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The Beacon: The Blog of the Independent Institute

Tax Freedom Day, 2015
Friday April 24, 2015 | William Shughart

The Tax Foundation announces “Tax Freedom Day” every year to mark the date on which the average U.S. taxpayer has earned enough income to pay in full all federal, state and local taxes owed. The date this year is today, Friday, April 24, 2015. “Tax Freedom Day” is determined by taking the ratio of...
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Barack Obama Has the Last Word on the Medicare “Doc Fix”
Friday April 24, 2015 | John R. Graham

On April 15, President Obama signed the so-called Medicare “doc fix,” a bill that I previously warned would recruit Republicans onto Obamacare’s B-Team. I had also hoped that they would reject the bill, especially after Medicare’s Chief Actuary delivered an even harsher verdict on its consequences than the Congressional Budget Office had. Unfortunately, massive...
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Obamacare and Employment
Wednesday April 22, 2015 | John R. Graham

Vox’s Mattew Yglesias, an undaunted Obamacare supporter, has listed “7 charts that show what Obamacare critics are getting wrong.” The first is, you guessed it, that chart from the Gallup survey of health insurance, which (wrongly) claims Obamacare reduces the number of uninsured Americans. Another chart claims that Obamacare is not causing part-time work...
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An Argument for “Selling” Babies
Wednesday April 22, 2015 | Abigail Hall

“Behave, or I’ll sell you.” This “threat” was one I heard with some regularity as a child. It was my mother’s way of letting me know that I was driving her up a wall. It was usually followed by something like, “then they’ll pay me to take you back.” (In retrospect, if this was true,...
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Is FDA Reporting Drug Shortages Adequately?
Tuesday April 21, 2015 | John R. Graham

For a number of years, there has been a problem of shortages of certain generic drugs for injection. These are often important cancer drugs. In 2012, I wrote a report that concluded over regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was the primary cause of the shortages. The President and Congress acted, but...
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Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?
Monday April 20, 2015 | Randall Holcombe

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio says, “I believe that sexual preference is something that people are born with,” but goes on to say, “I don’t believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.” Let’s consider both of these ideas from a political perspective. First, whether people choose their sexual orientation or are born with it is...
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Do Drones Really Reduce Civilian Casualties?
Friday April 17, 2015 | Abigail Hall

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as “drones,” have been the subject of heated debate in recent years, especially their role in combat. Without a doubt, the number of air strikes using drones has increased at an astonishing rate. Consider that in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, the U.S. government has launched...
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MyGovCost: A Project of the Independent Institute

Government Raisin Ransacking
Friday April 24, 2015 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

“Central planning was thought to work very well in 1937,” observes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, “and Russia tried it for a long time.” So did the United States, through schemes such as the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. Authorized by Congress during the New Deal, the Act set up cooperative boards...
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The Tax Hikes of Obamacare
Friday April 24, 2015 | Craig Eyermann

Because we mentioned the new taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) in a recent article, we thought we ought to share the Heritage Foundation’s visualization of how its $800 billion worth of new taxes are being phased in over the 10 years from 2013 through 2022: The chart above is part...
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The Deficit Stops Shrinking
Tuesday April 21, 2015 | Craig Eyermann

While the U.S. government’s 2015 fiscal year is now half over, the days of a shrinking budget deficit now also appear to be over as well. The Washington Examiner‘s Joseph Lawler reports: The federal budget deficit through the first half of fiscal year 2015 totaled $430 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday, $17...
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Not Getting the Job Done
Friday April 17, 2015 | Craig Eyermann

CBS MarketWatch’s Brett Arends recently featured a number of “brain-busters,” in a Question & Answer format, related to findings that the U.S. Government Accountability Office has made regarding waste, duplication, and inefficiencies in the federal government’s operations. We reviewed each of the items and selected those that fit into a special category, which we’ll...
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Tax Freedom Day Delayed in 2015
Tuesday April 14, 2015 | Craig Eyermann

In the United States, Tax Day, April 15, marks the deadline for Americans to file their income tax returns for what they earned in the previous calendar year. Tax Freedom Day, however, marks the day after which the average American begins earning money that he or she can spend on things other than taxes,...
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State Employee Scam Burns Taxpayers
Monday April 13, 2015 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

In California, prodigious waste of taxpayer dollars is inherent in the system but politicians look the other way and few in the old-line establishment media are watching. One notable exception is Jon Ortiz of the Sacramento Bee, co-author with Jim Miller of “The Public Eye” watchdog report headlined “Audit: California departments break law, game...
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The Tax Code Grows Bigger
Friday April 10, 2015 | Craig Eyermann

Over the past decade, Wolters Kluwer, the publishers of the CCH Standard Federal Tax Reporter, a leading publication for tax professionals that summarizes the administrative guidance and judicial decisions issued under each section of the U.S. tax code, has created an infographic to convey just how many pages it takes to explain the nation’s...
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