May 27, 2007
featuring Clint Bolick
featuring Bruce Fein
With the Memorial Day weekend here, Congress appears determined to leave no bad idea behind in their frantic quest to demonstrate that they feel the voters' pain over high gasoline prices. On May 22, they voted to allow the federal government to sue OPEC for violations of America's anti-trust laws. On the 23rd, they voted to ban service stations from taking "unfair advantage" of motorists and outlawed "unconscionably excessive" prices for gasoline and other fuels were the president to declare an energy emergency. As the summer driving season begins, Cato is pleased to offer some realistic assessments of gas prices and recent Congressional overreaction.
On May 24, Cato scholar Chris Edwards testified before the Senate Committee on Finance on energy efficiency and the federal tax code. Edwards argues that while additional tax incentives probably could reduce U.S. energy consumption modestly, narrow incentives complicate the tax code, create distortions that reduce growth, and move down the slippery slope of widespread social engineering through the tax system. "On the other hand," says Edwards, "Congress should reform tax provisions that hinder new investments in energy production and conservation. Current business depreciation rules for energy and conservation investments are unfavorable compared to the rules in other countries."
Federal spending on state aid is the third largest item in the budget, behind entitlement and defense expenditures, totaling $449 billion in fiscal 2007. The number of federal aid programs has doubled over the past 20 years, but politicians have made no meaningful effort to trim the excesses since the Reagan years. In "Federal Aid to the States: Historical Cause of Government Growth and Bureaucracy," Cato scholar Chris Edwards examines how federal aid programs harm federalism, weaken accountability, and cause wasteful and ineffective spending. "The federal aid system is not about financing and operating programs in the most efficient manner, it is about politics," Edwards concludes.
The federal government has drilled deep into almost every public classroom in America. Washington can now tell public schools whether their teachers are qualified, their reading instruction acceptable, and what they must do when their students do not achieve on par with federal demands. In Feds In The Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education, Cato scholar Neal McCluskey challenges much of the conventional wisdom surrounding federal involvement in education. McCluskey considers all federal activities—legislation, funding, regulations, and judicial oversight—and then makes a cost-benefit and constitutional assessment.
2007 marks the Cato Institute's 30th anniversary. To commemorate our three decades of pioneering work we have assembled a succinct look back – in words, pictures and videos – of where we and our country have been. And we renew our dedication to the dignity of the individual, which is the heart of our work. At this milestone we want to especially express our ongoing gratitude to all those who support us and share our steadfast commitment to the traditional American values of individual liberty, free markets, limited government and peace.
May 30, 2007, Cato Book Forum, 12:00 pm
The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture
"Here is one of the freshest and most thought-provoking books on recent American history to appear in years."
-Adrian Wooldridge, coauthor of The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America
"Provocative, illuminating, sharp, and fact filled... you'll learn a ton."
-Cass R. Sunstein, University of Chicago
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