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  • Commentary posted November 21, 2014 by Romina Boccia, Robert Rector Weakening an Asset Test Could Expand the Welfare State

    Before Congress recessed for the midterm elections, lawmakers announced plans to use the current lame-duck session to work on passing a bill called “The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.” Supporters describe the bill as a way to eliminate “barriers to work and saving by preventing dollars saved through ABLE accounts from counting against an individual’s…

  • Issue Brief posted November 18, 2014 by Daren Bakst, Rachael Slobodien The EPA and the Corps’s CWA Interpretive Rule: A Regulatory End Run

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers released an interpretive rule[1] narrowing an important Clean Water Act (CWA) exemption for agricultural activities. It was released at the same time they released their proposed “waters of the U.S.” rule that would greatly expand the waters the federal government can regulate under the CWA. By…

  • Commentary posted November 17, 2014 by Diane Katz, James L. Gattuso Obama's Final Two Years: A Sprint on Regulation?

    The election results were a crushing political blow for the Obama administration, giving Republicans firm control of both houses of Congress for the final two years of his term. But this in no way signals the end of the president's policy agenda. It simply shifts the action to regulatory agencies. In the days since the vote, this has already begun. Obama is moving…

  • Backgrounder posted November 13, 2014 by Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D., Nicolas Loris, David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D. The Obama Administration’s Climate Agenda: Underestimated Costs and Exaggerated Benefits

    W‌hen his climate cap-and-trade bill was defeated in the Democrat-controlled Senate, President Barack Obama noted there were other ways of “skinning the cat.”[1] Now we know that his chosen way is an onslaught of mandates, regulations, and possibly taxes directed primarily by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The indicator…

  • Issue Brief posted November 12, 2014 by Romina Boccia Lame Duck Threats Congress Should Avoid

    A‌ lame duck session refers to when one Congress ‌is in session after a new one has been elected. After last week’s election, Members of Congress who lost elections or are retiring are lame ducks, who are protected from the consequences of passing politically unpopular legislation. This lame duck session is particularly important because the Republicans will take control…

  • Commentary posted November 12, 2014 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Repeal Dodd-Frank and End Too Big To Fail

    The Republicans will hold a comfortable majority in the U.S. House and, at most, a 55 seat majority in the Senate for the 114th Congress. That’s not a wide enough margin to override a Presidential veto. Still, the Republicans owe it to their constituents to exercise governance. On election night Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated Republicans will, in fact, try to do…

  • Backgrounder posted November 10, 2014 by Robert Rector, Romina Boccia How the ABLE Act Would Expand the Welfare State

    This summer, a 14-page bill with 379 co-sponsors (193 Republicans, 186 Democrats), which is little known outside the halls of Congress, was reported out of the House Ways and Means Committee.[1] The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647) would establish tax-favored savings accounts, similar to “529” education savings accounts, for individuals with…

  • Commentary posted November 7, 2014 by Katie Tubb The Keystone XL Pipeline by the Numbers

    Everyone has heard that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline could deliver thousands of jobs on top of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day. Here are some other numbers to consider when thinking about the pipeline: Two years — That’s how long it took the State Department to review and approve Phase 1 of the Keystone Pipeline System. Phase 1 stretches…

  • Issue Brief posted November 6, 2014 by Romina Boccia Triple-Dipping: Thousands of Veterans Receive More than $100,000 in Benefits Every Year

    A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that in 2013, nearly 60,000 disabled veterans received cash benefits from three different federal programs simultaneously.[1] More than 2,300 veterans received $100,000 or more in annual benefits each, and the highest annual benefit amounted to more than $200,000. Receiving concurrent benefits from…

  • Backgrounder posted November 3, 2014 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Repealing Dodd–Frank and Ending “Too Big to Fail”

    The financial crisis of 2008 led to the “Great Recession” from which the nation is still recovering. Despite the slow economic rebound, and in the face of contradictory historical evidence, many critics are still trying to blame these events on the supposed failure of the free market. They claim that a lack of regulation caused the crisis and that the federal response…

  • Backgrounder posted October 31, 2014 by Nicolas Loris Free Markets Supply Affordable Energy and a Clean Environment

    Energy production has been one bright spot in the economy over the past few years, driving job creation and creating opportunities for Americans across the country. Increased energy supplies have saved consumers money directly on their energy bills and indirectly through lower prices for goods and services. The energy boom has also revitalized parts of the country where…

  • Backgrounder posted October 31, 2014 by James L. Gattuso, Diane Katz Regulation: Killing Opportunity

    In his January 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama vowed to wield his executive powers when faced with congressional resistance to his legislative agenda: “America does not stand still—and neither will I,” he said. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation … that’s what I am going to do.”[1] This provocative declaration was…

  • Commentary posted October 28, 2014 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Consensus Building That the Fed's Policies Were Too Tight

    It’s certainly true that the Fed dropped its target federal funds rate in 2008.  In fact, the Fed started steadily cutting its target in September 2007.  In that month, it cut the target from 5.25 percent to 4.75. By the end of 2008, the target had been slashed to 1 percent. But those cuts don’t mean the Fed’s policies could not have been too tight. Nominal interest…

  • Backgrounder posted October 27, 2014 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Federal Reserve Performance: What Is the Fed’s Track Record on Inflation?

    Central banks … will do wisely to lay aside their inexpert ventures in half-baked monetary theory, meretricious statistical measures of trade and hasty grinding of the axes of speculative interests with their suggestion that by so doing they are achieving some sort of vague “stabilization” that will, in the long run, be for the greater good. —H. Parker Willis, first…

  • Backgrounder posted October 24, 2014 by Norbert J. Michel, Ph.D. Federal Reserve Performance: Have Business Cycles Really Been Tamed?

    Central banks … will do wisely to lay aside their inexpert ventures in half-baked monetary theory, meretricious statistical measures of trade and hasty grinding of the axes of speculative interests with their suggestion that by so doing they are achieving some sort of vague “stabilization” that will, in the long run, be for the greater good. —H. Parker Willis, first…