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  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In response to state laws and federal incentives, cities and metropolitan areas across the country are engaged in “sustainability planning” aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In many if not most cases, this planning seeks to reshape urban areas to reduce the amount of driving people do. In general, this means increasing urban population densities and in particular replacing low-density neighborhoods in transit corridors with dense, mixed-use developments.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Energy Policy, Infrastructure, Governance
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: News that the poverty rate has risen to 15.1 percent of Americans, the highest level in nearly a decade, has set off a predictable round of calls for increased government spending on social welfare programs. Yet this year the federal government will spend more than $668 billion on at least 126 different programs to fight poverty. And that does not even begin to count welfare spending by state and local governments, which adds $284 billion to that figure. In total, the United States spends nearly $1 trillion every year to fight poverty. That amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Marcus E. Ethridge
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the wake of the 2010 elections, President Obama declared that voters did not give a mandate to gridlock. His statement reflects over a century of Progressive hostility to the inefficient and slow system of government created by the American Framers. Convinced that the government created by the Constitution frustrates their goals, Progressives have long sought ways around its checks and balances. Perhaps the most important of their methods is delegating power to administrative agencies, an arrangement that greatly transformed U.S. government during and after the New Deal. For generations, Progressives have supported the false premise that administrative action in the hands of experts will realize the public interest more effectively than the constitutional system and its multiple vetoes over policy changes. The political effect of empowering the administrative state has been quite different: it fosters policies that reflect the interests of those with well organized power. A large and growing body of evidence makes it clear that the public interest is most secure when governmental institutions are inefficient decisionmakers. An arrangement that brings diverse interests into a complex, sluggish decisionmaking process is generally unattractive to special interests. Gridlock also neutralizes some political benefits that producer groups and other well-heeled interests inherently enjoy. By fostering gridlock, the U.S. Constitution increases the likelihood that policies will reflect broad, unorganized interests instead of the interests of narrow, organized groups.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Power Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Social Security is often described as a "foundational" element of the nation's social safety net. Almost all Americans are directly affected by the program and many millions primarily depend on its benefits for supporting themselves during retirement. But the program's financial condition has worsened considerably since the last recession, which began in 2007. In that year, the Social Security trustees estimated that the program's trust fund would be exhausted by 2042. The trustees' annual report for 2011 brings the trust fund exhaustion date forward to 2038. Indeed, the programs revenues fell short of its benefit expenditures in 2010 and it appears unlikely that significant surpluses will emerge again under the program's current rules. If the program's finances continue to worsen at this rate, it won't be long before the debate on reforming the program assumes an urgency and intensity similar to that during 1982-83, when imminent insolvency forced lawmakers to implement payroll tax increases and scale back its benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: America, Ethiopia
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: House and Senate Democrats have produced health care legislation whose mandates, subsidies, tax penalties, and health insurance regulations would penalize work and reward Americans who refuse to purchase health insurance. As a result, the legislation could trap many Americans in low-wage jobs and cause even higher health-insurance premiums, government spending, and taxes than are envisioned in the legislation.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Neal McCluskey
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The argument for national curriculum standards sounds simple: set high standards, make all schools meet them, and watch American students achieve at high levels. It is straightforward and compelling, and it is driving a sea change in American education policy.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Culture
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John Samples
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. Constitution vests all the “legislative powers” it grants in Congress. The Supreme Court allows Congress to delegate some authority to executive officials provided an “intelligible principle” guides such transfers. Congress quickly wrote and enacted the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in response to a financial crisis. The law authorized the secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion purchasing troubled mortgage assets or any financial instrument in order to attain 13 different goals. Most of these goals lacked any concrete meaning, and Congress did not establish any priorities among them. As a result, Congress lost control of the implementation of the law and unconstitutionally delegated its powers to the Treasury secretary. Congress also failed in the case of EESA to meet its constitutional obligations to deliberate, to check the other branches of government, or to be accountable to the American people. The implementation of EESA showed Congress to be largely irrelevant to policymaking by the Treasury secretary. These failures of Congress indicate that the current Supreme Court doctrine validating delegation of legislative powers should be revised to protect the rule of law and separation of powers.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past four decades, American cities have spent close to $100 billion constructing rail transit systems, and many billions more operating those systems. The agencies that spend taxpayer dollars building these lines almost invariably call them successful even when they go an average of 40 percent over budget and, in many cases, carry an insignificant number of riders. The people who rarely or never ride these lines but still have to pay for them should ask, “How do you define success?"
  • Topic: Government, Markets, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman, Christopher Preble
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The United States needs a defense budget worthy of its name, one that protects Americans rather than wasting vast sums embroiling us in controversies remote from our interests. This paper outlines such a defense strategy and the substantial cuts in military spending that it allows. That strategy discourages the occupation of failing states and indefinite commitments to defend healthy ones. With fewer missions, the military can shrink its force structure—reducing personnel, the weapons and vehicles procured for them, and operational costs. The resulting force would be more elite, less strained, and far less expensive. By avoiding needless military conflict and protecting our prosperity, these changes would make Americans more secure.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Debt
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: State governments have had to make tough budget choices in recent years. Tax revenues have stagnated as a result of the poor economy, and that has prompted governors to take a variety of fiscal actions to close large budget gaps. Some governors have cut spending to balance their budgets, while others have pursued large tax increases.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: America