The recent decline in federal deficits should not create a false sense that the national debt is no longer a clear and present threat. While this improvement may be encouraging, it represents only a temporary respite from the government’s growing fiscal imbalances.
State and local governments often turn to increases in sales taxes to generate added revenue. Estimates of fresh revenue from the higher tax tend to be overly optimistic, partly because the number of sales tax exemptions tends to rise with the rising tax rate.
Instead, policymakers should focus on more direct, effective, and less problematic solutions to reduce the tangle of regulatory burdens encountered by craft brewers. Eliminating regulatory burdens for all firms would allow brewers to succeed or fail on the basis of their ability to provide the greatest value to consumers at the lowest cost to society.
Removing the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes would make taxes more equitable throughout the nation, as both high-tax and low-tax states are treated equally by the federal government. It may also provide an efficiency boost for states and localities, as they abandon some services that could be better provided by private companies. The removal of this deduction would also allow federal marginal tax rates to be cut across the board, providing a secondary boost to the economy while still remaining revenue-neutral at the federal level.
We apply the methodology of RegData—which quantifies regulations using text analysis of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)—to objectively determine the number of new restrictions the Dodd-Frank Act has created and will create. We estimate that Dodd-Frank will increase financial industry regulatory restrictions by 32 percent once all of its rulemakings are finalized, yielding more new restrictions than were created between 1997 and 2010.
In recent years, food stamps have constituted about 80 percent of farm bill spending, which may be why nearly 100 percent of public debate has focused there. Unfortunately, with all of the attention on food stamps, both political parties have missed the opportunity for reform that lies in the remaining 20 percent of the farm bill.
Behavioral economics (BE) examines the implications for decision-making when actors suffer from cognitive flaws documented in the psychological literature. Broadly, BE replaces the assumption of rationality—that errors tend to cancel out over time and across populations, so on average firms and consumers act as if they were rational—with one of “bounded rationality.” When actors are boundedly rational, their cognitive flaws lead to systematic errors and self-control problems. It should come as no surprise that BE has become an increasingly common justification for regulatory intervention.
Historically, the FCC’s Universal Service Fund has paid for two programs that subsidize telephone service for low-income households. Lifeline, the larger program, pays phone companies to reduce monthly subscription fees for low-income households by an average of $9.25 per month, with some states providing additional funding. Link Up subsidizes one-time connection charges by up to $30.2 In 2012, the FCC voted to phase out Link Up.
Virginia’s labor market is more troubled than its unemployment rate suggests. If labor force participation were at its 2007 level, the state’s unemployment rate would be as high as 8.6 percent. We estimate that 10 percent of Virginia’s workforce is indirectly employed by the federal government via federal contract expenditures. Excluding these jobs, private job loss in Virginia since 2007 is on par with the national average.
The F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the Mercatus Center invites you to a panel discussion featuring Peter Leeson and his new book, Anarchy Unbound: Why Self-Governance Works Better Than You Think.
One of the President’s major regulatory oversight offices is the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Agencies can take a “cooperate with OIRA” approach or an “avoid OIRA” approach when they pursue new regulatory initiatives. Understanding agency avoidance tactics is an important step in deciding whether and how to shift agency incentives away from avoidance and toward cooperation.