Barry is a Senior Economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, one of the most influential think tanks in America today.
The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. Topics include reforms in health care, taxes, Social Security, welfare, criminal justice, education and environmental regulation.
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Daily Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Daily Policy Digest
- The Cruel Things Obama Is Doing to the Labor Market
- 17 May 2013 07:00:58 CDT -
ObamaCare mandates will destroy job opportunities for young, unskilled workers in cities and towns across the country, says John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.
- With respect to the new health law, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the minimum benefit package that everyone will be required to have will be $4,750 for individuals and $12,250 for families.
- That translates into a minimum health benefit of $2.28 an hour for full-time single workers and about $3 an hour for someone working 30 hours a week.
- For family coverage the cost is $5.89 an hour for a 40-hour-a-week employee and $7.85 an hour for a 30-hour-a-week employee.
These are not small changes, and in some instances they can double the cost of labor. Employers have four ways to reduce this burden:
- The mandate doesn't apply to firms with fewer than 50 workers.
- The mandate doesn't apply to employees who work fewer than 30 hours.
- The employer doesn't have to offer or subsidize family coverage.
- Rather than provide health insurance, the employer can pay a $2,000 per (full-time) worker fine.
Employers are already reacting to ObamaCare. In fact, there was a huge shift to part-time employment in the fast-food industry beginning in January. The reason: ObamaCare will employ a 12-month "look back." That is, in deciding whether a worker is full-time or part-time next January (when the mandate becomes effective) the government will look at the average weekly hours worked in the previous year.
- One fast-food restaurant owner said that the average workweek for his employees has been reduced to 25 hours this year -- compared with 38 last year.
- Employees may be able to work part-time at two different restaurants -- both of which avoid the mandate by switching to part-time labor.
- On the other hand, they may choose to work fewer hours because as their income rises their marginal tax rate will increase and public assistance subsidies and health insurance exchange subsidies will go down.
Letting part-time workers work more hours can be expensive.
- If a 29-hour-a-week employee works one more hour for 50 weeks, that will trigger a $2,000 fine.
- Dividing the fine by the additional hours of work, that works out to a $40-an-hour penalty.
Source: John C. Goodman, "The Cruel Things Obama Is Doing to the Labor Market," Forbes, May 27, 2013 (print edition).
For more on Health Issues:
- Parent Trigger Laws Empower Parents for School Change
- 17 May 2013 07:00:57 CDT -
In January 2010, California passed a parent trigger law that allows parents to change the administration of a poorly performing public school. After facing significant opposition, a local group of parents has received the nod from the courts that their actions are in fact legal. The court ruling and the group, Desert Trails Parent Union, demonstrate that families and the local community can empower themselves to transform a dysfunctional school system, says Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution and former deputy mayor of Los Angeles.
- The Desert Trails Parent Union organized many parents who signed a petition, outlined their objectives, and met with teachers and administration officials.
- Despite defenders of the school system perpetrating a campaign of lies, intimidation, fraud and forgeries, a superior court judge has concluded that parents are acting within the parent trigger law.
- Following the support of the courts, the parents have convinced the district to allow a high-quality nonprofit charter school operator to take over Desert Trails Elementary.
Amidst a deeply divided political climate, politicians on both sides of the aisle are supporting parent triggers and the idea of giving parents more ability to reform failing schools where their children attend.
- A Gallup poll found that 70 percent of respondents favored parent trigger laws.
- Opponents of parent trigger laws say that parents have to navigate a maze of bureaucratic hurdles, which limits the ability of parents to be successful.
- In California, the State Board of Education is working to streamline the process and remove barriers for parents to organize and address their grievances.
Education professionals say that parents do not possess the necessary knowledge to make meaningful reforms. Given the track record of public education, parent triggers empower parents to take a more active role in their child's education.
- As the parent trigger evolves, better models of how to organize parents and encourage district and school participation are being developed.
- Six states now have parent trigger laws and more than 10 states are considering implementing the laws in their state.
Source: Ben Austin, "Empowered Families Can Transform the System," Education Next, Summer 2013.
For more on Education Issues:
- Parent Trigger: There's a Better Way
- 17 May 2013 07:00:56 CDT -
While parent trigger laws empower parents, families and communities to take an active role in reforming their children's education, the effects of the parent trigger mechanism may be more disappointing than many other options. Because of legal and institutional obstacles, the parent trigger mechanism is not likely to make a huge difference in the long run, says Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
- Two successful campaigns in California led by Parent Revolution have faced significant legal opposition.
- With the McKinley Elementary parent trigger campaign in Compton, California, school officials launched an attack on the trigger petition, stating that all signatures need to be verified in person and with photo identification.
- When this argument failed, school officials were allowed to cross-reference every signature with student records and pushed for parents' ability to rescind their support -- efforts that resulted in the parent trigger eventually failing.
Parent Revolution, a group that organizes local parents to leverage the parent trigger mechanism, is lobbying the state board of education to tighten its regulations to prevent such blatant obstruction.
- In several other districts, parent trigger groups have met with opposition from administration officials who have either rejected the petitions or rejected their recommendations.
- Typically, parent trigger mechanisms seek to transform a traditional public school into a charter school.
- Because public schools have a virtual monopoly on the education market, they are incredibly reluctant to change the system.
Public schools that have been converted into charter schools come with their own set of problems. Since the schools are technically still part of the public school district, they are sometimes micromanaged by the district or worse, left completely alone. When left completely alone, the quality of a converted charter school can fall, which is counterproductive to the entire goal of improving educational outcomes.
Still, some parents are leveraging the parent trigger to encourage schools to make reforms without actually executing the parent trigger mechanism. The parent trigger is useful because it gets parents involved in their child's education. It is doubtful that it will lead to long-term systematic changes.
Source: Michael Petrilli, "There's a Better Way to Unlock Parent Power," Education Next, Summer 2013.
For more on Education Issues:
- Wind Farms Get Pass on Eagle Deaths
- 17 May 2013 07:00:55 CDT -
It happens all too frequently: A soaring golden eagle slams into a wind farm's spinning turbine and falls, mangled and lifeless, to the ground. Killing these iconic birds is not just an irreplaceable loss for a vulnerable species. It's also a federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines, says the Associated Press.
But the administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly. Instead, the government is shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret.
The result is a green industry that's allowed to do not-so-green things. It kills protected species with impunity and conceals the environmental consequences of sprawling wind farms.
- More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country's wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.
- Getting precise figures is impossible because many companies aren't required to disclose how many birds they kill. And when they do, experts say, the data can be unreliable.
When companies voluntarily report deaths, the Obama administration in many cases refuses to make the information public, saying it belongs to the energy companies or that revealing it would expose trade secrets or implicate ongoing enforcement investigations.
Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.
By not enforcing the law, the administration provides little incentive for companies to build wind farms where there are fewer birds. And while companies already operating turbines are supposed to avoid killing birds, in reality there's little they can do once the windmills are spinning.
Source: Dina Cappiello, "Wind Farms Get Pass on Eagle Deaths," Associated Press, May 14, 2013.
For more on Environment Issues:
- Hispanic College Enrollment Rates Pass White College Enrollment Rates
- 17 May 2013 07:00:54 CDT -
For the first time, Hispanic college enrollment rates are higher than the rates for white high school graduates. The milestone is the result of a long-term trend that was boosted by the Great Recession. The growing enrollment rates are probably due to declining labor market outcomes and a new focus on the importance of college, say Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, in a new Pew Research poll.
- In 2000, approximately 28 percent of Hispanic students dropped out of high school, compared with just 14 percent in 2011.
- The high school dropout rate of white students also declined but by a small amount, from 7 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2011.
- Hispanics are now much more likely than whites or blacks to enter college immediately.
- Sixty-nine percent of Hispanic students who completed high school in 2012 enrolled in college the following October, compared with 67 percent of whites and 63 percent of blacks.
- Hispanics between 18 and 24 years of age are less likely than their white counterparts to be enrolled full time.
- Seventy-two percent of whites between the ages of 18 and 24 were enrolled at a 4-year college or university in 2011, compared with only 56 percent of Hispanics.
- Despite gains in college enrollment, the unemployment rate for Hispanic 16 to 24 year olds is 1 percent higher than that of whites, at 18 percent.
One potential reason why Hispanics are attending college more than whites now is that the Great Recession has been particularly hard on young Hispanics while white youth have had an easier time getting jobs with just a high school diploma or GED.
Another reason could be the increased importance that Latino families are placing on college. A 2009 survey reported that 88 percent of Latinos ages 16 and older agreed that a college degree is necessary to get ahead in life today.
Source: Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, "Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment," Pew Research Center, May 9, 2013.
For more on Education Issues:
- Exporting Natural Gas: Is it Beneficial?
- 16 May 2013 07:00:53 CDT -
U.S. natural gas companies are now reaching the point that they can provide enough gas for U.S. consumption and create extra profit through exports to other countries. This boom in production is one of the first real steps that the United States has been able to take toward energy independence, but some politicians argue that this might create price increases for Americans attempting to buy natural gas, says Steve Chapman, a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.
- Current law requires the federal government to approve all sales of U.S. gas abroad.
- Among those to express doubts of the benefits of U.S. companies exporting natural gas is President Barack Obama who claims, "I've got to make a decision -- an executive decision broadly about whether or not we export liquefied natural gas at all."
Some congressional Democrats are discouraging him from embracing the exportation of natural gas because of the possible negative impacts it could have on major U.S. corporations' abilities to buy the gas.
- Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon warns that "major gas consumers could find themselves hit hard with energy price hikes and forced to sideline job-creating efforts."
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan claims that it "makes no sense" to ship U.S. homegrown supplies abroad.
These responses made by congressional Democrats are quite unusual compared to U.S. politicians' typical thought process that reducing imports and promoting exports is good. Some senators believe that letting natural gas leave U.S. soil will sap Americans' ability to use the commodity. Some corporations oppose natural gas exports because they claim that it would become an unfettered export.
- Among the corporations are Dow Chemical, Alcoa, Nucor and Eastman Chemical, which argue that selling American natural gas to Americans is good but selling it to foreigners is bad.
- These companies fret that foreign buyers will bid up the price of something they buy in great quantity.
- Dow complains that exports could "disrupt natural gas supply and pricing."
- It has not, however, objected to the "disruptions" that in the past five years have increased supply while slashing prices by two-thirds.
While congressmen and corporations are worried about prices of natural gas inflating, it is not clear that allowing sales abroad would have a substantial impact on American purchasers of the commodity. The sale of natural gas to foreign companies or foreign government will benefit the U.S. economy and U.S. exports, and put the United States back on the map for economic growth.
Source: Steve Chapman, "Democrats Are Holding Energy-and Prosperity-Captive," Reason Magazine, May 9, 2013.
For more on Government Issues:
Health Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Consumer Driven Health Care
- Health Care Reform Tax Will Hurt Franchisees
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - When the employer mandates go into effect in 2014, many franchised businesses will be motivated to reduce the number of locations and move workers from full-time to part-time status...
REAL CLEAR MARKETS
- Saving Jobs from Health Reform's Harmful Regulations
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - If the rate of health care cost growth had not exceeded general inflation, a typical family would have had $545 more per month in spendable income instead of $95 -- a difference of $5,400 per year...
- Does Health Insurance and Seeing the Doctor Keep You Out of the Hospital?
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - Gaining health insurance and using more primary care services leads to more hospitalizations as a result of physicians' discretionary decisions regarding aggressive and intensive treatment...
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
- The Case for Competition in Medicare
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - A well-functioning marketplace would set in motion the forces needed to transform American medical care into a model of efficient patient-centered care...
- Potential Effect of Health Care Reform on Emergency Department Utilization Not Clear
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - In 2010, 71 percent of emergency physicians said that they expected emergency department visits to increase due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act...
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE
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