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  • Backgrounder posted August 6, 2015 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. The Head Start CARES Demonstration: Another Failed Federal Early Childhood Education Program

    Calls for the federal government to fund universal preschool programs and expand early childhood education programs seem to never cease. The two small-scale studies—of the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project begun in 1962 and the Carolina Abecedarian Project begun in 1972—that were used to demonstrate the effectiveness of such interventions are now outdated.[1] Their…

  • Issue Brief posted April 28, 2015 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D., James Sherk, John Gray Trade Adjustment Assistance Enhancement Act: Budget Gimmicks and Expanding an Ineffective and Wasteful “Job-Training” Program

    On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, the Senate Committee on Finance reported out of committee the Trade Adjustment Assistance Enhancement Act of 2015. The bill was sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R–ME) and Ron Wyden (D–OR). A day later, a companion bill (H.R. 1892), sponsored by Representatives Dave G. Reichert (R–WA), Tom Reed (R–NY), and Patrick Meehan (R–PA), was…

  • Commentary posted March 25, 2015 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Congress should know whether programs work; right now, it doesn’t

    Last week, the House Budget Committee proposed spending almost $3.8 trillion in Fiscal Year 2016 — one-fifth of the country’s total economic output. Yet much of that huge amount will be spent with little regard to efficiency and accountability. The sad truth is that, for many federal programs, we have no way of knowing whether they are working well, poorly or not at all.…

  • Testimony posted March 17, 2015 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Evidence-Based Policymaking: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

    Testimony before the Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources United States House of Representatives March 17, 2015 David B. Muhlhausen, PhD Research Fellow in Empirical Policy Analysis The Heritage Foundation My name is David Muhlhausen. I am a Research Fellow in Empirical Policy Analysis in the Center for Data Analysis at The…

  • Issue Brief posted March 9, 2015 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. A Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking: A Step in the Right Direction

    The effectiveness of federal programs is often unknown. Many programs operate for decades without ever undergoing thorough scientific evaluations. One such example is Head Start, the pre-K education program for disadvantaged children. A large-scale evaluation using random assignment demonstrated that almost all the benefits of the program disappear by kindergarten.[1]…

  • Commentary posted December 5, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. How Many Social Programs Show Gold-Standard Evidence of Success? Almost None

    In a recent blog post, Brookings scholar Ron Haskins identifies five social programs as being highly effective and highlights the Obama administration’s “evidence based” policy efforts to fund effective federal social programs. Unfortunately, these five social programs — Career Academies, Nurse-Family Partnership, Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, Success…

  • Issue Brief posted December 4, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D., James Sherk Trade Adjustment Assistance: Let the Ineffective and Wasteful “Job-Training” Program Expire

    Members of Congress should be wary of reauthorizing the ineffective and wasteful Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. Trade Adjustment Assistance should be considered on its own merits and not linked to legislative proposals, such as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Similarly, TPA should be evaluated independently based on its merits and not tied to unrelated…

  • Commentary posted October 21, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Studies Confirm: Death Penalties Deter Many Murders at Far Less Cost

    On September 17, Texas executed Lisa Coleman for murdering a 9-year-old child. Death penalty opponents argue that, even in the most heinous cases, executions are just too costly, and that society would do better to substitute life-without-parole sentences for lethal injections. Before examining the death penalty’s costs and benefits, though, let’s consider why Coleman…

  • Commentary posted September 30, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. How the Death Penalty Saves Lives

    On Sept. 10, Earl Ringo Jr. was executed in Missouri. Before you decide whether or not this is right, consider what Ringo did. In July 1998, Ringo and an accomplice planned to rob a restaurant where Ringo had previously worked. Early one morning, they followed delivery truck driver Dennis Poyser and manager-in-training Joanna Baysinger into the building before…

  • Commentary posted July 17, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. New Brookings Report on Government Failures Ignores Failed Social Programs

    A new Brookings Institution report, “A Cascade of Failures,” by Paul C. Light concludes that the failures of the federal government are accelerating. As the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government continually expand the power and responsibilities of the federal government beyond its core constitutional functions, none of the failures…

  • Issue Brief posted June 13, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D., James Sherk Job-Training Reform: Finding Out What Works

    Last month, congressional negotiators reached a bipartisan deal to reauthorize Department of Labor (DOL) job-training programs. Overall, the compromised legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), continues the funding of federal job-training programs that have a long history of failure based upon the results of large-scale experimental…

  • Commentary posted April 24, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Why Are We Expanding the Federal Role in Early-Childhood Education?

    Over the past 50 years, there has been a tremendous amount of research into the plight of the nation's poor children. Compared with children raised in more fortunate circumstances, we know that many disadvantaged children have social and academic skills deficits when they formally enter school. Commenting on the creation of Head Start in 1965—a Great Society preschool…

  • Commentary posted April 16, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Wasteful Spending Continues Despite an ‘Evidence-based’ Policy Agenda

    In a New York Times Economix blog post, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, a former White House adviser to President Clinton, and Jonathan Greenblatt,  a current adviser to President Obama, assert that the Obama administration is responding to budgetary constraints by requiring “more evidence-based research on program performance and the reallocation of funds from less-effective…

  • Backgrounder posted March 19, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Do Federal Social Programs Work?

    Do federal social programs work? This is a simple question. While the question may be straightforward, however, finding an answer is complicated. To answer in the affirmative, federal social programs must ameliorate the social problems they target. In essence, social programs seek to improve human behavior in ways that will make people better off. For example, the social…

  • Issue Brief posted January 8, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Let the Ineffective and Wasteful Job-Training Program Expire

    Members of Congress should be wary of reauthorizing the ineffective and wasteful Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. Under the TAA program, workers who lost their jobs due to foreign trade are eligible for job training, relocation allowances, and income maintenance while they attempt to shift into new occupations. On December 31, 2013, the expansions of TAA under…