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  • Commentary posted March 3, 2015 by Daren Bakst Protecting Taxpayers from the Farm Bill's New Blank Check

    Last year, Congress created two major programs for farmers that, not surprisingly, will shatter Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) cost projections. Taxpayers’ liability for these programs is open-ended because a widely-supported limit on costs to protect taxpayers didn’t make it in the final farm bill. Congress should put an end to this liability immediately. The 2014…

  • Commentary posted February 27, 2015 by Romina Boccia 3 steps the new Congress should take to control spending and debt

    The new Congress has an opportunity to rein in growing spending and debt. They should seize it. Last year, lawmakers waived the debt limit to March 2015, then remained largely silent about the economic dangers posed by excessive federal spending and debt. The new Congress needs to address these issues with the seriousness they deserve. In a joint op-ed published the day…

  • Commentary posted February 27, 2015 by Romina Boccia After the cromnibus, how the new Congress can control spending

    It was a $1.1 trillion budget, yet spending concerns were little more than an afterthought for many senators voting on the "cromnibus." Most of the debate focused on including or eliminating certain policy changes addressed in the bill's "riders." Other budget reforms are necessary to control spending. At nearly 1,700 pages, the omnibus spending bill funds all government…

  • Issue Brief posted February 24, 2015 by Diane Katz Export-Import Bank Impervious to Reform

    Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some Members of Congress believe that a few legislative tweaks will remedy all that is wrong with the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im).[1] In fact, the pending House bill to reauthorize Ex-Im through 2019 is largely a regurgitation of “reforms” previously mandated by Congress—without appreciable effect. The only meaningful way to…

  • Issue Brief posted February 20, 2015 by Emily Goff What Congress and States Can Do to Reform Transportation Policy

    Ensuring that America’s transportation system gets back on track will require federal and state action to achieve reforms in a number of areas, including surface transportation policy. A high-quality, safe, and reliable transportation system is vital to the nation’s economic health; Americans depend on it daily. Yet the current approach to surface transportation is…

  • Backgrounder posted February 19, 2015 by Romina Boccia What Is Social Security Disability Insurance? An SSDI Primer

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the federal social insurance program that provides monthly cash benefits to eligible disabled individuals and their families. In 2014, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provided these benefits to nearly 11 million disabled workers and their eligible spouses and children. Disabled workers receive an average of about…

  • Commentary posted February 18, 2015 by Emily Goff Reject bloated transportation budget

    Predictably, President Barack Obama's 2016 budget request calls for higher taxes to partially finance a $4-trillion spending tsunami. One of the more senseless tax hikes would fall on multinational businesses and is sought to pay for a transportation budget more lavish than necessary. It's baffling why Obama would propose this tax on businesses' foreign income, both…

  • Commentary posted February 18, 2015 by Nicolas Loris Economic Freedom can alleviate energy poverty

    Almost every activity that improves our quality of live requires energy. We don’t question how the lights stay on, or how groceries get to the stores where we need them. But it happens. Without a doubt, the adage, “You don’t know what ya got ‘til it’s gone” applies to energy. We get upset when our power goes out for an hour and we can’t get on the Internet or watch TV.…

  • Backgrounder posted February 18, 2015 by Katie Tubb, Nicolas Loris The Federal Lands Freedom Act: Empowering States to Control Their Own Energy Futures

    One of the primary reasons the United States is now the world’s leader in both natural gas and oil production is that centuries’ worth of oil, natural gas, and coal resources lie beneath private property as well as under lands owned by individual states. While federally owned lands are also full of energy potential, a bureaucratic regulatory regime has mismanaged land use…

  • Issue Brief posted February 17, 2015 by Curtis S. Dubay Changes to Repatriation Policy Best Left to Tax Reform

    There is renewed discussion in Washington of changing the tax treatment of businesses’ foreign earnings (known as repatriation). There are several proposals to use such changes to fill the gap between spending and revenue in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), and possibly pay for additional transportation spending. Under current law, U.S. businesses pay tax on their worldwide…

  • Backgrounder posted February 17, 2015 by Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D., Nicolas Loris, David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D. The Obama Administration’s Climate Agenda Will Hit Manufacturing Hard: A State-by-State Analysis

    In an earlier study, we examined the economic impact of climate change–related regulations at the national level and found devastating job losses over the course of the next two decades. In this study, we quantify this impact by state and congressional district. Not surprisingly, we find that all states would suffer from this policy. Given these results and the…

  • Commentary posted February 13, 2015 by Nicolas Loris Clean coal is dead, but the war on affordable energy is alive and well

    FutureGen is dead. Again. Last week, the Department of Energy pulled the plug on this $1.1 billion project in Illinois: a “clean coal” power plant that would capture carbon dioxide and store it underground. President George W. Bush proposed the carbon-free power plant in 2003 but shelved the project five years later because of cost overruns. President Obama’s Energy…

  • Backgrounder posted February 11, 2015 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Why Congress Should Institute Rules-Based Monetary Policy

    Many economists take for granted that the Federal Reserve has contributed positively to economic stabilization in the U.S., but its track record warrants a critical appraisal. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 the U.S. has experienced the Great Depression in the 1930s, severe inflation and unemployment during the 1970s, a major banking crisis in the 1980s,…

  • Issue Brief posted February 10, 2015 by Daren Bakst Capping the Costs of the Two Major New Commodity Programs

    The 2014 farm bill eliminated the infamous direct payments program that gave farmers subsidies regardless of need. Instead of stopping there and making real progress, Congress created two new commodity programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), which will likely cost as much as and probably far more than the direct payments program. The farm…

  • Commentary posted February 5, 2015 by James L. Gattuso, Paul Rosenzweig, Brett D. Schaefer ICANN Reform: the Timings Off

    The dates don't work. The U.S.'s control over ICANN -- the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit that manages Internet domain names -- will expire before the government can make an informed judgment about how ICANN should function in the future. Last March, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an executive…