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Recent Policy Studies
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Moisés Naím, Reason FoundationReason, 04/23/2013
The end of the Cold War and the birth of the Internet helped enable the rise of today’s micropowers, but they were by no means the only important factors. We need to look at deeper transformations in how, where, how long, and how well we live. These changes can be usefully imagined in three categories: the More Revolution, the Mobility Revolution, and the Mentality Revolution. The first is swamping the barriers to power, the second is circumventing them, and the third is undercutting them.
Health CareBy Jeffrey A. Singer, Reason FoundationReason, 04/23/2013
Government interventions over the past four decades have yielded a cascade of perverse incentives, bureaucratic diktats, and economic pressures that together are forcing doctors to sacrifice their independent professional medical judgment, and their integrity. The consequence is clear: Many doctors from my generation are exiting the field. Others are seeing their private practices threatened with bankruptcy, or are giving up their autonomy for the life of a shift-working hospital employee. Governments and hospital administrators hold all the power, while doctors—and worse still, patients—hold none.
LaborBy John Leeth, Nathan Hale, Mercatus CenterMercatus on Policy, 04/23/2013
Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) to create a safer working environment. The Act created two federal agencies: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which establishes and enforces workplace safety and health standards, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which researches the causes and remedies of occupational injuries and illnesses. OSHA is the fourth pillar of the US safety policy system, the others being the legal system, state workers’ compensation insurance programs, and the labor market. Since the OSH Act was passed, workplace fatalities have fallen substantially, but this decrease is a continuation of a trend that began long before 1970.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Randall G. Holcombe, Andrea Castillo, Mercatus CenterBook, 04/23/2013
Political and economic systems either allow exchange and resource allocation to take place through mutual agreement under a system of liberalism, or force them to take place under a system of cronyism in which some people have the power to direct the activities of others. This book seeks to clarify the differences between liberalism and cronyism by scrutinizing the actual operation of various political and economic systems. Examples include historical systems such as fascism in Germany between the world wars and socialism in the former Soviet Union, as well as contemporary systems such as majoritarianism and industrial policy. By examining how real governments have operated, this book demonstrates why—despite their diverse designs—in practice all political and economic systems are variants of either liberalism or cronyism.
Budget & TaxationBy Michael Lowrey, John Locke FoundationPolicy Report, 04/23/2013
Counties and towns are critical levels of government in North Carolina, providing or administering many services while taking in billions of dollars of revenue. This is especially true as the state government has increasingly shifted more taxing authority to localities to make up for money kept by the state. While the importance of county and municipal government is great, obtaining comparative data is difficult. To help address this problem, By The Numbers provides information on how much local government costs in every city and county in North Carolina.
EducationBy Matthew M. Chingos, Paul E. Peterson, Education NextEducation Next, 04/23/2013
In this paper, we extend the original evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Foundation program by estimating impacts of the offer of a voucher on college enrollment. Our results provide the first experimental evidence of the effects of a voucher intervention on this outcome. The study is also notable for obtaining information on college enrollments for 99 percent of study participants, greatly reducing the potential for bias due to attrition from the evaluation. We find large positive impacts on college enrollment for African American students but not for Hispanic students. Impact data for the small group of students from other backgrounds are too noisy to produce reliable evidence.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 04/23/2013
Matters of criminal procedure were not much in evidence in the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Nary a peep of protest was raised against the massive lock-down and manhunt that followed hard on the heels of that senseless tragedy. But now that some degree of normalcy has returned, it is important to think about these procedural issues. To that end, two recent Supreme Court cases address law enforcement and the Fourth Amendment. Florida v. Jardines deals with searches in connection with illegal drug trafficking and Missouri v. NcNeely addresses compelled blood tests on suspected drunk drivers.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Henry I. Miller, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 04/23/2013
The desire to support local farmers is admirable. But sentiment should not keep us from thinking critically about the consequences of coerced locavorism—that is, forcing municipal hospitals, schools, and other institutions to source an arbitrary percentage of their foods locally. But that is precisely what various cultural and political luminaries are suggesting we do.
EducationBy Greg Forster, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceResearch, 04/23/2013
School choice improves academic outcomes by allowing students to find the schools that best match their needs, and by introducing healthy competition that keeps schools mission-focused. It saves money by eliminating administrative bloat and rewarding good stewardship of resources. It breaks down the barriers of residential segregation, drawing students together from diverse communities. And it strengthens democracy by accommodating diversity, de-politicizing the curriculum, and allowing schools the freedom to sustain the strong institutional cultures that are necessary to cultivate democratic virtues such as honesty, diligence, achievement, responsibility, service to others, civic participation, and respect for the rights of others.
Budget & TaxationBy Charles Lammam, Milagros Palacios, Fraser InstituteFraser Alert, 04/23/2013
The Canadian tax system is complex and no single number can give us a complete idea of who pays how much tax. This Alert examines what has happened to the tax bill of the average Canadian family over the past 51 years. To do this, we have constructed an index of the tax bill, the Canadian Consumer Tax Index, for the period 1961 to 2012. This Index reveals that there has been a dramatic increase in the average family’s tax bill from 1961 to 2012.
Health CareBy Nadeem Esmail, Fraser InstituteResearch, 04/23/2013
This paper focuses on the Japanese health care system which has been identified as a system that provides some of the best outcomes on an aggregate basis when compared with other developed nations that maintain universal approaches to health care insurance. A careful examination of this high-performing health care system will provide insights and information that will be useful in the Canadian debate over the future of Medicare. The Japanese health care system departs from the Canadian model in the following important ways: cost sharing for all forms of medical services, largely private provision of acute care hospital and surgical clinic services, activity-based funding for hospital care, permissibility of privately funded parallel health care, and a system of statutory independent insurers providing universal services to their insured populations on a largely premium-funded basis (commonly known as a social insurance system).
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ross McKitrick, Fraser InstituteResearch, 04/23/2013
The Ontario Green Energy and Green Economy Act (herein the GEA) was passed in May 2009 with the purpose of addressing environmental concerns and promoting economic growth in Ontario. Its centerpiece is a schedule of subsidized electricity purchase contracts called Feed-in-Tariffs that provide long-term guarantees of above-market rates for power generated by wind turbine farms, solar panel installations, bio-energy plants and small hydroelectric generators. This report investigates the effect of the GEA on economic competitiveness in Ontario. It focuses on three questions: (1) Will the GEA materially improve environmental quality in Ontario? (2) Is it a cost-effective plan for accomplishing its goals? (3) Are the economic effects on households and leading economic sectors likely to be positive? The answer to each question is unambiguously negative.
ImmigrationBy George Borjas, Center for Immigration StudiesPolicy Analysis, 04/23/2013
At current levels of around one million immigrants per year, immigration makes the U.S. economy (GDP) significantly larger, with almost all of this increase in GDP accruing to the immigrants themselves as a payment for their labor services. For American workers, immigration is primarily a redistributive policy. Economic theory predicts that immigration will redistribute income by lowering the wages of competing American workers and increasing the wages of complementary American workers as well as profits for business owners and other “users” of immigrant labor. Although the overall net impact on the native-born is small, the loss or gain for particular groups of the population can be substantial. The best empirical research that tries to examine what has actually happened in the U.S. labor market aligns well with economy theory: An increase in the number of workers leads to lower wages. This report focuses on the labor market impact of immigration.
ImmigrationBy Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration StudiesPolicy Analysis, 04/23/2013
In making his case that immigration-induced population growth by itself will have a positive indirect impact on the economy and public coffers, Holtz-Eakin ignores the academic research showing that immigration does not significantly increase the income of natives. He also ignores the research that has examined the actual impact of immigration on public coffers. He can do this because he is not really interested in the actual characteristics of immigrants, even though all available evidence suggests that the fiscal impact of immigrants depends heavily on their education at arrival. His view is that by making the population larger and the country more densely settled, immigration will make the country richer, all evidence to the contrary. There might be a fiscal benefit from immigration-induced population growth. But Holtz-Eakin has certainly not made a convincing case for it.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Stephen Goldsmith, e21 – Economic Policies for the 21st CenturyEssay, 04/23/2013
These essays will highlight ways to make government more effective and responsive. We will show that leaders throughout the country can make a difference when they combine personal commitment, new technologies, citizen involvement, private sector innovation, competitive sourcing and new structures to unlock value. When all of these efforts are connected to true outcomes and real performance, taxpayers can receive the results they deserve.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy John Samples, Cato InstitutePolicy Analysis, 04/23/2013
Three years ago the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. It found that Congress lacked the power to prohibit independent spending on electoral speech by corporations. A later lower-court decision, SpeechNow v. Federal Election Commission, applied Citizens United to such spending and related fundraising by individuals. Concerns about the putative political and electoral consequences of the Citizens United decision have fostered several proposals to amend the Constitution. Most simply propose giving Congress unchecked new power over spending on political speech, power that will be certainly abused. The old and new public purposes cited for restricting political spending and speech (preventing corruption, restoring equality, and others) are not persuasive in general and do not justify the breadth of power granted under these amendments.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Michael Rubin, American Enterprise InstituteMiddle Eastern Outlook, 04/23/2013
Tehran sees many of Africa’s 54 countries as easy picking in a zero-sum game for influence. In comparison with recent American presidents who made just three visits to Sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad travels to Africa at least annually, with key Iranian ministers visiting even more frequently. Iran’s strategy toward Africa has been threefold. First, Tehran is reaching out to countries voting in important international bodies such as the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors, as well as African states active in the Non-Aligned Movement and African Union. Second, Iranian officials seem to be prioritizing outreach to African countries that mine or are prospecting for uranium. And, third, senior Iranian officials are seeking to cement partnerships with littoral states that can provide the Iranian navy with access to strategic bases.
Health CareBy Roger Feldman, Bryan Dowd, Robert Coulam, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 04/23/2013
Competitive Bidding—Bids for a specific package of health services are submitted by competing health plans operating in a unique geographic area, which are then used as a reference point to determine the amount of federal contributions to premiums. An enrollee can pay extra if she chooses a more expensive plan whose bid is above the government’s contribution. The authors conclude that competitive bidding, as a vehicle for determining prices for Medicare health plans, holds the promise of substantial cost savings while protecting the health care needs of beneficiaries, regardless of the political question of determining the size of the entitlement.
Health CareBy James C. Capretta, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 04/23/2013
Medicare is the 800-pound gorilla of American health care. The misaligned incentives embedded in Medicare fee-for-service have affected the entire health care delivery system, driving up costs without commensurate increases in quality. In the end, real improvement will almost certainly require a more fundamental change than has been enacted to date: a market-based reform that corrects the flawed incentives that drive unnecessary spending in the current program.
Health CareBy Joseph Antos, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 04/23/2013
Premium Support—Replace Medicare’s current defined-benefit system with a defined contribution approach that provides a fixed subsidy to cover the cost of enrolling in an available health plan. Beneficiaries would receive a government contribution to purchase coverage and then be responsible for any extra premium. This reform incorporates competitive bidding and expands on it to include features such as a capped subsidy that is adjusted according to the health risk of the beneficiary.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Pierre Desrochers, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/23/2013
With Earth Day near (this Monday), we hear the usual annual litany of laments from environmentalists, urging us to mend the errors of our industrial ways. Greed and profits, we are told in no uncertain terms, inevitably result in unmanageable pollution problems, the depletion of non-renewable resources, habitat and species destruction, and a regulatory “race to the bottom” among competing jurisdictions. Yet, as documented in several studies, our environment has paradoxically gotten cleaner and greener as we have become wealthier. The search for increased profitability has long delivered both economic and environmental improvements by promoting the evermore efficient use of material resources.
Budget & TaxationBy Blake Hurst, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/23/2013
President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget has a section prohibiting individuals from accumulating over $3 million in tax-preferred retirement accounts. The Obama administration’s proposed limits on ‘reasonable’ retirement savings will penalize success and patience in favor of the nebulous concept of fairness.
Retirement/Social SecurityBy Andrew G. Biggs, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 04/23/2013
“Expanded Social Security,” a New America Foundation (NAF) policy white paper, argues for expanding Social Security by paying each retiree a flat annual benefit of $11,669 in addition to their traditional Social Security benefits. The idea is to provide the typical retiree with a guaranteed “replacement rate” of 60 percent of his pre-retirement earnings, with higher replacement rates for low earners. The supplement would cost around 3.7 percent of GDP. Added to Social Security’s forecasted cost of 5.6 percent of GDP in 2035, total outlays would reach 9.3 percent of GDP. This NAF paper misses a few important factors in thinking about Social Security reform including the fact that It would crowd out the private saving that drives our economy.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Charles "Cully" Stimson, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/23/2013
Now that one of the Boston bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has been apprehended, naturally the discussion has turned to the most prudent way to deal with him given that there are so many unanswered questions about him and any possible ties to the continuing threat of terrorism. Should Tsarnaev be tried by a military commission? Should he be designated as an enemy combatant? Should the government invoke the “public safety exception” ostensibly allowing interrogation without giving him his Miranda warnings? Each of these and related questions require a review of the legal and policy options available to the government.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Emily Goff, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/22/2013
The federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) faces serious funding shortfalls in fiscal year 2015 and beyond, in large part due to funding demands from an expanding array of projects other than general purpose roads. Because transportation programs cannot be made immune to current fiscal constraints, it is crucial for Congress to reprioritize HTF spending and recommit to providing cost-effective mobility.
National SecurityBy Steven P. Bucci, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/19/2013
The act of terrorism in Boston is still fresh in Americans’ minds. Regrettably, this act of terror is likely not going to be the last attempt seen by the U.S. as a whole. However, by continuing to provide the nation’s law enforcement and intelligence authorities with the essential counterterrorism tools they need, and by continuing to strengthen current efforts, U.S. leaders can help ensure that the nation is better prepared to stop all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 04/19/2013
Under the tenure of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the number of the highest-ranking U.N. officials has risen sharply. This expansion is troubling for a number of reasons, including lack of transparency in the nominating process, unsystematic allocation of top-level positions, insufficient justification for certain senior ranks, weak efforts to determine ongoing relevance of the senior positions, politicization and patronage in appointments, and obscure budgetary costs. The U.S. must demand increased transparency, require the Secretary-General to justify his appointments and demonstrate their continued relevance, and insist on elimination of unnecessary posts.
Economic GrowthBy Terry Miller, Anthony B. Kim, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/19/2013
In an April 2 speech, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim set out the ambitious goal of ending extreme poverty within a generation. Outlining a bold development agenda in advance of the World Bank–IMF spring meetings from April 19 to 21, Kim emphasized the importance of fostering “inclusive growth” and building “a science of delivery for development.” The search for a “science” for development is a particularly interesting concept. No doubt there are a variety of pathways to inclusive growth, but all that have produced long-term success have included some application of competitive free-market capitalism.
Budget & TaxationBy Karly Kay Edwards, Steve Buckstein, Cascade Policy InstituteBudget Solutions, 04/18/2013
Americans for Prosperity-Oregon and Cascade Policy Institute published our first Facing Reality report in 2010, offering state legislators an opportunity to “reset” state government using the time-tested principles of limited government and pro-growth economic policies. This study provides a series of proven ideas to balance our state’s budget without tax or fee increases, plus policies to stimulate private businesses to “recharge” our economy.
Regulation & Deregulation
The Sinking Ship of Cabotage: How the Jones Act Lets Unions and a Few Companies Hold the Economy HostageBy Malia Blom Hill, Capital Research CenterLabor Watch, 04/18/2013
The Jones Act is a 1920 law that protects the U.S. maritime industry from competition. It also raises costs for many other industries, keeps foreign ships from helping when disasters like the BP oil spill strike, and seems to be slowly killing the very industry it’s supposed to protect.
Health CareBy Robert Alt, Buckeye Institute for Public Policy SolutionsPolicy Brief, 04/18/2013
The question of whether to expand Medicaid is complex and wrought with misinformation and misunderstanding about the options available to Ohio, and the effects of a potential expansion. This report identifies and refutes some of the most common myths, and will help guide a careful evaluation of the realities.
Economic GrowthBy John Hill, Alabama Policy InstituteWhite Paper, 04/18/2013
The Alabama Policy Institute has collected data on Alabama’s 50 most populous cities and ranked them based on criteria that both ensure business success and protect the entrepreneurial spirit. The four categories in which data are ranked are Economic Vitality, Business Tax Burden, Community Allure, and Transportation Infrastructure.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, Brian Slattery, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/18/2013
President Obama’s overall budget request for fiscal year 2014 and beyond is all but certain to result in the continued application of sequestration to the defense account, which will lead to defense spending levels that are too low to permit the military to protect U.S. vital national interests. They will necessarily result in a force that either is too small, lacks modern weapons and equipment, or is not properly trained and ready—or most likely some combination of these three—to uphold various U.S. defense policies.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Vikrant P. Reddy, Texas Public Policy FoundationBill Analysis, 04/18/2013
It would be preposterous to argue that Texas criminal law is transparent because anybody can access the code books (of which there are over two dozen, including the penal code, the alcoholic beverage code, the business and commerce code, the occupations code, etc.) and read the 1,700 criminal laws therein. In a famous G.K. Chesterton short story, a character remarks that the best place to hide a leaf is in a forest. Such is the case with Texas criminal law. The power to prosecute a person for a criminal violation is the most extraordinary power wielded by a state government, yet the criminal laws are so voluminous and disorganized that, effectively, they are hidden. HB 2804 proposes a commission to review these offenses and to recommend eliminating them or consolidating them in the penal code.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Bill Peacock, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 04/18/2013
While taking property under eminent domain is widely seen as necessary in the cases of public use, it is still a taking of private property. A condemnor should use the property for the public use for which it is taken. If it does not, it should sell it back to the original owners at the original price for which it was taken.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Marc Levin, Texas Public Policy FoundationBill Analysis, 04/18/2013
Some 20 percent of American adults have a criminal record, which would amount to nearly 5 million Texans. While it is critical that offenders be held accountable for their actions, the question raised by HB 1344 is whether a time ever comes when selected ex-offenders, have not only satisfied their sentences, but spent many years beyond that abiding by the law and therefore should no longer be branded as criminals. Texas has sought to answer this question affirmatively.
National SecurityBy The Heritage Foundation, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/18/2013
In the aftermath of the act of terror in Boston and ricin-laced letters intercepted in Washington, D.C., the U.S. should rededicate itself to homeland security efforts. While the sources of these attacks are still unknown, there are several policies that the U.S. can and should pursue to secure the homeland from a wide spectrum of threats. The Heritage Foundation has long been focused on developing homeland security policies that keep the U.S. safe and prosperous, as seen in the following reports.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/18/2013
Secretary of State John Kerry is testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week concerning the President’s fiscal year 2014 request for the international affairs budget. A number of items deserve scrutiny, but two in particular warrant opposition: (1) a request for changes in law that would allow U.S. contributions to U.N. organizations—such as the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—that grant full membership to the Palestinian Authority; and (2) full funding for U.N. peacekeeping.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Jeanette Moll, Texas Public Policy FoundationBill Analysis, 04/18/2013
Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese stated that the purpose of sealing juvenile records was to “protect the person who had committed minor offenses and then had gone on to live a blameless life so that at age 18 when they went out for a job they did not have to talk about having been arrested for a juvenile offense…” This Bill serves exactly that purpose.
Information TechnologyBy Bill Peacock, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 04/18/2013
Further regulatory improvements were made in Texas with the passage of Senate Bill 5 in 2005. Senate Bill 5 was a step in the right direction towards promoting regulatory reforms and competition, but it left mostly untouched the monopoly-based taxes and fees levied on telecommunications providers and consumers. There is still room for improvement, so we offer the following recommendations. First, Eliminate taxes on production goods that are used to deliver high technology consumer service. Second, eliminate the “tax on a tax” application of the sales tax to taxes on fees on a telephone bill. Third, reduce the Utility Gross Receipts Assessment Tax.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Alabama Policy Institute, Alabama Policy InstituteGuide to the Issues, 04/17/2013
Alabama Supreme Court cases have strictly defined what forms of gaming are legal in Alabama, specifically developing a six-point test for categorizing bingo. Although stringently defined, the possibility of gaming facilities reopening and operating still exists. In order to effectively deter would-be offenders, the punishment for owning and operating illegal gaming paraphernalia should be raised from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Joseph Vranich, Wendell Cox, Adrian Moore, Reason FoundationReport, 04/17/2013
This report updates Reason’s 2008 Due Diligence Report by addressing and evaluating numerous changes in California’s plan to build a high speed rail (HSR) system between San Francisco and Los Angeles via the San Joaquin Valley. This Due Diligence Update addresses the Authority’s revised documentation, business plans and public statements issued between 2008 and late-2012, which are found to be similarly inaccurate, misleading and in violation of the laws guiding the project. As will be shown in this Due Diligence Update, the CHSRA April 2012 Business Plan is so deficient that it is inconceivable that policymakers would continue to rely on its assertions to evaluate the program. This report is not alone in identifying shortcomings in CHSRA’s plans and documentation, and will include findings from other state agencies and independent reviewers.
Information TechnologyBy Steven Titch, Reason FoundationReason, 04/17/2013
The U.S. wireless industry is being held back by a shortage of spectrum—a problem driven in large part by rapidly increasing demand for mobile data. Consumers are already suffering the impact of spectrum shortages, and the situation is only likely to worsen as wireless data traffic grows. The wireless market does not need, nor should it have to endure, the FCC engaging in disruptive regulatory experiments; it needs it to get on with reallocating spectrum. The agency has the means and the resources to get the needed spectrum to consumers. It should just do it.
Budget & TaxationBy Peter Suderman, Reason FoundationReason, 04/17/2013
If you want to see where a little bit of your $833 billion stimulus went, head south from St. Louis on Interstate 44 until you reach the Mark Twain National Forest. On March 13, 2009, less than a month after President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) into law, the federal government awarded $462,912.30 to a Spokane, Washington, construction firm called CXT Incorporated to build and install 22 “precast concrete toilets” in the park. This stimulus was rushed to passage based on economic assumptions that remain hotly contested. Its implementation was marred by politics, logistics, and red tape. And the aid it directed toward the country’s least well off may have undermined the very recovery it was designed to hasten. This is what happens when politicians insist that something big must be done, even if they’re not sure what that something should be.
Information TechnologyBy Steven Hayward, Pacific Research InstituteStudies, 04/17/2013
The reduction in air pollution continues to be the most successful domain of pollution reduction since the first Earth Day in 1970. Since the first edition of this Almanac two years ago, reductions in air pollution have been astonishing. The EPA recently updated its inventory of ambient air pollution levels monitored through 2010, and its model estimates of emissions through 2012. The new EPA data show some of the largest drops in ambient air pollution ever in 2009 and 2010, though some of this decline may have been related to the reduced economic activity of the long recession, while some of the reductions—especially in sulfur dioxide—are explained by the unforeseen rapid replacement of coal-fired electricity by natural gas.
Regulation & DeregulationBy James K. Glassman, J.W. Verret, Mercatus CenterResearch, 04/17/2013
The system for proxy voting by mutual funds and other institutions that own shares in publicly traded companies in America is badly broken. The source of the disrepair is regulation. Among the unintended consequences of rules enacted with the best of intentions is the harm inflicted on retirees and other investors. The good news is that, with small changes, the system can be fixed.
Budget & TaxationBy Arpit Gupta, Manhattan InstituteIssue Brief, 04/17/2013
In the heated political debate that Americans are having about federal spending and revenue, advocates of higher taxes often cite the 1950s as a Golden Age. Then, it is claimed, the wealthy paid higher federal taxes and the system was fairer. A closer look at the facts, however, does not support this assertion. First, in the 1950s, very few people paid the very high income-tax rates aimed at the wealthiest. Second, claims that wealthy people paid more taxes rest instead on the assumption that the rich, as stock owners, bore the entire burden of higher corporate taxes of that era. There are good reasons to doubt this assumption about corporate taxes.
EducationBy Judah Bellin, Manhattan InstituteIssue Brief, 04/17/2013
For-profit education is the fastest-growing sector of the higher-education industry. Because of this, politicians and journalists are trying to discourage students to attend for-profit colleges. However, the federal government should seek to preserve the good aspects of for-profit colleges while minimizing the bad ones. To that end, policymakers should change the federal student-loan program so that substandard institutions are hard-pressed to stay in business. To ensure that its investment in higher education is worthwhile, the government should apply any such regulation to all sectors of the higher-ed industry, be it for-profit, nonprofit, public, or private.
LaborBy Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Manhattan InstituteIssue Brief, 04/17/2013
This spring, the U.S. Department of Labor is expected to issue a new interpretation of the “advice” exemption to the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.. The proposed rule could cost the economy between $7.5 billion and $10.6 billion during the first year of implementation, and between $4.3 billion and $6.5 billion per year thereafter. The total cost over a ten-year period could be approximately $60 billion. This does not include the indirect economic effects of raising the cost of doing business in the United States.
Budget & TaxationBy Sarah Curry, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 04/17/2013
The last statewide General Obligation Bond referendum was held in 2000; all debt since then has been issued without voter approval, making special indebtedness the sole form of debt in North Carolina since 2001. Special Indebtedness is more expensive than traditional General Obligation debt, thus creating a larger burden on taxpayers.
Budget & TaxationBy Sarah Curry, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 04/17/2013
For the last 30 years North Carolina has seen spending grow three times faster than population and inflation. Implementing a new tax system for North Carolina, JLF’s consumption-based USA Tax of 6 percent would remove the personal, corporate, and inheritance taxes. Applying the free market spending priorities within JLF’s alternative budget would save nearly $500 million in the next budget year and more than $1 billion over two years while dropping the sales tax to 4 percent and reducing the franchise tax 60 percent in fiscal year 2014-15.
EducationBy Terry Stoops, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 04/17/2013
Over the last several months, the Common Core State Standards Initiative has attracted considerable attention from the state and national media. As a result, North Carolinians have begun to consider how these changes will affect their public schools. Unfortunately, readily accessible information about the Common Core is often hard to come by. The purpose of this primer is to introduce North Carolinians to the Common Core State Standards by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about common standards and tests. North Carolina taxpayers should use it as a first step in an ongoing effort to assess the massive changes underway in our public schools.
National SecurityBy David S. Addington, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/17/2013
Congress has begun to consider cybersecurity legislation in earnest for the 113th Congress. The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider shortly H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The bill addresses the growing problem of foreign powers infiltrating U.S. public and private computer systems to steal valuable information. The bill represents only a small step toward addressing the cybersecurity threats the country faces. The bill as ordered reported has significant flaws, but the House has the opportunity to correct them.
International Trade/FinanceBy Bryan Riley, Anthony B. Kim, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 04/17/2013
The threat to U.S. prosperity comes not from free trade but from the decline in economic freedom. In the process of working on the Trade Promotion Authority reauthorization, Congress has the unique opportunity to become an effective advocate for advancing economic freedom and help America reap the rewards that accrue from such policies. It should not let the opportunity pass.