Category: Commentaries

Deepwater Horizon: Drawn-Out Tempest in a Teacup

By Harold Brown Harold Brown, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was called catastrophic by many. President Obama declared, “This oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced;” the National Resource Defense Council said, two years later, “a people wronged and a region scarred remains.” Five years later, what remains of this “worst environmental disaster” and “scarred” region? There were many projections, estimates and guesses – before and after the well was finally capped – about how many millions of barrels of crude spilled into the Gulf. Photos of pelicans slimed in oil, dolphins smothered, beaches covered in black, and tar-balls strewn like rocks on… View Article

A Reality Check on the School Choice Bogeymen

By Benjamin Scafidi BENJAMIN SCAFIDI Two bills in the Georgia Legislature would allow thousands of Georgia parents the opportunity to choose better educational options for their children. One, (HB 35) would significantly increase the cap of $58 million on contributions to Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program. This program allows taxpayers to donate a portion of their state income tax liability to Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs) that give scholarships to children to attend private schools. With the popularity of the program (based on two recent opinion polls), it’s no surprise the $58 million cap on donations for 2015 was met on Day 1, January 1. For reference, that $58 million is about three-tenths of 1 percent of what taxpayers spend… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Not many Americans are aware that March 4 heralds a turning point in the Affordable Care Act. It’s when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments over whether ObamaCare goes forward under the rule of law or under arbitrary interpretation by overreaching politicians and bureaucrats. King v. Burwell is one of four lawsuits, along with Halbig v. Burwell, Pruitt v. Burwell and Indiana v. IRS, to argue that the law specifies subsidies (tax credits) only for enrollees of state-run exchanges. And if that is the case, then extending subsidies through federal exchanges is illegal because it exceeds the authority that Congress gave the Internal Revenue Service. It’s important to note that the parties that… View Article

Legislature Makes Good Progress on The Issues

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD As the legislative session reaches the halfway mark for 2015 (Monday is Day 20), there are signs of promising action from Georgia’s General Assembly. For novices: The Georgia Legislature has two-year sessions of 40 days each year. Crossover day for legislation is Day 30, which means a bill must have passed at least one chamber for a chance to become law. (Convoluted amendments sometimes skirt this requirement.) If it does not pass in the first year, it has another opportunity to continue in the second year; if not, it must be introduced all over again. Bearing in mind that a part-time Legislature has little time and few resources to get acquainted with policies, precedents… View Article

The Economics and Politics of Tax Reform

By Kelly McCutchen  It may surprise many people that liberals and conservatives can agree on many aspects of tax policy. The Special Council for Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians highlighted these areas of agreement in its final report to the General Assembly in 2011: “Economists generally agree that economic growth and development is best served by a tax system that: Creates as few distortions in economic decision-making as possible Has broad tax bases and low tax rates Has few exemptions and special provisions Promotes equity through transfers, subsidies and tax credits rather than by having tax rates increase with income Taxes consumption rather than income in order to encourage saving and investment Keeps tax rates low since taxes reduce… View Article

Clearing Up Confusion over Transportation Funding

By Kelly McCutchen  KELLY McCUTCHEN The Georgia House of Representatives has presented legislation to help transportation funding. Its road to legislative success is already potholed with protests – from local government and education officials to those worried about higher taxes and more. As with the debate over the 2012 transportation sales tax referendum, the Georgia Public Foundation agrees the state requires greater funding – for needs, not “nice-to-haves.” We have provided detailed evidence of statewide needs that will cost a minimum of $1 billion a year. From a fiscally conservative viewpoint, it’s always better to prioritize existing spending rather than raise taxes. As the Foundation has pointed out several times, a good starting point is the more than 40 percent… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Georgia, like many states, faces a host of health care challenges: access to care, too many people without health insurance, failing rural hospitals and unsustainable health care spending that is crowding out other priorities – for government and for families. The debate over how to address these challenges has Georgia seemingly stuck between two options: Expand a government program (Medicaid) with its own long list of challenges . . . or do nothing. It is a false choice; Georgia has an opportunity to put forth a better solution. It won’t be easy. You start with the high hurdle of political acceptance by conservatives in Georgia and liberals in Washington. But it’s worth the effort. What if Georgia… View Article

Expand Health Care, Not Government

By Nina Owcharenko It’s official: Indiana has given in and adopted ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. Before jumping into the weeds of Indiana’s Medicaid expansion agreement with the Obama administration, it is important to realize the agreement still fails some basic principles of reform. First, it adds more people on to the Medicaid rolls, not fewer. The Indiana plan puts 350,000 more Hoosiers on to the overstretched welfare program. Reform should be grounded in reducing Medicaid dependence, not increasing it. Second, it requires more government spending, not less. The Indiana plan will increase Medicaid spending by having the federal taxpayers pick up 90 percent of the costs. Again, reforms should aim to reduce government spending, not increase or merely shift it. Third,… View Article

Georgia School Choice Creeps Forward

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD When National School Choice Week was launched in 2010, there were just 150 events around the nation, one of them the Georgia Policy Public Policy Foundation’s. This year, the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast on January 21 was one of 11,500 events marking this annual event. Officially, National School Choice Week takes place January 21-31. The Foundation’s 2014 event barely beat the January 28 ice storm that paralyzed Atlanta and cancelled the annual rally at the State Capitol. There’s no rally this year, either, but not for want of support. “We’ve had great attendance and enthusiasm from thousands of students, parents and legislators across the state in the past few years,” said Randy Hicks, whose Georgia View Article

Transit Should Stay off Tracks and on the Road

By Baruch Feigenbaum BARUCH FEIGENBAUMTransportation AnalystReason Foundation This legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly is expected to tackle transportation reform, with many hoping lawmakers address both roadways and transit. It appears they will: At a recent transportation industry gathering, state leaders including Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle detailed the importance of transit. Unfortunately, Metro Atlanta has one of the most deficient transit systems of any major metro area in the country. A recent Brookings Institution study ranked Atlanta 10th worst in the country for combined access to transit and employment. Transit serves only 38 percent of metro Atlanta residents. Only 22 percent of jobs are accessible by transit. Only 3.4 percent of jobs are a 45-minute, one-way commute via transit. Only… View Article

Thank you for what you are doing to lead the nation. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is leading the way. This is truly one of the leading lights in the state think tank movement. Excellent ideas. It’s well run. For those of you who are donors I congratulate you on your wisdom and I encourage you to do it and do it more.

Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute (2015) more quotes