Brief Analyses

Restricted to two letter-size pages, a Brief Analysis summarizes some aspect or aspects of a public policy issue, presenting points for consideration in policy debates or responding to points that have been raised during these debates.

The Return(s) to Gold

After Congress repealed the prohibition on owning gold in 1975, the market price shot up to $139 an ounce. Recent concern over the 2008 stock market crash, and doubts about the strength of the dollar…

A Brief History of the Gold Standard

Congress established a mint in 1792 and defined the dollar in terms of a specific weight in both gold and silver. This put the new republic on a bimetallic standard, common at the time. Initially, the…

How Much Do Public Schools Spend on Teaching?

Public education now costs federal, state and local governments upward of $500 billion annually. This total is up from $354 billion 15 years ago and currently represents the largest state and local go…

Update on Federal Medicaid Funding

Medicaid is a joint federal-state health program, primarily for the poor. At the federal level, Medicaid is an entitlement. Each enrollee has a right to benefits. However, federal funds are not distri…

The Fiscal Impact of the Offshore Drilling Moratorium

With the price of oil more than $100 per barrel, higher gasoline prices are eating into Americans' budgets. Consumers, however, are not the only ones losing out. Due to declining production at existin…

Mattress Investing Revisited

In the fall of 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to its lowest level in five years, prompting even steadfast savers to panic. The average 401(k) account fell 23 percent in 2008, according to…

An Accident Waiting to Happen: New York City's "Crash Tax"

New York City is one of the latest municipalities to propose a "crash tax" to fund emergency services. More aptly described as an emergency service user fee, motor vehicle collisions and vehicle fires…

The Fed's Mandate

When the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, Congress did not give it a monetary policy goal as we understand that term today. The Fed's monetary policy role evolved gradually, and congressional mand…