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Archive for the ‘think tanks’ Category

Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy
Source: Brookings Institution

The paper Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy examines impacts of the major transformation in international energy markets that has begun. The United States is poised to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer and, combined with new developments in natural gas, is on track to become the dominant player in global energy markets. Meanwhile, China is in place to surpass the United States in its scale of oil imports, and has already edged out the U.S. in carbon emissions.

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Major Surgery Needed: A Call for Structural Reform of the US Corporate Income Tax

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Major Surgery Needed: A Call for Structural Reform of the US Corporate Income Tax
Source: Urban Institute

A corporate income tax can play a useful role by preventing shareholders from deferring tax on retained corporate profits. The current U.S. corporate income tax is deeply flawed, however, because it relies on definitions of corporate residence and income sourcing that corporations can easily manipulate, causing economic distortions and erosion of the corporate tax base. Two structural reform options to address these problems are securing international agreement on better ways to allocate the corporate tax base among countries and replacing the corporate income tax with full taxation of American shareholders’ dividends and accrued capital gains on stock in publicly traded companies.

The Future of U.S. Health Care Spending

April 18, 2014 Comments off

The Future of U.S. Health Care Spending
Source: Brookings Institution

For several decades health spending in the United States rose much faster than other spending. Forecasters predicted the health sector, already 17% of GDP, would soon exceed 20 to 25% of GDP, driving out other necessary public and private spending. However, in recent years health spending growth dropped dramatically and surprisingly, to a record slow pace for the fourth straight year in 2012. It is not clear why this turn around occurred or how long it will last.

On Friday, April 11th the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at Brookings brought together several experts to discuss three questions that will also be addressed in a forthcoming series of Brookings papers. The discussion and papers address the causes of the slowdown and the likelihood it will continue; its impact on federal and state budgets, and private spending; and identify reforms that will ensure slow cost growth while improving health.

Papers presented:

Standard Deductions: U.S. Corporate Tax Policy

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Standard Deductions: U.S. Corporate Tax Policy
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The U.S. system for taxing corporate profits is outdated, ineffective at raising revenue, and creates perverse incentives for companies to shelter profits overseas. It is also, for most U.S. companies most of the time, a pretty good deal, which is one of the big reasons why any serious overhaul will be so difficult to achieve.

This is the fourth progress report and scorecard from CFR’s Renewing America initiative. Previous progress reports and scorecards have evaluated transportation infrastructure, federal education policy, and trade.

Student Loan Safety Nets: Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Income-Based Repayment

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Student Loan Safety Nets: Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Income-Based Repayment
Source: Brookings Institution

The plight of underemployed college graduates struggling to make their student loan payments has received a great deal of media attention throughout the recent economic recession. The primary safety net available to borrowers of federal loans facing unaffordable monthly payments is income-based repayment, in which borrowers make monthly payments based on their earnings rather than a traditional schedule of flat payments.

The importance of these programs is widely recognized. How much these programs will cost and how the benefits will be distributed among borrowers, however, is not well understood— in large part because these costs and benefits will be realized over multiple decades. Without this knowledge, it is difficult to know whether these programs are meeting the goal of effectively and efficiently protecting borrowers without creating significant unintended consequences.

This report seeks to fill that gap by providing some of the first detailed evidence about the predicted costs and benefits of existing income-based repayment programs. Authors Beth Akers and Matthew Chingos develop an empirical framework for understanding the costs and benefits of these programs and use simulation methods to apply this framework to a nationally representative sample of bachelor’s degree recipients. These methods cannot accurately estimate the overall cost of the programs, but they provide fairly robust estimates of the relative cost of different program components, and of the share of benefits received by different groups of borrowers.

Perspectives on Health Care Spending Growth

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Perspectives on Health Care Spending Growth
Source: Brookings Institution

The evolution of health care spending has important implications for many aspects of our economy. As highlighted by this conference, the trajectory of health spending growth is a central determinant of the outlook for federal and state budgets and for workers’ take-home pay. Health spending also affects other key economic variables, including measured productivity and prices. Further, the coming demographic change has important implications for both the level and financing of health spending. For these reasons, the question of what drives health spending growth is a subject that has received much attention from researchers and policymakers, although, as I hope to show in this background paper, much remains to be learned.

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.
Source: Brookings Institution

The Arctic is changing and increasingly drawing the world’s interest, with the potential for vast reserves of offshore oil and gas constituting arguably the most attractive, yet challenging prospect in the region.

As the U.S. prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, this policy brief is designed to inform the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government of the current state of oil and gas governance in the Arctic, and to address the following questions:

  • How can the U.S. elevate the Arctic region as a priority national interest?
  • How can the U.S. lead in strengthening offshore oil and gas governance in the Arctic?

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has released a new interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic. Climate change, technological advances, and a growing demand for natural resources are driving a new era of development in the Arctic region. Many experts assert that Arctic summers could be free of sea ice in a matter of decades, opening the region up to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, most notably in energy production and shipping.

How Will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Affect Liability Insurance Costs?

April 14, 2014 Comments off

How Will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Affect Liability Insurance Costs?
Source: RAND Corporation

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will greatly expand private coverage and Medicaid while making major changes to payment rates and the health care delivery system. These changes will affect traditional health insurers, individuals, and government payers. In addition, a considerable amount of health care is paid for directly by or is indirectly paid for via legal settlements after the care occurs, by liability insurers. This report identifies potential mechanisms through which the ACA might affect claim costs for several major types of liability coverage, especially auto insurance, workers’ compensation coverage, and medical malpractice. The authors discuss the conceptual basis for each mechanism, review existing scholarly evidence regarding its importance, and, where possible, develop rough estimates of the size and direction of expected impacts as of 2016. They examine how each mechanism might operate across different liability lines and discuss how variation across states in legal rules, demographics, and other factors might moderate each mechanism’s operation. Overall, expected short-term effects of the ACA appear likely to be small relative to aggregate liability insurer payouts in the markets in question. However, under reasonable assumptions, some mechanisms can generate potential cost changes as high as 5 percent or more in particular states and insurance lines. The authors also discuss longer-run changes that could be fostered by the ACA that might exert more significant effects on insurance claim costs, including shifts in tort law, changes in physician supply, new pricing approaches under the accountable care organization model, and changes in population health.

Maps: Tax Indicators in Your County

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Maps: Tax Indicators in Your County
Source: Brookings Institution

Tax season is winding down, and many of us are scrambling to submit our returns to the IRS this week. But do you know how your tax return compares to others from around the country?

Earlier this year, Brookings released a series of interactive tax maps that break down major taxes and credits by individual U.S. county.

Financial Burden of Medical Spending by State and the Implications of the 2014 Medicaid Expansions

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Financial Burden of Medical Spending by State and the Implications of the 2014 Medicaid Expansions
Source: Urban Institute

This study is the first to offer a detailed look at medical spending burden levels, defined as total family medical out-of-pocket spending as a proportion of income, for each state. It further investigates which states have greater shares of individuals with high burden levels and no Medicaid coverage, but would be Medicaid eligible under the 2014 rules of the Affordable Care Act should their state choose to participate in the expansion. This work suggests which states have the largest populations likely to benefit, in terms of lowering medical spending burden, from participating in the 2014 adult Medicaid expansions.

2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report

April 10, 2014 Comments off

2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report
Source: Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (University of Pennsylvania)

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania released its seventh annual 2013 Global Go To Think Tanks Report on Wednesday January 22, 2014, at a morning press conference in Washington DC, hosted by the World Bank. The 2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) marks the seventh year of continued efforts by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania (TTCSP) to acknowledge the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide. Our initial effort to generate a ranking of the world’s leading think tanks in 2006 was a response to a series of requests from donors, government officials, journalists, and scholars, to produce regional and international rankings of the world’s preeminent think tanks. Since its inception, our ongoing objective for the GGTTI report is to gain understanding of the role think tanks play in governments and civil societies. Using this knowledge, we hope to assist in improving the capacity and performance of think tanks around the world.

America’s Long-Term Care Crisis: Challenges in Financing and Delivery

April 10, 2014 Comments off

America’s Long-Term Care Crisis: Challenges in Financing and Delivery
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center

An estimated 12 million Americans are currently in need of long-term services and supports (LTSS)—defined as institutional or home-based assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or medication management—including both seniors and persons under age 65 living with physical or cognitive limitations. In the next two decades, the U.S. health care system will face a tidal wave of aging baby boomers. This, among many other factors, will create an unsustainable demand for LTSS in the coming years.

Fewer family caregivers, increasingly limited personal financial resources, and growing strains on federal, state, and family budgets will further complicate efforts to organize and finance services. Although there is tremendous variation in what is, or will be, needed, fully 70 percent of people who reach the age of 65 will require some form of LTSS at some point in their lives. The number of Americans needing LTSS at any one time is expected to more than double from 12 million today to 27 million by 2050. Indeed, the demand for LTSS will substantially outpace the rate of growth in the U.S. economy over the next decade and drive significant growth in Medicaid spending.

EU — The future of public health: A horizon scan

April 10, 2014 Comments off

The future of public health: A horizon scan
Source: RAND Corporation

Public Health England (PHE) commissioned RAND Europe to undertake a horizon scanning study exploring the future of public health and related scientific services. This work was intended to help inform thinking at the strategic level within PHE, firstly in relation to the wider vision of the Agency (which was only established in April 2013) and, secondly, in relation to the proposals for the creation of an integrated public health science hub.

The report is based on a literature review, a brief Delphi exercise using the ExpertLens platform and key informant interviews with a range of PHE staff and external experts. It focuses on the different future public health science needs and the extent to which an integrated science hub could serve PHE as it evolves over the next twenty years. Thus, the report considers PHE’s future remit and objectives in order that decisions about an integrated and co-located science hub be made in context and with reference to expert perceptions about the future.

The Political Economy of Discretionary Spending: Evidence from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

April 5, 2014 Comments off

The Political Economy of Discretionary Spending: Evidence from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Source: Brookings Institution

Members of Congress don’t appear to have successfully used their influence to send stimulus-funded projects to their districts, but targeting areas with high local unemployment rates did not play much of a role either.

Improving Interagency Information Sharing Using Technology Demonstrations: The Legal Basis for Using New Sensor Technologies for Counterdrug Operations Along the U.S. Border

April 3, 2014 Comments off

Improving Interagency Information Sharing Using Technology Demonstrations: The Legal Basis for Using New Sensor Technologies for Counterdrug Operations Along the U.S. Border
Source: RAND Corporation

The Department of Defense (DoD) has developed new sensor technologies to support military forces operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. These new capabilities may be useful in counterdrug (CD) operations along the southern U.S. border. DoD has held technology demonstrations to test and demonstrate new technologies along the southern border — because the field conditions along the border closely resemble those in current military theaters of operation and because they can also reveal whether new technologies are useful for CD operations led by domestic law enforcement agencies. However, there are legal questions about whether such technology demonstrations fully comply with U.S. law and whether advanced DoD sensors can legally be used in domestic CD operations when they are operated by U.S. military forces.

In this report, the authors examine federal law and DoD policy to answer these questions. Some parts of U.S. law mandate information sharing among federal departments and agencies for national security purposes and direct DoD to play a key role in domestic CD operations in support of U.S. law enforcement agencies, while other parts of the law place restrictions on when the U.S. military may participate in law enforcement operations. Reviewing relevant federal law and DoD policy, the authors conclude that there is no legal reason why a DoD sensor should be excluded from use in an interagency technology demonstration or in an actual CD operation as long as a valid request for support is made by an appropriate law enforcement official and so long as no personally identifiable or private information is collected. The authors recommend DoD policy on domestic CD operations be formally clarified and that an approval process should be established for technology demonstrations with a CD nexus.

Do Financial Knowledge, Behavior, and Well-Being Differ by Gender?

April 3, 2014 Comments off

Do Financial Knowledge, Behavior, and Well-Being Differ by Gender?
Source: Urban institute

Using the National Financial Capability Survey, we examine differences among men and women in financial knowledge, behavior, and well-being. We find that women are less financially knowledgeable than men. Women are less willing than men to take financial risks and have more credit cards than men. However, women are equally likely to pay their credit cards in full every month and are equally likely to save for retirement. More differences by gender arise when we separate men and women by family type. Unmarried women with dependent children are worse-off and likely have other financial stresses.

What You Need to Know about H-1B Visas

April 2, 2014 Comments off

What You Need to Know about H-1B Visas
Source: Brookings Institution

Starting today, April 1, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is accepting applications for the limited number (85,000) of H-1B Visas, the temporary visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in specialty positions that require at least a bachelor’s degree. Twenty thousand of the visas are set aside for foreign nationals who hold master’s degrees or higher from U.S. universities. Once the cap is reached and if there are more applications submitted than visas available, USCIS will conduct a lottery on April 7. The process is first-come, first-served.

Neil Ruiz (@neil_ruiz), Jill Wilson (@JillHWilson) and Jonathan Rothwell (@jtrothwell), analysts and associate fellows in the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, have written numerous articles and commentary on the application process (the “race to the cap”), its flaws and how it could be improved to better help workers and the economy. A collection of this analysis appears below…

Startup City: The Urban Shift in Venture Capital and High Technology

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Startup City: The Urban Shift in Venture Capital and High Technology
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute

High tech startups are taking an urban turn. Manhattan and Brooklyn, downtown San Francisco, and Santa Monica are all becoming tech hubs. This is a new development. While large urban centers have historically been sources of venture capital, the high tech startups they funded were mainly, if not exclusively, located in suburban campuses in California’s Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128 corridor, the Research Triangle of North Carolina, and in the suburbs of Austin and Seattle. But high tech development, startup activity, and venture investment have recently begun to shift to urban centers and also to close-in, mixed-use, transit-oriented walkable suburbs. This report, which is based on unique data from the National Venture Capital Association, Thompson Reuters and Dow Jones, examines this emergent urban shift in high tech startup activity and venture capital investment.

Venture Capital and Strategic Investment for Developing Government Mission Capabilities

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Venture Capital and Strategic Investment for Developing Government Mission Capabilities
Source: RAND Corporation

A wide range of military capability improvement efforts have benefited from development and procurement methods that accommodate urgent operational needs. Changes in the threat environment suggest a need for a fresh examination of the adequacy and suitability of acquisition methods for the coming decade. This report examines one class of acquisition method, known as government venture capital (GVC), or government strategic investment (GSI). The research extracts general observations from previous cases and from a partial economic model of the GSI type of initiative. Taken together, these analyses will help government acquisition managers to judge more thoroughly the suitability of strategic investment methods for motivating future government mission–oriented innovation by private firms.

The report does not explicitly compare GSIs and alternatives for their efficacy in advancing government mission objectives. If it had, it is likely that the main advantage of GSI would be improved access to information about alternative approaches available in the commercial market, resulting from the close relationships the GSI structure engenders between government and business.

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