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  • Backgrounder posted December 4, 2015 by Paul Winfree, Daren Bakst, Rachel Sheffield, James Phillips, Diane Katz, Nicolas Loris, Katie Tubb, Roger Severino, Sarah Torre, Lindsey Burke, James Sherk, Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Brett D. Schaefer, David Inserra Important Policy Riders for the FY 2016 Appropriations Bills

    The Constitution unequivocally grants Congress the exclusive power to appropriate funds for the “necessary and proper” operations of government.[1] James Madison wrote in The Federalist No. 58 that providing budgetary powers to Congress was a critical element in maintaining individual rights: “The power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and…

  • Issue Brief posted October 28, 2015 by Paul Winfree, Romina Boccia, Justin T. Johnson, Daren Bakst, Nicolas Loris, James L. Gattuso, Jason Snead, Rachel Greszler, Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., David R. Burton, Curtis S. Dubay Analysis of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015

    The federal budget is on a dangerous trajectory and immediate corrective action is required. The U.S. national debt is at $18.1 trillion. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if the government remains on its currently planned course, it will spend $7 trillion more over the next 10 years than it will receive in taxes, piling on even more debt. Heritage…

  • Commentary posted October 13, 2015 by Daren Bakst USDA sows grapes of wrath after ‘Raisin Case,’ still punishes overproductive growers

    Sell too many cherries, and the federal fruit police might come knocking at your door. Washington’s fruit and vegetable marketing orders give cartels the green light to restrict the supply of certain fruits and vegetables. The feds then act as the enforcer of the regulations developed through these cartels. Marketing orders were center stage in Horne v. USDA, a case…

  • Issue Brief posted September 29, 2015 by Daren Bakst The Federal Government Should Stop Limiting the Sale of Certain Fruits and Vegetables

    In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided Horne v. Department of Agriculture,[1] a case regarding the federal government’s authority to fine raisin growers who did not hand over part of their crop to the government. Fortunately, the court held that forcing growers to turn over their raisins was a taking of private property requiring just compensation. While…

  • Commentary posted August 18, 2015 by Daren Bakst Three Signs the EPA/Army Corps Water Rule is a Disaster

    The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers’ final water rule under the Clean Water Act seeks to regulate almost every type of water in the country. And you don’t even need to get into the substance of the rule to know it’ll be a disaster.  Here are three signs that this rule should be killed off immediately. Sign 1 -- The Regulating Agency is…

  • Issue Brief posted July 22, 2015 by Daren Bakst A Q & A on the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

    This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015,[1] which would prohibit states from mandating the labeling of genetically engineered foods, also known as genetically modified or bioengineered food. Neither federal, state, nor local governments should block consumers from getting information on food. However,…

  • Commentary posted June 30, 2015 by Daren Bakst Your Home Is Your Castle—If You Can Keep It

    Take a look around your living room. There’s a risk that it could become part of a food court in a mall or an assembly line in a factory. This is possible because of a decision handed down 10 years ago this month by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Kelo v. City of New London, the court ruled that private property can be seized and transferred to another private party for…

  • Issue Brief posted June 26, 2015 by John Gray, Nicolas Loris, Daren Bakst FY 2016 House Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill: Right on Regulations, Wrong on Spending

    The new Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2822) will be the seventh discretionary spending bill considered by the House of Representatives this year. The bill would provide $30.17 billion in discretionary budget authority (BA) for fiscal year (FY) 2016, roughly $246 million less than current levels. The bill largely…

  • Backgrounder posted June 22, 2015 by Daren Bakst A Decade After Kelo: Time for Congress to Protect American Property Owners

    On June 23, 2005, the United States Supreme Court held in Kelo v. City of New London[1] that the government can seize private property and transfer it to another private party for economic development. This type of taking was deemed to be for a “public use” and allowed under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. As a result, if a city claims that a…

  • Commentary posted May 13, 2015 by Daren Bakst Water, water everywhere … not a drop unregulated

    The feds have launched a new power grab, and it’s coming at the expense of property rights. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a new rule to define “waters of the United States.” This definition is supposed to clarify what “waters” are covered under the Clean Water Act and therefore what these two agencies can…

  • Issue Brief posted April 30, 2015 by John Gray, Nicolas Loris, Daren Bakst The House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Misses the Mark

    This week, the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill is likely to receive floor consideration. One of 12 appropriations bills providing discretionary funding for the federal government, this bill provides funding for projects under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps); the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation; the Department…

  • Backgrounder posted April 29, 2015 by Daren Bakst What You Need to Know About the EPA/Corps Water Rule: It’s a Power Grab and an Attack on Property Rights

    On April 21, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers published a proposed rule—“Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act” (CWA)—to define which waters are covered under the Clean Water Act (that is, jurisdictional waters).[1] The proposed rule could cover almost any type of water, giving the two agencies…

  • Issue Brief posted April 7, 2015 by Daren Bakst Congress Should Separate Food Stamps from Agricultural Programs

    About every five years, Congress passes a farm bill. Despite its name, the farm bill covers more than just agricultural programs. In reality, food stamps account for about 80 percent of the projected cost of the 2014 farm bill.[1] Agricultural programs and food stamps should not be combined into one bill. Instead, they should be considered on their own merits in separate…

  • 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.…

  • Commentary posted March 9, 2015 by Daren Bakst Ag policy needs less government intervention

    Agricultural policy doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. But policymakers and potential presidential candidates have the chance to change that at the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines. One reason agriculture gets overlooked is that the farm bill is really a food stamp bill. About 80 percent of the spending is for food stamps. Legislators push through this legislation…