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Democrats Have More Positive Image, But GOP Runs Even or Ahead on Key Issues

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Democrats Have More Positive Image, But GOP Runs Even or Ahead on Key Issues
Source: Pew Research Center

This week’s political battles over immigration, funding for the Department of Homeland Security and the Keystone XL pipeline have been waged by opposing parties that possess starkly different strengths and weaknesses.

Majorities say the Democratic Party is open and tolerant, cares about the middle class and is not “too extreme.” By contrast, most Americans see the GOP lacking in tolerance and empathy for the middle class, and half view it as too extreme.

Nonetheless, the Republicans more than hold their own with the Democrats in views of which party can better handle major issues. The Republican Party runs even on the economy and immigration and holds double-digit leads over the Democrats on terrorism, foreign policy and taxes.

Trends in Medicaid Spending Leading up to ACA Implementation

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Trends in Medicaid Spending Leading up to ACA Implementation
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

In the years leading up to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid programs were influenced by several factors, including enrollment growth related to the Great Recession, fiscal pressures and changes in program financing, and preparation and early implementation of some ACA provisions. This paper presents data on Medicaid spending during the period of these changes, the first half of which we refer to as the “recessionary period”, and the second half of which we refer to as the “post-recessionary period”. We use administrative data to first examine overall spending trends and trends by service type. We then draw on additional data to analyze per enrollee spending growth during this period, both by service type and by eligibility group, to understand what drove Medicaid spending.

Why Patent Reforms Are Needed: Intellectual Property Abuses Threaten Innovation and Cost Consumers Billions

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Why Patent Reforms Are Needed: Intellectual Property Abuses Threaten Innovation and Cost Consumers Billions (PDF)
Source: Heartland Institute

The past several years have given rise to an industry of patent stockpiling – often referred to as “aggregation” – and patent assertion, filing either frivolous or mostly baseless lawsuits. These efforts have the effect of thwarting legitimate innovation and discouraging competition, both of which are essential to a thriving economy.

The potential financial gains of patent stockpiling and assertion have driven some struggling, well-known consumer brands to shutter their manufacturing operations entirely and shift to full-time patent assertion. Internationally, governments are forming their own patent assertion entities (PAEs) and using them as weapons of protectionism and government subsidization of private enterprise.

The White House, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), courts, and a growing number of state legislatures have taken action against patent abuse. Congress has made a number of reform attempts that have fallen short. With new leadership entering the Senate, legislative action on Capitol Hill is expected.

Part 1 of this paper briefly reviews the economic impact of stockpiling and assertion, and Part 2 describes the several forms such patent abuse can take. Part 3 describes the America Invents Act of 2011 – the most significant overhaul of the patent system in decades – and discusses the likelihood of new action on patent reform in the 114th Congress. Part 4 summarizes policy recommendations.

The Budget Book: 106 Ways to Reduce the Size & Scope of Government

March 2, 2015 Comments off

The Budget Book: 106 Ways to Reduce the Size & Scope of Government
Source: Heritage Foundation

The 114th Congress has an opportunity and obligation to stop Washington’s taxpayer-financed spending spree. Over the past 20 years, spending has grown 63 percent faster than inflation. Unless leaders emerge with the courage to change the nation’s course for the better, the future looks like more of the same as total annual spending will grow from $3.5 trillion in 2014 to $5.8 trillion in 2024.1

Congress is financing the profligate spending by increasing taxes and incurring stunning amounts of debt. In 2014, Congress borrowed 14 cents of every dollar it spent, totaling a half a trillion dollars. Even more alarming, the country just surpassed $18 trillion in cumulative national debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the country is projected to borrow another $9.6 trillion over the next 10 years

START Releases Reports on Boko Haram

March 2, 2015 Comments off

START Releases Reports on Boko Haram
Source: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism

Two reports related to research on Boko Haram are now available online. These include a qualitative report, by START research director Amy Pate and a statistical analysis of the impact of interventions on Boko Haram activity, by START researcher John Stevenson. The research was supported by a Centers of Excellence Supplemental award from the Office of University Programs at the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Strategic Multilayer Assessment office of the Department of Defense.

Boko Haram has been the subject of much international scrutiny in recent months, beginning after the April 2014 kidnapping of over 250 schoolgirls, an event that led to a worldwide cry over social media to “bring back our girls.” In recent weeks, a coalition of Nigerian, Chadian, Nigerien, and Cameroonian troops have made gains against Boko Haram, but it still holds multiple towns in northeast Nigeria.

The reports explore the following research questions:

  • What are Boko Haram’s strengths and potential vulnerabilities?
  • What policies can be employed to counter Boko Haram’s strengths and exploit its weaknesses?
  • What are USAFRICOM options for engaging U.S. government and foreign partners to deploy policies to counter Boko Haram?

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective
Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective, written by Dr. Muki Haklay of University College London, examines European citizen science projects to understand how they can support or influence public policy (and how policy can support or constrain citizen science). The report concludes with suggestions for how projects around the world can be structured to meet policy goals—for example, through strategic partnerships, and by developing guidelines to facilitate the use of citizen science data.

Identity Theft Tops FTC’s Consumer Complaint Categories Again in 2014

February 27, 2015 Comments off

Identity Theft Tops FTC’s Consumer Complaint Categories Again in 2014
Source: Federal Trade Commission

Identity theft topped the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints for the 15th consecutive year, while the agency also recorded a large increase in the number of complaints about so-called “imposter” scams, according to the FTC’s 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, which was released today.

Imposter scams – in which con artists impersonate government officials or others – moved into third place on the list of consumer complaints, entering the top three complaint categories for the first time. The increase in imposter scams was led by a sharp jump in complaints about IRS and other government imposter scams. Debt collection held steady as the second-most-reported complaint.

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