What You Need to Know About the Smarter Sentencing Act

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In Heritage Work

Drug dealing is harmful to society and threatens public safety. Unfortunately, current federal sentencing guidelines have led to some undesirable outcomes.

Heritage Foundation experts has produced a fact sheet with everything you need to know about the proposed Smarter Sentencing Act.

Reforms in the Smarter Sentencing Act would sentence nonviolent criminals more effectively, while actually creating harsher sentencing for sexual assault offenses and domestic violence offenses.

How would you address criminal sentencing?

The Ex-Im Bank Is ‘Primarily a Marriage Between Big Government and a Few Big Businesses’


In Heritage Work

“Note the ‘unknown’ section. This isn’t a fluke: Ex-Im routinely loses track of whom they’ve been helping.” -Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint

Ending the Export-Import Bank is important, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint writes:

Ex-Im is rife with corruption, doesn’t promote competition, costs taxpayers billions of dollars and threatens American jobs.  It’s all about politically connected big businesses getting bigger with help from Uncle Sam. It’s not fair, not necessary, and shouldn’t be a hard decision for Congress.

The Export-Import Bank will end in September if Congress does not reauthorize the program. Liberals like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are pushing hard to extend it.

Read more of Heritage’s research on the Ex-Im Bank here.

Do you think Congress should continue the Export-Import Bank or allow it to end?

Heritage Led the Charge that Stopped EPA Overreach


In Heritage Impact

This is a big win for conservatives.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency tried to quietly put in place a regulation allowing the agency to garnish workers’ wages without first obtaining a court order. This was bad enough. But the EPA also tried to enact this rule without first going through the usual comment and review procedures.

Yesterday, the EPA withdrew the rule. And The Heritage Foundation played a big role in this victory.

Here’s how it happened, as Heritage President Jim DeMint explained in an e-mail to supporters: Continue Reading »

Congress Should Take a Second Look at the Fed


In Heritage Work

Congress needs to reassess the Federal Reserve’s activities and establish a formal monetary commission, Heritage Foundation economist Norbert Michel recommends.

The Fed’s reach into the economy has greatly expanded, and whether this is good for the economy is far from a settled question. The central bank’s 100th anniversary is the perfect time to settle this debate with a formal monetary commission.

Such a commission, Michel argues, “would provide the appropriate venue for both critics and supporters to discuss the Fed’s operations and its proper role going forward.”

Do you think the Federal Reserve has benefitted the economy? Or hurt it?

The ‘Abject Failure’ of the War on Poverty–and What to Do About It

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In Heritage Work

Created with the intention of defeating poverty, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. In many ways, Heritage Foundation Founder Ed Feulner argues, “the War on Poverty is an abject failure.” Welfare programs, rather than being a safety net of last resort, instea created dependency and encouraged family breakdown.

Welfare reforms in the 1990s, designed by Heritage experts, cut welfare caseloads in half, while employment for single mothers increased dramatically and child poverty plummeted. But more reform is needed:

Today the federal government runs roughly 80 means-tested welfare programs providing cash, food, housing and social services to low-income persons, but it fails to help the recipients become able to provide for themselves.

Read Dr. Fuelner’s full commentary and tell us: Do you think America needs additional welfare reforms?

Heritage Expert Explains How Congress Can Help Women Retirees

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In Heritage Impact

Policies that boost economic growth and strengthen savings will help women better prepare for retirement, Heritage Foundation expert Rachel Greszler told members of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee of Congress in testimony last month.

To improve women’s retirement security, policymakers must consider proposals that will help both current and future generations of women retirees. This includes reforming Social Security and encouraging personal retirement savings. The single greatest thing the government can do to improve both men’s and women’s retirement security, however, is to foster a strong and growing economy.

Read more of her suggestions.

What do you think is the most important thing that needs to be done to reduce the challenges women face in retirement?

A Firsthand Account of What’s Going on at the Border with Mexico


In Heritage Work

The federal government protects the Southern Yellow Bat at the border with Mexico. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Keeping the border secure is essential to protecting America and its citizens. So why is it so difficult?

The Heritage Foundation’s Genevieve Wood recent visited to McAllen, Texas, on the border with Mexico, to witness the problems first hand.

One problem is that the federal government is not doing enough to halt the recent influx of illegal immigrants, according to border control officers. Texas has decided to take matters into its own hands by allotting more resources to catch the illegal crossers.

But the problems don’t stop there.

Many border areas in South Texas are part of national wildlife refuge areas, and many illegal immigrants cross the border there. These areas — meant to protect small mammals like bats and even beetles “essential for plant pollination” — severely limit border agents’ ability to even patrol the area for human traffickers and drug smugglers.

In fact, because the land spanning the Rio Grande is protected, border patrol cars are not allowed to leave designated dirt roads. Instead, agents are told to go after the drug smugglers on foot or to follow the road to try and catch up.

Do you think the federal government should protect animals like the Yellow Southern Bat instead of protecting the border?

How One Small Country Uses Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom to Make the Case for Free Enterprise


In Heritage Impact


The Heritage Foundation’s Charlotte Florance, Cabo Verde Prime Minister José Maria Neves, and Heritage’s Anthony Kim pose with the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom

A small island country off the coast of Africa is using The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom to guide its economic policies.

Heritage expert Anthony Kim reports the positive results:

Cabo Verde’s economic freedom score is 66.1, making its economy the 60th freest in the 2014 Index—The Island economy is ranked 3rd out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is higher than the global and regional averages.

Over the 20-year history of the Index, Cabo Verde has advanced its economic freedom score by 16.4 points, a top 20 improvement. The overall increase has been broad-based in seven of the 10 economic freedoms including trade freedom, financial freedom, the management of government spending, and freedom from corruption, scores for which have improved approximately 25 points or more.

Kim and Charlotte Florance visited Cabo Verde recently to meet the country’s prime minister, José Maria Neves. Kim and Florance were interviewed and featured on the country’s major news outlets, reporting the good news about the country’s upward economic status:

Achieving its highest economic freedom score ever in the 2014 Index, Cabo Verde has advanced well into the ranks of the “moderately free.” While moving toward higher levels of economic freedom, it has made considerable progress in income growth and poverty reduction. The government continues to support policies that promote free trade and open markets.

The Index, produced in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal, measures how 178 countries around the globe stack up on eight key factors that influence economic freedom.

Have you traveled to any countries that rank poorly on economic freedom? Tell us what it was like in the comments.

The Supreme Court Blocks the Obama Administration’s Attack on Religious Liberty


In Other Work of Note


The media wait for the Hobby Lobby lawyers to make their first public statement in front of the Supreme Court. Photo credit: Kayla Toth

In their ruling Monday in the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court struck a blow against Obamacare’s coercive contraceptive mandate.

“The government can’t compel a ‘closely held’  business such as the Hobby Lobby chain to cover abortion-inducing drugs or devices in employee health plans if doing so would violate the employer’s moral and religious beliefs,” Heritage’s Kelsey Harkness explains.

Heritage experts Sarah Torre and Elizabeth Slattery explain what this ruling means:

To be clear, the decision today applies only to the Obamacare rule that was threatening the religious freedom of the Greens’ and Hahns’ family businesses. Other claims for religious exemptions by closely held family businesses from other laws will have to be litigated on a case-by-case basis. RFRA doesn’t provide a blank check for religious believers to do whatever they want in the name of religion and neither does today’s decision.

With today’s ruling, the Greens’ and Hahns’ family businesses will be able to continue offering their employees generous healthcare plans (which cover most forms of contraception) without fear of government penalties. And the women who work for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood remain free – like all women – to make their own decisions about these four drugs and devices (as well as other birth control) and to purchase or find insurance coverage for them. But the government cannot coerce these family businesses to participate in those decisions in violation of their beliefs.

Do you think the court made the right call in the Hobby Lobby case?

Heritage Research Helps Guide Dave Camp’s Tax Reform Plan


In Heritage Impact

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) called for a major overhaul of America’s tax code during an important address this week at The Heritage Foundation.

Camp, the Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, proposes one of the most important tax reforms in three decades–it would lower tax rates across the board, simplify the tax code, and eliminate loopholes–and he’s relying on research and data from Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis.

Heritage chief economist Steve Moore evaluates Camp’s plan and outlines areas for improvement.

Camp’s plan is also notable, Heritage experts pointed out earlier this year, because Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation evaluated his plan based on its economic effects. Traditionally, the JCT has ignored how tax policy affects the economy, and Heritage has for years urged them to incorporate these effects into their analysis.

Watch the video of Camp’s talk at Heritage and tell us: Do you think America’s tax code needs fixing?

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