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  • Commentary posted April 13, 2015 by Romina Boccia How Do We Get Those Able to Work Off of Disability?

    With the Social Security disability-insurance (SSDI) program heading toward insolvency before the end of next year, lawmakers are looking for reforms to help individuals with disabilities but the capacity to work to return to work. Why it is so hard to get them to do so? Olga Khazan explores the question in a new piece in The Atlantic. Even those awarded benefits for a…

  • Commentary posted April 7, 2015 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Risks From Fed's Interest On Reserves Threaten More Than Monetary Policy

    The Federal Reserve started paying interest on reserves (IOR) in October 2008. Many now suggest this policy has blunted the effectiveness of its expansionary monetary policies. One possibility is that IOR has helped keep all the excess reserves the Fed created in check. That is, because banks receive interest on these excess reserves, they’re not using them to create new…

  • 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 April 7, 2015 by Curtis S. Dubay, David R. Burton A Tax Reform Primer for the 2016 Presidential Candidates

    The 2016 presidential campaign is already well underway. As it progresses, candidates seeking the presidency will increasingly face questions about how they would address federal tax policy. Foremost among them will be how they will pursue tax reform should they become President. They will be asked whether they favor it, why, and to explain their own reform plans. There…

  • 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.…

  • Backgrounder posted March 26, 2015 by Romina Boccia, Michael Sargent $4 Trillion and Counting: President Obama’s 2016 Budget Presents a Vision of Government Largess

    For the first time since 2010, President Obama released his annual budget on time.[1] Such punctuality is a welcome step toward normalcy in the budget process, though one wonders why it took five years for the Administration to adhere to the statutory deadline. Aside from its timeliness, there is little good that can be said about the President’s 2016 budget. Obama’s…

  • Commentary posted March 25, 2015 by Romina Boccia Why the budget matters

    Voters often wonder if Congress can ever get spending under control. Well, both the House and Senate have introduced their latest budget blueprints, so we'll soon know if they plan to keep kicking the can down the road - or get serious about reform. Why care about the budget? Because it's the only legislative document through which Congress addresses the entirety of the…

  • Commentary posted March 25, 2015 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Congress Should Not Treat Financial Companies As Public Utilities

    Last week a group of eight U.S. Senators sent a letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt regarding concerns over what’s known as the Common Securitization Platform. This “platform” is meant to standardize the process of issuing mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in the U.S., and the FHFA has been working on it for more than two years. The FHFA is…

  • Testimony posted March 25, 2015 by Nicolas Loris Department of Energy Oversight: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

    Subcommittee on Energy Committee on Science, Space, and Technology U.S. House of Representatives March 24, 2015 Nicolas D. Loris Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow The Heritage Foundation My name is Nick Loris. I am a senior energy policy analyst and the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my…

  • Backgrounder posted March 25, 2015 by Nicolas Loris The Antiquated Act: Time to Repeal the Antiquities Act

    President Barack Obama recently designated three national monuments in Colorado, Hawaii, and Illinois.[1] Under the Antiquities Act,[2] the President can designate areas as “national monuments” without congressional approval. Both Democratic and Republican Administrations have unilaterally used the Antiquities Act to restrict land use without input from Congress, the…

  • Issue Brief posted March 24, 2015 by Wendell Cox America Needs a Rational Transit Policy

    More than three decades ago, federal legislation was enacted to transfer money from highway user fees to mass transit, such as subways and buses. The diversion is so substantial that each passenger mile of transit is supported by highway user fees (such as gasoline taxes) at a rate 15 times that of each roadway passenger mile.[1] The rationale for federal transit…

  • Backgrounder posted March 20, 2015 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Financial Market Utilities: One More Dangerous Concept in Dodd–Frank

    An underreported problem with the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is that it broadens the concept of what constitutes a public utility. In particular, Title VIII of Dodd–Frank confers a special status on firms that it identifies as financial market utilities (FMUs).[1] This change marks a dangerous shift in the relationship between…

  • Testimony posted March 13, 2015 by David R. Burton Building an Opportunity Economy: The State of Small Business and Entrepreneurship

    Testimony before The Committee on Small Business United States House of Representatives March 4, 2015 David R. Burton Senior Fellow in Economic Policy The Heritage Foundation My name is David R. Burton. I am Senior Fellow in Economic Policy at The Heritage Foundation. I would like to express my thanks to Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member Velázquez, and…

  • Commentary posted March 11, 2015 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Has Bitcoin's Time Come? The Market--Not Public Policy--Should Decide

    Victor Hugo, author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, famously said “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Perhaps Bitcoin is just such an idea? Digital currencies are still rather new, so it’s hard to know for sure. But for all of their faults, they do seem to be catching on. In less than eight years we’ve gone from zero to…

  • Issue Brief posted March 11, 2015 by Romina Boccia 7 Priorities for the 2016 Congressional Budget Resolution

    The new 114th Congress has a responsibility to address growing spending and debt. This is especially true following the post-election pledge made by House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–KY) to address “a national debt that has Americans stealing from their children and grandchildren, robbing them of benefits that they will never…