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  • Commentary posted February 12, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Puerto Rico Can Move Forward Without Congress

    Congress and the president have proposed various federal interventions and bailouts to save the cash-strapped and economically troubled commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Congress last month claiming that "only Congress can enact the legislative measures necessary to fully resolve this problem." Yet the island is working within its…

  • Backgrounder posted February 8, 2016 by Robert Rector, Rachel Sheffield, Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D. Maine Food Stamp Work Requirement Cuts Non-Parent Caseload by 80 Percent

    In 2015, the U.S. government spent over $1 trillion on means-tested welfare aid, providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income individuals. The food stamp program is the nation’s second largest means-tested welfare program.[1] The number of food stamp recipients has risen dramatically from about 17.2 million in 2000 to 45.8…

  • Commentary posted January 28, 2016 by James Sherk Why West Virginia Is Likely to Become the 26th Right-To-Work State

    West Virginia seems almost certain to soon become American’s 26th right-to-work state. Republicans took control of both houses of the West Virginia legislature in 2014. State legislative leaders have made passing right-to-work this year a top priority. It only takes a simple majority to override a veto in West Virginia, so final passage seems assured. The state senate…

  • Commentary posted January 12, 2016 by James Sherk To Form a More (Responsive) Union

    To understand why Rebecca Friedrichs, a school teacher in California's Orange County, will soon have her case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, you have to understand something about her union: It would not even survey its members. Friedrich's school district started losing money in the recession. It had to either lay off teachers or trim everyone's pay. Friedrichs has…

  • Issue Brief posted December 29, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Hired Labor’s Share of Income Is Lowest in Puerto Rico

    A smaller share of total income goes to hired labor in Puerto Rico than in any state in the U.S. In Puerto Rico, hired workers take home 25 cents of every dollar in net private-sector income, the rest going to investors, proprietors, and the self-employed.[1] In the U.S. as a whole, employees earn 56 percent of private income. (There are more precise ways to calculate…

  • Backgrounder posted December 10, 2015 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Studies Cast Doubt on Effectiveness of Prisoner Reentry Programs

    In 2014, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) issued a study on the recidivism rates of former prisoners released from 30 states in 2005.[1] The BJS found that 67.8 percent of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years. The recidivism rate for the five-year period was 76.6 percent. This bad news should come as no surprise. A…

  • Issue Brief posted December 10, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Misguided Plan for Puerto Rico Would Set Dangerous Precedent

    Puerto Rico faces an imminent financial crisis caused by decades of economically harmful policies, prolific government spending, and broken—if not corrupt—governance. Claiming that this U.S. territory has no options on its own, the President and some Members of Congress have called for a bailout of Puerto Rico, including access to retroactive bankruptcy and other federal…

  • Issue Brief posted December 10, 2015 by Rachel Greszler The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act: Inadequate Response to Looming Pension Fund Insolvency

    According to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation’s (PBGC’s) own 2015 annual report, the government entity tasked with insuring private-sector pensions faces a $76.3 billion shortfall.[1] In other words, the backstop that Congress created to prevent workers from losing their promised pensions could be worthless. Without further, significant reforms, the PBGC’s…

  • Backgrounder posted December 4, 2015 by Paul Winfree, Daren Bakst, Rachel Sheffield, James Phillips, Diane Katz, Nicolas Loris, Katie Tubb, Roger Severino, Sarah Torre, Lindsey Burke, James Sherk, Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Brett D. Schaefer, David Inserra Important Policy Riders for the FY 2016 Appropriations Bills

    The Constitution unequivocally grants Congress the exclusive power to appropriate funds for the “necessary and proper” operations of government.[1] James Madison wrote in The Federalist No. 58 that providing budgetary powers to Congress was a critical element in maintaining individual rights: “The power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and…

  • Commentary posted December 2, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Benefits to Sticking With the Framework for Puerto Rico’s Debt

    Puerto Rico appears to have avoided defaulting on the bond payments due Tuesday. The Economist argued this week that, “one way or another,” the U.S. government “will end up bailing out Puerto Rico.” But the editorial supports that conclusion with two factual errors. First, the editorial says that Puerto Rico’s “government owes $72 billion in debt.” The majority of…

  • Commentary posted November 30, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Common-sense reforms can save consumers serious cash

    The holiday season is fast upon us -- that time of year when Americans across the country gather 'round the warm glow of their computer screens and try to figure out how on earth they are going to balance their budgets. Political debates can seem a long way away when you're in a room alone with your credit card bill, but commonsense policy reforms at every level of…

  • Issue Brief posted November 24, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Time to Cut Out the SSA as Middleman in SSDI Representation

    Unlike traditional attorney-client relationships in which the client pays the attorney at the conclusion of a case, attorneys who represent Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants receive payment directly from the Social Security Administration (SSA), even though it is not the SSA’s money. SSDI claimants enter into private contracts with representatives to…

  • Backgrounder posted November 23, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Costly Mistakes: How Bad Policies Raise the Cost of Living

    Government policy mistakes raise the prices of the things that Americans buy. An average American household can expect to pay an extra $4,440 each year thanks to just 12 such policy mistakes that have large costs and few benefits. Local, state, and federal governments are all guilty of enforcing costly laws and regulations. At the federal level, the biggest costs come…

  • Commentary posted November 17, 2015 by James Sherk Will West Virginia Embrace Right-to-Work Legislation?

    West Virginia may well become the next right-to-work state. Bill Cole — the state-Senate president and probable GOP gubernatorial nominee — has made passing right-to-work legislation a top priority. However, Cole didn’t bring it up for hearings or a vote in this year’s legislative session. At the time, liberal groups celebrated the fact that right-to-work was bumped from…

  • Backgrounder posted November 9, 2015 by James Sherk Union Membership and Compulsory Dues Do Not Increase Workers’ Overall Living Standards

    Unions do not provide general economic benefits to non-union workers that could justify forcing non-union workers to pay union dues. The National Labor Relations Act provides that a majority of workers in a bargaining unit of a company may elect to have a union represent all the unit’s workers, whether they are members of the union or not, in negotiations with company…