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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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 »

Heritage Expert Testifies on the Dangers of the Disability Convention

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In Heritage Impact

Steven GrovesThe Senate could vote this week on a new United Nations treaty intended to protect people with disabilities.

But in testimony earlier this year before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Heritage Foundation expert Steve Groves argued that ratifying the treaty is both harmful to American sovereignty and unnecessary to protect the rights of the disabled.

Groves, who works in Heritage’s Thatcher Center, pointed out that a vast array of federal, state and local laws already protects people with disabilities. Ratifying the treaty would only make American laws subject to review by international bureaucrats who aren’t looking out for our nation’s interests.

An excerpt from his testimony: Continue Reading »

Heritage’s Peter Brookes Testifies on China’s Growing Power in the South China Sea

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In Heritage Impact

Peter Brookes

Peter Brookes

China is increasingly focused on asserting its military power in the South China Sea, Heritage Foundation foreign policy expert Peter Brookes told lawmakers on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs earlier this month.

American weakness could allow Chinese hegemony in the region, he warned:

In the end, Chinese policies and activities in the South China Sea have the potential to set a troubling precedent if Beijing is not effectively opposed. In the absence of any Southeast Asian nation capable of opposing Chinese assertiveness, a weak U.S. response will enhance the chances of China achieving its apparent goal of hegemony over the strategic South China Sea. The Chinese could potentially realize this end state without the use of force. Of course, misperception and miscalculation could lead to a major crisis with significant, but unintended, consequences.

How do you think the U.S. should respond to China’s growing power?

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