come from increased spending and consumption. It flows from increased savings and investment, which create new jobs and provide workers with the tools to be more productive. Increased productivity enables workers to earn higher wage.
Budget & TaxationBy Lewis Warne, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 12/19/2012
While a payroll tax holiday could provide temporary stimulus during an economic slump, it further erodes the relationship between Social Security’s revenue, individual earnings and benefit payments while increasing debt. Instead of simply raising rates again this opportunity should be taken to reform Social Security.
Health CareBy Devon Herrick, National Center for Policy AnalysisStudies, 12/19/2012
Medicaid comprises more than one of every five dollars spent by states — and is growing at unsustainable rates. States would be better served by freeing those earning above 100 percent of the federal poverty level to seek subsidized coverage in the health insurance exchanges. For families earning less than 100 percent of poverty, states should apply for block grants to tailor their Medicaid programs in ways that make sense for each state’s unique needs. State budgets, hospital budgets and patients themselves will be better off if low-income families enroll in private coverage rather than coverage through Medicaid.
Health CareBy Tami gurley-Calvez, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 12/19/2012
Our analysis of the effect of the West Virginia Medicaid redesign focuses on ER use. We find evidence that the enhanced plan, designed to encourage better health behaviors and increase personal responsibility in health care, results in a significantly lower probability of a primary-care treatable ER visit. This result remains after addressing the bias created when members self- selected into plans. However, most participants chose or were defaulted into the basic plan, and we find that the benefit reductions experienced by those enrolled in the basic plan led to a higher probability of a primary-care treatable ER visit. Overall, the program—which was intended to reduce costs, increase personal responsibility, and decrease ER use—had the unintended consequence in the short term of increased ER visits because of low enrollment in the enhanced plan.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Sherzod Abdukadirov, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 12/19/2012
Many economically significant regulations may not fully realize the beneficial outcomes they claim. Agencies exaggerate the underlying problem or wrongly attribute the results of private actions to the regulation’s impact. In a few cases, agencies fail to show that the regulation would actually lead to the beneficial outcomes. Consequently, the study suggests that some skepticism with regard to the substantial regulatory benefits claimed by regulatory agencies may be warranted.
National SecurityBy Toshio Nishi, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 12/19/2012
Japan’s Article 9 continues to say sorry for the terrible war of 70 years ago. While our apologies over the past seven decades are not pacifying our neighbors’ demands, we Japanese are running out of appropriate vocabulary or behavior. Instead, for the coming violent world, where history will matter less, Japan needs to become capable of defending itself. Japan must build a force, not out of an ambition to launch outward, but rather for self-preservation. In the increasingly unstable world, Japan views its close economic and defense ties with the United States as the most important link to survival and prosperity. The only doubt the Japanese occasionally express is: would the United States continue to honor its promises with them?
National SecurityBy Kenneth Anderson, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 12/19/2012
The increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles—drone aircraft—capable of lethal force, by the United States and other countries around the world, has made more urgent a debate over the ethics, law, and regulation of autonomous weapons systems. Today’s weapons-carrying drones are not “autonomous”—capable of acting in real-time through their own programmed decision-making—but instead are controlled in real-time by humans. Technological advances and perceptions of strategic and operational advantage, however, are propelling research and development (R&D) toward genuinely autonomous weapons systems. The design and engineering underlying this R&D necessarily includes not only technical material considerations, but also assumptions about how, where, and why such systems will be used—and these include fundamental legal and ethical considerations about what constitutes a lawful weapon and its lawful use.
Budget & TaxationBy David Koitz, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 12/19/2012
As a nation, we have come to treat borrowing as simply another ready source of revenue, a spigot that we blithely presume will continually supplement what we tax ourselves. But it’s not, and it won’t. It’s a loan that needs repaying, and as such it’s a claim against future taxes—taxes that may someday fall short because the loan and our spending expectations have grown too large. There is no single trip-wire that signals danger. Complacency has a way of perpetuating itself—no pain, no worry. However, like the precipitous bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, like the air coming out of the housing market in 2008, and like investor panic over the mounting debts of established European nations, inattentiveness and procrastination toward the rising debt of the world’s largest economy will someday catch up with us, likely quick and with little warning.
Economic GrowthBy William Ratliff, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 12/19/2012
Our self-inflicted blindness on the role of culture in history and current affairs is one reason why so many Western commentators had such unrealistic expectations about the “Arab Spring.” The emergence, prominence, and ideological orientation of the Muslim Brotherhood in a democratic Egypt, for example, were as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise on the Sahara. And though democratically elected, there is so far little reason to believe that the new government in Egypt—or those that may arise in other Arab countries—will undertake the tough long-term reforms that would move them into the developed world, nor indeed that that is what the bulk of the voting population most wants from them.
Health CareBy James Huffman, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 12/19/2012
Health insurance, properly understood, allows individuals to protect themselves, at reasonable expense, from unpredictable future health care costs. Insurer coverage of routine health care costs is simply an alternative to government subsidization of those costs for some people at the expense of others. Understanding the difference could help us to more effectively pursue policies that will: 1) allow health insurance prices to reflect only the cost of insuring against risk, 2) provide subsidized health care and health insurance only for those with demonstrated need, and 3) lead to lower health care and health insurance costs as a result of competition in both markets.
Budget & TaxationBy Peter Ferrara, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 12/19/2012
All the reductions in federal spending achieved by the reforms outlined above will save another fortune in reduced interest costs on the national debt, which are a large portion of CBO’s total future projected costs of federal spending as a percent of GDP. The reforms as a whole would serve the nation’s needy much better than the current system and ultimately save close to $2 trillion or more in terms of today’s budget every year. Some of these reforms are innovative and hence unfamiliar and maybe even a bit daunting, but we know what the current system is heading toward: fiscal catastrophe and even national bankruptcy as in Greece, with increasingly gigantic holes in the nation’s safety net. We owe it to ourselves to consider real reforms instead of tinkering or complacency.
Economic GrowthBy Guy Sorman, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 12/19/2012
In the current sluggish economic environment, the remarkable history of American dynamism is thus more instructive than ever. America’s economic might is rooted in an entrepreneurial culture and a passion for innovation and risk-taking, traits nourished by the nation’s commitment to the rule of law, property rights, and a predictable set of tax and regulatory policies. Policymakers have lost sight of these fundamental principles in recent years. The next era of American prosperity will be hastened when they return to them.
Budget & TaxationBy Stephen D. Eide, Manhattan InstituteIssue Brief, 12/19/2012
The federal government must reduce the deficit to arrest its unsustainable debt trends. How might this affect state and local governments? This issue brief considers the case of capping itemized deductions, a tax-reform proposal supported by Democrats as well as Republicans. Hardest-hit will be New York, New Jersey, California, and other so-called blue states known for their high taxes, high costs, extensive public services, and large public-sector workforces. In the near term, capping deductions would dramatically raise taxes on high earners, soften home prices, and call into question the ultimate sustainability of the blue-state model. However, in the longer term, such caps could simply cause blue states to shift toward a more non-blue model of lower taxes, lower spending levels, and greater reliance on economic growth to expand the tax base.
Health CareBy Joel Allumbaugh, Maine Heritage Policy CenterCase Study, 12/19/2012
Obamacare purports to lower healthcare costs and, in the end, to boost job creation. However, as this last in a series of three case studies will show, Obamacare will actually increase costs on employers which, in the long run, will mean fewer jobs. As such, Obamacare’s much-touted health and economic benefits are outweighed by the “success tax” that it is imposing on businesses in Maine and the country.
Regulation & DeregulationBy David E. Harrington, Jaret Treber, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/19/2012
We estimate that society will save at least $266 million over the next 20 years on caring for its dead if anti-combo laws were repealed. That money represents real resources that are being wasted because of the laws, e.g., workers twiddling their fingers, empty visitation rooms, and duplication of arrangement conferences. But that does not include the losses to consumers from limiting their choice of funeral homes. The data clearly reveal that many consumers are willing to go the extra mile, or miles, to get to a combo funeral home. Legislators ought to go the extra mile for their constituents and repeal their anticompetitive anti-combo laws.
Health CareBy Thomas A. Lambert, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/19/2012
While the NFIB decision averted a constitutional ruling that would have eviscerated the constraints government faces as a result of the Constitution’s enumeration of congressional powers, the decision left the ACA largely intact. The limitations it did impose, though, are likely to impair further the effectiveness of the already misguided statute. As modified and constrained by NFIB, the ACA is likely to drive up both the cost of health insurance premiums and the underlying cost of medical care without increasing insurance coverage by nearly as much as the act’s proponents promised.
National SecurityBy G. Stuart Mendenhall, Mark Schmidhofer, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/19/2012
It makes sense that “layers of security” would be effective in preventing a terrorist attack, and if the tests are independent, then the probability of detection multiplies. However, these layers must not inconvenience massive amounts of people in order to add negligible security benefit. A metal detector is capable of extremely high specificity, while a SPOT interviewer is not. Intelligence detection, coherently acting on tips and observation of known terrorist organizations behind the scenes, may similarly have good specificity at minimal economic and social cost to the business and pleasure traveler. Utilizing this construct, we believe that Americans should not tolerate the charade of mini-interviews of all passengers.
Economic GrowthBy Dan L. Burk, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/19/2012
Legislative patent reform can be a costly proposition. Aside from the problem of special interest rent-seeking, the switching costs of adapting common practice to new legislation can be extraordinarily high. The America Invents Act offers a prime example of such switching costs. Although businesses will likely experience somewhat lowered costs in managing international patent filings, the legislation disrupts long settled law, creates new opportunities for gamesmanship, foments new litigation, and introduces new uncertainty into business decisionmaking.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Kathryn Shelton, Richard B. McKenzie, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/19/2012
The spate of recent, widely reported child molestation convictions should put people on alert for hidden cases of ongoing child molestation and assault. We also need to be mindful that decisions on restrictive care policies (with hugging being one of a number) can have inadvertent negative consequences for children. Obviously, research on the benefits and harms that flow from restrictive hugging policies is warranted, lest we impair the development of children—especially already disadvantaged children—with the best of protective policy intentions. The better road forward is for institutions to screen prospective staff members carefully and then monitor their contact with children.
LaborBy Timothy Sandefur, Cato InstituteRegulation, 12/19/2012
It was once a mainstay of liberal constitutional theory—memorialized in the famous Footnote Four of United States v. Carolene Products—that laws that warp the democratic process in this way should be regarded skeptically by courts. But because the opt-out rule benefitted labor unions, many left-wing spokesmen shrugged at the way it undercut the expressive rights of workers.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Indur M. Goklany, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 12/19/2012
Nothing can be made, transported, or used without energy, and fossil fuels provide 80 percent of mankind’s energy and 60 percent of its food and clothing. Thus, absent fossil fuels, global cropland would have to increase by 150 percent to meet current food demand, but conversion of habitat to cropland is already the greatest threat to biodiversity. By lowering humanity’s reliance on living nature, fossil fuels not only saved humanity from nature’s whims, but nature from humanity’s demands.
Health CareBy Joseph Antos, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 12/19/2012
Political debate does not often permit a careful discussion of Medicare’s problems and potential solutions. This volume seeks to remedy that limitation of election-year discourse and provide a guide to sustainable long-term Medicare reform. The president and the next Congress will face unprecedented challenges to kick-start a lagging economy and to rein in the federal deficit. The fiscal crisis provides both the opportunity and the necessity for policymakers to undertake the difficult task of reforming the Medicare program. In so doing, we can finally begin the journey to a health system that works.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Stan Veuger, et al., American Enterprise InstituteWorking Paper, 12/19/2012
Can protests cause political change, or are they merely symptoms of underlying shifts in policy preferences? We address this question by studying the Tea Party movement in the United States, which rose to prominence through coordinated rallies across the country on Tax Day, April 15, 2009. We exploit variation in rainfall on the day of these rallies as an exogenous source of variation in attendance. We show that good weather at this initial, coordinating event had significant consequences for the subsequent local strength of the movement, increased public support for Tea Party positions, and led to more Republican votes in the 2010 midterm elections. Policymaking was also affected, as incumbents responded to large protests in their district by voting more conservatively in Congress.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Aspen Gorry, Sita Nataraj Slavov, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Perspectives, 12/19/2012
Entitlement spending is projected to put a great deal of strain on the federal budget in coming years. A key factor underlying the growth of entitlement spending is the deteriorating ratio of workers to retirees. This problem is exacerbated by various policies that create disincentives for work at older ages. One way to reduce the fiscal burden of entitlement programs is to encourage longer working lives by minimizing these disincentives. This paper documents the recent trends in employment among older workers, summarizes the evidence on how policies influence retirement decisions, and describes several reforms that have the potential to increase employment among older workers.
Budget & TaxationBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 12/19/2012
he year-end fiscal cliff is the current hot economic topic, and many policymakers and pundits seem to think that forcing us over the cliff is the best way to force decisive action to reduce US debt. However, this tactic will not work in the United States because borrowing costs are so low. In countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal, borrowing costs are much higher, and debt crises have emerged. However, with its very low borrowing costs, the United States is not in immediate danger of a crippling crisis. What is needed are gradual reductions in US primary deficits that result in a stable ratio of debt to GDP by 2015.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Environmental Protection Agency: $353 billion Annually to Comply with Regulations; Most of Any AgencyBy Ryan Young, Competitive Enterprise InstituteRegulatory Report Card, 12/19/2012
The quality of regulation depends heavily on its transparency. Taking to heart Justice Louis Brandeis’ stated belief that sunshine is the best disinfectant, the purpose of this report card is to put important information from scattered sources into one easily accessible place. This report card focuses on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
National SecurityBy Michaela Bendikova, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 12/19/2012
To provide for the common defense is one of the primary constitutional responsibilities of the federal government. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a federal law that annually specifies the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense. In addition to funding, this law can also be a vehicle for good and bad policies. Therefore, lawmakers abuse the NDAA by occasionally adding funding for wasteful programs. The chart in this report describes the current policy positions in both the House and Senate NDAA along with Heritage's suggested policy positions. Before Congress acts, it should closely consider how each section improves our national defense.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Morgan Lorraine Roach, Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 12/19/2012
The recent occupation and subsequent retreat by the rebel group M23 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo's city of Goma is the latest episode of the country's instability. Though M23 is just the newest rebel group among many, it is emblematic of the failure by the Congolese government and the international community to address the development and governance issues that undermine peace prospects. The crisis occurred despite a United Nations peacekeeping mission for over a decade, billions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance, and ongoing diplomatic efforts. The United States should reassess its support for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, increase accountability for the inept government in Kinshasa, seek to secure Rwandan and Ugandan support, and emphasize the need for an African-led strategy.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Lee Edwards, The Heritage FoundationFirst Principles, 12/19/2012
William F. Buckley Jr. was the renaissance man of modern American conservatism. He was the founder and editor in chief of National Review, a syndicated columnist, the host of Firing Line (TV’s longest-running weekly public-affairs program), the author of more than 50 books, and a college lecturer for nearly five decades. His mighty stream of words is almost surely unequalled by any other writer of the past 100 years.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nicolas Loris, Derrick Morgan, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 12/19/2012
New fuel-efficiency standards issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency will increase the average cost of a new car by $3,000 by 2025. Furthermore, consumers are unlikely to realize the projected fuel savings used to justify these standards, and the new standards will further constrain consumer choice. The market is better able to meet the needs of American consumers—including fuel efficiency—than the paternalistic government in Washington, which already uses the tax code and other government subsidies to pick winners and losers in the auto marketplace, distorting it to the detriment of consumers and the economy.
Budget & TaxationBy William W. Beach , John L. Ligon, Guinevere Nell, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 12/19/2012
On January 1, 2013, the Bush tax cuts will expire and other new taxes that congressional leaders have recognized would damage the economy will take effect. President Barack Obama’s proposal to increase taxes on only “high-income earners” would also be economically destructive, reducing economic output by an average of $196 billion per year over 2013–2022 relative to current tax policy. Congress and the President would better serve the country by reforming the tax code in a pro-growth, revenue-neutral way and by reducing federal spending.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Joseph Postell, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 12/19/2012
The administrative state is an assault on constitutional principles—government by consent, the separation of powers, and the rights of individuals—that liberals and conservatives hold dear. The key to reform is that it be grounded in a proper understanding of these principles, not in the hope of immediate short-term gain or narrow self-interest. If we begin from constitutional principles and can communicate those principles and their relevance to the public in a clear manner, the reforms envisioned in this report are not too far from our grasp. It is high time that Americans work together to forge an alternative to the administrative state so that we preserve our constitutional principles for future generations.