NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis
NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis
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.

NCPA Motto - Making Ideas Change the World - reflects the belief that ideas have enormous power to change the course of human events. The NCPA seeks to unleash the power of ideas for positive change by identifying, encouraging, and aggressively marketing the best scholarly research.

Daily Policy Digest

Provided courtesy of: NCPA

Daily Policy Digest

Can State Medical Boards Keep Competitors Out?
22 Jul 2014 07:00:58 CDT -

Modern Healthcare reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon address an important question for the medical community: Can state boards of medicine and dentistry make scope-of-practice determinations? 

State medical and dental boards regulate the practice of their respective industries. But as Devon Herrick, senior fellow at the NCPA, explains, members of these boards are usually doctors and dentists -- the very people being regulated by the boards' rules. As such, the boards can produce self-interested regulations.

The Supreme Court case arises out of North Carolina, whose state dental board began issuing cease-and-desist letters to hygienists (not dentists) who were whitening consumers' teeth at spas and mall kiosks. The letters accused the recipients of the illegal practice of dentistry. Dentists offering teeth whitening in their offices, Herrick explains, often supervise the whitening work, which is done by technicians and hygienists. "Allowing those same dental technicians and hygienists to perform the work without the supervision of a dentist undercuts dentists' prices and reduces their profits," Herrick writes.

In response, the Federal Trade Commission accused North Carolina's state dental board of keeping competitors from the teeth-whitening market, insisting that scope-of-practice decisions that affect those making the decisions should be supervised by the state.

Those in the medical community have come out in support of the state boards, insisting that public health should trump antitrust law and claiming that the FTC does not have authority over state medical boards.

While medical licensure is intended to protect the public, Herrick notes that economists often argue that licensure cuts down on supply and limits competition.

Source: Joe Carlson, "Should state medical boards be allowed to set scope-of-practice? Supreme Court will decide," Modern Healthcare, July 15, 2014; Devon Herrick, "Should Doctors and Dentists Regulate Their Competitors?" Health Policy Blog, National Center for Policy Analysis, July 21, 2014.

For more on Health Issues:

A Plan to Replace the EPA
22 Jul 2014 07:00:57 CDT -

Jay Lehr, science director at the Heartland Institute, has a five-year plan to replace the Environmental Protection Agency with 50 state agencies.

Lehr, a national authority on groundwater hydrology, was one of the original panelists who studied, and recommended, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1971. But what started as an effort to protect the environment and public health became a full-fledged political organization. Beginning in the 1980s, the EPA became a way for activist groups to advance their political agendas, Lehr writes. Today, it costs $2 trillion per year for Americans to comply with all federal regulations, and the EPA is responsible for half of that regulatory cost.

Lehr offers a solution: dismantling the EPA and replacing it with a Committee of the Whole, composed of the 50 state environmental protection agencies. Those state agencies have spent 30 years implementing federal environmental laws and are more than capable of protecting the environment without federal oversight.

Lehr's five-year plan is as follows:

  • Dismantle the national EPA, with the exception of the EPA's research laboratories. Those laboratories can continue to perform research, though state-funded research efforts should compete with the federal research lab, in order to keep the laboratories above-board.
  • Cut the EPA budget down to 20 percent of current levels. That 20 percent could run the aforementioned research labs and administer the Committee of the Whole.
  • Reduce staff from 15,000 employees to 300 employees, comprised of six delegates from each of the 50 states. Those employees would work at a new headquarters in Topeka, Kansas. Topeka would allow close contact with the states and would reduce travel costs.
  • In the first year, begin relocating new Committee of the Whole Employees to Topeka, Kansas.
  • Over the next four years, transfer activities from the EPA's 14 federal offices to the Topeka office.

The Committee of the Whole would assess all national EPA regulations and determine which ones were mandated by law and which had been established without approval from Congress. The Committee would vote to continue those rules that had been mandated by law or would request Congressional repeal. The Committee would vote on all rules not mandated by law individually, requiring a two-thirds vote for alteration or repeal.

Moving the Committee from the EPA's headquarters in Washington, D.C., to Topeka would keep the regulators away from Washington corruption, and the 50 state agencies would be less vulnerable to lobbying, Lehr writes, than their EPA counterparts.

Source: Jay Lehr, "Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency," Heartland Institute, July 2014. 

For more on Environment Issues:

Houses Built Under FEMA Guidelines Suffer More Damage
22 Jul 2014 07:00:56 CDT -

Houses that are built according to FEMA guidelines suffer more property damage during hurricanes than homes built prior to the guidelines, write Carolyn Dehring, professor at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, and Martin Halek, senior lecturer at the University of Wisconsin's School of Business, for the Cato Institute.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides flood insurance to homeowners in communities participating in the program. Those communities are required to adopt the NFIP building code, which uses minimum building standards established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Dehring and Halek examined the effect of hurricanes on barrier island property in Lee County, Florida. Lee County joined NFIP in 1984, at which point new buildings became subject to the FEMA guidelines. In 2004, Hurricane Charley made landfall in Lee County. The authors examined 264 residential properties, 233 of which incurred damage as a result of the hurricane. The report looked specifically at "A-Zones" -- areas subject to rising flood waters.

The study found that buildings in the A-Zone constructed after the NFIP code was implemented were much more likely to sustain damage, and have a greater extent of damage, than other structures in the area built prior to the NFIP code. Of buildings that were damaged, buildings constructed post-NFIP incurred 57 percent more damages than similarly situated property.

Why was damage in the A-Zone worse? Of the properties analyzed, 63 saw a reduction in the minimum required elevation of between one and four feet. The data indicates that decreasing elevation by 1 foot increases damage by 1.267 percent.

NFIP has paid $3.7 billion in losses in Florida alone since 1978.

Source: Carolyn A. Dehring and Martin Halek, "Do Coastal Building Codes Make Stronger Houses?" Cato Institute, Summer 2014.

For more on Environment Issues:

Income Boost from Right to Work Laws
22 Jul 2014 07:00:55 CDT -

Incomes rise when Right to Work laws are implemented, according to a study from the Competitive Enterprise Institute by Richard Vedder and Jonathan Robe.

Currently, 26 states allow unions to force new employees to join unions or, at least, pay union dues. But 24 states have Right to Work (RTW) laws, which grant workers the right not to join unions and pay dues as a condition of their employment.

Vedder and Robe analyzed the impact of RTW laws on state economies, as RTW laws reduce union presence. Unionization increases labor costs, which makes capital investment less attractive. Right to Work laws, on the other hand, have a positive impact on economic growth:

  • Total employment growth in the United States from 1977 to 2012 was 71 percent. In RTW states, employment growth was 105.3 percent, while non-RTW states saw growth of only 50 percent.
  • Americans in non-RTW states have been moving to states with the laws. From 2000 to 2009, 4.9 million Americans moved from non-RTW states to RTW states.
  • According to economist Robert Reed, controlling for economic conditions in a state prior to the adoption of a RTW law, wages increase when RTW laws are implemented. In 2000, average wages were 6.68 percent higher in RTW states than in non-RTW states.
  • Real personal income from 1977 to 2012 grew by 123 percent in the United States, but RTW states saw a growth rate of 165 percent.

The authors also calculated the per capita income loss from not having an RTW law:

  • According to the report, the 10 states most negatively affected by their lack of an RTW law are Alaska, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, Wisconsin, New York and Michigan.
  • According to Vedder and Robe's calculations, Alaskans suffered a per capita income loss of $5,238 due to the state's lack of an RTW law.

The authors note that Michigan provides an especially stark example of the impact of Right to Work laws on wages. In 1977, the state's per capita income was 7.4 percent above the U.S. average -- a figure that had dropped to 12.2 percent below the national average by 2012. If the state had a RTW law, two-thirds of Michigan's current per capita income deficiency would be eliminated. 

Source: Richard Vedder and Jonathan Robe, "An Interstate Analysis of Right to Work Laws," Competitive Enterprise Institute, July 16, 2014. 

For more on Economic Issues:

Congress Looks at Three Education Bills
22 Jul 2014 07:00:54 CDT -

Lindsey Burke, education policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation, reports on three education bills that are moving through Congress.

Congress is looking at reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), but, rather than doing a major overhaul of the HEA, lawmakers are tackling education reform in small pieces:

  • Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act: A bipartisan bill, the law would allow the Department of Education to give more flexibility to educational options that focus on subject mastery rather than time spent in a classroom. It requires the Education Department to create competency-based demonstration projects and removes regulations that impede competency-based program growth.
  • Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act: The federal government currently administers a College Navigator website, which requires colleges to provide data on the cost of attendance and similar information. The bill from Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luke Messer (R-Ind.) would require schools to provide more than 36 pieces of data, including the ratio of part-time to full-time faculty instruction, in order to give students more information.
  • Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act: The bill, from Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) would require the Department of Education to maintain an online tool that institutions can use to provide student loan recipients with loan counseling.

Burke writes that the HEA needs much stronger reforms than these: federal financing that is separated from accreditation, a more targeted Pell Grant system that serves low-income students and the elimination of duplicative and ineffective programs.

Source: Lindsey Burke, "These Bills Could Affect American Higher Education. Here's How," Daily Signal, July 21, 2014.

For more on Education Issues:

Millennial Support for Big Government Wanes if It Means Higher Taxes
21 Jul 2014 07:00:53 CDT -

Millennials distrust political parties and are largely socially liberal but fiscally centrist, according to the latest Reason-Rupe survey. The survey gathered responses from 2,000 adults ages 18 to 29 between late February and mid-March 2014, finding that today's young Americans are largely unaligned with traditional political parties:

  • While young adults have supported Democrat political candidates since 2004, one-third of millennials identify themselves as independents -- three times the number of Americans over the age of 30 who do so.
  • Twenty-eight percent of millennials trust neither major party to handle the nation's issues. Fifty percent do not trust either party to handle privacy.

Notably, the poll found that millennial support for a government that provides more services declines when the costs of such services become clear and when millennials make more money and become more responsible:

  • According to the poll, 54 percent favor "larger government with more services," while 43 percent favor "smaller government with fewer services." But after introducing tax rates into the mix, 57 percent favor smaller government.
  • Similarly, of those millennials whose parents pay for their health insurance, 57 percent favor increasing health insurance premiums to provide the uninsured with health coverage. But of millennials who pay for their own health insurance, 59 percent oppose paying more in premiums, while just 39 percent are in favor.
  • Of those making less than $20,000 annually, 53 percent support income distribution, while 39 percent oppose it. But among those making $40,000 or more, only 42 percent support income distribution while 54 percent oppose it.

The survey found mixed support for government action:

  • Seven in 10 millennials support government guarantees for housing, health insurance and income, yet only 32 percent reported that they preferred a government-managed economy, compared to 64 percent who supported a free market over a state-managed market.
  • A respective 70 percent and 64 percent of millennials have a positive view of competition and profit. More than half reported that they would like to start their own businesses.
  • While just 42 percent of millennials believed that government was inefficient and wasteful in 2009, 66 percent reported thinking so today. Sixty-three percent said that regulators favor special interests over the public.

Significantly, only 16 percent of those surveyed could accurately define socialism, yet 42 percent reported preferring socialism to capitalism.

The survey also indicated that young American adults believe in personal responsibility and other free-market values. When asked to explain success, respondents listed hard work, ambition and self-discipline as the top three explanations for wealth. The most common explanations for poverty were poor life choices, lack of job opportunities and lack of work ethic.

According to the report, six in 10 want to live in a society that distributes wealth based on achievement, even at the expense of unequal outcomes.

Source: "Millennials: The Politically Unclaimed Generation," Reason-Rupe 2014 Millennial Survey, July 10, 2014.

For more on Government Issues:

Health Policy Digest

Provided courtesy of: NCPA

Consumer Driven Health Care

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