Heartland Institute and National Tax Limitation Committee Offer a Roadmap for the 21st Century

Published December 22, 2016

The Heartland Institute and National Tax Limitation Committee have released two new papers in a multi-part series titled Roadmap for the 21st Century, researched and written by Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara, National Tax Limitation Committee President Lewis Uhler, and other members of several “working groups” who contributed over the past several months to the Roadmap Project. The timely series provides the incoming Trump administration, the 115th Congress, and state lawmakers a free-market reform agenda filled with solutions to promote prosperity.

In the Energy Deregulation paper, authors Peter Ferrara and Lew Uhler describe a “technology-driven energy revolution” that has unlocked oil and natural gas deposits in the United States, more than doubling America’s recoverable oil and gas supplies. This paper describes how federal over-reach – the Clean Power Plan, for example, and other policies adopted by the Obama administration in the name of fighting climate change – is strangling the U.S. economy, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and sending good jobs overseas. They describe President-elect Donald Trump’s “America First Energy Plan” and conclude, “we must unleash our energy industries to produce massive job creation and rapid national economic growth, returning America to the road of energy independence and world leadership.”

In the Monetary Policy paper authors Ferrara and Ralph Benko dispel the myth that switching back to the gold standard would be difficult to do, explain why the gold standard is great policy and great politics, and describe specifically how to present the gold standard, how to defend it against progressive hostility, how to implement it, and why it would be worthwhile to invest political capital to adopt it in the new president’s first 100 days. They explain how the United States can return to the gold standard: Enact the Jack Kemp Gold Standard Act of 1984, which was cosponsored by Reps. Newt Gingrich, Vin Weber, Connie Mack, and others. The bill is easy to understand, easy to defend, and worth investing the political capital to enact. It is the sine qua non of restoring sizzling growth and job creation to the American economy across the board, from workers to investors.

These two papers follow three other papers in Roadmap for the 21st CenturyIntroduction, Budget & Tax Reform, and Health Care Reform. Additional papers will be released in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration.

The Heartland Institute wishes elected officials, our allies, Legislative Forum members, and liberty lovers a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and happy New Year’s Day! We hope 2017 will be even better than 2016!

What We’re Working On

Budget and Tax
Research & Commentary: Oregon Budget Should Not Rely on Sin Taxes
In November 2016, Oregon voters rejected a tax-hike plan that would have imposed a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on Oregon businesses for all sales in excess of $25 million. In the wake of that decision, Gov. Kate Brown has proposed several new destructive tax hikes in her 2017–19 state budget. Brown’s $20.8 billion budget plan attempts to close the $1.7 billion hole in Oregon’s state budget using spending cuts and tax increases. The tax increases would mostly be applied to so-called “sin” products, such as alcohol and tobacco.

In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines Brown’s proposal. “Oregon avoided taking a substantial step in the wrong direction when voters rejected the proposed corporate gross receipts tax. Legislators need to be careful not to implement new sin taxes, which will only make their state’s budget problems worse. Instead of creating and increasing discriminatory taxes, Oregon lawmakers should focus on encouraging government efficiency, pension reform, and placing reasonable limits on spending.” Read more

Research & Commentary: Maryland Should Boost Funding for BOOST Program
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson examines a new proposal in Maryland that would double funding for the state’s Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today Program (BOOST), a voucher program for low-income students. “Maryland’s sub-standard performance on NAEP underscores the desperate need for the state to expand school choice opportunities far beyond what is currently available. Too many public schools in Maryland are failing to adequately prepare students for productive lives. Parents should be allowed to choose the schools their children attend and should not be penalized financially if that choice is a private religious or secular school,” Benson writes. Read more

Energy and Environment
Research & Commentary: Washington Gov. Inslee’s Tax Plan Will Slow Investment and Economic Development
In his new two-year budget, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee proposed more than $4 billion in new taxes to help pay for K–12 teachers and other school workers. The tax-hike plan includes two new taxes, one on carbon dioxide and the other on capital gains. Both taxes would be highly disruptive to the economy and would have a strong negative effect on investment and the cost of doing business.

In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson and Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans say, “Instead of adding a new tax, elected officials should set their taxes at low, competitive rates that are applied to a broad base. If state legislators truly want to cut carbon-dioxide emissions, they should develop Washington State’s already abundant hydroelectric resources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Evergreen State already produces 30 percent of the nation’s net hydroelectricity generation, making it the biggest hydroelectric generator in the country.” Read more

Health Care
Research & Commentary: Florida Considering Block Grants for Medicaid
In Florida, Medicaid has expanded rapidly, to the point where it now provides health care to nearly four million Floridians and takes up nearly one-third of the state’s $82 billion budget. One proposed reform Florida legislators are now considering to confront this growing problem is to request to move federal Medicaid funding away from the current uncapped matching formula to a block-grant system. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans discusses Medicaid funding and how block grants are a reform state legislators should consider to improve their funding and program flexibility. “Florida legislators would be wise to consider petitioning for a block-grant funding model. Block grants modernize Medicaid and give states the flexibility to experiment with their Medicaid programs, to find new and better ways to provide care for the needy.” Read more

From Our Free-Market Friends
The Mercatus Center Releases New Study: Ohio Public Pension System
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University recently released a study on Ohio’s largest public pension systems by Erick M. Elder and David Mitchell, both professors of economics. The state still has one of the largest unfunded pension obligations in the country, even with 2012 reforms. Elder and Mitchell find Ohio’s largest public pension, the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS), only has a 50 percent chance of meeting its obligations by 2037. They also find the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund has less than a 25 percent chance of meeting its obligations in 2037.

Mercatus created an interactive tool that allows viewers to select their pension and the year they plan to retire to see the likelihood that their pension will remain solvent. In the study, the authors conclude, “Ohio lawmakers should address the problem of underfunded pensions now, before it reaches crisis level. The longer they push this off, the more expensive and painful the adjustment will become for all Ohio residents.” Read more