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Recent Policy Studies
Budget & TaxationBy Justin Owen, et al., Beacon Center of TennesseeReport, 01/10/2013
The 108th General Assembly’s Guide to the Issues provides detailed free market policy recommendations on dozens of issues that will confront legislators in the coming two years.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Deborah D. Thornton, Public Interest InstitutePolicy Study, 01/10/2013
If the United States and state governments are concerned about renewable energy and global climate change issues caused by power generation from traditional sources such as oil and coal, they must reduce the onerous regulatory environment and increase support for hydroelectric power. Though hydropower is not flashy, with the “pretty” visuals that wind turbines and solar panels have, it is fundamentally a better, more reliable, and more controllable source of energy.
Budget & TaxationBy Nick Kasprak, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 01/10/2013
Joint filing has been a source of confusion ever since the filing status was created in 1949. Marriage has the potential to create a significant tax penalty, but it can also lead to a tax bonus in other situations, and for most taxpayers, determining the effect is anything but simple.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Henchman, Scott Drenkard, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 01/10/2013
Public policies often have unintended consequences that outweigh their benefits. One consequence of high state cigarette tax rates has been increased smuggling, as criminals procure discounted packs from low-tax states to sell in high-tax states. Growing cigarette tax differentials have made cigarette bootlegging both a national problem and a lucrative criminal enterprise.
Budget & TaxationBy Stephen J. Entin, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 01/10/2013
Studies issued by the Congressional Research Service are intended to inform the Congress as it develops public policy and enacts legislation. A recent CRS publication on the effect of the top statutory tax rates on economic activity may have influenced the debate over taxing the rich during the election and may have influenced the tax changes just enacted in the fiscal cliff legislation. It is critical that such studies reflect the best guidance that the economics and tax professions can provide. The CRS study on the top tax rates did not meet that high standard. Its original release in the fall was met with widespread and justified disbelief, and it was withdrawn for review and examination of its methodology. It has now been reissued in an updated form. However, the re-issued CRS study does not contain any changes of note that would redeem the original report.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Henchman, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 01/10/2013
If Congress were to make the tax parity between parking and transit permanent, it might consider a unified exclusion of all transportation commuting expenses. This would resolve the confusing, costly, and long-delayed implementation this year of a 2006 IRS directive that the transit benefit cannot be used for parking at transit stations. Transit agencies have thus been forced to separate out amounts paid by commuters for transit passes from amounts paid for parking at transit stations. A unified exclusion for all transportation commuting expenses would also substitute neutrality for the current arbitrary encouragement of driving over carpooling, transit use, and bicycling.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Henchman, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 01/10/2013
If fully enacted, the changes recommended by Kentucky’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform would increase state revenue by $646 million per year. Some of the recommendations are timely and should be implemented, but overall, the report offers a grab-bag of provisions with little central theme. Taken together, the recommendations would raise income and excise taxes, reduce corporate taxes (primarily for select in-state businesses), and maintain a costly business property tax system with few changes. The merits and implications of this approach are not explained in the report let alone defended as the right policy.
Budget & TaxationBy William McBride, Tax FoundationSpecial Report, 01/10/2013
More and more, the consensus among experts is that taxes on corporate and personal income are particularly harmful to economic growth, with consumption and property taxes less so. Economic growth ultimately comes from production, innovation, and risk-taking. This review of empirical studies also establishes some standards by which a tax system may be judged. If we apply these standards to our national tax system, the U.S. has probably the most inefficient tax mix in the developed world. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. If it came down 10 points—still higher than most of our trading partners—it would add 1 to 2 points to GDP growth and likely not lose tax revenue, because the tax base would expand from in-flows of foreign capital as well increased domestic investment, hiring, and work effort.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Bill Peacock, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 01/10/2013
The Sunset Commission’s Staff Report recommends the quadrupling of the Public Utility Commission’s fines and restricting due process for Texas businesses. The Staff Report recommends this increased government intervention in the Texas electricity market even though it offers no examples of any problems in the market that need addressing. The Sunset process today is more about increasing the size and scope of government than it is making it more efficient.
Budget & TaxationBy Benjamin Zycher, Pacific Research InstituteIssue Brief, 01/10/2013
The analytic case for public financial support for private giving is longstanding, comprising four basic observations: underprovision of collective goods by the private sector; underprovision of collective goods by the public sector; distortions in the public provision of collective goods; the strengthening of the institutions of civil society as a buffer between the citizenry and the state. A change in the tax treatment of charitable giving is likely to have significant effects on the level of such giving. Prominent proposals to change the way that the current tax system treats charitable donations would be likely to reduce such giving by $5 billion to $10 billion per year, an effect equal to significant percentages of the operating budgets of major charitable organizations in the U.S. Moreover, the central proposals to reform the U.S. tax system either cannot be reconciled with public support for private charity, or would require changes likely to reduce such giving.
Health CareBy Deborah Taylor Tate, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 01/10/2013
New mobile diabetes management devices are freeing patients from the burden of logging their glucose measurements and making remote monitoring a seamless process. My first vote at the FCC in 2006 was for one of these early diabetes predecessors, a step along the unending development of new and better. I still remember the letter from a mom thanking me for no longer having to “prick” her three children six or seven times a day. That letter reminded me every day of the lasting impact regulators can have on maximizing what our scientists and researchers are doing by enabling their discoveries to become real solutions for real people.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Hester Peirce, James Broughel, Mercatus CenterBook, 01/10/2013
This book paints a fairly bleak picture of Dodd-Frank. Dodd-Frank was presented as a solution to the devastating problems that emerged in 2007 and 2008. It is not that. Certain elements did not relate to the crisis at all. Other provisions could make the financial system more prone to crises.
Budget & TaxationBy Jeremy Horpedahl, Harrison Searles, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 01/10/2013
The home mortgage interest deduction is the largest explicit tax deduction for households in the federal income tax code. Politicians have been reluctant to even consider removing this deduction, believing it to be one that provides significant benefits to middle-class taxpayers and encourages homeownership. These benefits are greatly overstated: most taxpayers do not benefit from this deduction at all or receive a very small benefit. The only taxpayers who do receive a large benefit are those in the upper income brackets. Taxpayers and the entire economy would be better served by removing the mortgage interest deduction and lowering marginal tax rates to offset the change.
Budget & TaxationBy Glenn Hubbard, Tim Kane, National AffairsNational Affairs, 01/10/2013
All great nations fall. And as economic historian Douglass North reminds us, they almost always fall when political institutions reveal their “inherent instability.” But history also shows us that adaptation is possible. Decline can be averted, at least for a time, by leaders who are able to see their way out of the trap of imbalance—out of the prisoners’ dilemmas created by old rules that no longer suit a new set of circumstances. We are in such a trap today. Everybody knows that our current fiscal practices are unsustainable. The question is whether our leaders will figure out in time just how we can escape that trap by rebalancing the rules of how we budget, tax, and spend.
Economic GrowthBy Stuart M. Butler, National AffairsNational Affairs, 01/10/2013
As Niall Ferguson has remarked (reflecting on Tocqueville), “The notion that you could achieve greater social cohesion by increasing the power of the state at the expense of civil society [is] a great illusion.” The answer to our concerns about inequality and mobility is to foster a broad commitment to strengthening the institutions of civil society, particularly the family. It requires local and national leaders to call for a reaffirmation of the virtues of industriousness, honesty, marriage, and religiosity in the communities from which they have been disappearing. The best, and indeed the only fruitful, way for government to participate in this effort is to remove the obstacles and perverse incentives of its own making—and to foster an environment in which our charitable and social institutions are free to form citizens of the high character a great nation demands.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Eric Posner, E. Glen Weyl, National AffairsNational Affairs, 01/10/2013
A rule known as the “insurable interest doctrine”—which first entered British law by an act of Parliament in 1746, and then became a part of the common law inherited by the American legal system—required that individuals seeking to buy insurance have a stake in the event against which they sought to be insured. A person could not, for instance, purchase a life-insurance policy to bet on the death of the prime minister, but he could purchase life insurance to protect his dependents or buy health insurance to protect himself. The aim was to prevent people from disguising gambling as legitimate insurance transactions. If this rule had been applied to credit default swaps—which are mostly used to gamble on the failure of a debtor rather than to insure against it—the multi-trillion-dollar CDS market would never have formed, and the financial crisis would not have been as severe.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Gail Heriot, National AffairsNational Affairs, 01/10/2013
Constitutional scholars look back at the doll experiments and ask, “What if the children had preferred the black doll?” What if it turned out that the children’s preference for the white doll had nothing to do with low self-esteem caused by Jim Crow segregation? Would that have made the case for Brown v. Board of Education weaker? Should the constitutional right to equal protection turn on the latest social-science research? The answer to these latter questions should be, “Of course not.” The Constitution demands equal protection for all persons regardless of whether they can demonstrate through social-science research that they have been harmed by some law or policy or social practice.
WelfareBy Robert Rector, Jennifer A. Marshall, National AffairsNational Affairs, 01/10/2013
Reformers have their work cut out for them. They must begin by resolutely opposing the Obama administration’s efforts to dismantle the work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which are the heart of the program and the key to the effectiveness of the 1996 reform. The administration’s changes to the program are not only counterproductive, but unlawful. They must not be allowed to stand. And to build on the successes of welfare reform and regain the initiative, reformers should pursue a three-part agenda. First, workfare must be expanded to other means-tested programs like food stamps and public housing. Second, the overall costs of all our ballooning welfare programs must be controlled through a cap on aggregate spending. Third, serious attention must be paid to the crisis of unwed parenting that drives so much of today’s poverty.
Economic GrowthBy Howard Husock, National AffairsNational Affairs, 01/10/2013
Quasi-capitalists are right that markets cannot meet all needs — especially the needs of individuals who lack the skills and habits to participate in those markets. They are profoundly wrong, however, to assert that the fruits of private enterprise are solely private, and that traditional capitalism meets no social needs at all. Our system of free enterprise has, over the years, evolved to produce broad prosperity and high standards of living unimaginable for most of human history. Should the quasi-capitalists succeed in undermining or supplanting the structures that have made those benefits possible, they will surely harm the very people and causes they claim to help — not to mention the rest of society. Quasi-capitalism thus presents a very real threat to our innovative economy and dynamic way of life. We fail to take it seriously at our own peril.
Economic GrowthBy John O. McGinnis, National AffairsNational Affairs, 01/10/2013
Our political debates about equality and fairness are too often argued using an obsolete vocabulary. Differences in income tell us less than they once did about differences in people’s real standards of living. And the immense potential of technology to reshape the lives of the rich and the poor simultaneously has yet to be fully understood and accounted for. Even when we set out to examine technology and inequality together, we too often get things backwards, considering the effects of technology in terms of who has the money to access it. In reality, the most significant technologies of the past half-century have tended to make money less rather than more important, and have been available more widely, more quickly, than such valuable commodities have ever been before.
Economic GrowthBy Samuel Gregg, Encounter BooksBook, 01/10/2013
In Becoming Europe, Samuel Gregg uses the idea of economic culture – the values and institutions – that inform our economic priorities to explain how European economic life has drifted in the direction of what Alexis de Tocqueville called “soft despotism”, and the ways in which similar trends are manifesting themselves in the United States. America, Gregg argues, is not yet Europe. Economic decline need not be its future. The good news is that the path to recovery lies deep in the distinctiveness of American economic culture. But there are ominous signs that some of the cultural foundations of America’s historically-unparalleled economic success are corroding in ways that are not easily reversible and for which the European experience should serve as the proverbial canary in the mine shaft.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Paul Howard, James Copland, Manhattan InstituteIssue Brief, 01/10/2013
By far the most serious consequence of the Food and Drug Administration’s onerous limitations on off-label drug promotion, amplified by the heavy hand of federal criminal law, is the regime’s adverse impact on public health. Simply put, limiting companies’ ability to communicate with doctors about new advances in medicine serves patients poorly. Given that the FDA is unlikely to streamline its procedures anytime soon, it should at least work to facilitate the communication of the best science available to doctors and other learned intermediaries. Scientific knowledge could be captured and disseminated much better by a “safe harbor” on off-label drug use and promotion that recognizes that patients and physicians are collaborators in developing information on when a drug works (or doesn’t work), and for whom.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Robert Poole, Reason FoundationPolicy Brief, 01/10/2013
America has very real needs to upgrade and modernize transportation infrastructure, but the reality going forward is that federal general fund subsidies will no longer be available. Major changes in federal policy will be needed to empower states and the private sector to meet the needs for capital investments in transportation infrastructure in this new environment of a smaller federal role. In making these changes, Congress has an unusually good opportunity to increase the productivity of these capital investments via changes that reduce or eliminate cross-subsidies between users and among states. This brief’s proposed federal policy changes fall into three broad categories: organizational changes, tax changes and regulatory changes.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Leonard Gilroy, Harris Kenny, Julian Morris, Reason FoundationStudies, 01/10/2013
One way to keep state parks open without imposing additional burdens on the taxpayer is to utilize public-private partnerships (PPPs). Many states already successfully use private concessionaires to provide piecemeal services within parks—including food, retail, lodging, marinas, and other commercial activities—so a shift to more extensive involvement can build on that. Such a whole park operation PPP would transfer the responsibility of maintaining the park to a private operator, while enabling that operator to raise revenue through entrance and other fees. The U.S. Forest Service has used this PPP model for over 25 years to operate thousands of its developed recreation areas nationwide, and in 2012 California began the first state to turn over the operation of state parks to private recreation management companies to avoid closure.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy Michael Auslin, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 01/10/2013
India is indeed changing, though unevenly. Nearly everyone I talk with, male or female, stresses that India must build up its national strength, meaning its economy. All the young women I meet are part of that strength, yet many will undoubtedly drop out of the work force. Society itself doesn’t seem to be the hindrance as much as entrenched social mindsets and the powerful pull of the family unit. Qualified women appear more likely to be restrained at home than openly discriminated against at the employment office. For hundreds of millions of poorer women, moreover, change in India is coming all too slowly, if at all. As it looks ahead to becoming a great power, how to assure all women have more of a say in shaping their lives will be one of India’s greatest challenges. Perhaps education will be the key, or the voices of prominent female leaders like Sonia Gandhi.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Alex J. Pollock, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 01/10/2013
The key institutions in the post-1971 financial world are governments, which have increasingly used permanent deficit financing; central banks which issue, against the governments’ debt they buy, irredeemable paper currencies (accompanied by coins which clunk instead of ringing if you drop them on a table); and commercial banks which issue deposits redeemable only in the central banks’ fiat currencies. This arrangement has resulted in the general acceptance of permanent inflation and the redefinition of “price stability” to mean a more or less stable rate at which the purchasing power of the fiat currency depreciates (a pretty remarkable example of Newspeak). It is a sobering thought that this entire system depends on trusting the foresight, wisdom, and knowledge of the managers of the key institutions.
Economic GrowthBy Terry Miller, et al. , The Heritage FoundationBook, 01/10/2013
Countries with higher levels of economic freedom substantially outperform others in economic growth, per capita incomes, health care, education, protection of the environment, and reduction of poverty, according to data collected for the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom. Regrettably, the results also indicate that economic freedom is not advancing strongly. Only 31 countries have increased their economic freedom scores by 1 point or more over the past year, and 35 registered declines of that magnitude. The average world economic freedom score increased only 0.1 point, reflecting policy stagnation that in turn is reflected in lower world growth rates. Government spending scores improved somewhat on average, heralding serious efforts in many countries to halt the rapid budget growth that accelerated during the financial crisis and recession. By contrast, regulatory efficiency declined as countries attempted to stem growing unemployment by increasing minimum wages or otherwise tightening labor market controls.
Budget & TaxationBy Cliff Asness, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 01/09/2013
One wonders if President Obama would have won the election if he had warned voters that “to pay for Obamacare, stimulus spending, increased regulatory oversight, and the rest of the big government wish list I believe important, we need to raise the level and share of taxes paid by the middle class”? One also wonders why more progressive pundits were not as clear about their goals and the necessities pre-election as they are starting to be now.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Kristian Niemietz, Institute of Economic AffairsBook, 01/09/2013
In the past intellectual movements promoting free trade in particular and a free economy more generally were regarded as having a pro-poor agenda. The current poverty lobby, however, is focused entirely on government benefits as the solution to poverty and very rarely addresses government interventions that raise living costs. Overall, a market-oriented anti-poverty policy could lead families to be up to £750 a month better off. There would also be scope for substantial decreases in taxation on the less well off because of substantial savings in benefits such as housing benefit.?
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Elinor Ostrom, et al., Institute of Economic AffairsBook, 01/09/2013
Traditional economic models of how to manage environmental problems relating to renewable natural resources, such as fisheries, have tended to recommend either government regulation or privatisation and the explicit definition of property rights. These traditional models ignore the practical reality of natural resource management. Many communities are able to spontaneously develop their own approaches to managing such common-pool resources.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Justin Logan, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 01/09/2013
America ought to pivot home. The new U.S. administration should revisit formal and informal U.S. security commitments in Asia with a clear eye trained on what it would actually be willing to fight a war with China over, and just how likely those scenarios are. American policymakers should work to lessen and ultimately remove the forward-deployed U.S. military presence in the region, helping establish more powerful national militaries in like-minded states. The new administration should encourage Asian nations to work together on security issues without the United States leading the way.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Larry Downes, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 01/09/2013
What passes today as a “debate” over privacy lacks agreed-upon terms of reference, rational arguments, or concrete goals. Though the stars are aligning for a market in privacy products and services, those who believe that rapidly evolving information technologies are eroding privacy regularly pitch their arguments in the direction of lawmakers, pushing for unspecified new rules that would cast a pall over innovation. These calls for ill-considered new laws threaten the remarkable economic conditions that have fueled the Internet revolution up until now.
Budget & TaxationBy Jeffrey A. Miron, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 01/09/2013
The United States faces two economic challenges: slow growth and an ever-increasing ratio of debt to GDP. Many policymakers believe they face a dilemma because the policy solutions to the two problems are opposite. To address the slow recovery, standard—Keynesian—economics suggests further fiscal stimulus in the form of lower taxes or higher spending. But that recommendation runs head-first into the economy’s second crucial challenge, the long-run fiscal imbalance. Yet policymakers are wrong to see this as a dilemma. The Keynesian model does not evaluate government expenditure using the standard microeconomic concepts of economic efficiency (cost-benefit analysis); rather, it assumes that all expenditure is beneficial. Some government purchases, however, are not a productive use of resources, and transfer payments distort economic incentives and thus can reduce economic output. In contrast, broad-based tax cuts, especially those that lower marginal tax rates, enhance economic growth.
International Trade/FinanceBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/09/2013
In 2012, Chinese outbound investment set new records both in the U.S. and around the world. North America has jumped to the forefront of Chinese business activity, but this development is likely to be temporary: The pattern over time is for Chinese enterprises to move as a group from region to region. Energy and metals draw the most money. The outlook for Chinese investment in 2013 and beyond is positive, but setbacks will continue to occur, due in part to foreign suspicion of state firms. The U.S. in particular should formulate policy to ensure competition, with the Chinese firms that come here, in the Chinese market itself, and around the world through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other agreements that liberalize market access.
Budget & TaxationBy Curtis S. Dubay, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/09/2013
President Obama has said repeatedly that he wants a “balanced plan” to reduce deficits and debt, supposedly meaning a mix of higher taxes and spending reductions. The fiscal cliff deal delivered the tax increase portion but not the spending cuts. In the rapidly approaching debates on raising the debt limit, replacing the delayed sequester spending cuts, and the continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year, Congress must demand that spending be cut to deliver on the other side of President Obama’s promised balanced approach.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Nile Gardiner, Luke Coffey and Theodore R. Bromund, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/09/2013
The forthcoming confirmation hearings are an important opportunity for the Senate to pose key questions about the direction of American foreign policy under President Obama in his second term. After the first four years of the Obama presidency, the U.S. has grown weaker while the world has become even more dangerous. The transatlantic alliance needs stronger leadership from Washington and a firm commitment from the Administration that it will advance ties with America’s key allies in Europe while supporting economic freedom and national sovereignty across the Atlantic.
Budget & TaxationBy Salim Furth, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/09/2013
While much focus in the past two years has been on the top end of the income scale—the “Buffett Rule,” the “1 percent”—the effects of taxation and government benefits are severe among the bottom 1 percent as well. With marginal effective tax rates exceeding 60 percent in many cases, the tax and benefit structure actively discourages earned success.
Budget & Taxation
A Housing Market Free from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: The Economic Effects of Eliminating the Housing Government Sponsored EnterprisesBy John L. Ligon, William W. Beach, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 01/09/2013
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac distort the U.S. housing and mortgage market at substantial risk to households and U.S. taxpayers. Defaults on loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already cost the U.S. taxpayers $154 billion and could cost taxpayers an additional $363 billion. This report estimates the economic impact of eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the U.S. mortgage market. Elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the mortgage interest rate subsidy that these mortgage institutions generate would have minimal impact on the U.S. economy. Congress needs to recognize that this institutional model has failed and should be eliminated to protect U.S. taxpayers and the U.S. Treasury.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David W. Kreutzer, Nicolas Loris, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/09/2013
The economic, environmental, and political realities surrounding a carbon tax are clear indications that this is bad policy. Recently, two bipartisan resolutions publicly denounced the possibility of a carbon tax, highlighting the crushing economic and minimal environmental effects of the tax. One resolution, sponsored concurrently by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and a second by Representative David McKinley (R-WV) and co-sponsored by five other Republicans and three Democrats expressed their disapproval of the idea. Whether the American economy is booming or heading off a fiscal cliff, the right time for a carbon tax is never.
Budget & TaxationBy Patrick Tyrrell, William W. Beach, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/09/2013
Between 1988 and 2011, the amount of the U.S. population that receives assistance from the federal government grew by 62 percent. That means that more than 41 percent of the U.S. population is enrolled in at least one federal assistance program. To make matters worse, per capita expenditures on recipients are rising as well. In 2010, over 70 percent of all federal spending went to dependence-creating programs. That growth is unsustainable, as baby boomers are now retiring every day and their entitlements cost more each year. The publicly held federal debt will exceed 100 percent of GDP in 2024. Such a high level of debt always hurts an economy—and the people who live in it. The time for Congress to reform dependence-creating government programs is now.
International Trade/FinanceBy Laveesh Bhandari, et al., The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 01/09/2013
India will soon have the largest population of any country in the world. It therefore has the potential, with extensive and difficult reforms, to become the world's most important free market—a position currently held by the United States. It follows directly that the economic relationship between India and the U.S., if allowed to flourish, can greatly benefit the citizens of both. The Heritage Foundation has initiated a multi-part project—Unleashing the Market in the India-U.S. Economic Relationship—intended to enhance India-U.S. economic relations. The project will demonstrate that free and open markets are the best way to enhance India-U.S. economic relations. To advance Indian prosperity and perpetuate American prosperity, the first order of business is for the two private sectors to do more together.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy James M. Roberts, Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/09/2013
Washington cannot design a one-size-fits-all policy for this hemisphere: The aging “Summit of the Americas” process that was keyed to achieving a hemispheric FTA has run out of gas. Creation of a new forum or coalition mechanism for America’s best friends in the region (such as Chile, Colombia, and Panama) along with other nations seemingly predisposed to working constructively with the U.S. (such as Brazil, Peru, and perhaps even a post-Kirchner Argentina) can develop a positive action agenda to tackle thorny problems in areas of trade, drug policy, energy, and citizen security. Overriding the tire-spinning of the past four years requires the U.S. to adopt an active strategy that defends American national interests and advances democratic values in the Americas while promoting economic opportunity for all and defending the security of the Western Hemisphere.
Economic GrowthBy Rea S. Hederman Jr., James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/09/2013
The December employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 2012 ended with an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent and 155,000 new jobs. The labor market has not had an adequate recovery and has made little progress from 2011 to 2012. Many American workers will experience permanent lower lifetime earnings as a result of the poor economic recovery, which has been hampered by bad public policy decisions. This month’s report was simply average, and the longed-for labor market recovery must again wait.
National SecurityBy Michaela Bendikova, Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/09/2013
President Obama's 2013 budget requests for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) reveal his nuclear weapons policy priorities. The NNSA budget includes funding in its Nuclear Activities accounts that does not advance U.S. nuclear weapons modernization. Some of these activities even fund U.S. nuclear disarmament. It is essential that Congress distinguish between the two activities and force the U.S. Department of Energy to provide an honest account of costs of nuclear weapons modernization. U.S. nuclear weapons modernization constitutes an essential element of deterring adversaries and assuring allies.
Budget & TaxationBy Patrick Louis Knudsen, Matt A. Mayer, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/09/2013
Under today’s extraordinary fiscal challenges, Congress cannot afford to continue exploiting every loophole to avoid spending control. The 113th Congress can take an important step in that direction by applying real discipline to any federal assistance for Hurricane Sandy victims. Lawmakers should take the time to identify funds truly needed for assisting Hurricane Sandy’s victims and offset that spending with reductions elsewhere. Any other funding, if truly necessary, should be subjected to the regular budget process—a practice that Congress has neglected for far too long.
Budget & TaxationBy J.D. Foster, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/09/2013
The federal government has once again hit its statutory debt limit. For the next few weeks, Washington will be funding its budget shortfalls through the Treasury Department’s traditional “extraordinary” measures. This confirms the bad news that government continues to overspend to the tune of over a trillion dollars per year. The good news is that hitting the debt limit creates yet another opportunity for President Obama to lead and Congress to act to control federal spending. The traditional extraordinary measures will not last long, so Treasury may need a new, unconventional, last-ditch budget tool—prioritizing spending so outflows match inflows—and Congress may need to act quickly to make it all legal. The Full Faith and Credit Act introduced by Senator Pat Toomey (R–PA) in the last Congress would be a good place to start.