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

The Positive Side of Negative Interest Rates
06 Jul 2016 07:00:58 CDT -

John Maynard Keynes said, "When my information changes I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?" For Keynesians and non-Keynesians alike, it is excellent advice -- essential, in fact -- and it applies in spades to the mounting confusion about negative interest rates.  One major point on which Keynes eventually would have had to change his mind was his 1936 comment, long uncontroversial, that "the rate of interest is never negative."  By February 2016, one-year government bond yields in 12 out of 15 developed countries were negative.  Even five-year bond yields were negative in the majority of these countries.

The idea that $1,000 to be received a year from now could be worth more than $1,000 in the bag today is counter to common intuition.  A present dollar has a different value than a future dollar. When inflation is sufficiently high, a future dollar is almost worthless.  But by the same logic, when prices are consistently falling, a future dollar could be more valuable than a present dollar.

Read the entire article here.


For more on Financial Crisis:

Health Services Half of GDP Growth
05 Jul 2016 07:00:57 CDT -

Senior Fellow John R. Graham writes in the NCPA's Health blog.

This morning's third estimate of GDP for the first quarter significantly increased the estimate of health spending, such that it comprised one half of GDP growth in the first quarter.

Spending on health services continue to dominate weak GDP growth. Growth in health services spending of $33.3 billion (annualized) comprised 50 percent of GDP growth. However, there was shrinkage in personal consumption expenditures on goods and private domestic investment. This meant personal expenditures on services grew much more than GDP overall. Growth in spending on health services amounted to 62 percent of growth in personal consumption expenditures and 35 percent of spending on services. Spending on health services grew by 6.4 percent, almost twice as much as growth in spending on non-health services.

Read the entire article here.

For more on Health Issues:

Disability Overpayments: Low-Hanging Fruit
01 Jul 2016 07:00:56 CDT -

Research Associate Laura Wiltshire writes in the NCPA Retirement Taxes and Blog:

According to the most recent Trustees Report, the Social Security Disability trust fund, which would have been depleted by the end of this year, will now run dry in 2019, thanks to a little finagling of the payroll tax. But this is a short-term solution to a program that is in desperate need of real reform.

According to National Affairs, the rate of approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications has remained fairly constant, the program has grown from serving 0.2 percent of the population age 50 to 65 (at which time only this age group was eligible) in 1956 to 5 percent of all adults in 2012. The increased presence of women in the workforce and the aging baby boomer generation explains part of this rise in dependence on the SSDI, but certainly fails to explain the trends in diagnoses and the failure to rehabilitate workers and send them back into the fray. The program's structure arguably creates a perverse incentive for workers to not even attempt to return to work -- beneficiaries often go through a two-year application process that drains their savings, and being approved requires applicants to prove they cannot work in order to benefit, thus nullifying the Social Security Administration's attempts to convince beneficiaries that they can return to work in some capacity under the Ticket to Work program.

In addition to the perverse work incentives, a major source of contention regarding Social Security's Disability Insurance that does not get much media attention is the amount of fraud and overpayments that occur. The rate of successful fraudulent applications gaining benefits from the SSDI, according to the White House, is only 1 percent.  However, fraudulent applications are not the only way claimants receive "bonus funds" from the government.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has examined the problems with overlapping payments -- some of them perfectly legal -- as a result of joint disability benefits received from multiple federal offices, such as the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, or the Department of Labor and Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA).

  • According to a GAO report, in fiscal year 2013, 68 percent of veterans benefitting from the Department of Defense, VA, and SSDI concurrently received between $25,000 and $74,999 annually, with about 2,000 veterans receiving over $100,000 a year.
  • In another GAO report, auditors found that federal employees were receiving workers' compensation payments through the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA) and full disability payments at the same time, resulting in $371.5 million in overpayments from 2009 through 2013.  FECA payments provide compensation for wage-loss, medical, and rehabilitation costs for federal employees who suffered from work-related injuries and illness.  However, federal law requires that disability payments must be offset if the sum of disability and FECA payments exceed a certain statutory amount.  Sadly, their reported overpayments were a mere 6 percent of the estimated $6.1 billion in overpayments (for various reasons) from SSDI.
  • The report also noted that at least 1,040 overpayment recipients receiving FECA and SSDI concurrently were not identified by the Social Security Administration from July 2011 to June 2014, which accounts for at least a 13 percent failure to detect overpayments in this instance during that time period.

Even if Congress and the administration do not have the political will to reform Social Security Disability, might we suggest that perhaps the Social Security Administration could start with low-hanging fruit and address billions of dollars in improper payments.  With so many government benefit programs that overlap, surely there must be a way for different entities to share information electronically.  Or is that too much to ask?

For more on Government Issues:

Labor Unions and the Joint Employer Rule
30 Jun 2016 07:00:55 CDT -

Two significant rulings by the National Labor Relations Board in 2015 expanded the longstanding interpretation of "joint employment," a designation given when two firms are involved in directing, controlling, training and supervising an employee. The NLRB is a politically appointed board that governs employer relations with labor unions, but its new interpretation of joint employment will have the greatest effect on small businesses.

The impetus for the rule is the desire to ease unionization of small businesses that are franchisees of corporations, such as restaurant and retail food chains.

In a 2015 case involving Browning Ferris Industries, the NRLB ruled that Browning Ferris was not only responsible for those it employed directly, but also for contractors and those "indirectly" employed by the firm. Thus, it would be liable for labor violations committed by contractors, even when it has only indirect or "potential" control over employment conditions. In another case, involving McDonald's Corporation, the NLRB ruled that McDonald's is a joint employer and therefore could be responsible for alleged labor and anti-discrimination law violations at its franchises in 30 locations across five states.

Read entire article here.

For more on Economic Issues:

Why Exxon is not the Problem
29 Jun 2016 07:00:54 CDT -

NCPA's Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jacki Pick writes in the Washington Times:

For more than 200 years, the American birthright has provided protection against the threat that one's head might hang on London Bridge -- or the Key Bridge, if you prefer -- for disagreeing with the government. Our highest court holds there can be no mandated, state-sanctioned opinions enforced in America under the U.S. Constitution. Now, a handful of politically motivated prosecutors are working to strip us of this birthright security.

Beware the attorneys general of several states and territories who have launched a RICO (racketeering)-styled legal inquest to fine -- and potentially even jail -- Exxon-funded scientists and thought leaders whose work casts doubt on the prosecutors' state-sanctioned, politically correct views on climate change.

The planning of the inquest goes back to the year President Obama won re-election, and the first casualty of this war on free speech was Peabody Energy, the world's largest private coal company. In 2015, the company agreed to a settlement that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman correctly deemed "an unprecedented first step" in targeting energy companies for what they say -- or do not say -- about climate science, on the basis that failure to lead a PR campaign against one's own fossil fuel product (and therefore, stock value) is somehow criminal.

Read entire article here.

For more on Environment Issues:

The Minimum Wage Debate
28 Jun 2016 07:00:53 CDT -

In an exclusive article for Boss Magazine, NCPA Senior Fellow Pam Villarreal writes:

For several years now, stagnant wage growth and a sputtering economy have encouraged a movement by labor rights groups and others to raise the minimum wage. Politicians on the left and some on the right have called for an increase in the minimum wage to as high as $15 an hour. Supporters claim that a minimum wage that is more than double the current $7.25 an hour will reduce poverty and inequality with little impact on employment, citing empirical studies that show no adverse effect. Opponents, however, are skeptical. They also cite findings showing that an increase in the minimum wage would increase inequality and do little to alleviate poverty.

The first minimum wage, 25 cents an hour, was established under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and applied only to employees engaging in interstate commerce. By 1961, a new amendment covered additional employees in certain industries. By this time, the minimum wage was $1 an hour.

Then in 1978 all employees who were designated as non-exempt (non-salaried) were covered at $2.65 an hour. Since then, the minimum wage has increased 10 times under various presidential administrations.

The current rate of $7.25 an hour took effect in 2009. While many argue that the current time span is the longest that the minimum wage has not increased, the record actually goes back to a time span of 1997 when the minimum wage stood at $5.15 an hour for 10 years until 2007.

Thirty states, Washington, D.C., and a handful of cities have minimum wages that are significantly higher. In 2001, Washington became the first state to enact minimum wage increases tied to the cost of living; its minimum wage now stands at $9.47.

But other states have or will soon surpass Washington in terms of statutory rates. Washington, D.C.'s wage is $10.50 an hour and due to an increase to $11.50 in July of this year. Massachusetts' current rate of $10 an hour will increase to $11 at the beginning of next year. New York and California will bump their wages to $15 an hour in 2018 and 2022, respectively.

Read entire article here.

For more on Economic Issues:

Health Policy Digest

Provided courtesy of: NCPA

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...


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...


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...


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