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  • Issue Brief posted September 16, 2014 by David Inserra, Riley Walters The Visa Waiver Program: Enhancing Security, Promoting Prosperity

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a valuable tool supporting U.S. tourism and trade, public diplomacy, and national security. The VWP allows residents of member countries to visit the U.S. without a visa for up to 90 days in exchange for security-cooperation and information-sharing arrangements and reciprocal travel privileges for U.S. residents. The VWP is extended only…

  • 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 September 12, 2014 by Curtis S. Dubay, Salim Furth, Ph.D. Understanding Thomas Piketty and His Critics

    Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century[1] is a treatise on how wealth inequality evolves in capitalistic economies. It is the most talked-about and most critiqued economics book of 2014 because Piketty’s timing was perfect: He released the English edition when income inequality was being actively debated in the United States. President Barack Obama brought…

  • Backgrounder posted September 12, 2014 by Bryan Riley Foreign Export Credit Subsidies: Kill Them, Don’t Copy Them

    Many supporters of the U.S. Export–Import Bank (Ex–Im Bank) assert that the bank serves a legitimate purpose as a response to export subsidies provided by foreign governments. For example, according to National Association of Manufacturers President and Chief Executive Officer Jay Timmons, The size and scope of the Ex–Im Bank pales in comparison to the official export…

  • Backgrounder posted September 10, 2014 by Ryan Olson The Generalized System of Preferences: Time to Renew and Reform the U.S. Trade Program

    On July 31, 2013, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)—the U.S. trade program designed to promote trade in developing countries—expired without renewal for the eighth time in its 30-year history. Over the past year, imports entering the U.S. under the program have incurred higher tariff rates, increasing costs for producers and consumers. Originally designed as a…

  • Legal Memorandum posted September 10, 2014 by Alden Abbott The Federal Trade Commission’s Role in Online Security: Data Protector or Dictator?

    Background: The Online Data Security Problem While the phrase “identity theft” typically brings to mind stolen credit cards and false identity badges, another key area where privacy violations can occur is less visible but equally insidious: corporate data breaches. Companies’ online data protection practices have a major impact on consumer privacy. Target’s 2013…

  • Backgrounder posted September 4, 2014 by James Sherk Not Looking for Work: Why Labor Force Participation Has Fallen During the Recovery

    Originally published August 30, 2012—Revised and updated September 4, 2014 The American economy is experiencing the slowest recovery in 70 years. In addition to persistently high unemployment, labor force participation has fallen sharply since the recession began in December 2007. Today, 6.9 million fewer Americans are working or looking for work. This drop accounts for…

  • Backgrounder posted September 4, 2014 by Nicolas Loris What Contributes to Gas Prices and Solutions to Help

    Drivers recently received a bit of welcome news when the Energy Information Administration projected that gasoline prices would likely decline throughout the rest of 2014 to around $3.30 per gallon after reaching a high of $4 per gallon in March.[1] For several years, paying more than $3.50 for a gallon of gasoline had been the new normal, and for many drivers that price…

  • Backgrounder posted September 4, 2014 by Curtis S. Dubay Business Inversions: Tax Reform Is the Only Way to Curb Them

    A recent surge of interest in U.S. business inversions—a process whereby an ‌American company merges with a foreign business and moves the combined business’s headquarters to the foreign country—has precipitated calls for Congress to put an end to the practice. The American public and lawmakers are rightfully concerned about businesses moving their headquarters abroad.…

  • Backgrounder posted September 4, 2014 by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Alyene Senger Progress in Medicare Advantage: Key Lessons for Medicare Reform

    Medicare Advantage (MA) is a program of competing private health plans. For the vast majority of senior citizens, it is the only viable alternative to enrollment in traditional Medicare. For Members of Congress, its record also provides valuable lessons for comprehensive Medicare reform. MA is an increasingly attractive option for millions of senior and disabled…

  • Issue Brief posted September 4, 2014 by James Sherk Higher Fast-Food Wages: Higher Fast-Food Prices

    Union activists want to raise the minimum wage in the fast-food industry to $15 an hour. However, fast-food restaurants operate on very small profit margins; they could only afford such wages by raising prices—significantly. Higher prices would, in turn, drive customers away, forcing even larger price increases to cover costs. Ultimately, the average fast-food restaurant…

  • Issue Brief posted September 3, 2014 by Luke Coffey, Daniel Kochis 2014 NATO Summit: Understanding the Key Issues

    The 2014 NATO summit will be held this week in Wales. The last time the United Kingdom hosted the NATO summit was in 1990, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, the Cold War was coming to a close, and the alliance was questioning its future role in the world. Today’s situation is not dissimilar. This will be the last summit before NATO ends its combat operations in…

  • Issue Brief posted September 2, 2014 by Brett D. Schaefer, Anthony B. Kim Congress Should Link U.N. General Assembly Voting and Foreign Aid

    Congress has long been concerned that countries receiving American foreign aid frequently oppose U.S. initiatives and priorities in the United Nations. Since 1983, Congress has required the U.S. Department of State to prepare an annual report on the frequency with which other countries vote with the U.S. in the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA). In the three decades that…

  • Issue Brief posted September 2, 2014 by David Inserra Senate Cyber Information-Sharing Bill on the Right Track but Improvements Needed

    On July 8, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2014. Cybersecurity information sharing is a valuable tool to enhance the security of businesses and the U.S. government. While sharing information on cyber threats and vulnerabilities is not a silver bullet, it keeps security personnel up to date with the constantly…

  • Issue Brief posted August 28, 2014 by Luke Coffey NATO Summit 2014: U.S. Should Support Macedonia

    On June 25, outgoing NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that there would be no enlargement at the next NATO summit in Wales in September 2014. This announcement was a huge disappointment for the Republic of Macedonia, which has met all criteria to join the alliance but continuously has its application vetoed by Greece over a name dispute. Macedonia…