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Recent Policy Studies
PhilanthropyBy Alexander Reid, Philanthropy RoundtableArticle, 07/12/2013
The charitable deduction is a negotiated bargain between citizens and the state, establishing a delicate balance of power. We have accepted limits on how much money we may contribute, on the types of property that can be given, on the arrangements that constitute a gift, on the broad sectors we may give to, and on what the recipients are forbidden to do with our gifts. But, historically and philosophically, there are more reasons to argue that the charitable deduction should be expanded today than that it should be further circumscribed. Sacrificing the charitable deduction is not a wise, safe, or acceptable means of improving today’s disastrous federal finances. The appropriation of charitable revenue by the federal government would be a profound renegotiation of the relationship between the American government and our civil society. Bluntly, such a drastic move would run counter to the entire history and spirit of American democracy.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Dean Cheng, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/12/2013
Beijing hopes to win future conflicts without firing a shot. How? By using psychological warfare to manipulate both a nation’s leaders and its populace—affecting the thought processes and cognitive frameworks of allies and opponents alike. Indeed, the PRC’s psychological warfare operations are already underway despite the fact that there is no active conflict. It is therefore essential that the United States counter such psychological operations now while preparing to use its own arsenal of political warfare weapons should a conflict ever arise.
National SecurityBy Baker Spring, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/12/2013
President Barack Obama’s declared goal of eliminating the U.S. nuclear arsenal appears to be driving U.S. nuclear policy. The Nuclear Posture Review Implementation Study, which recommends reducing the number of U.S. strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third, appears to have resulted from choosing the amount of reduction first and then justifying the number after the fact, rather than assessing U.S. deterrence needs first and then choosing the number of weapons that would meet that need. The Administration’s backward approach to policymaking threatens to undermine the security of the United States and its allies.
Health CareBy Avik Roy, Manhattan InstituteTestimony, 07/11/2013
A one-year delay impacts other important provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In order to gain eligibility for subsidized coverage on the exchanges, an individual must prove that he has not been offered “affordable” coverage from his employer. But now that the reporting requirements of the employer mandate have been delayed, it may be difficult for him to prove or disprove that. Delaying the employer mandate’s reporting requirements, therefore, affects the implementation of the subsidized exchanges and the individual mandate.
Health CareBy Peter Ferrara, National Center for Policy AnalysisIssue Brief, 07/11/2013
HSAs and similar consumer-directed high deductible plans are spreading across the work force, and demonstrating a powerful capability to control rising health care costs. But ObamaCare threatens to raise rather than lower health insurance costs, and will fail to achieve universal health care by a wide margin. Indeed, ObamaCare will quite possibly increase rather than reduce the number of uninsured. It is already reducing employment and senior access to health care, and with no change in course, these effects will grow far worse. Indeed, ObamaCare is now the problem, and HSAs are the solution.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Christopher Snowdon, Institute of Economic AffairsReport, 07/11/2013
Government regulation of e-cigarettes will harm competition, increase prices and damage public health. New research released today by the Institute of Economic Affairs finds that excessive regulation of alternative nicotine products will actually do more harm than good. This new study, Free Market Solutions in Health: The case of nicotine, finds that safer nicotine products are not a gateway to smoking, but a gateway from smoking. Evidence suggests that alternative nicotine products have little appeal to non-smokers, and have a marked impact on helping smokers to quit. Banning e-cigarettes will mean more people continue smoking cigarettes, a vastly unhealthier product. Smokers should not be discouraged from switching to far less hazardous forms of nicotine. Harm reduction is a better strategy than prohibition.
Health CareBy James C. Capretta, American Enterprise InstituteTestimony, 07/11/2013
The administration's recent decisions to delay significant parts of the PPACA are an invitation to the Congress to revisit the law too. At this point, it would seem that there is bipartisan agreement that the employer mandate should not go into effect, at least not before 2015. This committee and Congress should consider enacting into law the one-year delay that the administration already says it supports. This would allow Congress to write the delay in a manner that clearly relieves employers of their obligations. It would allow Congress to revisit the question again next year. The same reasons that compelled the administration to delay its enforcement this year will be there next year, with possibly the same result.
National SecurityBy Lisa Curtis, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/11/2013
The Obama Administration is considering leaving no U.S. troops behind in Afghanistan after it ends its combat mission there in 2014. This would undermine U.S. security interests, as it would pave the way for the Taliban to regain influence in Afghanistan and cripple the U.S. ability to conduct counterterrorism missions in the region. President Obama instead should commit the U.S. to maintaining a robust troop presence (at least 15,000–20,000) in Afghanistan after 2014 in order to train and advise the Afghan troops and conduct counterterrorism missions as necessary. The U.S. should also remain diplomatically, politically, and financially engaged in Afghanistan in order to sustain the gains made over the last decade and ensure that the country does not again serve as a sanctuary for international terrorists intent on attacking the U.S.
Health CareBy James Panero, Manhattan InstituteArticle, 07/10/2013
A century and a half ago, the need for a moral treatment of the mentally ill led to institutions that offered the most advanced care of the day. The fiscal and legal barriers to repeating that achievement may seem insurmountable. But undoing 50 years of bad policy is easy compared with what today’s mentally ill must endure. Many of today’s mentally ill have returned to pre-Kirkbride conditions and live on society’s margins, either sleeping on the streets or drifting among prisons, jails, welfare hotels, and outpatient facilities. As their diseases go untreated, they do significant harm to themselves and their families. Some go further, terrorizing communities with disorder and violence. Our failure to care for them recalls the inhumane era that preceded the rise of the state institutions. The time has come for new facilities and a new moral treatment.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy James Jay Carafano, James Phillips, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 07/10/2013
Egypt’s army recently ousted President Mohamed Morsi, just as it removed Hosni Mubarak in 2011, to prevent growing civil disorder from undermining the power of the state and its own privileges within the state. The intervention was widely applauded by opposition political parties and the overwhelming majority of the millions of protesters who demanded that Morsi step down. By taking steps to preserve public order, the military could help to salvage Egypt’s chances of making the difficult transition to a stable democracy. To salvage the increasingly difficult situation in Egypt, the United States should press the Egyptian military to lay the groundwork for a return to civilian rule as soon as possible, attach tighter strings to U.S. aid, and recalibrate the U.S. aid program to focus on fighting terrorism and preventing food shortages—the chief threats to Egypt’s future.
The Constitution/Civil LibertiesBy Alabama Policy Institute, Alabama Policy InstituteGuide to the Issues, 07/09/2013
The Court’s opinion does not appear to force Alabama and the other 37 states affirming marriage as the union of a man and a woman to recognize homosexual marriage. The ultimate result of the decision will likely be further litigation designed to force the Supreme Court to hear a challenge to state laws restricting to heterosexual couples the definition of marriage and associated privileges. In Alabama, State Representative Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) has already indicated her willingness to fight Alabama’s law in court. Similar efforts across the nation will likely result in splits between federal appellate courts and push the Supreme Court to again address the issue in relatively short order.
The Trade and Economic Benefits of Enhanced Intellectual Property Protection for Pharmaceuticals in CanadaBy Kristina Lybecker, Laura Dawson, Fraser InstituteStudies in Economic Prosperity, 07/09/2013
Canada is in the midst of a number of free trade negotiations, the most important of which are the soon-to-be completed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union and the multi-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A key issue to be settled in these negotiations is intellectual property (IP) protection for pharmaceutical innovation. In negotiations for both agreements, Canada faces pressure to enhance IP protection so that it more closely aligns with protection that prevails in Europe and the United States, among other nations.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Nina Shea, Hudson InstituteTestimony, 07/09/2013
Though no religious community has been spared suffering, Syria’s ancient Christian minority has cause to believe that they confront an “existential threat,” according to a finding of the UN Human Right Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria, last December. And this group, in contrast to Syria’s Alawites, Shiites and Sunnis, has no defender. They face a distinct peril so dire that their ability to survive in Syria is being seriously doubted by church leaders and independent secular observers, alike.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Charles Krauthammer, et al., Hudson InstituteSymposium, 07/09/2013
The premise I would start with is that the fundamental issue of our time that underlies all the arguments we have had, from debt and deficits to ObamaCare and stimulus spending, has to do with one issue, and that is the crisis of the welfare state. And the subsidiary question of how powerful, how intrusive a state do we need and do we want? In a sense, it’s a subset of a larger question, which is the nature of the American experiment, or to put it in its loftiest terms, the nature of the American social contract.
EducationBy Sandra Stotsky, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy ResearchArticle, 07/09/2013
Common Core’s egalitarian tentacles are now slithering towards high school diploma requirements. In states that respond to a current prod to “align” their high school graduation requirements in mathematics with the academic level reflected in Common Core’s college-readiness mathematics standards, the mathematics coursework taken by our low-achieving high school students may indeed become stronger. But if such an alignment is not strategically altered, states may be unwittingly reducing other students’ participation in more demanding mathematics curricula and their academic eligibility for undergraduate STEM majors and internationally competitive jobs in mathematics-dependent areas.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Richard Weitz, Hudson InstituteWorld Affairs, 07/09/2013
Filling the gaps in US ballistic missile defense capabilities will inevitably force painful trade-offs between national homeland and regional defenses. The timely identification of threats is essential for their neutralization. This requires persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities at both the global and regional level. Even so, these measures can have only a limited impact. Fundamentally, numbers matter, a fact of life to bear in mind as the United States and its allies continue to develop a flexible missile defense architecture with mobile assets that can be deployed in other theaters in an emergency, while also providing a homeland defense network that can be augmented and upgraded as the threat evolves.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Glenn Hubbard, Tim Kane, Hudson InstituteForeign Affairs, 07/09/2013
What Citizens United has done is shift the structure of the political market in favor of small donors and causes. One recent study, by the legal scholars Douglas Spencer and Abby Wood, found that after the ruling, independent expenditures increased in all states, but that the effect was twice as large in those states, such as Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio, that had previously banned corporate and union independent expenditures. Properly understood, the decision ended an almost four-decade period of repression of independent political voices. The history of campaign finance in this era will be remembered for making politics more, not less, polarized. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) was a policy failure, and it is for the good of American democracy that the Supreme Court said as much.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Douglas J. Feith, et al., Hudson InstituteForeign Affairs, 07/09/2013
Rarely does the U.S. Senate reject a treaty. But on December 4, 2012, it did just that, blocking ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. President Barack Obama had argued that by joining, the United States would "reaffirm America's position as the global leader on disability rights" and help inspire other countries to improve their treatment of the disabled. Skeptics asked why ratification would prove more inspirational than the U.S. domestic laws already on the books. When skeptics also warned of the effect on U.S. sovereignty, supporters stressed that the treaty imposed no burdensome requirements. That was a peculiar argument, for if the treaty lacks substance, then there is no point in ratifying it, and if it makes substantive demands on the parties, then the concerns about sovereignty are well founded.
Economic GrowthBy The Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Task Force, The Heritage FoundationSpecial Report, 07/09/2013
Promoting economic freedom at home and abroad is essential to revitalizing the U.S. economy. In 2010, the United States fell from the ranks of the economically free countries in the Index of Economic Freedom and, in the years since, the U.S. has continued a steady decline. The warnings in the 2013 edition of the Index are too stark to ignore. Only by pressing for more freedom everywhere can the U.S. hope to avoid further decline. A plan for promoting economic freedom in the world is laid out in this Special Report. It describes many actions that nations around the world need to take and offers Washington a blueprint for a practical and effective global strategy. American leadership can be decisive in promoting property rights and anti-corruption measures in other countries. This global agenda can and should be implemented—starting today.
International Trade/FinanceBy Terry Miller, Ryan Olson, The Heritage FoundationIssue Brief, 07/09/2013
In response to poor labor conditions in Bangladesh, the Obama Administration has moved to unilaterally impose trade sanctions by removing the country’s privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). These actions follow two prominent workplace tragedies that have killed over 1,200 Bangladeshi workers in the past year. While these tragedies are horrific, the Administration’s policies will be ineffective in promoting improvements in working conditions. Instead, imposing trade sanctions will only hurt Bangladesh’s poor and damage burgeoning trade relations.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Michael Mazza, American Enterprise InstituteAsian Outlook, 07/09/2013
The Obama administration’s “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia aims to improve security, prosperity, and human rights in the region, with particular focus on security efforts. Taiwan and the United States have a long-standing but often-underemphasized security partnership that could play a significant role in this effort. Because of its proximity to and knowledge of China, Taiwan is uniquely equipped to help US efforts to (1) expand presence and access in the region by ensuring US forces can utilize facilities on the island in the event of a conflict; (2) build partnership capacity by improving its self-defense capabilities; and (3) improve military innovation by sharing experience, technology, and intelligence with the United States. Rather than fearing damaging bilateral ties with China, the United States should take advantage of the benefits this important partnership can offer.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Steven Forde, The Heritage FoundationMakers of American Political Thought, 07/08/2013
Although Franklin was at the center of some of the most momentous episodes of the American Founding, his thoughts and writings are devoted more to matters of culture and popular morality than to laws and institutions. In the end, he held that institutions matter less than the character of the people who sustain them. Thus his famous response to one who inquired what government the Framers had given the Americans: “a republic, if you can keep it.” Only a populace with the proper temper can support a free government, making it the task of a Founder to shape not only institutions, but character as well.
Economic GrowthBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
The President’s critique of the patent system is surely overblown. Its concern with the high cost of litigation, however, suggests that the more fruitful way to deal with problems is to address issues of civil procedure that go far beyond the patent law. Excess discovery by plaintiffs and defendants alike is a serious concern because current rules give both parties far too much leeway in initiating dragnet discovery claims. Greater judicial oversight in large cases could help rein in costs.
National SecurityBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
Most libertarians are deeply suspicious of balancing tests because they do not have the hard-edged quality of fixed rules. But unfortunately, balancing is all that we have when it comes to having the government respond to uncertain future events. The only issue is how best to balance. One type of balancing involves an open-ended “facts-and-circumstances” test that leaves a lot to the imagination. This is the kind of test long used to determine whether police have “probable cause” to issue an arrest or search warrant, or whether testimony elicited in some custodial interrogation is sufficiently “voluntary” to be admissible into evidence for some purposes within the criminal system. These tests tend to survive, not because they are perfect, but because courts develop certain niches in which a per se rule is applied.
International Trade/FinanceBy Richard A. Epstein, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
In the long run, the ideal is free trade across national borders without subsidies or restraint. But that result is a long time in coming. In the short run, the betting here is that Royce-Engel would have saved lives—which makes it a pity that the Amendment failed.
Information TechnologyBy Bruce Thornton, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
Media bias and partisanship are now instantly held accountable in ways that were unthinkable a few decades ago. Today, then, we are back to where we were in the past. Citizens have numerous options for news and information, and numerous alternatives that challenge, balance, and correct the partisan biases of the mainstream media. More importantly, this new media world means that in a democracy ruled by the people, the responsibility for sorting out truth from partisan spin lies where it should, with the free citizens who have the civic duty to seek out and evaluate information before voting for a party or policy. Media bias is no longer an excuse for neglecting that responsibility.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Itamar Rabinovich, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
The Syrian army could pose serious opposition to an invading force and Syrian air defenses could inflict damages on foreign planes imposing a no-fly zone. More importantly, Obama is horrified by the prospect of toppling Assad and remaining with a broken Syria as a U.S. responsibility. This outlook could change over time but seems to be firmly held by the administration presently.
Regulation & DeregulationBy David R. Henderson, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
If the government were more judicious with its warnings and tried to focus on the high-probability dangers—and this is what governments do in many other countries—lives would be saved. Human life is simply too valuable to endanger it by incessantly warning people about small risks.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Fouad Ajami, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
In every way, Ataturk was the nemesis of what Erdogan stands for. Where Erdogan is severe on drinking and alcohol, Kemal was addicted to raki, the country’s anise-flavored liquor. In fact, Ataturk had died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 57. He was a military officer and a conqueror, and he took drinking as a manly prerogative. Erdogan had all but called Ataturk a drunkard, and that kind of blasphemy had not been well received by a population raised to a tradition of reverence for the founder. No wholesale purging of a culture can be totally successful. Ataturk died in 1938, with his creed ascendant. But Islam never exited the stage. It went underground, and was to reappear in the 1990s. The officer corps, the guardians of the Kemalist temple, did not have the country to itself. Political Islamists made their presence felt, and a military coup against them in 1997 did not do the trick.
Budget & TaxationBy James Huffman, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
Where taxes and regulation are the same for all similarly situated businesses, competition among states and cities can lead to net increases in jobs and tax revenues. Lower tax and regulatory costs for private competitors can make previously uneconomic enterprises viable. But inter-jurisdictional competition in the granting of special favors serves only the interests of the favored recipients, and it does so at the expense of our long cherished value of equal protection of the laws. Even if the net result in a particular state or locality is more jobs and more tax revenue, it almost certainly means fewer jobs and less tax revenue in another state or city.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover InstitutionDefining Ideas, 07/08/2013
Obama’s background as a long-time student, lawyer, law lecturer, and politician has led him to live in a world of words rather than of those concrete consequences found more often in the private sector or in the landscape of the self-employed. Obama also talks grandly of world citizenry and the primacy of the United Nations as global negotiator. Accordingly, his speeches do not appreciate that friction and disputes are innate to human character.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Craig Curtis, Brad McMillan, Don Racheter, Public Interest InstitutePolicy Study, 07/08/2013
Despite broad agreement in our society that voting is an essential element of democracy, the process for redrawing electoral districts is self-consciously manipulated for partisan advantage by both parties whenever they have the chance to do so. While Iowa now draws its legislative districts in a nonpartisan fashion, it was not always the case. Given Iowa’s history of manipulating districts lines, the current system which now avoids gerrymandering is nothing short of a political miracle.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Paul Schwennesen, Cato InstituteRegulation, 07/08/2013
Regulations are good for imposing minimums, but not for creating excellence. Since our food safety “problem” is clearly in the vanishing margins, excellence is called for. This will only be attained when incentives exist to urge our producers (and consumers) to peak performance.
Health CareBy Jeff Stier, Henry I. Miller, Cato InstituteRegulation, 07/08/2013
There are plenty of people out there telling us what we should eat—and worse, trying to use public policy to make us live by their opinions. Although many of them may know how to sell books and promote themselves through newspapers and press releases, few know much about the demands of our lifestyles, the economics of food and agriculture, and most important, nutrition. Our advice: Ignore their bluster and eat a variety of foods in moderation. And resist the meddling of the nanny-state food activists inside and outside government.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Sam Batkins, Ike Brannon, Cato InstituteRegulation, 07/08/2013
No task in government is as Sisyphean as trying to stop bad regulatory ideas from becoming law. For three and a half years, that was Cass Sunstein’s job as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (the branch of the Office of Management and Budget tasked with reviewing the regulatory activities of executive agencies). He discovered early on that being the regulatory cop for the White House puts one in the cross-hairs of every single administrative agency seeking to have its regulations approved.
Budget & TaxationBy Ike Brannon, Cato InstituteRegulation, 07/08/2013
A greatly simplified tax code that stripped out the various incentives currently in place to buy a house, an energy-efficient car, home weatherization, and a thousand other myriad and sun- dry things would result in a tax code less costly to administer and comply with, as well as one more amenable to economic growth. It would permit us to keep the tax rates on work lower than they currently are.
Economic and Political ThoughtBy Charles Murray, American Enterprise InstituteBook, 07/08/2013
The phrase “American exceptionalism” is used in many ways and for many purposes, but its original meaning involved a statement of fact: for the first century after the Constitution went into effect, European observers and Americans alike saw the United States as exceptional, with political and civic cultures that had no counterparts anywhere else.
Budget & TaxationBy Brian C. Anderson, Rowman & LittlefieldBook, 07/08/2013
California is at a tipping point. Severe budget deficits, unsustainable pension costs, heavy taxes, cumbersome regulation, struggling cities, and distressed public schools are but a few of the challenges that policymakers must address for the state to remain a beacon of business innovation and economic opportunity. While there is plenty of literature on California’s history, topography, and attractions, The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It is the first book examining in rigorous detail how a place seen just a generation ago as the dynamic engine of the American future could, through bad policy ideas, sink into some of the highest unemployment rates and poorest educational outcomes in the country. The book is as thoroughly analytical, as it is pragmatically prescriptive, complete with policy solutions mapping the way forward for a struggling state.
Budget & TaxationBy Stephen Eide, Manhattan InstituteCivic Report, 07/08/2013
New policy solutions at the state level are necessary to anticipate, prevent, and manage distress. Cities need better fiscal policymaking, particularly with regard to personnel spending, since salaries and benefits dominate cities’ budgets. States have a responsibility to eliminate the threat of contagion – so the fiscal distress of one municipality does not affect other cities’ access to credit. Because only states can assume control of city governments, they are in the best position to enact fundamental reforms to eliminate or reduce the potential for fiscal recidivism.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Ryan Scott, et al., Cato InstituteRegulation, 07/08/2013
For decades, academics have worked to develop an effective method for evaluating the costs and benefits of different policy responses to a public problem. The result of those labors, benefit-cost analysis (BCA), has been adopted by policymakers, government agencies, and other political actors. However, their application of BCA diverges widely from academic efforts. To illustrate the difference between what we call “ideal BCA” and “bureaucratic BCA,” we offer the following story of how BCA has been used in watershed management and flood control policymaking in the Chehalis Basin of Washington state.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Mark W. Frankena, Cato InstituteRegulation, 07/08/2013
In 2010, Nashville’s Metro Council imposed anti-competitive restrictions on black cars. The restrictions harm Nashville’s residents and visitors while enabling its taxi and limousine companies to earn excess profits. The Institute for Justice argued that these restrictions violated constitutional guarantees of economic liberty and equal protection of law because they bear no rational relationship to a legitimate government objective. In 2013, a jury rejected those claims and voted to uphold the restrictions.
EducationBy Andrew P. Kelly, Daniel K. Lautzenheiser, American Enterprise InstituteReport, 07/08/2013
Reform-minded state policymakers have an opportunity to remake their higher education systems for the 21st century, but it will not be easy. The key is to create conditions under which a more productive, cost effective, and student-centered higher education market can take root. We listed four areas in which enterprising state leaders can take charge: creating incentives for schools to improve student success, become more productive, and experiment with new approaches; rewarding cost effectiveness; improving transparency; and encouraging innovation.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Susan E. Dudley, Cato InstituteRegulation, 07/08/2013
The Office of Management and Budget’s role is to serve as a check against agencies’ natural motivation to paint a rosy picture of their proposed actions. While it cannot ensure that agencies consider all the possible consequences of an action in their analyses, it should try to ensure that the boundaries of those analyses are set with some regard to objective science. When a few categories of benefits that have questionable legitimacy puff up benefits by a five-fold margin or more, that does not appear to be the case.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Andrew N. Kleit, Robert J. Michaels, Cato InstituteRegulation, 07/08/2013
In the United States and around the world, electricity restructuring is converting regulated monopolies into market regimes. The characteristics of those markets, however, are critical determinants of their performance and remain the subjects of active policy debate. One important issue is whether electricity markets can—without government intervention— provide adequate generation to reliably power society’s needs. This article reviews the rationales for capacity markets recently proposed for the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Some have argued that low levels of investment in generation on ERCOT are reducing reserve margins to levels that threaten reliability. Others believe that ERCOT’s “energy-only” regime can suffice to incentivize adequate investment.