Heritage’s Paul Larkin Urges Congress to Reform DOJ Practices

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In Heritage Impact

Heritage expert Paul Larkin testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on February  12, 2015.

Photo: Heritage/Willis Bretz

When the federal government resolves corporate criminal investigations, it often requires the company to make payments to a third party. This practice is very problematic and should be reformed, Heritage legal scholar Paul Larkin said last week in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee (link in PDF):

First, the Justice Department lacks the statutory authority to hand over government funds to parties of its own choosing. Second, the practice of required third-party contributions is inconsistent with the federal laws that supply financial assistance to the victims of crime. Third, third party contribution requirements circumvent the constitutional process for appropriating taxpayer dollars. Fourth, this practice denies the public the opportunity to know how public funds are spent and to hold elected officials accountable for their choices because it enables Representatives and Senators to shirk their fiscal responsibilities. Fifth, third-party contribution requirements are rife with opportunities for political cronyism because they allow the Justice Department to pick-and-choose among private organizations as to which ones will receive federal funds without any guidance from Congress or any oversight by the Judiciary or Appropriations Committees in each chamber. Sixth, third-party contribution requirements are not necessary for plea bargains, civil settlements, and nonprosecution or deferred prosecution agreements to work as a means of disposing of criminal or civil cases.

Do you think the government should be able to direct companies to spend money this way as a condition of agreements with prosecutors?

Heritage Expert Testifies on Amnesty’s Cost to Election Integrity

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Heritage's Hans von Spakovsky testifies on the consequences for election integrity of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants on February 12, 2015.

Photo: Heritage/Willis Bretz

Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants could allow more noncitizens to vote in elections, Heritage Foundation legal expert Hans von Spakovsky said last week in testimony before the House Oversight Committee.

Amnesty would make it “extremely difficulty for election offocials to prevent or detect those who intentionally or negligently affirm their eligibility to vote,” he said.

Read his full testimony (link in PDF).

Government Union Spending Does Not Reflect Member Priorities, Sherk Tells Pennsylvania Lawmakers

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In Heritage Work

Government union political spending reflects the political views of union bosses, not those of members, Heritage Foundation expert James Sherk’s told members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

During testimony about a state proposal to protect government workers and reduce the power of union bosses, Sherk explained:

Government unions spend their members’ mandatory dues heavily on political causes that the union leadership supports. They do so without asking their members’ permission, and irrespective of the preferences of their membership. Taxpayers subsidize government union political fundraising through the publicly funded payroll system. The government automatically takes union dues out of government employees’ paychecks. This system privileges union bosses and their priorities at the expense of union members and taxpayers who hold different views. . . .

When unions must ask workers for permission to spend their dues on political causes, political spending drops dramatically. My research shows that union political spending falls by roughly half after states adopt paycheck-protection laws. Union bosses spend dues to prop up their own power instead of serving their membership.

Read more Heritage research on unions.

Do you think union members should have a say in where their dues are spent?

A Bailout Won’t Fix College Costs. Here Are 3 Ways Congress Can Do Better

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In Heritage Impact

Lindsey Burke

The Obama administration’s taxpayer bailout of student loan borrowers does nothing to change the cost of education, Heritage Foundation expert Lindsey Burke points out.

“After all,” she asks, “why should colleges reduce tuition rates if the government keeps increasing student-loan subsidies?”

In testimony last week before a Senate committee, Burke condemned the current higher-education borrowing system and called on Congress to take action:

  1. Stop the higher education spending spree;
  2. Employ fair-value accounting to understand the cost of federal student loans; and
  3. Decouple federal financing from accreditation

Read her whole testimony here.

Do you think the solution to soaring college costs is more subsidies for education?

Congress Should Evaluate Social Programs’ Effectiveness, Heritage Expert Testifies

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In Heritage Impact

David Muhlhausen

David Muhlhausen

Dozens of federal social programs continue to operate without any useful measure of their effectiveness, Heritage Foundation expert David Muhlhausen told members of a House subcommittee last week.

At the moment, “Congress has no credible information on the performance of the overwhelming majority of federal social programs,” Muhlhausen testified.

Many social programs, he explained, are evaluated only in small-scale pilot programs before being rolled out—and real-life outcomes often differ dramatically from carefully-controlled pilots.

To solve this problem, lawmakers should use continuous, rigorous scientific experiments to determine whether programs are working, said Muhlhausen, author of the book Do Federal Social Programs Work?  Lawmakers should also recognize that popular programs can have negative consequences.

Where else can government use a dose of rigorous evaluation?

Video: Sen. Orrin Hatch Makes the Case for U.S. Sovereignty and Against Ineffective U.N. Treaties

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In Other Work of Note

In 2009 the Obama administration signed the the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an inefficient United Nations treaty that sacrifices American sovereignty without any benefit to the United States.

Now it is in the hands of the Senate to ratify or reject the treaty.

The United States has enacted extensive federal laws to end discrimination against persons with disabilities in the United States, Heritage Foundation expert Steve Groves told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year.

CRPD would not improve on these laws. Instead, it would hand over US sovereignty to a UN governing body that would set legally binding standards and require routine compliance reviews.

“If the Senate gives its advice and consent and the Convention is ratified,” Groves testified, “it would become the supreme Law of the Land on par with federal statutes, including statutes relating to disability rights.”

Speaking last week on the Senate floor, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) laid out his argument for voting down the CRPD. Continue Reading »

Cutting Ineffective Federal Programs Won’t Harm Children, Heritage Expert Testifies

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In Heritage Impact

Despite liberal claims, the sequester spending cuts will not harm children, The Heritage Foundation’s David Muhlhausen told members of the Senate Budget Committee yesterday.

Muhlhausen, an expert on evaluating government programs, took issue with President Obama’s claim that “70,000 young children would be kicked off Head Start” under sequestration. This claim, Muhlhausen testified, implies that being kicked out of Head Start would harm the children. But this simply isn’t the case.

That’s because Head Start is not an effective program, he said: Continue Reading »

Video: Heritage Expert Explains that Limiting Government Is the Route to Prosperity

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In Heritage Impact

Reining in government spending, not more stimulus, will boost job growth and the economy, Heritage Foundation economist Salim Furth said yesterday in testimony before the Senate Budget Committee.

Furth, who testified alongside former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers and MIT economist Simon Johnson, also touched on the economic costs of entitlement spending. Read a summary of the hearing in the Seattle Times.

Watch the video of his testimony below. His remarks begin at 1:35.

Furth’s research has shown that spending cuts are superior to tax hikes as a means to reduce deficits and debt.

Do you think we should cut spending?

Video: Heritage’s JD Foster Testifies on the Debt Limit

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In Heritage Impact

Heritage Foundation expert JD Foster testified yesterday before the House Ways and Means Committee about the debt limit.

Watch Foster’s testimony below, in which he answers questions from lawmakers:

Hollywood and Heritage Testify on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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In Heritage Impact

Heritage's James Carafano, right, testifies about the Democratic Republic of Congo alongside activist and actor Ben Affleck, left.

Heritage's James Carafano, right, testifies about the Democratic Republic of Congo alongside activist and actor Ben Affleck, left.

Heritage Foundation vice president James Carafano testified yesterday before the House Armed Services Committee about the ongoing security challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On his same panel was none other than Ben Affleck. Yes, that Ben Affleck.

The African nation has a long history of instability, which has implications reaching far beyond its borders. Unfortunately, the Democratic Republic of the Congo suffers from both a corrupt and ineffective government and a corrupt and ineffective United Nations peacekeeping force.

“Although the U.S. does not have a direct national security interest in the DRC, it does have an interest in promoting stability and good governance,” Heritage experts Morgan Roach and Brett Schaefer explain. The Obama administration should take the following five steps, they write: Continue Reading »

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