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  • Backgrounder posted September 14, 2016 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Fixing the Regulatory Framework for Derivatives

    Many policymakers have strong opinions on the risks of derivatives, but there is no objective economic reason to regulate derivatives as a unique product. To the contrary, it is best to avoid regulating derivatives as a unique product because doing so is bound to result in a complex set of rules filled with special exemptions for select users. Prior to the 2008 financial…

  • Issue Brief posted September 13, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Congress Needs to Address the PBGC’s Multiemployer Program Deficit Now

    The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a government entity that provides mandatory insurance to private pension plans. If a private pension plan fails, the PBGC pays out insured benefits so that pensioners are not left penniless.[1] The problem is, however, that the PBGC’s multiemployer program is itself insolvent and will likely run out of money to pay…

  • Issue Brief posted September 9, 2016 by Paul Winfree A Better Way Forward on the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution

    The budget process, specified in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, calls for Congress and the President to reach agreement on 12 separate annual appropriations bills before the fiscal year (FY) ends on September 30. In recent years, Congress and the President have failed to enact these bills as standalone measures, leaving the federal government to operate on a series…

  • Backgrounder posted September 8, 2016 by Romina Boccia Improving Accuracy in Congressional Scorekeeping

    Congress should account for debt-service costs when considering the costs of proposed legislation. Current scorekeeping conventions fail to account for debt-service costs when Congress considers new legislation outside of major budget proposals. This leads to lawmakers having incomplete information concerning how a proposal will impact the U.S. budget. The practice…

  • Issue Brief posted September 7, 2016 by Michael Sargent WRDA: The Water Resources Development Act in the 114th Congress

    The federal government undertakes substantial activities constructing and maintaining national water resources and infrastructure through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These activities are primarily: maintaining navigable channels, reducing flood and storm damage, and restoring aquatic ecosystems. Corps activities are traditionally authorized every two years by…

  • Backgrounder posted August 31, 2016 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Money and Banking Provisions in the Financial CHOICE Act: A Major Step in the Right Direction

    House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R–TX) has released a discussion draft of a major regulatory reform bill called the Financial CHOICE Act.[1] This legislation would replace large parts of the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Key sections of the bill would reduce the risk of future financial crises and bailouts, and…

  • Backgrounder posted August 16, 2016 by Tori K. Whiting Trade and Prosperity in the States: The Case of Michigan

    Every Michigander remembers what the state’s economy looked like in 2010—715,000 people were out of work, and gross domestic product (GDP) had contracted by 7.6 percent by the time the recession ended. Many people were skeptical that free trade could help revive the economy, while others even blamed free trade for the state’s problems. Despite these doubts, support for…

  • Backgrounder posted July 7, 2016 by Paul Winfree Causes of the Federal Government’s Unsustainable Spending

    In all but five of the past 50 years, the budget of the United States has been in cash deficit.[1] For example, in 2015, the federal government ran a cash deficit of $438 billion—after collecting $3,250 billion in revenues and spending $3,688 billion.[2] The continuous level of deficit spending has increased public debt, which, during the same period, rose from 33.7…

  • Issue Brief posted July 7, 2016 by Justin Bogie, David R. Burton, Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. 2017 House Financial Services and General Government Bill: Reduces Spending, But Does Not Go Far Enough on Policy Changes

    This week, the House is expected to consider the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill. This bill provides funding for the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the Small Business Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, among other agencies. The fiscal year (FY) 2017 bill provides a total of $21.7 billion in…

  • Issue Brief posted June 24, 2016 by Justin Bogie Time to End “Zombie” Appropriations

    A growing problem on Capitol Hill has been the expanding practice of Congress appropriating funds to so-called zombie programs, which are programs that have never been authorized or are operating under an expired authorization. Under House and Senate rules, an appropriation cannot be made for a purpose unless separate authorizing legislation has been passed into law.…

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  • Issue Brief posted June 5, 2015 by Ryan Olson To Avoid Trade Diversion, Congress Should Liberalize Rules of Origin

    Regional trade agreements (RTAs) have played an important role in global trade liberalization. However, a major weakness of such liberalization is trade diversion. Trade diversion occurs when regions liberalize at an uneven pace and this liberalization redirects trade flows to trade agreement beneficiaries. For example, when the U.S. signs a trade agreement with one…

  • Backgrounder posted March 31, 2015 by Daren Bakst Achievable Economic Policy Reforms for Congress

    Congress can pass legislation this year that would make a significant difference in the lives of Americans. Despite the perception of partisan gridlock, broad support exists for many important domestic economic policy reforms. These policies are ambitious but achievable, and, if adopted, would promote economic growth, empower individuals, and reduce government waste.…

  • Legal Memorandum posted February 12, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery, Andrew Kloster An Executive Unbound: The Obama Administration’s Unilateral Actions

    “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.” —President Barack Obama[1] The rule of law is a bedrock principle of Anglo–American jurisprudence. It stands for the belief that all—including government officials—are subject to the law and not above it. America’s Founding Fathers understood this principle, and the…

  • Issue Brief posted October 31, 2014 by David Inserra Five Questions the Secret Service Review Panel Must Answer

    A ‌series of alarming security breaches have caused ‌many to question the Secret Service’s ability to protect the President.[1] In the wake of these events, an independent four-member review panel—two senior officials each from the Bush and Obama Administrations—will investigate the Secret Service’s recent security breaches and advise the Department of Homeland Security…

  • Commentary posted October 23, 2013 by James L. Gattuso Congressional checks and balances aren’t in the mail

    Spare change is hard to find at the U.S. Postal Service nowadays. The nation's mail service started October by defaulting on a payment due to the U.S. Treasury and is down to less than 10 days of cash on hand. The USPS is expected to muddle through the crunch, but its financial problems won’t go away. The mail delivery business is in long-term decline. Without…

  • Issue Brief posted November 12, 2014 by Romina Boccia Lame Duck Threats Congress Should Avoid

    A‌ lame duck session refers to when one Congress ‌is in session after a new one has been elected. After last week’s election, Members of Congress who lost elections or are retiring are lame ducks, who are protected from the consequences of passing politically unpopular legislation. This lame duck session is particularly important because the Republicans will take control…

  • Commentary posted August 25, 2014 by Lee Edwards, Ph.D. The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

    Not since Edmund Morris’s bizarre semi-fictional biography of Ronald Reagan has there been such a deeply disappointing Reagan book as Rick Perlstein’s The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. No sooner was it published than it was greeted with charges of plagiarism, egregious misstatements, and “invisible” footnotes. It is always useful to know…

  • Commentary posted February 3, 2014 by Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. Why the people don’t trust government

    No one tests the historic optimism of the American people quite like your average politician. Poll after poll finds a deep distrust of government, with more than two-thirds saying they can’t believe what they hear from Washington. You don’t have to look far for examples of why they feel this way. Americans have learned to be wary of taking what politicians say at face…

  • Lecture on February 13, 2014 The Prospect for Freedom: Can the U.S. Sustain Its Experiment in Self-Government?

    Some years ago, I was in China at one of the major universities and speaking to a forum of Chinese CEOs. After the final banquet, I walked back to the lecture hall with the dean of the business school. “Let me ask you a question I wouldn’t ask in public,” he said. “What am I missing? We in China are fascinated with the Christian roots of your Western past—for the sake of…

  • Commentary posted February 16, 2014 by Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D. Nonprofit model entirely misleading

    One of the many virtues of the United States is it has an exceptionally lively nonprofit sector. There is an organization for everyone, and every organization speaks for itself. Europe is less fortunate: there, government funding of nonprofits is the norm. But at least Europe is waking up to the dangers of subsidies. We seem to be going to sleep. In the United States,…

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  • Backgrounder posted August 16, 2016 by Tori K. Whiting Trade and Prosperity in the States: The Case of Michigan

    Every Michigander remembers what the state’s economy looked like in 2010—715,000 people were out of work, and gross domestic product (GDP) had contracted by 7.6 percent by the time the recession ended. Many people were skeptical that free trade could help revive the economy, while others even blamed free trade for the state’s problems. Despite these doubts, support for…

  • Backgrounder posted June 13, 2016 by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Jack Spencer, Bridget Mudd, Katie Tubb Science Policy: Priorities and Reforms for the 45th President

    Federal involvement in science and technology is far-reaching, spanning all three branches of government. It has developed over decades from wartime objectives, layers of legislation, diverse presidential Administrations, and growing regulation. Federal participation in science and technology has aided the nation in meeting national security needs and exploring the…

  • Issue Brief posted April 25, 2016 by Justin Bogie, Daren Bakst, Nicolas Loris, Katie Tubb 2017 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations: Bill Falls Short on Key Policies

    This week, the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill is expected to be debated on the Senate floor. The first of 12 appropriations bills providing discretionary funding for the federal government, the bill provides funding for projects under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department…

  • Backgrounder posted December 21, 2015 by Bryan Riley, Ambassador Terry Miller 2016 Index of Economic Freedom: Yet More Evidence of Free Trade’s Benefits

    The latest rankings of trade freedom around the world,[1] included by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal in the forthcoming 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, confirm that citizens of countries that embrace free trade are better off than those in countries that do not. The data continue to show a strong correlation between trade freedom and a variety of…

  • Issue Brief posted November 24, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Time to Cut Out the SSA as Middleman in SSDI Representation

    Unlike traditional attorney-client relationships in which the client pays the attorney at the conclusion of a case, attorneys who represent Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants receive payment directly from the Social Security Administration (SSA), even though it is not the SSA’s money. SSDI claimants enter into private contracts with representatives to…

  • Backgrounder posted October 23, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Improving Social Security Disability Insurance with a Flat Benefit

    Social Security’s Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has existed for nearly 60 years. Over that time, it has morphed from a relatively small-scale, anti-poverty program into a massive system that provides benefits to one out of every 20 working-age individuals. Despite its size and expense, the program fails to keep millions out of poverty. Rather than maintaining the…

  • Backgrounder posted October 20, 2015 by Bryan Riley, Anthony B. Kim Freedom to Trade: A Guide for Policymakers

    Freedom to trade—the freedom to exchange goods and services openly with others—is as fundamental to human well-being as any right guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, the freedom to trade is the foundation of America’s modern economic system that provides historically unprecedented opportunities for individuals to achieve greater economic freedom and…

  • Issue Brief posted October 20, 2015 by Steven P. Bucci, Ph.D., David Inserra The Rising Tide of Migrants and Refugees: Due Diligence and Adherence to Law Required

    Europe has been dealing with an overwhelming influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and other areas. What is often called the Syrian refugee crisis involves the largest numbers of migrating people that Europe has seen since World War II. The vast number of refugees—Germany alone is expecting up to 1.5 million people by the end of the year[1]—will eventually…

  • Backgrounder posted July 29, 2015 by Romina Boccia Social Security: $39 Billion Deficit in 2014, Insolvent by 2035

    Social Security’s main program, also known as Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), ran a $39 billion deficit in 2014, closing out five years of consecutive cash-flow deficits as the program’s unfunded obligations continue to grow.[1] According to the 2015 annual Trustees’ Report, the 75-year unfunded obligation of the Social Security OASI Trust Fund is $9.43 trillion,…

  • Backgrounder posted July 24, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Social Security Trustees: Disability Insurance Program Will Be Insolvent in 2016

    A‌ccording to the 2015 Social Security Trustees Report, the Social ‌Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund is on course to run dry in 2016, six decades after the program began in 1956.[1] Absent reform, disability benefits will be cut across the board by almost 20 percent, and the average disabled worker’s benefit will fall below the federal poverty level. For…

Find more work on United States Government
Find more work on United States Government