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  • Backgrounder posted August 17, 2016 by Katie Tubb, Nicolas Loris, Paul Larkin The Energy Efficiency Free Market Act: A Step Toward Real Energy Efficiency

    The federal government has embarked on a troubling regulatory path, with the goal of making energy use and lifestyle choices on behalf of American families and businesses. Since the 1970s, Congress has empowered agencies to micromanage Americans’ energy use and override personal preferences through energy-efficiency mandates. With ever-shifting goals to forestall…

  • Backgrounder posted August 15, 2016 by David R. Burton Broadening Regulation D: Congress Should Let More People Invest in Private, High-Growth Companies

    The Securities Act of 1933[1] makes it illegal to sell securities unless the offering is registered with the Securities an[2] Making a registered offering (often called “going public”) is a very expensive proposition and well beyond the means of most small and start-up companies. The SEC estimates that an initial public offering typically costs $2.5 million in legal,…

  • Commentary posted July 27, 2016 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Dodd-Frank and Glass-Steagall: 'Consumer Protection for Billionaires'

    It may be hard to believe, but I pay very little attention to presidential politics. People send me news clips and ask me what I think about what the candidates said, but I generally don’t indulge them. This week, however, a friend sent me a clip from a Donald Trump Jr. speech that actually got my attention. Trump the younger, of course, is not running for political…

  • Backgrounder posted July 25, 2016 by Nicolas Loris Eliminate Favorable Treatment of Biofuels

    The federal government provides a wide range of subsidies to boost the production and consumption of biofuels. Throughout the years, Congress has enacted special tax breaks, direct grants, government-backed loans and loan guarantees, and a mandate to generate a larger biofuel and biodiesel market.[1] To justify biofuels programs, policymakers have promised reduced…

  • Commentary posted July 15, 2016 by David R. Burton How the OECD is Promoting More Identity Theft, Crime, Industrial Espionage, and Suppression of Political Dissidents

    Tax treaties are usually positive or benign. The protocol amending the multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, currently being considered for ratification by the United States senate, is being marketed by the Obama Treasury, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and tax officials in various national…

  • Commentary posted July 15, 2016 by David R. Burton The Treaty to End Financial Privacy

    Don't judge a treaty by its title, no matter how bureaucratically mundane it may sound. Exhibit A: The Protocol Amending the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. The U.S. Treasury Department is marketing the agreement as just another tax treaty, because such treaties are usually positive or benign. But this is no ordinary tax…

  • Commentary posted July 14, 2016 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Why Big-Wig Financial Execs Love Dodd-Frank

    House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has released a discussion draft of the Financial CHOICE Act, legislation that would replace large parts of the failed Dodd-Frank Act. It has attracted some high-profile fans. Three Nobel Prize winning economists, a former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and a host of academics and policy officials have released…

  • Issue Brief posted July 13, 2016 by Justin Bogie, Diane Katz, Nicolas Loris 2017 House Interior and Environment Bill Makes Policy Strides, Still Spends Too Much

    This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This will be the sixth discretionary spending bill considered by the House this year. The bill would provide $32.1 billion in discretionary budget authority for fiscal year (FY) 2017, about $64 million less than current…

  • 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 28, 2016 by Curtis S. Dubay CBO Report on Distribution of Income and Taxes Shows Taxes Matter

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its periodic report on the distribution of household income and federal taxes, extending the data series on these figures from 2012 to 2013.[1] This latest edition of the CBO report shows how the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) and its accompanying tax increases affected taxpayer bills and…

  • Backgrounder posted June 28, 2016 by Daren Bakst Eliminating and Reducing Regulatory Obstacles in Agriculture

    Too often, federal agricultural policy focuses on helping farmers through massive programs rather than on determining how government itself creates problems for farmers and ranchers. Regulations, in particular, make agricultural production and innovation more difficult by limiting farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to address agricultural risk,[1] work their land, and meet…

  • 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.…

  • Backgrounder posted June 23, 2016 by Curtis S. Dubay Congress Should Lay the Groundwork for Tax Reform

    The U.S. economy is currently operating below its potential.[1] High taxes on capital and labor, as well as the reduction in the labor force of prime age workers, are keeping the economy from growing faster. Tax reform, by reducing penalties on work and capital formation, allows the economy to grow in size. Under a less complex tax code, valuable resources become…

  • Commentary posted June 21, 2016 by Nicolas Loris, Brett D. Schaefer The U.S. Should Withdraw from U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change

    The U.S. has wasted tens of billions of dollars on an ineffective approach to addressing man-made global warming. Unfortunately, the organization behind these efforts shows little interest in changing tactics. And now it has granted membership to the Palestinians. For practical as well as political considerations, it's time for the U.S. to get out. The U.S. and most…