Policy Backgrounders

Policy Backgrounders are designed as briefing papers on public policy issues for people with limited time and a need to know about public policy issues.

Reforming the U.S. Health Care System

Unwise government policies are largely responsible for the fact that the number of Americans without health insurance is 43 million and rising.  Unwise government policies also are responsible for the…

Does Punishment Deter?

What explains the sudden decline in crime after a long rise? Better economic conditions? Cultural changes? A more convincing explanation is at hand: Courts have been handing out tougher punishment for…

Technology and Economic Growth in the Information Age

The next quarter century of capitalism promises a silent boom - a rapid economic advance that will improve everyday life but elude the regular readings of the economy's vital signs. Statistical tools…

The Economy's Good News: The Upside of Downsizing

Job losses are less harmful than they are often thought to be. To the contrary, the upside of downsizing lies in a reinvigorated economy. Indeed, the layoffs of the early 1990s can teach important les…

The Marriage Penalty

A marriage penalty results when a married couple pay more taxes by filing jointly than they would pay if each spouse could file as a single person. A couple face the marriage penalty only when both sp…

The 1997 Budget Deal - What It Means to Taxpayers

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 is important more as a political statement than for its economic impact. As the first major tax cut since 1981, it marks the end of the paralysis in fiscal policy that…

Making Welfare Work

Welfare reform that emphasizes putting welfare recipients to work is the most successful public policy initiative of this century.

The Case for Abolishing Death Taxes

The estate tax is a bad tax. It raises little revenue. It does not redistribute wealth. It imposes large costs on the economy. And it is complicated and unfair. It should be abolished.