What’s happening at the Foundation
– This week, the Foundation joined national leaders and several state-based think tanks in announcing the Right on Crime initiative. The initiative proposes six principles to guide state reforms to reduce recidivism rates, restore victims, reform offenders, protect communities and protect taxpayers. Read more about the initiative in Mike Klein’s blog in The Forum, the Foundation’s interactive community of Georgians discussing the issues of greatest concern with the Foundation’s experts.
– If you haven’t joined the The Forum, register now and join the discussion at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/.
– “Because an individual’s personal decision to purchase – or decline to purchase – health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause does not provide a safe sanctuary. This clause grants Congress broad authority to pass laws in furtherance of its constitutionally enumerated powers. This authority may only be constitutionally deployed when tethered to a lawful exercise of an enumerated power.” – Federal Judge Henry Hudson, ruling on the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s individual health-insurance mandate in the case of Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius
– “Besides, to lay and collect internal taxes, in this extensive country, must require a great number of congressional ordinances, immediately operating upon the body of the people; these must continually interfere with the state laws, and thereby produce disorder and general dissatisfaction, till the one system of laws or the other, operating upon the same subjects, shall be abolished.” – Federal Farmer, Antifederalist Letter, Oct. 10, 1787
The economy and taxes
– “Rich rhetoric“: For all the impassioned talk about “tax cuts for the rich,” one might think the country was shoveling money into the vaults of gazillionaires, says Greg Scandlen of the Heartland Institute. But the Washington Post breaks out the $990 billion, two-year cost of the agreement like this: $79 billion, extension of Bush tax cuts for high-income earners; $280 billion, extension of Bush tax cuts for middle-income earners; $140 billion, indexing the alternative minimum tax; $68 billion, on lower estate taxes; $56 billion, extension of unemployment benefits; $120 billion, payroll tax reduction; $21 billion, extension of refundable tax credits (like EITC); $146 billion, capital investment write-offs for businesses and $80 billion, R&D tax credits. So the much-despised “tax cuts for the rich” amount to 8 percent of the total package.
– While much of Washington was focused on the tax compromise between President Obama and congressional Republicans, Senate Democrats and Republicans voted 99-0 for a one-year extension of the so-called “doctor fix” for Medicare. Since 2003, the sustainable growth rate (SGR) – a formula designed to control increases in Medicare spending – has dictated reimbursement cuts. And every year, Congress intervened to postpone those cuts. The cost of this postponement: $15 billion. The result: almost certainly higher deficits and more debt piled on the backs of our children, says Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute. Source: New York Post
– A major shortcoming of the deficit reduction plan concocted by the president’s Fiscal Commission is that it assumed that the federal government should continue doing everything it currently does. For example, the plan proposed a 15 cent per gallon increase in the federal gasoline tax to fund infrastructure projects. But why not allow the private sector to play a greater role in financing and maintaining infrastructure like roads? A new Reason TV video discusses this idea. View it athttp://tinyurl.com/3a47m58.
– Automatic savings: A consultant’s report says conversion of the Maine Turnpike to all-electronic tolling would have an upfront cost of around $40 million but produce annual savings of around $15 million, paying for itself in less than three years, while putting the Turnpike Authority on a sounder financial footing. Johns Creek, Ga.-based eTrans Group says it would also result in improved travel times through toll points, improved safety (traditional toll plazas are accident “hot spots”), lesser emissions and energy use, and toll plaza pavement that can be returned to planting, wetlands and the like. Source: Tollroadsnews.com
– Healthy choice: Massachusetts recently announced the results of implementing a smoking cessation benefit for MassHealth members. The state reported a 26 percent drop in the Medicaid smoking rate, and the risk of heart attack hospitalization by smokers utilizing the cessation benefit dropped 46 percent in a 2-1/2-year period. The net savings to the state was $10.5 million, or a $3.07 return for every dollar spent on cessation treatment. Georgia is one of five states that doesn’t cover a benefit for Medicaid or state employees.
– Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Reform Lacking in Feds’ Medicaid Vision,” by Nina Owcharenko.
Have a great weekend.
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.