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  • Commentary posted November 29, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Is Trade with China a Factor in Rising Mortality among Middle-Age White Men?

    In the aftermath of a presidential election that brought intense scrutiny to white, working-class voters in small towns, a new working paper in economics seeks to explain how at least two symptoms of social decline–suicide and substance abuse–relate to trade with China. The authors, Federal Reserve economist Justin R. Pierce and Peter K. Schott of the Yale School of…

  • Issue Brief posted November 22, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Congress Should Not Let Concrete Block Growth

    Producers of concrete blocks have gone to Congress to get authorization for a new federal program to advertise and promote their product. If the authorization is passed and works as intended, it will increase the demand for concrete blocks, the price of construction, and the profits of block manufacturers, as well as lower the profits of other building material…

  • Backgrounder posted November 17, 2016 by Rachel Greszler How the Obama Administration’s New Rule to Create State-Based Retirement Savings Could Hurt Savers and Cost Taxpayers

    Private-sector workers, beware: Your personal retirement savings could become subject to your state government’s control. A new rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) may have created the equivalent of Obamacare for retirement savings—that is, if you like your current 401(k), you may not be able to keep it.[1] Moreover, the rule would allow state governments to trap…

  • Commentary posted November 3, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Social Security Needs to Return to Its Anti-Poverty Roots

    Social Security is unsustainable. It faces an $11.4 trillion deficit over the next 75 years. Yet Donald Trump wants to maintain current benefits, and Hillary Clinton wants to expand them. The next president needs to recognize that Social Security is much larger than it was ever intended to be — or needs to be — and that maintaining its current benefit structure will…

  • Commentary posted November 3, 2016 by John L. Ligon Why Mortgage Principal Forgiveness Policy Is a Bad Idea

    There’s nothing like a “good crisis” to give the federal government an opening to spread its tentacles further into private markets. Just look at the vast growth of federal housing programs since the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac alone have added two housing slush funds on top of more nebulous regulatory requirements such as a “duty to serve”…

  • Commentary posted November 3, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Propping up Disability Insurance With Social Security Bankrupts Both

    One year ago Congress decided to prop up the Disability Insurance (DI) program by siphoning off about $150 billion from Social Security’s retirement fund. But since Social Security’s retirement program is even more broke than its DI program, continued revenue transfers are not a long-run solution. When Congress passed the short-term DI “fix,” lawmakers knew they would…

  • Commentary posted November 3, 2016 by Rachel Greszler US Overtime Rule Will Ruin Workplace Flexibility  

    You’ve probably heard about employers that block workers’ access to personal email accounts on work computers. But now, thanks to a new Department of Labor overtime rule, some employers are blocking workers’ access to work emails after hours. Why? Because although many employers probably want employees to be able to check work email whenever they want, they don’t want…

  • Commentary posted October 31, 2016 by Drew Gonshorowski Soaring Obamacare Premiums Hurt Consumers

    Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that premiums for the benchmark plans sold within the Obamacare health insurance exchanges would increase by an average of 25% next year. That’s a sharp spike upward from past increases. It’s now apparent that the Affordable Care Act was woefully — indeed, misleadingly — named. Mammoth increases of this sort…

  • Issue Brief posted October 31, 2016 by Edmund F. Haislmaier, Drew Gonshorowski 2015 Health Insurance Enrollment: Net Increase of 4.8 Million, Trends Slowing

    During 2015, the growth in both individual-market and employer-group coverage resulted in a net increase in private-market coverage of 2 million individuals. For individual-market policies, enrollment increased by a bit more than 1.12 million individuals.[1] For the employer-group-coverage market, enrollment in fully insured plans declined by 932,000 individuals, while…

  • Backgrounder posted October 7, 2016 by James Sherk The Rise of the “Gig” Economy: Good for Workers and Consumers

    In today’s growing “gig” economy, workers and customers connect directly through computer programs or smartphone apps. Most people taking on these gigs work for themselves. They choose when and where to work, and when not to. While many Americans prefer jobs with regular hours, gig workers value flexibility and control over their schedules. Most gig workers say they…

  • Backgrounder posted October 4, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Disability Insurance Fails Short-Term Solvency Test Even After Transfer from Social Security

    Status of the SSDI Trust Fund According to its Trustees, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund is on course to run dry in 2023. That is seven years later than the Trustees reported last year, when the SSDI Trust Fund was slated for insolvency in 2016. What happened? In October 2015, Congress passed a temporary patch to shore up the SSDI program,…

  • Commentary posted October 3, 2016 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Bring Back PART: The Case for Evidence-Based Fiscal Discipline

    Though tax revenues are at all-time highs, Washington continues to spend hundreds of billions of dollars more than it collects every year. As a result, the federal government now carries an enormous amount of debt: more than $19.5 trillion. It now owes more than our nation produces (i.e., debt far exceeds Gross National Product).   Clearly, Washington needs to reel in…

  • Backgrounder posted September 28, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Understanding the Data on Occupational Licensing

    The regulation of professionals by means of occupational licenses, certifications, and registration has spread over a large share of the U.S. workforce in recent decades. Even as policymakers are recommending a reduction in the extent of the regulations—a positive move overall—experts are recognizing how little is known about the extent of licensure in America. New data…

  • Backgrounder posted September 27, 2016 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Evidence-Based Fiscal Discipline: The Case for PART 2.0

    Given that the federal government’s debt is over $19.4 trillion—$14.0 trillion in debt held by the public and nearly $5.4 trillion in intergovernmental holdings—every American should be concerned about the nation’s extraordinary level of debt.[1] Congress, which in recent years has seemed incapable of curbing spending and allocating resources effectively, needs to relearn…

  • Testimony posted September 21, 2016 by David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D. Asia’s Growing Hunger for Energy: U.S. Policy and Supply Opportunities

    Testimony before Foreign Affairs Committee: Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific U.S. House of Representatives September 8, 2016 My name is David Kreutzer. I am Senior Research Fellow in Energy Economics and Climate Change at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own and should not be construed as representing any official position of The…