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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 17, 2014 by Robert Rector How Welfare Undermines Marriage and What to Do About It

    Historically, marriage has played a critical role in the raising of children. In most cases, the economic benefits of marriage are substantial. Marriage among families with children is an extremely powerful factor in promoting economic self-sufficiency: the ability of families to support themselves above poverty without reliance on government means-tested welfare aid. The…

  • 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 Lindsey Burke Common Core Loses at the Ballot Box

    Sorry, Common Core. Last night just wasn’t your night. Voters resoundingly sided with candidates who rejected Common Core national standards and tests and promised to restore state and local control of education. Two races for state superintendent were particularly notable in this regard. In Arizona, Diane Douglas ran on an anti–Common Core platform during her campaign…

  • Commentary posted November 4, 2014 by Brittany Corona It's Time to Undo Common Core's Takeover

    If ever a motto expressed pride in state autonomy, it's Iowa's: "Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain." That dedication to local control undergirds the growing opposition to Common Core — the latest effort to centralize education through national standards and tests that will define what is taught in every public school classroom in the Hawkeye…

  • Commentary posted October 21, 2014 by Brittany Corona One More Reason States Should Reject Common Core

    The reach of Common Core national education standards and tests has moved beyond public school walls. Last month a home-schooling family in New Jersey received a letter from Westfield Public School District superintendent Margaret Dolanthe. It outlined what she said was district home-school policy requiring families to "submit a letter of intent (to home-school) and an…

  • Commentary posted October 6, 2014 by Lindsey Burke ESAs Are Changing the Game

    "A blind student in Arizona gets about $21,000 a year,” says Marc Ashton, whose son, Max, is legally blind. That $21,000 represents what Arizona spends to educate a student such as Max in the public-school system. “We took our 90 percent of that, paid for Max to get the best education in Arizona, plus all of his Braille, all of his technology, and then there was still…

  • Commentary posted September 23, 2014 by Robert Rector The War on Poverty: 50 years of failure

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's launch of the War on Poverty. In January 1964, Johnson declared "unconditional war on poverty in America." Since then, the taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson's war. Adjusted for inflation, that's three times the cost of all military wars since the American Revolution. Last year, government…

  • Commentary posted September 18, 2014 by Robert Rector Miscounting Poverty Again: The War On Poverty After Fifty Years

    Today the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual poverty report. The report is noteworthy because this year is the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty. But this morning, the Census Bureau reported that 14.5 percent of Americans were poor in 2013. This is essentially the same rate as in 1966, two years after the War on Poverty was…

  • Backgrounder posted September 15, 2014 by Robert Rector, Rachel Sheffield The War on Poverty After 50 Years

    This week, the U.S. Census Bureau is scheduled to release its annual poverty report. The report will be notable because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. In his January 1964 State of the Union address, Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in…

  • Backgrounder posted August 19, 2014 by Lindsey Burke Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act—Toward Policies that Increase Access and Lower Costs

    Congress will soon consider reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Among other issues, the HEA governs federal student aid including all federal student loans and grants. The Higher Education Act was first signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson as one of many programs comprising his Great Society initiative, and has been reauthorized nine times…

  • Commentary posted August 6, 2014 by Robert Rector Welfare State Grows as Self-Sufficiency Declines

    For the past 50 years, the government's annual poverty rate has hardly changed at all. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty, roughly the same rate as the mid-1960s when the War on Poverty was just starting. After adjusting for inflation, federal and state welfare spending today is 16 times greater than it was when President…

  • Commentary posted July 17, 2014 by Lindsey Burke Breaks do Nothing to Cut College Costs: Front Burner

    Federal lawmakers have been trying for decades to reduce the burden of paying for college. Congress has significantly expanded lending, lifted caps on borrowing, and cut interest rates on federal student loans. Parents even became eligible to take out loans to pay for children's college in the 1980s through the Parent PLUS program.  The Obama administration recently used…

  • Commentary posted July 8, 2014 by Lindsey Burke Tenure Creates the Wrong Incentives

    “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program,” quipped Milton Friedman. The same could be said of teachers with tenure. Last year, just two – that’s right, two – teachers in California were dismissed because of performance issues, according to Parent Revolution’s Ben Austin. While it’s likely only a small minority of teachers is grossly ineffective, tenure…

  • Commentary posted June 9, 2014 by Lindsey Burke Elizabeth Warren Leaves Taxpayers on Hook for More Student Loan Subsidies

    Congress has long tried to help students afford a college education. It has cut interest rates on federal student loans, vastly expanded federal lending and lifted caps on borrowing. In the 1980s, it even let parents borrow directly from the feds — through the Parent PLUS program — to pay for their children’s college. None of this has reduced college costs. Indeed, some…