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Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt

June 27, 2015 Comments off

Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt
Source: Brookings Institution

Nearly two years after ousting President Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s military continues to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Much like during Egypt’s 1952-54 political transition, the recent interactions between the powerful armed state bureaucracy and the influential religious organization have had a major impact on the country’s political trajectory. In both instances, the military and Muslim Brotherhood initially cooperated before ultimately clashing violently. How has each entity determined what approach to take toward the other? What does a continued imbalance in civil-military relations mean for Egypt’s future?

In a new Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, Omar Ashour examines the legacies and patterns of cooperation and conflict between the leaderships of Egypt’s military and the Muslim Brotherhood. Relying on extensive field research, he analyzes how each entity has made its critical decisions regarding the other by applying various decision-making models. Ashour considers the impact of cost-benefit analysis, organizational dynamics, factional disputes, and psychological factors to gain a deep understanding of the leaders’ motives.

A Tax Reform Primer for the 2016 Presidential Candidates

June 25, 2015 Comments off

A Tax Reform Primer for the 2016 Presidential Candidates
Source: Heritage Foundation

America needs tax reform. As the 2016 presidential campaign progresses, candidates seeking the presidency will increasingly face questions about how they would address federal tax policy—foremost among them, if they support tax reform and how they would implement it should they become President. There is clear public support for major tax reform: 71 percent of the American public believes that the U.S. tax system needs major changes and reform. Only 5 percent think the tax system is working just fine. Tax reform is a complicated issue that encompasses a wide variety of sub-issues with which candidates will need to grapple if they are to answer those questions effectively. This Heritage Foundation tax primer will help them prepare.

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — June 2015

June 25, 2015 Comments off

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — June 2015 (PDF)
Source: General Secretariat of the Council of the EU (Central Library)

Among the immediate concerns, think tank papers reflected international and national events which took place in May: on the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga we gathered papers from Latvia, Hungary, Austria and Poland. Still on Poland, we noted the briefing on the presidential ballot, part of the regular Election Monitor published by the Fondation Robert Schuman. The release in May of the Commission’s package on Better Regulation also triggered commentary by Brussels-based think tanks (here for the state of play in a recent Council document).

Still in May, ILO published its employment and social outlook, which can be read in conjunction with the many publications we gathered on welfare, pensions and employment; while some of them surveyed policies or stakeholder opinions across Member States, others (like those from IAI and CEPS) set out possible schemes for a European Unemployment Insurance.

On a longer perspective, we found think tanks in Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels and elsewhere looking back at the European elections in 2014 and forward to 2019, with stances that range from ‘business as usual’ to seeing the EP as the possible driver of EU reform. Still on the European Parliament, we noted the analysis by votewatch.eu on the reform of copyright law, in the wake of recent proposals on the Digital Single Market.

Ideological Proximity and Support for The Supreme Court

June 21, 2015 Comments off

Ideological Proximity and Support for The Supreme Court
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Although the Supreme Court is a countermajoritarian institution by design, many scholars have contended that without concrete powers, the Court relies on public support for legitimacy. Accordingly, it is important to understand the relationship between people’s ideological proximity to the Court and their support for it. Existing empirical research suggests a correspondence between public opinion and the Court’s positions, but these studies do not directly compare masses and elites in a common space. To address these issues, we conducted an original survey asking respondents about their positions on ten recently decided Supreme Court cases. This allows us to estimate the positions of citizens and justices on the same ideological scale. Further, while some existing theories of perceptions of judicial legitimacy suggest similar relationships between ideological distance and various types of support for the Court, we propose a theory of heterogeneous responsiveness which posits that citizens’ ideological distance from the Court should be negatively related to their approval of and trust in the institution, but positively related to their support for its countermajoritarian function. Our empirical approach finds support for the theory.

Taxpayer Service, Case Closures, and Dollars Collected Suffer from Budget Cuts, TIGTA Finds

June 19, 2015 Comments off

Taxpayer Service, Case Closures, and Dollars Collected Suffer from Budget Cuts, TIGTA Finds (PDF)
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
From email:

Reduced budgets and collection resources at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have resulted in declines in taxpayer service, case closures, and dollars collected, according to a report released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

TIGTA initiated its audit to determine the impact that IRS budget reductions have had on collection programs and employees.

Between Fiscal Years 2010 and 2015, the IRS’s budget has been reduced by more than $1.2 billion. Since Fiscal Year 2010, decreases in the IRS’s budget have resulted in the reduction of 21 percent of Automated Collection Service (ACS) contact representatives and 28 percent of Field Collection revenue officers.

This has resulted in the ACS answering 25 percent fewer taxpayer telephone calls since 2011, because there were fewer ACS contact representatives available to answer them. Taxpayers whose calls were answered spent an average of eight minutes (97 percent) longer waiting for a contact representative. In addition, ACS inventory grew and became older, and more cases were not resolved and were transferred to the Queue, a data base that houses delinquent accounts that the IRS is unable to work.

EU-Turkey relations [What Think Tanks are thinking]

June 17, 2015 Comments off

EU-Turkey relations [What Think Tanks are thinking]
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Turkey’s ruling AKP party won the 7 June parliamentary election, but lost its majority in the house, opening the way for talks on a coalition government and plunging the country into uncertainty. The vote ended more than a decade of single-party rule in the EU candidate country and dealt a blow to President Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions for a more powerful executive role. It is expected to have many implications, including on EU-Turkey relations. This note offers links to commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on recent developments in Turkey, and the relations between the EU and Turkey.

2014 European Elections: Profile of voters and non-voters

June 10, 2015 Comments off

2014 European Elections: Profile of voters and non-voters
Source: European Parliamentary Think Tank

A few months after the 2014 European elections, the time has come to examine in depth the reasons for participation and abstention in the contest. The Directorate-General for Communication in the European Parliament has commissioned desk research to analyse the electoral behaviour of voters and non-voters, in order to better understand the reasons underlying their decision either to vote or abstain, and to analyse their attitudes and opinions regarding the EU. This document is based on a post-election survey of more than 27,000 Europeans over the age of 18 (16 in Austria), carried out by TNS Opinion a few days after the vote, between 30 May and 27 June 2014. It is divided in three parts: the desk research on voters and non-voters, and two series of factsheets per EU Member State, one dedicated to voters and another to non-voters. For Belgium, Luxembourg (compulsory vote for both countries) and Malta (high level of turnout), a factsheet on non-voters is not provided, given the low number of non-voters.

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