– Monday is the deadline to register for “Getting Georgia Going,” a Foundation Leadership Breakfast ahead of Georgia’s July 31 regional referendum on a penny transportation sales tax. The event, at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, May 23, at Cobb County’s Georgian Club, is keynoted by Reason Foundation transportation policy analyst Baruch Feigenbaum. He will unveil a joint study focusing on the transportation project list for metro Atlanta and discuss “Getting Georgia Going” into congestion relief and mobility. This event will cost $25 to attend. Register by Mondayat: http://tinyurl.com/7ldaqnk.
– June 27: Mark your calendar for a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at Cobb County’s Georgian Club with Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, focusing on his new book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.”
– September 21: Save the date! The Foundation’s third annual Georgia Legislative Policy Briefing will be held in Atlanta on Friday, September 21. Past events have featured Wall Street Journal editorial board member Steve Moore, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.
– The Foundation is taking its “show” on the road. Gainesville is on the calendar already: A July 12 Policy Briefing Luncheon will feature school choice expert Jay Greene. Registration details to follow. Watch this space for an event near you!
– “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” – H.L. Mencken
– “The left is targeting [the American Legislative Exchange Council] for the simple reason that it’s been effective in promoting pro-business, free-market ideas and policies, mainly by drafting model legislation that lawmakers can use as a template in their own legislatures. Those bills, mind you, still have to make it through their states’ representative bodies, and then get signed by their governors. In other words, it’s democracy at work.” – Investor’s Business Daily
– “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” – James Madison
–Hidden cost of compliance: The Competitive Enterprise Institute has released its 2012 edition of “Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State.” The report draws attention to the “hidden tax” of regulations – a compliance cost often imposed not by legislators, but by unelected federal bureaucrats. The Small Business Administration’s most recent evaluation of compliance costs was $1.7 trillion. Meanwhile, numbers of rules, pages in the Federal Register and economically significant rules are rising under President Obama. The 2011 Federal Register finished at 81,247 pages, just shy of 2010’s all-time, record-high 81,405 pages. Regulatory compliance costs dwarf corporate income taxes of $198 billion and exceed individual income taxes and even pre-tax corporate profits. And one in five regulations in the works would affect small businesses.
– Real ID coming to Georgia: Starting in July, you’ll need a lot more paperwork to obtain or renew your Georgia driver’s license. Not only will you need to turn up in person, even to renew, but you must provide at least one document to prove your identity, at least one document to prove your Social Security Number and at least two documents to prove your residential address. This is so that the state complies with the Federal Real ID Act of 2005, which adopted the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Find out what you’ll need atwww.dds.ga.gov/secureid/index.aspx.
– Government obstacles: Pharmaceuticals play a great role in lowering the costs of chronic disease and have been a great U.S. success story, but innovation is being threatened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A recent survey of the intentions of venture capital firms revealed that the firms have started to avoid funding early-stage pharmaceutical and device companies in the United States, and both the dollars and research and development (R&D) are increasingly moving abroad, as Benita Dodd reported earlier this month in her blog in The Forum. Bringing a new drug to market now takes 12 to 15 years and costs more than $1.4 billion. The number of drugs approved by the FDA each year is trending downward despite significant annual increases in the agency’s budget. Drug manufacturers recoup their R&D costs for only one in five approved drugs, a decline from the one in four figure of about a decade ago, according to the Hoover Institution.
– Cutting health care costs: If just half of U.S. employers moved to consumer-directed health plans, the savings would total more than $57 billion in the first year alone, according to a new study by RAND. For reference, that’s more than a 2008 estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation of the cost of ALL uncompensated care received by the nation’s uninsured citizens.
– Making the case for the marketplace: In both housing and higher education, government failed to seek out the reasons why there was not “enough” lending going on, writes Mercatus Center senior scholar James Harrigan in the Washington Examiner. Many people were in no position to afford the loans, and the banks couldn’t afford the risk. Politicians decided to “fix” the market by forcing people and banks to do what each had determined was imprudent. “Just as the government sought to engineer an increase in homeownership, it now seeks to engineer an increase in higher education. This is the stuff of which bubbles are made. The solution is economic freedom: Let private banks determine lending without government interference.”
– Speeding up acceptance of toll roads: The Texas Transportation Commission has approved an increase in the speed limit to 80 mph on 54 miles of two Austin-area toll roads – SH 130 and SH 45SE. The higher speed limit should enable the toll roads to offer time savings as a bypass of often-congested I-35 through the metro area, despite the longer distance (54 miles vs. 43 miles).Source: Tollroadsnews.com
– In the long term, transportation funding set to become short-term: There is a growing sense among the lawmakers on Capitol Hill that Congress may be forced to abandon the practice of multi-year reauthorizations, according to transportation expert Kenneth Orski. “The prevailing fiscal and political environment makes it difficult if not impossible to raise hundreds of billions of investment dollars in a single legislative package. At current levels of expenditure a five-year authorization would require approximately $260 billion; highway trust fund revenue and interest over the same time frame is projected to generate $175 billion, leaving an unfunded shortfall of approximately $85 billion. For a six-year bill, the unfunded shortfall would reach $100 billion.Where is that money to come from? Hence, short-term bills (annual or bi-annual), requiring only relatively modest amounts in offsets or general fund supplements may become instead the accepted practice.”
Taxes and spending
– Spending limits: Most voters continue to disagree with the pace of federal spending, according to a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey released this week. The survey finds that 76 percent of likely U.S. voters recognize that government spending in America has gone up over the past 10 years; just 9 percent think spending has gone down. And 57 percent would favor a law that limits government spending in America each year so that spending could grow only enough to cover population growth plus inflation.
– $100,000 is the new million: Maryland may extend its “Millionaires Tax” to the $100,000 income level, which could impact more than just the “rich.” Income tax hikes on the wealthy are often popular with voters, but because of the interconnectedness of the economy, “the resulting decreases in labor productivity negatively affect everyone,” is the Tax Foundation’s analysis on the proposal.
– FoundationTV: We discussed the impact of technology on education and health care in Georgia at a Technology Association of Georgia leadership breakfast audience this week. Watch the YouTube presentation online at http://youtu.be/HJna9SkA5A8.
– This week in The Forum: Medicaid redesign questions dominated when three members of Governor Nathan Deal’s policy staff met for almost 90 minutes this week with the Georgia Children’s Advocacy Network, Foundation editor Mike Klein reports. Writing in her Checking Up on Health blog post, the Foundation’s Benita Dodd discusses the obesity “epidemic” and government’s power grab, and the global challenges of pharmaceutical quality control. The Forum also wrote about a new analysis that concluded school choice does not automatically hurt the finances of traditional public school districts. Read these and other recent Foundation articles and posts on The Forum at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/.
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Have a great weekend.
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