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Recent Policy Studies
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Donald J. Kochan, Federalist SocietyWhite Paper, 01/23/2013
Recent legislation passed in the State of Utah has demanded that the federal government extinguish title to certain public lands that the federal government currently holds. The State of Utah claims that the federal government made promises to it (at statehood when the federal government obtained the lands) that the federal ownership would be of limited duration and that the bulk of those lands would be timely disposed of by the federal government into private ownership or otherwise returned to the State. This White Paper provides a legal overview of these claims.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Andrew C. Cook, Federalist SocietyWhite Paper, 01/23/2013
Over the past two years, state legislatures throughout the nation have passed a significant number of substantive tort reforms. This legislation is often controversial and many of the new statutes will undoubtedly be challenged by opponents. Historically the most common tort reforms to be challenged are statutory caps on noneconomic damages in personal injury cases. Litigants challenging the laws have experienced mixed success. Most recently, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld that state’s statutory cap of $250,000 noneconomic damages. Yet just months prior to the Kansas decision, the Supreme Court of Missouri struck down that state’s $350,000 cap for noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases.
EducationBy Jacob Vigdor, Education NextEducation Next, 01/23/2013
America’s lagging mathematics performance reflects a basic failure to understand the benefits of adapting the curriculum to meet the varying instructional needs of students. Recently published results from policies such as Chicago’s “double dose” of algebra, which groups students homogeneously and increases instructional time for lower-skilled math students (see “A Double Dose of Algebra,” research, Winter 2013), support differentiation as the best way to promote higher achievement among all students.
Budget & TaxationBy e-21: Economic Policies for the 21st Century, e21 – Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyEditorial, 01/23/2013
Jack Lew is an unfortunate choice for Treasury Secretary. His hard-left policy leanings on entitlements are entirely out-of-step with the current fiscal crisis and his ignorance of finance makes him ill-equipped to deal with a crisis or cross-border banking regulatory reform. It would be difficult to find someone less attuned to the types of reforms necessary to put U.S. public and private finance on sound footing.
Budget & TaxationBy Charles Blahous, James Capretta, David Malpass, e21 – Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyEditorial, 01/23/2013
Yesterday the nation paused to celebrate the second inauguration of President Obama and to listen to his second-term plans as laid out in his inaugural address. At the same time, we at e21 believe this is the perfect time for fiscal conservatives to take stock of the challenges over the next four years and beyond facing those who favor lower taxes and spending. With another four years of Obama presidency ahead, the fiscal woes of our country appear to be on a continuing downward path that could result in disastrous financial consequences for the United States and perhaps the world if not addressed quickly. We checked in with three of e21’s best policy minds to get their takes on what issues fiscal conservatives should be worried about and how to address the next four years in order to keep the nation from another fiscal crisis.
ImmigrationBy W.D. Reasoner, Center for Immigration StudiesBackgrounder, 01/23/2013
This paper examines the surprising number of naturalized citizens who have been charged and convicted of serious national security crimes—including terrorism, espionage, and theft of sensitive information and technology—in the last several years. It compares the relative ease with which aliens naturalize with the extreme difficulty in stripping them of citizenship, even when they prove to be national security threats who have gamed the system.
ImmigrationBy David North, Center for Immigration StudiesBackgrounder, 01/23/2013
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) was a vital part of a genuine bargain, a one-time amnesty to be accompanied by a permanent policy of vigorous immigration law enforcement. But we should never have another broad-brush amnesty. Such programs swell our already over-swollen population with still more low-income, lightly educated people and encourage future legal and illegal immigration, and thus create arguments for future amnesties. If there is to be a limited program, anyway, let it be tied to actual changes in the law, such as eliminating the diversity visas completely and substantially reducing family preference migration.
ImmigrationBy David North, Center for Immigration StudiesBackgrounder, 01/23/2013
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a subset of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which, in turn, is part of the Department of Homeland Security. An educational institution cannot cause the admission of aliens without getting the general authority to do so from SEVP. ICE is also supposed to stop the operations of visa mills, store-front entities that collect tuition from aliens in exchange for visas, but do not, in fact, offer any education. It turns out that SEVP is an immigration enforcement agency that sometimes complains about a lack of funds to do its job, but that consistently refuses to spend money allocated to it, and refuses to raise the fees that would solve its own funding problems. SEVP is not the little engine that could. Is the little engine that will not, and therefore cannot, do its duty.
ImmigrationBy Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration StudiesMemorandum, 01/23/2013
It is difficult to overstate the size of the pool of potential workers that now exists in the United States. If through enforcement a large fraction of illegal immigrants returned to their home countries rather than being allowed to stay with legal status, there would seem to be an ample supply of idle workers to replace them, particularly workers who have relatively little education. Of course, employers might have to pay more, and offer better benefits and working conditions in order to attract American citizens. But improving the living standards and bargaining power of the least-educated and poorest American workers can be seen as a desirable social outcome. The contention that there is a general labor shortage that has to be satisfied by giving work authorization and/or citizenship to illegal immigrants and increasing the number of immigrants allowed into the country seems entirely inconsistent with the available evidence.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy David R. Overstreet, Christopher R. Nestor, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Backgrounder, 01/23/2013
In Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (“PennFuture”) v. Ultra Resources, Inc. (“Ultra”), the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania concluded that it has jurisdiction over a citizen suit under the federal Clean Air Act (“CAA”), where PennFuture seeks to collaterally attack final permitting decisions of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future v. Ultra Resources. The District Court also declined to read an exhaustion requirement into the CAA and, although clearly troubled by the inequities of PennFuture’s attempt to end-run the state administrative process, decided not to abstain. These rulings, we suggest, overlook a more fundamental problem with PennFuture’s case which, once identified and addressed, compels dismissal of the case—either for failure to state a claim, if the court is willing to take judicial notice of certain undisputed facts, or upon motion for summary judgment.
Budget & TaxationBy Talmadge Heflin, James Quintero, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 01/23/2013
It is the Foundation’s recommendation that the Legislature remove from state statute all local retirement systems and devolve authority over these plans back to the respective local community of each. This will serve to help restore local control of these systems, and also allow local government officials and taxpayers to oversee good government reforms to these systems to ensure their stability and sustainability into the future.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Josiah Neeley, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 01/23/2013
The current geosciences licensing scheme imposes arbitrary burdens on practicing geoscientists with little to no corresponding benefit to consumers or the public. While the problems with the current system are numerous, this policy perspective focuses on three: 1) the licensing system does not account for the varied academic backgrounds of many geoscientists; 2) licensing geoscientists does not protect consumers or the public; and 3) licensing stifles entrepreneurs and burdens business.
Health CareBy Arlene Wohlgemuth, Mario Loyola, John Davidson, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 01/23/2013
It is unconstitutional for the federal government to command the states—the Supreme Court has been clear on that point. Yet the federal government can accomplish much the same “commandeering” of the states through the practice of “cooperative federalism:” the intermingling of finances and regulatory activities among the federal and state governments. These arrangements are supposed to be voluntary. But they force the state to choose between (a) obeying the federal government on matters of purely state prerogative, or (b) suffering a major financial or regulatory penalty. Both of these are painful choices for the states. But in both cases, the long-term costs of bending to the federal will are simply too great. The federal government should be forced to pay for, implement, and be accountable for its own policies. The states have challenges enough without being drawn deeper still into the dysfunction of the federal government.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy David Levinson, Reason FoundationPolicy Study, 01/23/2013
Most roads in the United States are owned and managed directly by government, with funding for construction and maintenance derived primarily from taxes on gas. For many decades, this system worked well enough, despite widespread problems with congestion and road quality. Recently, however, rising maintenance costs and falling fuel tax receipts have begun to call into question the sustainability of this model. This paper argues that roads should be managed by independent enterprises, with a clear mission of providing service to customers. One way to achieve this, while maintaining overarching political control—and thereby prevent abuses of monopoly power—is to convert existing government operated road management organizations (such as the state Departments of Transportation) into regulated public utilities.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
The Looming Rate Bomb: The 33 Percent Renewable Electricity Mandate and Electricity Prices in CaliforniaBy Benjamin Zycher, Pacific Research InstitutePapers and Studies, 01/23/2013
The state of California has mandated that by 2020, 33 percent of its electricity supplies be obtained from such nonhydroelectric “renewable” sources as wind, solar, and geothermal technologies. Current estimates of the cost of this requirement are too low by a substantial amount, largely because of underestimated costs for transmission, backup capacity, and generation. This paper provides a far more realistic estimate of the cost of the California renewables requirement.
EducationBy Joy Pullmann, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 01/22/2013
In 2010, every state but Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia adopted one set of requirements for what K-12 children should know in each grade in math and English language arts. Approximately 80 percent of the public does not know about the Common Core education standards, which comprise one of the most comprehensive K-12 reform efforts in the nation. This lack of knowledge is troubling because public dialogue on the Common Core is necessary to ensure high quality. Debate sharpens results. Parents whose children will be subject to these new requirements and citizens who will pay for the standards, associated tests, and myriad related initiatives deserve to know what they contain and to have a say in whether states adopt them. This paper examines some of the weaknesses of the Common Core, a subject that has received less attention than it should.
Budget & TaxationBy Nick Dranias, Byron Schlomach, Stephen Slivinski, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Report, 01/22/2013
To help prevent union strong-arming that fleeces taxpayers, we should know precisely what public union officials are demanding and what government employers are offering in any collective negotiation about employment terms and conditions. Although union groups and their political allies have opposed collective bargaining transparency as “union busting,” it is difficult to see how shining a light on the bargaining table will “bust” unions unless they have something to hide. No principled policymaker could possibly argue that there is a public benefit to the secretive use of bare-knuckled political pressure and monopoly power by unions to extract above-market compensation. Requiring total transparency in collective bargaining is simply the right thing to do to ensure public accountability. Government employees, city managers, and elected officials work for the public; and the public is entitled to know what their employees are doing on their dime.
Health CareBy Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Georgia Public Policy FoundationIssue Analysis, 01/22/2013
The state should not go to the trouble and expense of establishing health insurance exchanges that may or may not last if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) were to be significantly altered or entirely repealed. The better course, if such exchanges must be established, is to let the federal government establish them while the state waits to see whether the PPACA will survive as it is currently constituted. The state should also not participate in the massive and costly expansion of the Medicaid program, as contemplated under the PPACA. Although the federal government would bear most of the costs during the startup phases of the expansion, the costs would ultimately fall to the state. Moreover, as in other states, the Medicaid program already is devouring an inordinate share of the state’s revenue.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Chris Edwards, Cato InstituteTax & Budget Bulletin, 01/22/2013
Despite huge and ongoing budget deficits, some policymakers are proposing to increase federal spending on infrastructure. President Obama, for example, has called for passage of a $50 billion plan for new infrastructure investment. The president and other leaders believe that more federal spending on roads, rail, and other assets would boost growth and create jobs. But instead of increasing federal infrastructure spending—as some policymakers are proposing—we should begin devolving federal infrastructure activities to the states. The states should then unleash businesses and entrepreneurs to help America solve its mobility and congestion challenges.
Budget & TaxationBy Arnold Kling, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 01/22/2013
I do not much care which balanced budget amendment is passed. Any amendment will be imperfect, and Congress can probably find a way around any amendment if it wants to. But having an amendment in the Constitution would send a strong signal that the public expects the budget to be balanced. This signal itself would provide the best mechanism for enforcement. Keynesian economists will insist that a balanced budget amendment will prevent the government from achieving an ideal countercyclical fiscal policy. But the reality has been far from ideal. As the old song goes, after 16 tons of Keynesian economics, all we have to show for it is that we are deeper in debt.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Nicolas Loris, Katie Tubb, Jack Spencer, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/22/2013
President Barack Obama’s energy policy during his first term runs counter to his campaign promise to expand energy production and create jobs during his second term. During his first term, he delayed, restricted, and regulated some energy sources while subsidizing, mandating, and giving special tax treatment to others. To keep his promise to increase energy production and create jobs, the President should shift from the paternalistic—and failed—energy policy of “Washington always knows best” to a free-market energy policy in which energy producers and consumers decide what works best. Such a policy would also relieve taxpayers of the burden of subsidizing the energy sector.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Morgan Lorraine Roach, Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/22/2013
African nations are facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Regrettably, in his first term, President Obama did little to follow through on his promise of partnership with Africa and has instead adopted a caretaker approach. Moving forward, it is important that the individuals who are confirmed in the upcoming hearings seek to empower African countries rather than attempt to fix their problems for them.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Dean Cheng, Bruce Klingner, Walter Lohman, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/22/2013
President Obama will be confronted by a growing set of challenges in East Asia in his second term. The forthcoming confirmation hearings are a vital opportunity for the Senate to pose key questions about how the Administration, and especially key advisors, see those problems and potential solutions. Given both the importance of the region to the U.S., as well as American capabilities to regional stability, there is a clear need for strong leadership from Washington to help the region weather this period of potential instability. Congress should strive to ensure that the Administration will advance ties with its key allies and friends in Asia while supporting economic freedom and national sovereignty across the Pacific.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James M. Roberts, Ray Walser, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/22/2013
The U.S. requires an active strategy that defends our national interests and advances democratic values in the Americas while promoting economic opportunity for all and defending the security of the Western Hemisphere. U.S. policy success will be measured by the readiness of the second Obama Administration’s leadership to expend political capital and win bipartisan support for issues conducive to strong and successful relations in the Western Hemisphere.
International Trade/FinanceBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/22/2013
The first question regarding China’s newly released economic numbers is not how fast the People’s Republic of China grew last year. Rather, it is whether stars are aligned for the State Statistical Bureau (SSB) to provide accurate information about GDP and more useful measures, such as household consumption. Answer: to some extent. The Chinese economy is undergoing a cyclical recovery and the SSB can honestly report a noticeable improvement.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ariel Cohen, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/22/2013
President Barack Obama’s new foreign policy team is facing Senate approval: Senator John Kerry (D–MA) for Secretary of State, former Senator Chuck Hagel (R–NE) for Secretary of Defense, and White House chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan for director of the CIA. All three will confront a truculent Russia. However, their past statements and support of the Administration’s failed “reset” approach to Moscow suggest that their perceptions of the Kremlin’s policies are unrealistic. The Senate needs to ascertain whether the attitudes of these candidates toward Russia make them fit to serve and lay down baselines by which it can judge the future performance of their departments and agencies.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Chris Prandoni, et al., Capital Research CenterGreen Watch, 01/18/2013
Re-elected and ineligible to run again, President Obama is in a position occupied previously by only five Presidents. He is as independent of the people’s will as any President can be. In the coming years, will he continue his first-term course on energy and the environment, or take the country down a new path? Green Watch asked some top policy analysts for their take on the second term.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Bill Peacock, Josiah Neeley, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 01/18/2013
States have an important role to play in antitrust enforcement. But state attorneys general should be mindful that the regulation of interstate commerce is primarily a federal concern. They should be vigilant against the temptation to protect local interests from legitimate competition. And by the same token they should work to protect their residents from anticompetitive conduct by the governments of other states. Courts and enforcement agencies should also continue their modern revision of the antitrust law in keeping with the insights of law and economics. By helping to create a more even playing field with less government intrusion, the recommendations highlighted in this article will provide Texans and all Americans with greater opportunity and prosperity through increased protections of private property and a growing, thriving U.S. economy.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy John Malcolm, Jennifer A. Marshall, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 01/18/2013
In responding to horrific crimes such as the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, individuals, families, civil society, and possibly government must channel their concerns into effective measures that are consistent with the Constitution. As we try to make society safer and stronger, constitutional and complex cultural factors must be taken into consideration, and sound policy must be based on a serious study of the data and other evidence. Policymakers should avoid a rush to judgment on prescriptions that violate first principles, ignore the real root of these complex problems, or disregard careful social science research. Any federal government role must be limited and constrained by constitutional principles. The most important solutions lie at the state and local levels, in the community and within the family.
National SecurityBy Paul Rosenzweig, Jessica Zuckerman, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/18/2013
The Department of Homeland Security has come a long way since it was first stood up in 2003. Nevertheless, major issues and challenges remain. DHS does not need a head-to-toe makeover, but it does need to address specific issues that will greatly affect its efficiency, credibility, functioning, and overall reputation on Capitol Hill. By addressing these key reforms, Secretary Napolitano can help build a strong and meaningful strategic vision for DHS in the Administration’s second term.
ImmigrationBy Matthew Spalding, Jessica Zuckerman, James Jay Carafano, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/18/2013
With comprehensive legislation everyone loses—our nation’s immigrants, our employers, our citizens. Rather than continuing to play politics with immigration reform, our nation’s leaders should take the responsible path and develop real solutions to address our immigration systems’ core problems.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Phillips, The Heritage Foundation01/18/2013
Given the Administration’s feckless record on Middle East policy in its first term, a more realistic and proactive approach is needed to confront hostile regimes in Iran and Syria while helping to protect U.S. allies in the region. Both allies and adversaries are uncertain about the Obama Administration’s goals and resolve. The three nominees must convince the Senate, the American people, allies, and adversaries that they have a realistic understanding of how to protect America’s vital interests in the volatile Middle East.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Sam Batkins, American Action ForumReport, 01/18/2013
During the last ten years, regulators have added tremendous costs to the economy. Despite the common perception that the Environmental Protection Agency is the sole driver of new burdens, efficiency rules routinely top the list. The top two proposed rules in 2012 and the top final rule this year were either energy or fuel conservation rules. This year will be no different, with five conservation rules awaiting approval at the White House. Without a comprehensive accounting of cumulative regulatory burdens, review of independent agencies, or enhanced congressional oversight, the year-in report next year will mimic 2012’s grim regulatory biography.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Joseph Henchman, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 01/18/2013
A key issue for many state legislatures this year is transportation funding. Given that transportation spending exists, states should aim to fund as much of it as possible from user-related taxes and fees. Because subsidizing highway spending from general revenues creates pressure to increase income or sales taxes, this can be unfair to non-users and undermine economic growth for the state as a whole.
EducationBy Amanda Clark, Maine Heritage Policy CenterMaine Issue Brief, 01/18/2013
Customized learning is a student-focused system where kids enroll in the curriculum which best meets their educational needs. Customized learning is not new and, in fact, is at the heart of Maine’s well-rooted educational history going back to the days of town academies. Unfortunately, customized learning has always been limited – offered only to those without a local public or contracted school and to those who are wealthy enough to afford a private school of their choice. Customized learning already exists in Maine – why not allow every Maine kid the opportunity?
LaborBy Michael J. Reitz, James Madison InstitutePolicy Brief, 01/18/2013
Unions have a right to engage in political activities, but their political power should not be artificially inflated by the ability to extract money from unwilling workers. These same unions often spend their members’ dues money in ways that are unrelated to the purposes for which many union members voluntarily join—to be represented in collective bargaining over pay and working conditions, to help with the adjudication of grievances, and—especially in the case of school teachers—to be assured of legal representation in the event of a lawsuit. Instead, however, inordinate shares of the members’ dues money are spent on behalf of political candidates and causes with which the members may or may not agree. Therefore, to protect union members from having to subsidize such political activities, the Florida Legislature ought to adopt reforms to ensure that union members are free to control how their money is spent.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jay Lehr, Heartland InstitutePolicy Brief, 01/17/2013
The existence of significant uranium resources in Virginia has been known for several decades. Some concerns about environmental and health effects led state legislators in 1982 to impose a moratorium on uranium mining until a thorough study could be done. Today there is renewed interest in removing the moratorium and allowing development of what has been called Virginia’s largest untapped energy resource, the Coles Hill uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. This Policy Brief concludes Virginia can take advantage of its uranium resources in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
Budget & TaxationBy Ryan Murphy, Beacon Hill InstituteBHI Policy Study, 01/17/2013
To fund infrastructure and green energy projects, state and local governments must either raise taxes or increase deficits. If the state or local government raises taxes, total spending is not increased, undermining the correct justification for stimulus. If the governing body engages in deficit spending, it is borrowing at a higher rate than one offered to the Federal government. States and local governments do not have their own printing presses, so they have far less flexibility in dealing with deficits. When state and local government attempt deficit spending, they run the risk of becoming the next Greece.
Budget & TaxationBy John Klingner, Illinois Policy InstitutePolicy Brief, 01/17/2013
Although the tax hike has been in place for 11 months, the state’s economy and fiscal footing has worsened. In fact, a year after the hike, Illinois received the worst credit rating in the national from Moody’s Investors Service. The state still has $6 billion in unpaid vendor bills and $2 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills, and politicians have stalled on passing wholesale fiscal reforms. In August 2012, Standard & Poor’s 500 index downgraded Illinois’ credit rating after the state failed to reform pensions. In short none of the promises Quinn and the legislature made regarding the tax hike came true.
EducationBy E. D. Hirsch Jr., Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 01/17/2013
It isn’t overstating the case to say that the most secure way to predict whether an educational policy is likely to help restore the middle class is to focus on the question: Is this policy likely to expand the vocabularies of 12th-graders? The physicist Max Planck once said that professors never change their minds. But teachers and principals can, when shown a better way. Educators and policymakers should inform themselves about the critical importance of factual knowledge and about the need for a specific and coherent yearly curriculum to impart that knowledge and language effectively. That won’t just improve students’ vocabularies; it will help restore the Jeffersonian ideal of equality of opportunity.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Healther MacDonald, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 01/17/2013
No police department in the country has come close to achieving what the NYPD has. New York’s crime drop has been twice as deep and has lasted twice as long as the national average since the early 1990s. Today, 10,000 minority males are alive who would have been killed by now had New York’s homicide rate remained at its early-1990s levels. If crime starts climbing again because New York officers can no longer make proactive stops, the increase will—for a while, at least—be just an abstraction for the wealthy attorneys at Shearman & Sterling (and for those at Covington & Burling and Paul, Weiss, who are providing pro bono assistance in the other two stop suits). For people without private doormen and Hamptons retreats, however, any rise in shootings and robberies will be immediate and quite real.
Crime, Justice & the Law
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: Aggressive Enforcement and Lack of Judicial Review Create Uncertain Terrain for BusinessesBy Paul F. Enzinna, Manhattan InstituteIssue Brief, 01/17/2013
In its current guise, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has helped generate an essentially unaccountable Department of Justice bureaucracy enforcing business conduct abroad, even among foreign entities. There is a strong case for reforming the FCPA through legislation, in order to continue to uphold the statute’s historical commitment to maintain the integrity of American businesses’ dealings abroad while limiting the ability of federal enforcement agencies to police business conduct worldwide and gain broad, quasi-regulatory powers over global businesses absent judicial oversight. Congress should take up the cause of FCPA reform, clarifying the statute’s reach in the areas in which DOJ and the SEC have aggressively sought its expansion.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Arnold Kling, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 01/17/2013
Recourse mortgages with significant down payments will help to stabilize the housing market. It will help prevent speculative bubbles from forming. It also will help limit the risk that taxpayers are exposed to by financial institutions operating in the mortgage market. Of course, these proposals will meet a firestorm of opposition from the housing lobby. But I am not running for office. I am simply trying to suggest sensible approaches to policy.
International Trade/FinanceBy Edward Tenner, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 01/17/2013
Does protectionism work? In the late 19th century, British writers were as concerned about loss of markets and jobs to Germany as many Americans are today about competition from China. The campaign against rising Germany shows that economic nationalism can have unintended consequences.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Lee Harris, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 01/17/2013
Consider the provision of the law that will make it a criminal misdemeanor in the state of New York for anyone to have in his own home a magazine carriage that contains eight or more bullets. No problem if your magazine contains only seven bullets—that is still permissible within the law. A little reflection demonstrates that this law can serve only two possible purposes. First, it could force the would-be mass shooter to carry one or two more spare magazines along with him as he sets out on his murder spree. It is a regrettable fact that whatever mental problems mass shooters suffer from, these don’t appear to have any negative effect on their ability to plan ahead. So this provision will have virtually no impact on the crazed shooter while it is guaranteed to infuriate those law-abiding citizens of New York who currently own the larger magazines.
EducationBy Daniel K. Lautzenheiser, Andrew P. Kelly, American Enterprise InstituteEducation Outlook, 01/17/2013
This policy brief is the first in a series of in-depth case studies exploring how top-performing charter schools have incorporated civic learning in their school curriculum and school culture.
Health CareBy Peter J. Nelson, Center of the American ExperimentAnalysis, 01/17/2013
Last week the Minnesota House and Senate introduced legislation to establish a state-based health insurance exchange that meets the requirements of the federal health care law—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The exchange is meant to be a new online marketplace to facilitate the purchase of health coverage, especially for people and small employers who qualify for federal subsidies. The Dayton administration has already spent millions of federal dollars developing an exchange. Unfortunately, after reviewing the legislation, it appears the legislature is moving in the wrong direction. As many feared, the legislature is creating a new layer of government bureaucracy, which will mean higher costs, less choice, and little to no accountability to consumers.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Marc A. Levin, Vikrant P. Reddy, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 01/17/2013
“Ground zero” for state-level overcriminalization may well be the United States Gulf Coast. Five U.S. states border the Gulf of Mexico—Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida—and between them, they have passed nearly 1,000 laws criminalizing activity along the coast. Criminal sanctions are of course appropriately applied to an individual who intentionally contaminates another person’s property. Too often, however, the activity that is governed by these myriad laws is non-blameworthy, ordinary business activity. This report provides an overview of these “crimes,” explains why the overcriminalization along the coast is detrimental to economic liberty and growth, and finally, proposes solutions for reining in the overcriminalization problem.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Todd J. Zywicki, Mercatus CenterWorking Paper, 01/17/2013
Given the regulatory havoc wreaked on the debit and credit card systems during the past several years, prepaid cards have increasingly become a final resort for many consumers unable to gain other access to the functionality of electronic payments. In light of this reality, regulators should move exceedingly cautiously before taking steps that could critically harm this dynamic and evolving market that provides value and choice to millions of Americans.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Hester Peirce, Robert Greene, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 01/17/2013
The Volcker Rule, although rooted in legitimate concerns about taxpayer-funded risk-taking, relies on clumsy regulatory constraints on bank activities and unworkable regulatory monitoring to address those concerns. Its goals could be achieved by strong measures designed both to limit the risk that taxpayers bear and to force shareholders and creditors to take responsibility for the risks undertaken by banking entities. Options include a lower cap on federal deposit insurance, a reconfiguration of deposit insurance, increased public transparency about banks, and greater shareholder and creditor exposure to the downside of bank risk-taking.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy Todd Zywicki, Robert Sarvis, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 01/17/2013
Government actors seeking to regulate consumer finance offerings no doubt intend to help the individuals and families who use them, but the economic reality of consumers’ desire for credit often results in unintended consequences from new regulations that leave consumers worse off, not better. We cannot simply ignore or wish away consumers’ need for credit, and we ought not to ignore the majority of consumers who use these products responsibly. Politicians and bureaucrats need to understand the important and legitimate roles various forms of consumer credit play in the financial lives of consumers, both poor and non-poor, and to acknowledge the appropriate role that fees, interest rates, and other terms of credit play in regulating its availability.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Alice L. Miller, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 01/17/2013
The processes of generational turnover of China’s leadership at the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress extended patterns of formal politics that trace their roots to Deng Xiaoping’s political reforms of the 1980s, that advanced in the Jiang Zemin era in the 1990s, and that matured under outgoing General Secretary Hu Jintao in the 2000s. As such, the transition in the party leadership at the 18th Congress marked another step forward in the institutionalization of Chinese leadership politics.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Barry Naughton, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 01/17/2013
Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are now the two top leaders in China. Both have moved quickly to break with the Hu-Wen administration and signal their support for dramatic new economic reforms. The structure of the new Politburo Standing Committee appears to support their aspirations. Neither Xi nor Li has yet committed to specific reform measures, and the obstacles to reform are formidable. However, both Xi and Li have committed to a process that will lead to the creation of a reform program by late 2013.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Mulvenon, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 01/17/2013
The advent of the 18th Party Congress in early November 2012 marked a large-scale turnover of senior military personnel in the People’s Liberation Army, including eight out of the ten uniformed members of the leading Central Military Commission. Moreover, the Party’s new general-secretary Xi Jinping also replaced Hu Jintao as CMC chairman, defying expectations that the latter would stay on for an additional two years. This article examines the reasons for Xi’s “early” promotion and profiles the new members, exploring their backgrounds and possible clues to their preferences and outlooks.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Alan D. Romberg, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 01/17/2013
The 18th Party Congress laid out a “steady on course” approach to cross-Strait relations, continuing to emphasize economic, cultural, and educational exchanges in the near term while seeking to lay a foundation of political trust for future political and security dialogues, including a peace accord. In a Taipei conference with both Kuomintang and Democratic Progressive Party representatives in mid-December, People’s Republic of China officials reiterated this patient approach while also calling for step-by-step progress. DPP participants, however, challenged the sincerity of PRC assertions of patience, charging that Beijing was shifting the agenda toward political issues to step up the pace and narrow the options to one: unification.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Michael D. Swaine, Hoover InstitutionChina Leadership Monitor, 01/17/2013
Foreign policy issues have never played a major role in party congresses, at least during the reform era, for understandable reasons. A party congress is mainly about domestic political power and domestic policies, and even then is primarily an exercise in tedious sloganeering, pumping up the party faithful, and presenting the new leadership lineup. Nonetheless, congresses can be important as indicators of future policy direction and power structure, including in the foreign policy arena. This essay examines the foreign policy aspects of both the congress work report delivered by then Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and the official membership roster of the new CCP Central Committee, Politburo, and Politburo Standing Committee.
National SecurityBy Steven P. Bucci, Paul Rosenzweig, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 01/17/2013
The Senate confirmation process gives the U.S. Senate and the American public an opportunity to learn more about these candidates, what they believe, and how they propose to design the national structure of the U.S. going forward. As the U.S. becomes weaker and the world continues to become more dangerous in both the cyber and tangible worlds, the Senate should ask difficult questions and provide much-needed advice to help steer U.S. policy toward greater security and freedom.