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Recent Policy Studies
Economic GrowthBy Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, Jonathan Williams, American Legislative Exchange CouncilReport, 05/23/2013
In this 6th edition of Rich States, Poor States, Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams highlight the policies throughout the 50 states that have led some states to economic prosperity and others to prolonged real economic recovery. The authors provide the 2013 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, based on state economic policies. The empirical evidence and analysis contained in this edition of Rich States, Poor States determines which policies lead states to economic prosperity and which policies states should avoid.
EducationBy Jonathan Butcher, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Report, 05/23/2013
Arizona must hold charter schools accountable for student achievement and financial integrity. Charters that are consistently low performing or fail to meet certain achievement levels or manage finances properly can be closed. And with every charter school that is closed for academic reasons, the quality gap between charter schools and traditional schools will grow. Remaining charter schools will be more likely to perform at a higher level than similar traditional schools. Encouraging charters to innovate and serve students while holding them accountable for results will create an education environment that prepares students for success.
National SecurityBy Luke Coffey, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 05/23/2013
The U.S. military presence in Europe deters American adversaries, strengthens allies, and protects American interests. The basing and support cost of the almost 50,000 U.S. troops in Germany cost $4 billion last year. That is less than 1 percent of the overall defense budget. Whether preparing U.S. and allied troops for Afghanistan or responding to an unexpected crisis in the region, the U.S. can project power and react to the unexpected because of its forward-based military capabilities in Europe. Reducing these capabilities would only weaken America on the world stage.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Daren Bakst, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 05/23/2013
As the House and Senate move forward with their farm bills, they should make significant reforms to crop insurance, including setting caps on the premium subsidies that farmers can receive and reducing the percentage of premium subsidies currently paid for by taxpayers. They should not, however, try to solve potential problems connected to crop insurance through disrespecting the property rights of farmers.
Budget & TaxationBy Sarah Curry, John Locke FoundationSpotlight, 05/22/2013
A larger annual appropriation to the savings and reserves account would allow state budgets to use those funds during a budget shortfall rather than raising excise taxes. Excise taxes have not been shown to alter behavior significantly, so the increasing of excise taxes on products should be eliminated. If excise taxes are to be used as a user fee, as is the case with gasoline, then collections should be used accordingly. Much of North Carolina’s current gasoline tax goes to the General Fund or is spent on items other than highway construction and maintenance. More transparency needs to be incorporated so that taxpayers know exactly how much they are paying. Receipts for items on which an excise tax is levied should clearly list the base price of the item as well as the tax; this will allow the taxpayer to see how much is paid in each transaction.
Budget & TaxationBy Barry W. Poulson, Kansas Policy InstituteReport, 05/22/2013
Recent evidence reveals that the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) is one of the most underfunded pension plans in the country (59 percent funding ratio at the end of 2011) and that there is a high probability the plan will not have sufficient funds to meet pension obligations over the next decade. This funding ratio will deteriorate further under the new accounting standards discussed below. The solution to this funding crisis is to bring pension benefits into line with the costs of pension plans for individual employees. A number of states have successfully enacted structural reforms in their state pension plans to accomplish this objective, including defined contribution and hybrid plans. Unfortunately the recent reforms enacted in KPERS creating a cash balance plan for new employees fails to accomplish that objective.
EducationBy Dave Trabert, Todd Davidson, Kansas Policy InstituteReport, 05/22/2013
State support for higher education may always be the subject of healthy debate in the Kansas Legislature and throughout the state, and that is a good thing in our estimation. Taxpayer support of higher education will always be a priority but there must also be constant vigilance to ensure that taxpayer money is used as effectively and efficiently as possible. Fortunately, there are many opportunities for universities and legislators to work together and find ways to reduce pressure on tuition and the state budget while still providing healthy support of higher education.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Gregory W. Sullivan, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchPolicy Brief, 05/22/2013
Since labor expenses account for more than 70 percent of the costs of the commuter rail system, addressing that issue head-on represents a major opportunity for long-term savings. Forty-five percent of MassDOT’s budget going to pay debt service and a system-wide operating deficit that is on track to be more than $500 million by 2018. In the case of the MBCR contracts, taxpayers have not been a party to the secret labor agreements, but they shoulder much of their costs.
Health CareBy Josh Archambault, Xiaofei (Jackie) Zhou, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchPolicy Brief, 05/22/2013
A survey on the possible outcomes of the medical device tax among forty-two senior executives of device manufacturers found that 50 percent of companies will reduce the budget for research and development departments; 44 percent will pass the new tax straight to end users, and 39 percent will attempt to cut internal costs, while 25 percent will shrink the size of their workforce.
Health CareBy Deborah D. Thornton, Public Interest InstitutePolicy Study, 05/22/2013
We, the citizens, must not be lured by the “promise” of “free money” and “someone else” paying for our health care, and instead insist on free-market driven reforms to address the real issues of cost transparency, inter-state portability, malpractice reform, and increased providers.
Budget & TaxationBy Jason J. Fichtner, Jacob M. Feldman, Mercatus CenterResearch, 05/22/2013
Lawmakers have long used the tax code for purposes far beyond simply collecting revenue to fund the federal government. Through the insertion of specialized tax provisions, the tax code is used to achieve policy and political aims as well. But these special provisions come at a price: economic growth is foregone, higher accounting costs are incurred, more lobbyists are hired to protect tax advantages, and revenue is lost as a result of collection inefficiencies. We estimate that hidden costs of tax compliance range from $215 billion to $987 billion annually, and that part of the $452 billion revenue gap in 2012 unreported taxes was the result of tax code complexity. We provide policy recommendations based on lessons from the Russia flat tax reforms and the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
Family, Culture & Community
Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It MattersBy Helen Smith, Encounter BooksBook, 05/22/2013
American society has become anti-male. Men are sensing the backlash and are consciously and unconsciously going on strike. They are dropping out of college, leaving the workforce, and avoiding marriage and fatherhood at alarming rates. Other books have addressed this problem in terms of its impact on women; this book looks at the topic from the viewpoint of men: Why should they participate in a system that seems to be increasingly stacked against them? As the interviews and surveys in this book demonstrate, men aren’t dropping out because they’re immature man-children. They are acting rationally in response to the lack of incentives society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands, and providers.
America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century—Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to ComeBy James C. Bennett, Michael J. Lotus, Encounter BooksBook, 05/22/2013
America 2.0 was the transformation of American life by powered machinery. The shift toward corporate labor, and away from individual and family autonomy, led to economic insecurity for families and trades people. Americans demanded protections they had not needed in the past. At the same time, face-to-face local governance was replaced with increasingly distant and unaccountable bureaucracies, difficult-to-manage large cities, and the entanglement of government power with private business. The costs and burdens of this powerful, centralized state are becoming ever clearer. We are living in a period of crisis, as America 2.0 collapses around us. Yet America 3.0 is already emerging. We have already begun to adapt our institutions and to forge new arrangements that are appropriate for a post-industrial, networked, decentralized society. The transition will not be smooth, but it is the only path forward.
Health CareBy Devon M. Herrick, National Center for Policy AnalysisStudies, 05/22/2013
Although health care inflation is robust for services paid by third-party insurance, prices are rising only moderately for services patients buy directly. Economic studies and common sense confirm that people are less likely to be prudent, careful shoppers if someone else is picking up the tab. The contrast between cosmetic surgery and other medical services is important. One sector has a competitive marketplace and stable prices. The other does not.
Budget & TaxationBy Kyle Pomerleau, Tax FoundationFiscal Facts, 05/22/2013
While it is undoubtedly true that U.S. multinational firms use tax planning techniques to minimize the taxes they pay on their foreign earnings, IRS data shows that the subsidiaries of U.S. multinationals paid more than $100 billion in income taxes to foreign tax authorities on roughly $413 billion in taxable income. Averaged across some 90 countries, U.S. companies paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent on that income. Reporters and lawmakers who criticize U.S. companies for “avoiding” taxes on their foreign earnings need to be more careful with their language and acknowledge that our worldwide tax system requires U.S. firms to pay taxes twice on their foreign profits—once to the host country and a second time to the IRS—before they try to reinvest those profits back home.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 05/22/2013
The scandal at the IRS teaches a larger lesson for the overall operation of the administrative state. The best way to control the twin risks of discretion and delay is to strip administrative agencies of as much of their discretionary power as is humanly possible. Each area has its own twists, and some discretion on enforcement issues will always remain. But the larger goal should be clear: an efficient administrative state that does not incentivize discretionary bureaucratic delay. The time to start on major reform efforts is now. Here is one crisis that should not go to waste.
Health CareBy Nadeem Esmail, Fraser InstituteReport, 05/22/2013
The combination of similar if not superior access to health care and similar if not superior outcomes from the health care process with 26% fewer resources committed to health care suggests there is much Canadians can learn from the Swedish health care system. A Swedish-style approach to health care in Canada would primarily require important changes to financial flows within provincial tax-funded systems and a greater reliance on competition and private ownership. It would not require a marked departure from the current tax-funded, provincially managed, federally supported health care system in Canada.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Henry I.Miller, Jeff Stier, Hoover Institution05/22/2013
The government’s failure to enforce the law undermines the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act; allows activists’ illegal activities to misinform consumers; makes safe and wholesome foods unsellable; and sends the message that if you cannot persuade policymakers through the democratic process, the government will look the other way as you commit crimes to achieve your political agenda.
National SecurityBy Kori Schake, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 05/22/2013
During the time of the Soviet Union, the joke among the proletariat ran, “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.” The diplomatic relationship between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken on the same farcical characteristics: The President pretends he will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, and Prime Minister Netanyahu pretends to believe him. In order to keep the ruse alive, the President has been required to escalate his rhetoric, while the Israeli government has continued to publicly reiterate its confidence in U.S. policy and privately convey its concern about it. However, the United States neither intends to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, nor does Israel believe we would. The simple fact is that across two administrations, the U.S. government has insisted that it will not tolerate what it has manifestly allowed to occur: progress by the government of Iran toward the possession of nuclear weapons.
National SecurityBy Thomas Chiapelas, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/22/2013
The Iraq war did damage the standing of President Bush and the GOP. By relying almost exclusively on the widely shared belief that there were existing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the administration downplayed other critical issues involving Saddam Hussein and Iraq dating back decades. Failure to call attention to those issues was a mistake, not only because they would have made the case for going to war stronger, but they also might have helped to sustain support for war as conditions on the ground deteriorated.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy John Steele Gordon, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 05/22/2013
Scandal produces solutions, but not necessarily the right solutions. Still, by shining the spotlight of public attention on a situation, scandal at least forces that situation onto the public agenda. But scandal cannot do its job unless the media decide that the situation is, indeed, a scandal. While earmark abuse in Congress grew by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years and several members of Congress went to jail because of it, the media chose to treat these as individual scandals involving individual congressmen such as Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney. In fact they were a systemic problem in Congress and only when a public outcry arose did Congress change its ways. As a new spate of scandals develops in Washington, one hopes that lessons will be learned and reforms instituted.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Paul A. Cantor, American Enterprise InstitutePolicy Brief, 05/22/2013
Fortunately, almost no one is calling for the abolition of literary study in higher education. Shakespeare still has a lot of friends in high places and in the general population. But if literature professors would like to see public support for the humanities return to earlier levels of enthusiasm, they cannot continue operating their programs as their own private intellectual preserves. They must open up literary study to the broader, and in many respects more fundamental, educational concerns of the American people. If, however, literature professors persist in adopting an oppositional stance in America, they should not be surprised if in return they encounter increasingly strong opposition from the American public.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, WhatSoProudlyWeHail.orgBook, 05/22/2013
Celebrated on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. Families fire up the grill or flock to the lake house, while those who remain in town are able to take advantage of the weekend’s sales. But Memorial Day is also the day we set aside to honor those who died in service to their country. It is more than a day of remembrance, for it is also a day for “us the living” to rededicate ourselves to civic renewal and to perpetuate our form of government.
EducationBy Thomas Ahn, Jacob Vigdor, American Enterprise InstituteStudies, 05/22/2013
Evidence indicates that school accountability systems in general, and No Child Left Behind in particular, have beneficial systemic effects on standardized test scores. The overall effects are modest; however, accountability systems are complex policies that may entail a mix of beneficial and harmful elements. The most critical question is not whether NCLB worked, but which components worked.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ali Alfoneh, American Enterprise InstituteBook, 05/22/2013
Iran is currently experiencing the most important change in its history since the revolution of 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic: the regime in Tehran, traditionally ruled by the Shia clergy, is transforming into a military dictatorship dominated by the officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The rise of the IRGC is bound to challenge the interests of the United States in the Middle East and beyond. In Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards Is Turning Theocracy into Military Dictatorship, Ali Alfoneh uses rarely studied sources from the Persian-language press to reveal how the IRGC officers have risen to power in Iran and the impact of the Islamic Republic’s transformation into a military dictatorship. He highlights how Iran’s recent attacks against American diplomats and support for armed insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan indicate the IRGC’s increasing adventurism and risk taking.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 05/22/2013
Three rounds of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve have produced record-high stock prices, but real economic growth still remains below the levels expected in an economic recovery. An encouraging uptick in housing prices and the gradual decline of the unemployment rate have helped bolster household wealth and consumer spending, but with fiscal tightening weighing on economic growth, inflation falling, and corporate earnings flat, the current rise in stock prices is unsustainable. The US economy might be headed for another midyear “swoon,” and after three doses of easy money from the Fed, it is unclear whether another round of quantitative easing would help produce the sort of robust growth policymakers and consumers seek.
Budget & TaxationBy Chris Edwards, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
Two decades ago Canada suffered a deep recession and teetered on the brink of a debt crisis caused by rising government spending. The Wall Street Journal said that growing debt was making Canada an “honorary member of the third world” with the “northern peso” as its currency. However, Canada reversed course and cut government spending, balanced its budget, and enacted pro-market reforms. It reduced trade barriers, privatized businesses, and slashed its corporate tax rate. The economy boomed, unemployment plunged, and the formerly weak Canadian dollar soared to reach parity with the U.S. dollar. The Canadian reforms were hugely successful. Today, the United States is in as bad or worse fiscal shape than Canada was in. U.S. leaders need to make major fiscal and economic reforms, and they can learn many lessons from Canadian efforts to restrain government and create a more competitive economy.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Dwight R. Lee, J.R. Clark, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
The tendency for market failures to be seen as the result of systemic flaws while government failures are either ignored or seen as aberrations is a major source of government expansion and waste. We have considered how moral perceptions can explain this tendency, which results in government action being widely accepted as the default response to market failures, real or imaginary. Standard public choice also explains this response, but the inclusion of moral considerations extends our explanation to circumstances that are seen as irrelevant to the standard explanation.
Budget & TaxationBy Pedro Schwartz, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
All this scrounging makes welfare states highly unstable. Despite partial corrections they tend to grow without limit until financial crises such as the one we are undergoing at present puts a temporary stop to public profligacy. People lose even the memory of the time when the arts, hospitals, schools and universities, and help for the poor were financed by selling their services or by private savings. With the growth of the welfare state nobody believes that public services can grow like a Beautiful Tree, purely on the basis of private enterprise and brotherly altruism.
Budget & TaxationBy Juhan Parts, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
The role of decisionmakers is important even when all the odds seem to be against them. It took courage to follow the chosen path when international bankers, organizations, and prominent economists were convinced that our decisions would lead to a disaster. Estonia’s economic performance and ability to tackle the most challenging economic situation with radical economic policies in the difficult climates is a clear indication that fiscal conservatism and economic liberalism work well in any economic circumstance.
Budget & TaxationBy Mark Hallerberg, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
One particularity of the euro crisis is that several countries with the larger welfare states—the Scandinavian countries, Germany, and the Netherlands—have done better than other European countries with smaller welfare states. An exception perhaps is France, a generous welfare state where even current levels of spending do not appear to be sustainable. But an important difference between southern and northern Europe is the funding basis of the respective welfare states. In countries where governments expanded benefits on the back of revenues from property booms, deep cuts in benefits appear to be unavoidable.
Budget & TaxationBy Pascal Salin, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
Governments wrongly believe that real problems can be solved by using monetary instruments (money creation or devaluations). Thus, they arbitrarily create a link between debt problems and monetary problems. In fact, in order to overcome the difficulties they meet to finance their deficits, European governments put pressure on the European Central Bank to monetize public debt. Thus, contrary to what had been claimed when the ECB was created, it is buying public bonds issued in countries such as Greece. This monetary policy means more inflation and even, possibly, the risk of a new business cycle. The resulting inflation can be seen as a means not to comply with the public deficit criterion. As a consequence of this obstacle to tax cuts, Europe may suffer from a situation of steady stagnation.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
There are three basic problems with this growing anti-austerity backlash. First, almost no nation is actually cutting spending. In most cases, policymakers are merely squabbling over whether to restrain how fast it is growing. Second, the “cuts” have been relatively small compared to the size of the problem and meaningful structural reforms were seldom implemented. Third, to the extent declining European countries pursued austerity, it has mainly been through large tax increases. If the economies of Spain, France, Britain, and other European nations are suffering, it’s not because of “savage” spending cuts. It’s because small make-believe spending cuts are overwhelmed by tax increases.
Budget & TaxationBy Desmond Lachman, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
The European sovereign debt crisis offers a cautionary tale for the United States. This is the case since all too sadly the U.S. public finances appear to be on the same sort of unsustainable path that lies at the heart of the present European crisis. Whereas Europe, taken as a whole, currently has a budget deficit of around 3 percent of gross domestic product and a gross public debt ratio of around 90 percent of GDP, the United States has a budget deficit of around 8 percent of GDP and a gross public debt ratio in excess of 105 percent of GDP.
Budget & TaxationBy Pierre Lemieux, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
Combined with an inflexible economy, the welfare state is the main cause of the euro crisis. Since the American and European welfare states show only a difference of degree, and since the American economy is being Europeanized, we should expect a similar debt crisis in the United States. That crisis will develop when investors realize the magnitude of the U.S. public debt problem.
Budget & TaxationBy Michael Tanner, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
The United States faces a massively growing debt that threatens our economic future. But as bad as that debt is, it is merely a symptom of a larger disease: a rapidly growing government that is consuming an ever larger share of our national economy. As a result, the United States is well down the road toward a debt crisis similar to Europe’s. That we haven’t already experienced such a crisis is the fortuitous result of the U.S. position as the world’s key reserve currency combined with the overall strength of our economy. But that will not protect us forever.
Budget & TaxationBy Jagadeesh Gokhale, Erin Partin, Cato InstituteCato Journal, 05/21/2013
Demographics appear to be destiny in many European nations and in the United States. Unless growth of social protection programs (so-called entitlements) is curbed, higher fiscal burdens on today’s young workers and future generations and a spending squeeze on nonentitlement government operations appear inevitable. In the United States, which has extensive defense commitments around the globe, the battle between “guns and butter” could not be more explicit.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy George H. Smith, Cambridge University PressBook, 05/21/2013
Liberal individualism, or “classical liberalism” as it is often called, refers to a political philosophy in which liberty plays the central role. This book demonstrates a conceptual unity within the manifestations of classical liberalism by tracing the history of several interrelated and reinforcing themes. Concepts such as order, justice, rights, and freedom have imparted unity to this diverse political ideology by integrating context and meaning. However, they have also sparked conflict, as classical liberals split on a number of issues, such as legitimate exceptions to the “presumption of liberty,” the meaning of “the public good,” natural rights versus utilitarianism, the role of the state in education, and the rights of resistance and revolution. This book explores these conflicts and their implications for contemporary liberal and libertarian thought.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
The Case for Exports: Americas Hydrocarbon Industry Can Revive the Economy and Eliminate the Trade DeficitBy Mark P. Mills, Manhattan InstituteReport, 05/21/2013
The world has changed since the passage of the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, a law that set the tone for energy policy for nearly a half-century. Technology and demographics have eviscerated old ideas of limits and import dependency. Given the new abundance, the United States now has the opportunity to become a major energy exporter.
PhilanthropyBy Guy Sorman, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 05/21/2013
Over several decades, Dallas’s superrich have transformed their city, making it the “American capital of philanthropy,” according to Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and himself a member of the giving class. “Dallas has always been a city driven by private philanthropy, with active civic involvement going hand in glove with the accumulation of wealth,” Fisher says. “Now, with the enormous riches that have come with Texas’s economic boom—not just in oil and gas but in financial and business services, technology, health care, and other areas—the levels of philanthropic giving have skyrocketed to levels that would be unimaginable most anywhere else in America.” The Dallas donors have funded everything from world-class cultural institutions to parks and even bridges, showing the power of American philanthropy to contribute to urban flourishing.
EducationBy Heather MacDonald, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 05/21/2013
The public is told that the University of California needs more state money to stay competitive in the sciences but not that the greatest threat to scientific excellence comes from the university’s obsession with “diversity” hiring. The public knows about tuition increases but not about the unstoppable growth in the university’s bureaucracy. Taxpayers may have heard about larger class sizes but not about the sacrosanct status of faculty teaching loads. Before the public decides how much more money to pour into the system, it needs a far better understanding of how UC spends the $22 billion it already commands.
National SecurityBy Michaela Dodge, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 05/21/2013
The federal National Defense Authorization Act annually specifies the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense. The law can be a vehicle for both good and bad policies. As Congress prepares to craft this legislation, it should seriously consider policy issues that can improve U.S. security and advance international partnerships.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., Competitive Enterprise InstituteReport, 05/21/2013
U.S. households “pay” $14,768 annually in regulatory hidden tax, “absorbing” 23 percent of the average income of $63,685, and 30 percent of the expenditure budget of $49,705.For the first time in history, the estimated cost of regulation exceeds half the level of the federal budget itself. Regulatory costs of $1.806 trillion amount to 11.6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at $15.549 trillion in 2012. Combining regulatory costs with federal FY 2012 outlays of $3.538 trillion indicates that the federal government’s share of the entire economy now reaches 34.4 percent. The 2012 Federal Register stands at 78,961 pages. Although shy of 2010’s all-time record-high 81,405 pages and 2011’s 81,247 pages, it is the fourth highest. Three of the four all-time high counts have occurred during the Obama administration.
PhilanthropyBy Sean Higgins, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 05/21/2013
While the various pressure groups on the left all agree they want bigger and more intrusive government, they often squabble amongst themselves over the question of which agenda items should take priority. One man makes it his mission to unite these groups’ efforts and messaging, in order to move America further to the left.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Kirk MacDonald, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 05/21/2013
Founded in 1930 by breakfast cereal tycoon W.K. Kellogg with the goal of improving the lives of impoverished children, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation today funds a great deal of left-wing activism, especially attacks on so-called “white privilege” and “structural racism.”
Crime, Justice & the Law
Going Soft on Juvenile Crime: How the MacArthur and Casey Foundations Distort Youth Offender PoliciesBy Fred Lucas, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 05/21/2013
Although the young still commit outrageous crimes, two multi-billion-dollar foundations have spent years working to make the juvenile justice system more lenient. Now the Obama Justice Department has also joined in the effort.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Christopher C. Horner, Capital Research CenterGreen Watch, 05/21/2013
Transparency used to be a treasured goal of the Left. But the current administration, especially where environmental issues are concerned, has worked hard to prevent sunlight from disinfecting its machinations. Recently, the discovery of secret e-mails may have prompted the resignation of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Family, Culture & CommunityBy R.R. Reno, Hillsdale CollegeImprimis, 05/21/2013
There is another, deeper argument that must be made in defense of religion: It is the most secure guarantee of freedom. America’s Founders, some of them Christian and others not, agreed as a matter of principle that the law of God trumps the law of men. This has obvious political implications: The Declaration of Independence appeals to the unalienable rights given by our Creator that cannot be overridden or taken away. In this sense, religion is especially beneficial. As Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both emphasized, it gives transcendent substance to the rights of man that limit government. Put somewhat differently, religion gives us a place to stand outside politics, and without it we’re vulnerable to a system in which the state defines everything, which is the essence of tyranny. This is why gay marriage, which is sold as an expansion of freedom, is in fact a profound threat to liberty.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Michael J. Zimmer, Washington Legal FoundationWorking Paper, 05/21/2013
Technological advances in fracturing capabilities in the past decade have raised a number of opportunities with concerns for Ohio industry, government agencies, communities and citizens. In Ohio, more than 71,000 wells have used some form of “fracking,” and over 80 percent of all new wells use the technique. The supportive business and operating climate sought by the oil and gas companies, and the pipeline and storage industries must be balanced with citizens’ concerns about the land, water, air, toxic substances, safety and public health. Ohio has been playing catch-up to the recent influx of natural gas development, and the state’s older oil and gas statutes left multiple issues unaddressed or outdated. Concerns about hydraulic fracturing, forced pooling, water management, waste disposal, well design and construction, chemicals used, trade secrets and air quality have ignited much public discussion in Ohio.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Theodore R. Bromund, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 05/20/2013
In spite of the fact that other nations are free to have high standards, have repeatedly voted in favor of such standards, are on the verge of signing a binding treaty that supposedly mandates these standards—and have often demanded even higher standards—and in spite of the U.S.’s record of responsible behavior and its provision of millions of dollars of foreign aid, the Arms Trade Treaty’s supporters argue that the U.S. needs to sign the treaty for it to work and in order to set an example for other nations. If the world’s nations all want the treaty so badly, they should happily sign and implement it regardless of what the U.S. does.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Jeffrey A. Smith, Danielle Sugarman, Robert J. Stein, Washington Legal FoundationContemporary Legal Note, 05/20/2013
On February 13, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission rejected the determination by PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. that, like many companies before it, PNC could exclude a shareholder proposal relating to climate change from its annual proxy materials. Because PNC has a critical financial relationship with many companies that must manage their risk, it seems likely that the impetus to disclose such information will quickly be spread to them. Of greater possible significance is an even wider application of the PNC template. Financial services companies with a broad, but indirect or derivative, stake in climate change or sustainability may well become pressure points for disclosure, and behavioral change, in much the same way that they were sought out to sign the Equator Principles a decade ago.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Matthew A. Reed, Washington Legal FoundationLegal Opinion Letter, 05/20/2013
A growing number of courts have held that medical devices marketed pursuant to the Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous pre-market approval process are so heavily regulated by the federal government that nearly all state law claims regarding such devices are preempted, expressly or impliedly, by federal law. In Caplinger v. Medtronic, Inc., the plaintiff attempted to “preemption-proof” her state law claims by alleging that Medtronic engaged in “off-label promotion” of its medical devices. The federal district court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint anyway, holding that, while such allegations might allow a few of her claims to escape express preemption, they were still impliedly preempted. In so doing, the court relied upon a logical construction of the Supreme Court’s much-debated implied preemption doctrine in Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee, which other courts facing similar “off-label” allegations, and seeking to give full preemptive force to FDA regulatory authority, would do well to follow.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Michael A. Walsh, Washington Legal FoundationWorking Paper, 05/20/2013
Because the Food and Drug Administration may not have the stranglehold it once had over the dissemination of information, new theories and approaches to state tort liability are emerging. None is more potently poised than tort claims related to unapproved new uses or off-label uses. Similarly emergent are theories claiming “parallel” state court tort damages based upon violation of the Food and Drug Cosmetic Act.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Emily Goff, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 05/20/2013
If confirmed as the next Secretary of Transportation, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will have opportunities to break with the business-as-usual transportation policy that revolves around Washington and special-interest politics. It is important to the confirmation process to understand Foxx’s position on existing programs and to what extent he agrees with the Administration’s centrally run, command-and-control transportation policy.