Governance

From staff cuts to lagging technology, Congress has a capacity problem

Congress has convened for one of the busier sessions it has faced in decades. But can it do its job? A recently published report from the Congressional Management Foundation provides yet more support …

Make Congress great again

The following op-ed was co-authored by Kevin R. Kosar, vice president of policy at R Street Institute and co-director of the nonpartisan Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group. In …

Free ways for Congress to address its staffing problem

Many longtime political observers agree Congress does not have enough staff to do its work. Those it does have are paid too little, work too many hours and turn over at such fast …

The course of the confirmation process isn’t supposed to run smooth

The debate in Washington over who’s to blame for the slow pace in filling judicial vacancies (or whether the pace is even slow to begin with) reflects an …

A beginner’s guide to the Senate’s rules

The overall structure of Senate procedure is derived from five primary sources: The Constitution; the Standing Rules of the Senate; statutory rules passed by Congress and signed into …

Trump can’t predict the future of the filibuster

Last week, President Donald Trump called on Senate Republicans to nuke the filibuster, predicting the chamber's Democrats would not hesitate to do so in the future if their roles were …

Breaking up Is hard to do

I'm not sure how Californians managed during the Legislature’s recent recess, but now that lawmakers are back at the Capitol, they are busy “fixing” the state’s pressing problems. They will …

How Senate leaders can use existing rules to end Democrat stonewalling

Democrats have threatened to filibuster Republican efforts to debate important legislation on the Senate floor. But this is nothing new. The filibuster has been used in the past …

Will Trump be a one-termer?

Not long ago, an outsider came to Washington to be president of the United States. He ran as an anti-politician, a man who was not going to play …

Congress may be more bipartisan than you think

At the Library of Congress’ Congress and History conference, political scientists James Curry and Frances Lee presented their working paper “Non-Party Government: Bipartisan lawmaking and theories of party power in congress.” In the paper, the …

Policy study: The limits of executive orders in environmental deregulation

WASHINGTON (Aug. 10, 2017) – The Trump administration’s early efforts to roll back regulation, especially in the areas of energy and the environment, are commendable, but sole reliance …

The limits of executive orders in environmental deregulation

The attached policy short was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Catrina Rorke.  President Donald Trump has placed a strong emphasis on overhauling the sprawling regulatory state. Both he …

What the budget process can tell us about the state of the Senate

Congress is running out of time to fund the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. In July, the House of Representatives passed four appropriations …

Are long weekends reducing Congress’ productivity?

The attached policy short was co-authored by Charles Hunt, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park. A common complaint of congressional observers—both those inside and outside the Beltway—is …

How Congress can use evidence-based policymaking

The Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group examined the use of data and analyses in policymaking at the group's July 17 meeting, including exploring the challenges Congress faces in …

A business case for federal operational improvements enabled by quality data

The attached policy study was published originally by Aplin Labs and co-authored with David Paschane, Aplin's CEO and lead scientist; Eric Hannel, a strategic consultant at Aplin; and Christian …

Under reconciliation, it’ll be harder than you think to amend the Senate healthcare bill

Changing a reconciliation bill in the Senate is harder than you think. And the reason why has nothing to do with healthcare policy. While senators are correct to note they have …

Problems with the ‘committee tax’ in Congress

Chairmen of the U.S. House’s most-coveted committees—the so-called “A” committees that include Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Rules, and Ways and Means—are each expected to raise at …

Rebuked by Trump, Sessions offers a stark contrast in leadership

Donald Trump would not be president of the United States without Jeff Sessions' endorsement during the presidential campaign. How quickly the president seems to have soured on his …

STUDY: It’s time for Congress to reassert its investigative authority

WASHINGTON (July 20, 2017) – Congress has the absolute constitutional power and responsibility to make and enforce any demands to the executive branch for information it deems necessary …

CA Legislature seeks data on race, sexual orientation of lobbyists

A letter late last month from the state Legislature’s six special-interest caucuses asking California lobbying firms to provide legislators with detailed demographic data has sparked debate and controversy …

Hard-pressed rural Californians try civil-rights approach

Do rural residents have a constitutional right to reasonable political representation, or is that reserved only for big-city residents? That question is at the heart of a recent …

Restore America’s virtue by helping the person nearest you

Help the person nearest you. If you want to honor our nation's birth this Independence Day, start there. In fact, write that person's name down, and then do it …

House Appropriations Committee clears public access to CRS reports

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2017) – The R Street Institute congratulates the full House Appropriations Committee for favorably reporting legislation that will make nonconfidential Congressional Research Service reports available to …

California Democrats focus on virtue-signaling

Politicians in several states this week have had a great time laughing at the latest zaniness implemented in California, and who can blame them? “California may be able to …

Letter to Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee: Thank you for working to expand public access to CRS reports

Dear Chairman Yoder and Ranking Member Ryan, On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we sincerely thank you and the Legislative Branch Subcommittee for including language in report accompanying the …

Senate should seek to retain its ‘blue slip’ tradition for judicial nominees

The "blue slip" process for judicial nominations—one of the Senate’s most obscure customs in a body known for its arcane rules and esoteric parliamentary practices—soon may be destined …

There’s a reason Americans can’t all get along, and it isn’t Trump

As much as we need to tone down our rhetoric and behave like adults, Americans are not going to get along, sit around the campfire and sing "Kumbaya." …

House legislative branch appropriators will vote tomorrow on legislation to release all non-confidential CRS Reports to the public

WASHINGTON (June 22, 2017) – The House Appropriations Committee announced today that its Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee will vote tomorrow to allow public access to all nonconfidential Congressional Research Service reports as …

The downsides of using executive agency detailees

In a previous post, I recounted the advantages of using executive detailees as a means to combat staffing shortages on Capitol Hill. In short, agency detailees can serve as …

It’s time for regulatory harmonization between the United States and Canada

WASHINGTON (June 20, 2017) – With an economic relationship that is already the most extensive and successful in the modern world, the United States and Canada should do …

Regulatory harmonization between the United States and Canada

Renewed interest in regulatory reform in Washington is a necessary and positive development. A decadeslong accumulation of red tape and burdensome regulations imposes significant costs on the U.S. economy. …

Among House staff, women are well-represented. Just not in the senior positions.

Congress has a gender imbalance. Of 435 members of the House of Representatives, just 83, or 19.1 percent, are women, putting the United States at 101st in gender …

Are we just fascists waiting for our turn with the hammer?

We all know control freaks. You may be one. It's not uncommon. A fascist is basically a control freak with a government hammer. The hammer makes all the …

Assembly speaker gives public the finger

For a stellar example of the disdain with which some California legislators treat the public, consider a series of votes that Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, scheduled right before …

Is Assembly speaker playing game of chicken over 72-hour rule?

California voters in November overwhelmingly passed Proposition 54, a constitutional amendment to promote transparency by requiring all bills in their “final form” to be published online for 72 hours …

How Congress became colonized by the imperial presidency

Ever since Arthur Schlesinger’s 1973 book coined the phrase, the so-called "imperial presidency" has been a perennial topic of our national political discourse. At a time when the …

How executive ‘detailees’ could help ease Congress’ staffing problems

It is becoming more widely acknowledged that Congress has a staffing problem. While the executive branch employs more than 4 million people, the legislative branch has only about …

Huntington Beach tries to squelch democratic reform

After giving a speech a few years ago, I was approached by an activist who wanted to tell me about what he believes is California’s most significant political …

How congressional power became separate, but unequal

Recent polling shows that Americans are increasingly turned off by the rancor and high-stakes nature of our recent presidential elections. But don't expect contests for the presidency to …

Eight good pieces of news about Congress

It is not breaking news that most Americans are pessimistic about Congress. This negativity is reflected in Congress’ dismal 20 percent approval rating and another equally telling statistic that 79 percent of …

Voters hold officials accountable for deficits in many countries. Just not here.

Wouldn't it be nice if voters punished politicians who increase budget deficits? Well, according to one research paper, they do. Adi Brender (Bank of Israel) and Allan Drazen (University of Maryland) crunched data from …

A conversation on ‘Democracy’ with Condoleezza Rice

So many intellectually gifted political figures are about as warm as a slab of granite in a blizzard. As we sat down to discuss her book, Democracy: Stories from …

OPEN Government Data Act moves to Senate floor after markup

Legislation requiring federal agencies to publish their data online in a searchable, nonproprietary, machine-readable format has been cleared for the Senate following a May 17 markup by the …

Testimony: Senate Subcommittee on Legislative Branch Appropriations

Chairman Lankford, Ranking Member Murphy, and Members of the Committee: Thank you for considering my written testimony. My name is Kevin Kosar, and I am vice president of policy …

The effort to undo Obama regulations is ending with a whimper

Wednesday seemed to offer a somewhat dispiriting conclusion to what had been a hopeful period for regulatory-reform advocates. Senate Republicans were unable to muster the 51 votes needed …

Letter: Support public access to legislative information

Dear members of the subcommittee: The following is a letter addressed to the chairmen and ranking members of the Joint Committee on the Library; the House and Senate legislative …

CRS should stop fighting access to its own reports

The Congressional Research Service plays an essential role in policymaking and oversight. It makes Congress smarter about issues and teaches new legislators how to legislate. I would not …

Congressmen reintroduce bill to make CRS reports public

The Government Publishing Office would be required to make Congressional Research Service reports publicly accessible over the internet, under legislation reintroduced last week by Reps. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., …

Three years in, what does the DATA Act tell us about agency spending?

Trying to figure out exactly how much money the federal government spends long has been an exercise in futility for those few brave souls who endeavor to try …

Kevin Kosar on Fox 5 DC ‘On The Hill’

Vice president of policy at the R Street Institute Kevin Kosar appeared on Fox 5 DC's "On The Hill" to discuss President Donald Trump's first 100 days in …

Kosar testifies to House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee on CRS reports

On May 3, 2017, R Street's vice president of policy Kevin Kosar testifies before the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee in support of making Congressional Research Service reports available …

Testimony to House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee on CRS reports

Dear Chairman Yoder, Ranking Member Ryan and Members of the Committee: On behalf of 25 former employees of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) with a collective 570 years of …

Rep. Ken Buck on the Federal Budget Accountability Act

The Federal Budget Accountability Act—introduced last month by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., as H.R. 1999—is a short bill, barely two pages long. But it aims to help Congress answer …

An uncomfortable reality… Congress needs more staff

Mark Twain famously remarked: “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” Although famously crotchety, he did touch upon a …

Does Congress have the capacity it needs in foreign affairs?

The Constitution assigns Congress the power to declare war, fund the military, approve treaties and regulate commerce with other nations. Yet, over the past century, presidents have taken …

Executive orders alone can’t create sustainable deregulatory change

Both during the election campaign and over the first 100 days of his administration, President Trump has declared his commitment to deregulation. Dubbed the “most aggressive campaign against government regulation …

Are you paying your fair share of taxes?

The following is a guest post by attorney and freelance writer Mark Meuser. Today, many Americans will finalize their federal income tax returns and send their 1040 forms to …

Franz Kafka, anti-bureaucrat

To understand the bureaucratic state, read Franz Kafka. Few writers have his knack to convey the peculiar, perverse effects the modern leviathan exerts on the soul as forcefully …

A last nail in the GOP’s California coffin

The California Republican Party has been vanquished at the state level, with Democrats having control of every constitutional office (governor, treasurer, secretary of state, etc.) and supermajorities in both houses …

Transparency initiative shaped nature of road-tax debate

It’s no secret that the state’s legislative leadership is less than thrilled about an open-government initiative that California voters passed in the November election, and are doing what …

Kosar talks congressional reform on The Golden Mean

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar recently joined host Michael Golden's podcast The Golden Mean to discuss the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group and the prospects for congressional reform. …

Holding the administrative state accountable

R Street Senior Fellow Kevin Kosar joined the Manhattan Institute's Oren Cass and Adam White of The Hoover Institution on the Federalist Society's podcast to discuss the Legislative …

Want democratic legitimacy? Support congressional regulatory reform

WASHINGTON (April 11, 2017) – The election of Donald Trump poses what may be a serious opportunity for a sea change in the American regulatory state. Indeed, one …

Regulatory reform in the 114th and 115th Congresses

The election of Donald Trump presents what some see as the potential for a sea change in the American regulatory state, given the emphasis that candidate Trump put …

California split back in the news again

The latest news about California—a breakup plan touted by the leaders of Brexit—could serve as a case study of how mischaracterizations spread across the internet, and how many …

Citation nation

In April 2013, when California resident Derick Neal rolled through a red light, it was no surprise that he received a ticket. What did surprise Neal was how …

It’s OK, California. Breaking up isn’t hard to do.

Two leaders of the successful referendum to remove Britain from the European Union were recently in California, where they said favorable things about the newest version of a …

Can the voice of practitioners be further amplified in PAR?

James L. Perry’s "Amplifying the Voices of Practitioners in PAR" (March/April) was a very welcome read. So many academic journals are just that – academic. But not PAR, which …

Moving Copyright Office authorities to executive branch could improve accountability

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Governance Policy Fellow Jarrett Dieterle. An obscure debate about whether the U.S. Copyright Office should be part of the executive branch …

Budgetary ‘kill lists’ are a good way to kill wasteful spending

Groups across the ideological spectrum have raised alarm about President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled budget blueprint that, as detailed last week by The Washington Post, targets numerous federal programs for elimination. While …

Take two devekut and call me in the morning

Since the original Moses, the world has been blessed with Mosii of many varieties. (One of my favorites, Moses Malone, actually took the Philadelphia 76ers to the Promised …

Whither the conference committee?

The following post was co-authored by Adam Chan, a former Institute of Politics summer research assistant at the R Street Institute. Hong Min Park, Steven S. Smith and Ryan J. Vander Wielen recently presented …

ACLU gives needed rebuke to OC’s meetings policy

City governments, police departments and county boards of supervisors have an enduringly difficult time understanding the proper order of things. It’s clichéd, but true. We don’t work for …

Why Trump’s government overhaul won’t work

The executive order issued by President Donald Trump yesterday has a goal nearly every citizen and legislator would cheer: to “improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the executive branch.” What's …

Congress needs to take back its war powers in the fight against ISIS

“We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach,” then-President Barack Obama said during an Aug. 30, 2013 news conference about the situation in Syria. The former president would repeat his …

Promoting transparency and stakeholder engagement in an era of complex government

It is a well-known tenet of democracy that citizens must have access to information about the government’s activities, as well as the means by which to interact with …

What role should Congress play in regulation?

Historically, Congress has delegated great authority to the executive branch when it came to regulatory matters. For the most part, the executive branch has had a free hand, …

Machiavelli’s Clizia: Or, how to win dowries and dominate husbands

Machiavelli gets a bad rap, and not without some justification. As nearly all MBA students, dime-store dictators and White House counselors can agree, The Prince offers things How to Win Friends …

How to put the ‘most complete and effectual weapon’ back in their hands

Indubitably, our nation's finances are a mess. America has run deficits 36 of the past 40 years. The national debt is $18 trillion, and it has tripled as a percentage …

Legislative scrutiny of regulations in the Anglosphere

President Donald Trump’s inauguration could have significant implications for the U.S. regulatory state for two principal reasons. The first is that he is committed to reducing the regulatory …

For regulatory reform, look to Congress

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. It is rare that we get a glimpse at the guiding principles that motivate a president …

My boys and I attended a GOP town hall to see what democracy looks like

Contrary to popular belief, it isn't easy to convince a 7-year-old and 5-year old to make contributions to America's civil discourse on a Saturday morning. That said, my …

Lessons from the godfather of regulatory budgeting

Most of the attention around President Donald Trump's recent deregulation executive order focused on its “one in, two out” requirement mandating that agencies repeal two regulations for every …

Should we have a long-term budget for entitlements?

Federal law treats Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements as “mandatory” spending programs, which means they are not subject to the annual appropriations process like the rest …

A conservative’s tips for liberals facing a Republican trifecta

I've been there—when your political party has told you that America will be lost if a certain presidential candidate doesn't win the election. Not only does that candidate …

Ian Adams on KVOI in Tucson

R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams and Mike Shaw of KVOI in Tucson, Arizona, to discuss the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act) Act …

Republicans could have a regulatory ‘game changer’ on their hands

Last week, the House and Senate voted to repeal one of the last regulations the Obama administration enacted on its way out the door. The regulation, known as …

If Democrats want a less-powerful Trump, there’s a REINS Act for that

Congressional Democrats may not like President Donald Trump, but they’re not even remotely serious about limiting his policymaking power. They’d rather bring pictures of Trump’s tweets to the …

Does Congress have the technology it needs to govern?

During its first two centuries of operations, Congress conducted business the old fashion way: with paper and pencil and face-to-face. Over the past 25 years, however, the legislative …

Protect Families and Businesses from Unnecessary Tax Increases: Enact the Global Trade Accountability Act

February 2, 2017   To Members of Congress: We the undersigned free market organizations, representing millions of hardworking Americans, urge you to support S. 177, the “Global Trade Accountability Act,” introduced …

Should Congress have to approve every federal regulation? A debate.

The following written debate between R Street Senior Fellow Kevin Kosar and Andrew Rudalevige, Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government at Bowdoin College, was published in the Washington Post's …

Whether the easy way or the hard way, GOP will confirm Gorsuch

Tell me about the Democrats' right to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, and I'll point to roughly 60 million Americans who voted for President Donald Trump. They …

Five big questions about Trump’s executive order on regulation

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. On Monday, the Trump administration made its first big move against overregulation, issuing an executive order requiring agencies …

R Street leads coalition supporting the Modern Employment Reform, Improvement, and Transformation (MERIT) Act

Dear Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings: On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we write to express our support for H.R. 559, the Modern Employment Reform, Improvement, and Transformation …

Exit earmarks, enter lettermarks

The attached policy study was co-authored by Nicole Kalaf-Hughes, an assistant professor of political science at Bowling Green State University. Before convening the 115th Congress, Republicans and some …

Almost 50 years later, Allan Bloom’s Republic remains as vital as ever

Next year, Allan Bloom’s translation of Plato’s Republic turns 50. Its mastery is such that, with the exception of Joe Sachs, no one else has even come close …

Why process matters in congressional appropriations

As recent legislative sessions repeatedly have ground to a halt with threats of government shutdown, we’re forced to wonder: what has gone so terribly wrong in the appropriations …

Reforming the administrative state—and reining it in

National Affairs released a special report earlier this month on comprehensive proposals to rein in the regulatory state. The report's three authors -- Hoover Institution Research Fellow Adam White, Manhattan …

Jerry Brown’s alternative state of the universe

By California’s low standards, Gov. Jerry Brown generally has been a voice of reason in the state Capitol, despite his occasionally unhinged rhetoric about the existential threat posed …

Partisan echo chambers erode our check on political power

According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the Trump administration is "going to hold the press accountable" because "the American people deserve better." Some media outlets could …

Strengthening Congress by shrinking the administrative state

Regulatory reform appears to be gaining traction in Washington, D.C. The White House directed agencies to halt the issuance of new regulations. Congress also got in the act. …

It’s time for the Senate to pull in the REINS

Much of the debate about the new administration’s regulatory-reform agenda centers on the Regulations from Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require both houses of …

Will Trump follow in the footsteps of other very wealthy presidents?

President Donald Trump has a big ego, to say the least. Before taking office, he loved nothing more than flying around in his private jetliner, talking about his …

Six ways Congress can curb a runaway president

No bones about it, Donald Trump is a steamroller. He defeated 16 Republican candidates, despite being a political novice. Jeb Bush’s $150 million war chest couldn’t insulate him from Trump’s insults; …

What a relief: Rohrabacher can retreat to his ‘safe space’

Conservatives love to mock liberal college students who clamor for “safe spaces,” where they can hide from ideas that run contrary to their politically correct sensibilities. Yes, these …

Six quick takes on President Trump’s speech

Thank you for making your speech short. Really, the days when folks enjoyed hearing long orations have passed. I am glad you thanked the Obamas for being "magnificent" to …

R Street Panel: The expertise gap between Silicon Valley and Washington

It shouldn't be surprising that our elected representatives don't always understand new technology. Rather than being early adopters, most of them are at least a decade behind the …

The Twitter presidency

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Technology Policy Fellow Sasha Moss. Franklin D. Roosevelt was famous for his “fireside chats” — evening radio addresses that helped …

Reasserting Congress in regulatory policy

The attached policy study was originally published in "Policy Reforms for an Accountable Administrative State," the second installment in National Affairs' Unleashing Opportunity series. Congress is "the first branch," …

Kosar talks Congressional Regulation Office on C-Span

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar was on C-Span's Washington Journal program recently to discuss his recent piece in National Affairs proposing a Congressional Regulation Office and …

Does Congress want to govern?

The following op-ed was co-authored by Lee Drutman, a senior fellow in the political reform program at New America. Over the past year, leading members of Congress have delivered …

Join us tonight for Le Hackie Awards

DC Legal Hackers hosts its third annual Le Hackie Awards tonight, an event to honor companies, organizations, legal hackers and the best legal hacks of 2016. For those not …

Making Congress great again

It hasn’t exactly been a smooth first week for the Republican-controlled 115th Congress. On Monday, House Republicans voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics—only to reverse their …

Under President Trump, will Congress REIN in executive branch?

When I was counsel to former Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., in the 112th Congress, a constituent named Lloyd Rogers asked why Congress wasn’t accountable for the cost of federal …

Will Trump call California’s bluff?

Believe it or not, but the incoming Trump administration is a godsend for California’s increasingly left-wing political leadership. Note how Democratic elected officials are tripping all over themselves, …

Trump’s Great Negation of 2017

The Obama administration began amid the Great Recession. Donald Trump will take office in January 2017 and usher in the Great Negation. How long it will last depends …

How an idyllic Italian village was crippled by family-centrism

More than 60 years ago, an American family arrived in a seemingly idyllic town in Southern Italy. Stone buildings resembled “a white beehive against the top of a …

All the president’s propaganda

The following op-ed was co-authored by John Maxwell Hamilton, a professor in Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication and a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International …

CBO confirms OPEN Government Data Act won’t cost taxpayers

The bicameral, bipartisan Open Public Electronic and Necessary ("OPEN") Government Data Act will not cost taxpayers a dime, according to new scoring analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The …

Yesterday we talked about Congress reclaiming the power of the purse — a bit

I co-direct the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group, a nonpartisan gathering of scholars and congressional staff that aims to “make Congress great again.” We meet each month on …

Testimony to House Oversight and Government Reform on agencies’ expenditures of fees

I thank the subcommittee for inviting me to testify on the subject of federal agencies and their self-funding activities. As the committee may know, I co-direct the Legislative Branch …

Panel Video: Legislative Reform: Then and Now

In the early 1970s, Congress found itself overpowered by the executive branch. In response, it reorganized, resuming power over budgeting and augmenting legislative support agencies. This was a …

How the coming Republican Congress could cut regulations lickety-split

For the better part of eight years, Republicans have tried to stop the Obama administration from issuing new regulations. They have not had much success. But this may …

Dialing for dollars

I agree with the conventional wisdom that congressmen spend entirely too much of their time raising money. Like many viewers, I cringed at John Oliver’s dialing-for-dollars exposé featuring former Democratic …

California the new redoubt of secessionism?

The most enjoyable part of the Trump victory has been watching people here in liberal northern California suddenly discover that some of the ideas libertarians and conservatives have …

Stopping Big Government: Why we need a Congressional Regulation Office

The following op-ed was co-authored by Philip A. Wallach, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. This year, nearly 3,300 new federal regulations have been issued, and we still …

R Street’s priorities for the next administration

The incoming Trump administration will inherit numerous challenges that must be dealt with in year one, such as overwhelming shortfalls in the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and debt …

Letter: No ‘copyright coup’ at all in Washington

Casting Dr. Carla Hayden as a puppet of the tech industry or the library-industrial complex diminishes the obvious accomplishments that led her to become the first African-American and …

Does Congress finally get that business as usual should not continue?

Nearly everyone is gobsmacked by last night’s election results. But should we really be so surprised? No, because a significant portion of the public has been down on …

Ballot measures would legalize pot, end death penalty, create single-payer health care

While this year’s explosive presidential politics have drowned out battles at the state level, voters across the country nevertheless face a daunting number of weighty ballot questions on Nov. …

Report: Congress needs to examine rules for federal propaganda

WASHINGTON (Oct. 28, 2016) – The federal government’s widespread use of advertising – a frequently ignored budget line-item – and other forms of communication carry significant implications for …

Government Information and Propaganda: How to draw a line?

The attached policy study was co-authored by John Maxwell Hamilton, the Hopkins P. Breazeale Professor in Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication. A government cannot be held accountable …

The strongest branch of liberty

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Research Assistant Adam Chan. Which branch of government comes to mind when you think of your rights? Many, if not most, …

Bringing Government Secrets to Light

It was late February 1970, and the federal government was concerned that bad things were afoot in New York City. The past decade had been a series of …

Five bad arguments against public access to CRS reports

This week the progressive organization Demand Progress, along with the Congressional Data Coalition, launched EveryCRSReport.com. This new project site makes available, with the help of friendly Congressional offices, …

It’s Time To Make Taxpayer-Funded Congressional Reports Available To The Public

This piece was co-authored by Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist. American taxpayers support the $140 million a year expenditures of the Congressional Research Service, an independent and highly influential …

Bipartisan group of governance scholars urges the Senate to use Rule XXVII to strengthen committees

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Majority Whip Cornyn, Democratic Leader Reid, and Democratic Whip Durbin: The United States Senate is an institution rooted in history and tradition. Its long serving …

Congress should unveil American surveillance

Revelations that Yahoo allegedly scanned hundreds of millions of user emails for the National Security Agency and the FBI underscores the pressing need for Congress to reevaluate federal …

Direct democracy not always the ideal approach

The following blog post was co-authored by R Street Western Region Director Steven Greenhut. Colorado and California are among the states most accustomed to direct democracy: the initiative, …

Is Congress getting a bum rap?

In short, yes, to a degree. Much of the work it does seldom appears in the news, so legislators get no credit. So, thanks are owed to Michelle Cottle …

ICYMI: A manual for conducting congressional oversight

Mort Rosenberg spent decades at the Congressional Research Service advising staff and members how to conduct oversight. After he retired, he published this guide -- based on previous …

Congressional Earmarks: Are we better off without them?

When the GOP took back the House in 2010, it followed through on what many of its members had promised in their campaigns—banning earmarks. Earmarks are the district …

The estranged legislative and executive branches

Hugh Heclo’s "A Government of Strangers," published 40 years ago, described the very different worlds of high-level federal appointees and the civil-servant worker bees they purportedly manage. Today that …

The case for a Congressional Regulation Office

The attached policy study was co-authored by Philip Wallach, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. It originally appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of National Affairs. To …

Coalition letter on strengthening congressional oversight of the intelligence community

Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi, We write to express our concerns about congressional oversight of intelligence activities. Congress is responsible for authorizing and overseeing these programs. In …

Inventing America: The business of drafting a national blueprint

The men who drafted the U.S. Constitution rightly earned our eternal praise. In 1787, they met in Philadelphia, where they pondered, debated and haggled for four months. James …

Strengthening congressional oversight of the intelligence community

The attached white paper is a joint product of the R Street Institute, DemandProgress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and FreedomWorks. The U.S. House of Representatives created the House Permanent …

21 groups oppose Chairman Chaffetz’s Postal Service Reform Act (H.R. 5714)

To Members of the U.S. Congress: We, the undersigned organizations, representing millions of taxpayers and consumers nationwide, urge Congress to oppose H.R. 5714, the “Postal Service Reform Act of …

5 habits of highly effective lawmakers

The following post was co-authored by Alan E. Wiseman. How can legislative staffs help their members of Congress become effective lawmakers? One way is by checking his or her Legislative …

ICYMI: Members of Congress publish essays on the state of Congress

The July 2016 copy of PS: Political Science and Politics carries essays by four members of Congress (one former and three current). This unusual and happy development was the work of Michael H. …

Ed drama; the Ocean’s Hot Dog and Brookings teacher diversity study; fish porn; Kosar signs off

I am running low on laptop battery and conveniently left my charger in Washington, D.C. So I will keep this quick. Robert J. Bellafiore takes New York City Mayor Bill …

More on school lunches; #PorgyPorn; DC teacher union heads denounce Wal-Mart for helping teachers; Feds expand educational quality through innovation partnerships

On Tuesday, I wrote about the federal school lunch program. What I did not mention was the status of the program’s reform. Legislation has moved this year to amend the program. …

HEA rulemaking; Utah loosens teaching occupational licensure; ICYMI: China and ed reform

Care about which institutions' students can get Higher Education Act grants? You know, ones like Pell grants, the Federal Pell Grant program, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, …

A case for stronger congressional committees

The attached policy study was co-authored by Adam Chan, a summer 2016 research assistant at the R Street Institute. With congressional partisanship at record highs and congressional approval ratings at …

Holt trolls Johnson on student loans; The Daily Caller trolls Michelle Obama and school lunches; Turtle porn

Maybe it's a sign the Gary Johnson-Bill Weld ticket is serious, or possibly a writer was looking for something to troll. Either way, Johnson gets assailed by Alexander …

Three cheers for school advertising

The recent State Impact piece on advertising by public schools was interesting on a couple of counts, but missed an opportunity: Schools will start soon, but where you live doesn’t necessarily …

Would adding more members to Congress make it function better?

Writing for Aeon, David V. Johnson says a legislature should be "large enough to reflect the interests of an entire people." He notes that James Madison, the architect of …

Greenhut talks California initiatives on KQED

R Street Western Region Director Steve Greenhut joined KQED radio's "Forum" program recently for a discussion about ballot initiatives in California, including the whopping 17 initiatives that Golden State …

The federal government’s $500 million subsidy to magazine publishers

Few people love magazines more than I do. At last count, I have a half-dozen subscriptions, down from the baker’s dozen of a few years ago (with four …

Direct Democracy: California’s last hope?

One of the most far-reaching ideas advanced by 20th century progressives was the reemergence of direct democracy. And no state has taken the idea further than California. In 1911, …

Is the 114th Congress getting things done?

Source: PopVox.com Yes, writes Marci Harris and her team at PopVox: The 114th Congress has passed a significant number of major policies into law: from ending a Medicare physician payment …

On what does the U.S. House spend its appropriations?

The following post was co-authored by Nicholas W. Zeppos. A version originally appeared on LegBranch.com. There is a short and unsurprising answer: mostly, it spends on staff.  Personnel expenses amount to …

How does the U.S. House divide its money between members, committees and leadership?

The following post was co-authored by Nicholas W. Zeppos. A version originally appeared on LegBranch.com. In order to think clearly about legislative capacity, or the lack thereof, we need a …

Congress’ tendency to cannibalize itself

The following blog post was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. Why is Congress loath to increase its staff, and sometimes eager to cut it? Anthony J. …

Is the House of Representatives deinstitutionalizing?

The following post was co-authored by R Street Governance Policy Director Kevin Kosar. In an important recent paper, Jeffery A. Jenkins’ and Charles Stewart III re-evaluated Nelson Polsby’s classic analysis that …

Will Congress claw back power from the regulatory state?

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Sean Speer, who also serves as a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a Canadian think tank. One upside …

Conservatives shoot selves in foot by obstructing librarian of Congress vote

President Barack Obama recently nominated Carla Hayden – a career professional library administrator – to serve as the retiring James Billington's successor as head of the Library of …

The Library of Congress needs a professional librarian, not a ‘scholar-in-chief’

From Bill of Rights Defense Committee: In the months following incumbent Librarian of Congress James Billington’s retirement, some conservatives have coalescedaround the idea that the next person to head the …

Another revolting attack on our liberties

During a recent stroll around the west steps of the state Capitol, I eyed a group of “Yes California Independence Campaign” handing out the state flag. The flag …

The Library of Congress needs a professional librarian, not a ‘scholar-in-chief’

In the months following incumbent Librarian of Congress James Billington's retirement, some conservatives have coalesced around the idea that the next person to head the library ought to …

Canada’s legislature begins to strengthen itself

Last month’s Supreme Court decision on President Barack Obama’s unilateral immigration directive was a positive development for those determined to restore the paramountcy of the legislative branch in U.S. political …

The European Union is obsolete

The world is still dealing with the effects of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. After being a member of the E.U. and its predecessors …

A Fourth of July reflection on Brexit

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to resume among …

The U.S. Postal Service needs a ‘Brexit’ from government

From The Federalist: The postal service also lacks needed oversight due to a managerial crisis: what should be an 11-member board has been reduced to one postmaster general, one …

Hill salary increase proposal won’t amount to much

From Roll Call: Such expenses squeezed Nathan Leamer and his wife Amanda out of their congressional jobs when they found out they were expecting their second child in 2013, …

Reforming the U.S. Postal Service

R Street Senior Fellow Kevin Kosar recently joined James Gattuso of the Heritage Foundation and Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute in an expert panel moderated by Cato's …

Could an Article V convention fix Congress? Maybe

It's fashionable in some quarters to herald an “Article V” convention as a potential panacea for all that ails Congress. Article V is the provision of the U.S. Constitution …

Wisconsin Supreme Court shoots down Milwaukee home-rule claim

The world looked on last week as the people of the United Kingdom consider whether to loosen the grip that a reported 40,000-plus Brussels bureaucrats have over their …

A first step toward Anglosphere

By voting (by a narrow margin) to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom has decided that near-term economic pain is a price worth paying in exchange for …

Minority media should ‘get in the game’

From the Washington Informer: Government advertising can be controversial if it conflicts with citizens' views about the proper role of government, said Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow and governance …

First among equals

To see it, you need to ascend to the second floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and wend your way to the northernmost corner. Here is the …

House staff numbers decline outside D.C.

From Roll Call: Data compiled by the R Street Institute show that Senate and House staffers in D.C. have hovered around 6,000 from 1987 to 2014. Over the same period, staff …

California lawmakers mobilize to weaken transparency initiative

From Reason: Almost everyone has some idea for fixing whatever is wrong in Sacramento, ranging from new campaign spending limits to a requirement that legislators wear NASCAR-style sponsor logos. …

Secrecy lobby runs amok at State Capitol

Last week, I reported on an ominous development in the California Capitol — an effort to criminalize a political point of view. Democratic leaders authored a bill that …

Here’s why the Boy Scouts of America received federal recognition 100 years ago

From Time: But few know that a century ago, then-President Woodrow Wilson signed a unanimously-approved Congressional charter that gave federal recognition to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), stating …

Here’s how Secretary King is living up to a 50-year-old promise

From Education Post: Kevin Kosar, a fellow at a conservative think tank, wrote a blog post for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute aimed at Education Secretary John King’s proposed …

Lawmakers mobilize to thwart transparency initiative

Almost everyone has some idea for fixing whatever is wrong in Sacramento, ranging from new campaign spending limits to a requirement that legislators wear NASCAR-style sponsor logos. Such …

School funding is a civil right

From U.S. News: In two essays (available on Flypaper and his own blog), Kevin Kosar argues that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 is an anti-poverty measure …

Debate Flares Up: Was the first federal education law a civil rights statute?

From Education Week: Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a Washington think tank that promotes free markets and limited government, says: No, it wasn't. On Monday, …

Civil rights data deluge

From Politico's Morning Education: Speaking of ESSA and civil rights: Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, made quite a splash Monday when he wrote [http://bit.ly/1UCZOCt ] in …

Secretary King is wrong: ESEA was not a civil-rights law

As Flypaper readers know all too well, newly arrived Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., is in hot water with Congress, state governors, and various school reformers. The …

House spending data show where the staff are

As DemandProgress' Daniel Schuman reports, the U.S. House just began publishing its spending reports online as data. The House's "Statements of Disbursement," which show how much money Congress spends on its …

Scandal dampens Sacramento’s world-class designs

I have a simple observation after years of writing about local-development issues: Whenever civic boosters talk about creating a “world-class city,” their city is by definition not one …

Top-two primary limits voters’ choices

If a California-style "top two" primary were in place for presidential races in 2008, the nation’s voters would have had to choose between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton …

Some American values may be dimming, but transparency continues to shine bright

Attending a Memorial Day ceremony in my little city yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened all of the sudden to make it palatable for so many …

‘Ethics’ commissions about politics more than oversight

One of my proudest moments as a columnist came in 2008 when the Orange County Board of Supervisors launched the Office of Independent Review to monitor the Sheriff's …

The House takes a small step to make Congress great again

Something remarkable happened a week ago: a committee in Congress voted to spend a little bit more money on congressional staff. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., offered the amendment …

This crowd believes it can run your life

There’s only one time I recall California officials significantly reducing regulations on anything. That was in 2012, when legislators voted to let physician assistants, midwives, nurses and plumbers …

Citizens’ anger is palpable, global, often misdirected

An awesome 6.7 percent of Iceland's resident population took to the streets last month to demand the resignation of their prime minister. The rallying cause was his perceived …

Does America need more political dynamism?

We have all heard the railings of the presidential aspirants about the federal government: that it’s corrupt; that it’s rigged by the malevolent establishment against the common man; …

Is Jerry Brown California’s savior?

It may be news to many of us living here, but California — according to a recent Newsweek issue — apparently no longer faces intractable budgetary, debt, infrastructure, business, …

Interpretive rules are missing piece in regulatory-reform debate

The attached policy short was co-authored by Daniel J. Richardson. Regulatory reform has garnered significant attention lately, both in Congress and on the campaign trail. Republican nominees for president …

Letter to Senate Rules Committee on public access to CRS reports

Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Schumer: We write to urge the Committee on Rules and Administration to schedule a markup of the Equal Access to Congressional Research Service …

Now you can see what reports have been published by the Congressional Research Service

Did you know the Congressional Research Service has published reports on the federal defense budget, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) benefits, changes to hemp-growing restrictions and porcine …

MetLife decision a win for constitutional government, loss for ambitious bureaucrats

Do the bureaucrats who run government agencies long to increase their power?  Are they ambitious to extend their reach over private institutions and citizens?  Of course they do …

15 groups to Congress: implement a regulatory cost budget

Dear Members of Congress, The undersigned organizations call on Congress to implement a regulatory cost budget to address federal regulations, which frequently have the effect of tax increases. Like …

Critiquing the CFA Institute’s report on proxy access

Is proxy access – that is, the ability of certain privileged shareholders to have their own slate of director nominees included in the proxy-solicitation materials public companies must …

What’s in your mail? Even more unwanted ads

As you probably have heard, the U.S. Postal Service is in a bad way. The Senate has not bothered to vote on appointees to the USPS board. Thus, …

Why the Supreme Court stay hasn’t stopped states’ CPP compliance plans

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy told lawmakers earlier this week that 25 states are still working on Clean Power Plan (CPP) compliance plans. This may come as …

Look to Canada for lessons on cutting red tape

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is a border-state representative who has about an eight-hour drive to Canada. He has good personal relationships with Canadian conservatives and has spoken …

Paying for a better watchdog

R Street recently signed on to a bipartisan coalition letter, addressed to the chair and ranking member of the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, expressing support for additional …

Financial experts look back on FCIC report, five years later

WASHINGTON (March 17, 2016) – Five renowned financial experts offer a look back at the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that Congress …

Dispatching the federal government’s ‘zombie’ spending

Congress spent $310 billion last year on more than 250 programs that were no longer authorized. This week, the House Republican Conference took important steps to kill these …

Coalition to Congress: Support the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act

Dear Chair McMorris Rodgers: On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of our organizations, we write in support of the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act of 2016. Your legislation is needed …

Congress must invest in its own capacity again

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Ryan and Democratic Leader Pelosi: We the undersigned, as close observers of Congress deeply invested in the health of the institution, …

Coalition supports Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act

As organizations committed to the availability of information about our government and its transparency, we write to express our support for the Equal Access to Congressional Research Service …

On regulatory reform, look to Canada, paper argues

WASHINGTON (March 8, 2016) – As the White House prepares to receive Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a state dinner this week, there are key lessons the …

Regulatory Budgeting: Lessons from Canada

American conservatives have not tended to look to Canada for inspiration. Canada has been derided as a land of big government, high levels of taxation and, of course, …

New bill would open CRS reports to the public

According to one assessment, some 27,000 copies of Congressional Research Service reports are scattered about the Internet. However, there is no one website where the public can find …

Could this year’s election revive the First Branch?

Donald J. Trump had a pretty super Super Tuesday. He won more delegates than any other Republican contender and his lead has expanded considerably. Final results are still …

Free-market groups argue to make CRS reports public

Dear Chairman Miller, Chairman Blunt and Vice Chairman Harper, As a coalition of 12 conservative, free-market organizations we urge you to expand public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) …

Kosar talks CRS with Grover Norquist

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar sat down with Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform to discuss the Congressional Research Service and why its taxpayer-funded reports should be …

Inappropriate Appropriations: How Congress spends without authorization

Congress spent $310 billion last year on some 250 agencies and programs that were no longer — as required under the law and Congress's own rules — authorized …

The Constitution that protects us from ourselves

"If Barack Obama wins another term, we'll have passed the point of no return for America." I heard plenty of that in 2012. One presidential election meant the …

President Obama reportedly vetting Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval for SCOTUS

Brian Sandoval's office says it's the first he's heard of it, but sources "close to the Nevada governor's office" are saying that the Obama administration has begun the Supreme Court …

Political realignment in black and white (and brown)

Throughout U.S. history, we have seen political realignments roughly every 30 or 40 years. The history books often will assign some precise date or event to mark these …

A revived Congress?

Since arriving in the U.S. Senate in 2011, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has made many of his colleagues crazy. Unwilling to go along to get along, Lee has …

Replacing Scalia: What part of ‘advice and consent’ is confusing?

With the passing of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the political universe—which was already a dumpster fire—is ablaze with talk of the president's prospective nominee, who will almost certainly …

Obama says no to recess appointment to SCOTUS

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already said he is unlikely to approve any Supreme Court nominee before November, and it seems the White House would rather …

Congress should clarify intent of U.S. Postal Service’s “ghost ship” board

WASHINGTON (Feb. 9, 2016) – Congressional inaction on nominees to the U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors has left the agency under the control of a Temporary Emergency …

The U.S. Postal Service’s ghost ship board

The attached policy study was co-authored by Daniel J. Richardson.    To appreciate democratic dysfunction, one need look no further than the U.S. Postal Service. That single agency is home …

Seven years ago today, WikiLeaks published 6,700 CRS reports…and nobody was hurt

Feb. 8, 2009 began like any other Sunday for me. I was up early taking care of a young child, gulping coffee and scanning the news. The New …

Will the needless secrecy surrounding CRS reports end this year?

  Not quite a year back, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., sought to do a little good for the American public. He offered an amendment to an appropriations bill that …

Governance experts contribute to R Street study on broken legislative branch

WASHINGTON (Jan. 28, 2016) – Five experts concur that the legislative branch is broken and has ceded too much power to the executive, and they have different ideas …

Restoring Congress as the first branch

In late 2014, the R Street Institute launched the Governance Project. Its task is large: to assess and improve the state of America’s system of national self-governance, with …

Puerto Rico needs a financial control board

The government of Puerto Rico is broke. Having run a long series of constant budget deficits, financed by escalating borrowing, it has accumulated about $71 billion in debt …

No, you decide

It's been half a decade since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which had been drilling the BP-owned Macondo Prospect, suffered a catastrophic blowout. Over 87 days between April …

Postal reform a painful but necessary step, says R Street’s Kosar

WASHINGTON (Jan. 21, 2016) – Reforming the U.S. Postal Service will require making some tough cuts, but is a necessary measure to take sooner rather than later, according …

Testimony to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on postal reform

My name is Kevin R. Kosar, and I am director of the Governance Project at the R Street Institute, a think tank here in Washington. Some of you …

Should it matter that Ted Cruz was born in Canada?

I have it on high authority that President Barack Obama is a Kenyan and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is a Canadian. By high authority, I mean that I …

The split screen

The headline for a New York Times piece by Peter Baker this week used the metaphor of a split screen, contrasting President Obama’s State of the Union address …

Obama’s disappointing regulatory reform record

In his final State of the Union, President Obama declared his belief that "a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy," which he paired with the …

Coalition letter to House Oversight Committee on NSA surveillance of Congress

Jan. 14, 2016 The Honorable Jason Chaffetz Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 2157 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 The Honorable Elijah Cummings Ranking Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 2471 …

Does the USPS even need a board of governors?

The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors is supposed to have 11 members. It currently has three: one governor, the postmaster-general and the deputy postmaster-general. By law, the board …

Mr. Smith takes on the regulatory state

By a 245 to 174 margin, the U.S. House this week passed the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act of 2015, also known as …

Congress could run out the clock on Obama’s regulatory reign

Welcome to 2016. By now, you should have noticed that it's a presidential election year. (Either that, or political punditry from average citizens of Iowa is at an all-time …

Letter to President Obama on OMB open-government plan

Dear Mr. President: We, the undersigned organizations, are concerned about the failure of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comply fully with a presidential memorandum on transparency …

The EPA’s illegal propaganda

The Environmental Protection Agency misused tax dollars in the service of public propaganda, according to a legal opinion just handed down by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The …

Outsourcing oversight through open government data

Congress has a big problem when it comes to oversight. The federal government has grown vastly larger over the past century, but Congress has done little to empower …

Congress should publish Statutes-at-Large as open data

Two years ago, Congress began publishing the U.S. Code in the XML markup language, a remarkably versatile format that can be read both by people and by machines. …

The real history and meaning behind ‘the State of Jefferson’

Green flags emblazoned with a yellow circle encompassing twin Xs are an increasingly common sight in the Gold Country. That standard belongs not to a county or a …

Facing up to government sprawl

Reducing the size of the federal workforce has become a hot political issue this year. When the House and Senate drew up their budget plans this spring, both chambers …

As Congress remains gridlocked, the USPS loses

The U.S. Postal Service lost nearly $5 billion this past year, according to its just-released year-end financial results. As in recent years, the agency did not make the …

Where taxpayers pay ($100 million a year) but interest groups benefit

It seemed like a silly question, but as the new guy, I was obliged to ask: “Can I e-mail a copy of my report to my mother?” Mom had …

DOD spent millions so sports teams would ‘support the troops’

I have, at least as far as I can tell, never been paid to be patriotic. I mean, it's not as though I've wanted to be paid to hang …

The House Freedom Caucus wants looser party control on the floor. This is what would happen if they did.

The following piece was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. Former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was often attacked by fellow Republicans for influencing House processes …

The federal government’s information machine

The following piece was co-authored by John Maxwell Hamilton is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and on the faculty of the Manship School …

15 reasons CRS reports should be public

I worked at the Congressional Research Service for 11 years as an analyst and manager. I greatly enjoyed supplying congressional staff, committees, and members of Congress with nonpartisan …

An open debate about compulsory voter registration is critical

Assembly Bill 1462, signed earlier this month by Gov. Jerry Brown, will utterly transform California's electorate, adding 6 million new voters overnight. Whether this transformation will be for the …

Kosar talks transparency in CRS reports

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar joined a panel with former U.S. Chris Shays, R-Conn.; Prue Adler, associate executive director of the Association of Research Libraries; and Stan Brand, a …

Finding a path to fix unsustainable federal spending

Some time next month, the federal government is set once again to hit its debt limit. If Congress does not agree to raise the statutory debt ceiling, the …

GAO opens up about secret reports

Most of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s reports are freely available to the public via GAO.gov. For decades, however, the agency has kept a minority of these reports …

So… this is Nixon’s fault?

Anyone watching Congress trying to negotiate the U.S. budget might wonder who could possibly have designed such a process. Thanks to an endlessly complicated scheme of resolutions and …

The estranged legislative and executive branches

Hugh Heclo’s A Government of Strangers, published 40 years ago, described the very different worlds of high-level federal appointees and the civil-servant worker bees they purportedly manage. Today …

Gridlock governing

The following piece was co-authored by R Street Governance Director Kevin Kosar. Autumn is shaping up to be a very trying time for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Highway …

The Ex-Im Bank battle continues

Conservatives declared victory this summer when the Export-Import Bank closed up shop because Congress refused to renew the government-backed bank's charter. Those in the free-market movement view this …

U.S. Senate’s rules place any majority leader in untenable position

WASHINGTON (Oct. 8, 2015) – The U.S. Senate's unique parliamentary rules have, in the hyper-partisan era of the 30-second attack ad, placed anyone who would take on the …

Could the modern Senate manage an open-amendment process?

The attached paper was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. At the start of the 114th Congress, newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced …

Join us for a reception following the Congressional Hackathon

Join the Congressional Data Coalition, the R Street Institute, Demand Progress and the OpenGov Foundation for a reception at Google D.C. following the Congressional Hackathon. WHEN: Friday, Oct. 23, at 5:30 …

How the American government is trying to control what you think

NASA tweeting that Congress should give it more money so our astronauts won’t have to ride on Russian rockets. Recovery.gov reporting overly optimistic statistics on jobs saved and …

Don’t let shutdown fight undo spending limits

Every day closer to Oct. 1 marks another step toward a potential government shutdown. Even though Republicans maintain control of both the House and Senate, there has been …

Coalition urges Congress to keep BCA spending limits in place

Dear Member of Congress: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of members we represent, we urge you to ensure that any legislation providing discretionary funding for Fiscal …

How to strengthen Congress

After last November's elections left Republicans with control of the Senate and an expanded advantage in the House, triumphant party leaders announced their intention to do the hard …

Coalition urges Congress to keep BCA spending limits in place

Dear Member of Congress: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of members we represent, we urge you to ensure that any legislation providing discretionary funding for Fiscal …

The legislative branch’s big oversight problem

The federal government has seen a century of growth. In 1915, the government had only a handful of departments, 400,000 employees (half of whom worked for the U.S. …

Kim Davis highlights the left’s ‘rule of law’ hypocrisy

It's nice to see so many Democrats and liberals produce eloquent remarks and social-media posts about America being a nation of laws. I knew it was a matter of …

The business case for Cambodian Internet freedom

Riven by Marxist-inspired genocide only a few decades ago, Cambodia now aspires to both democracy and something like a free market—at least, in theory. But the country’s ruling party, …

The EPA’s propaganda machine

A little over a century ago, U.S. Rep. Frederick Gillett, R-Mass., read something in The New York Times that vexed him. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bureau of …

Call for public access to Congressional Research Service reports

We write in support of expanded public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. Longstanding congressional policy allows members and committees to use their websites to disseminate CRS …

Bridging the separation of powers

The separation of powers is a hallmark of democratic systems. Power is divided among different branches or units of government. The legislature legislates, the executive executes and the …

Four charts explain the Postal Service’s financial struggles

The U.S Postal Service reported a third-quarter loss of more than $500 million. If you are wondering whether this is news you're already heard, it is. The USPS …

Kosar talks Trump on Dubai’s Al Arabiya

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar sat down with Dubai's Al Arabiya news network -- one of the largest news sources in the Arab-speaking world -- to …

A Bush/Rubio ticket would be complicated, not impossible

They would, in some senses, appear to be the dream ticket. One is the more moderate elder statesman; one is the brash young firebrand. One is the darling …

Republican presidential candidates: Show us you can #FixGov

Presidential debates inevitably send the Beltway a-dither. Who will win? Which aspirant will deliver the best zinger? Who will look like a lost puppy or have an ugly …

Federal agencies missed 1,400 regulatory deadlines

In the waning days of 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The statute made myriad changes to postal law and tasked the Postal Regulatory Commission …

Federal agencies missed half their congressional deadlines

WASHINGTON (Aug. 4, 2015) – Federal agencies over the past two decades have a less than 50 percent success rate in complying with congressional rulemaking deadlines, according to …

Federal agency compliance with congressional regulatory deadlines

The final years of the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, have been characterized by acrimonious debates over executive power and accountability. Regulatory deadlines are just …

There’s a government form for your moon expenses

As far as government paperwork goes, this might just be the best ever filed. According to the federal government, employees embarking on government-sponsored missions for which there are billable …

The REINS Act: A constituent’s question receives a vote in Congress

In Washington, it's not every day legislation actually begins with a constituent's idea. The REINS Act is one of those ideas. The House last week passed H.R. 427, also …

Clinton emails missing two months, but have plenty of classified information otherwise

The U.S. State Department has been busy releasing Hillary's emails, and while they contain a lot of notable insights into her personal development — including, but not limited …

5 reasons to support the REINS Act

The House is likely to vote this week on H.R. 427, the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act, also known as the REINS Act. Introduced …

McConnell’s highway bill robbery

Before I start into the GOP-on-GOP war that took place last night while I was zoning out watching a David Crosby-lookalike save puppies on Animal Planet, I want …

Coalition urges removal of FOIA exemptions from transportation bill

Dear Senators McConnell and Reid: On behalf of the undersigned organizations concerned with government openness and accountability, we are writing to urge the removal from H.R. 22 of the …

The dysfunctional federal workforce

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar.   The Survey on the Future of Government Service, released last week by Vanderbilt University's Center for …

On highway bill, good governance and bipartisanship head in opposite directions

A recent Senate deal marked a win for bipartisanship, but at the cost of responsible governance. After a highway bill was finalized Tuesday afternoon, a vote for cloture …

Making oversight win-win

Mere mention of the word “oversight” can make a public administrator queasy. It’s not because bureaucracies inevitably have something tawdry or corrupt to hide. Indeed, government agencies often …

Support civil asset-forfeiture reform in California

The R Street Institute is a nonprofit, free-market think tank based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets …

America’s Greece

The world is watching the situation in Greece closely, in the wake of the nation's default last night on a $1.7 billion loan payment to the International Monetary …

John Roberts and the long con

Conservatives and libertarians aren't very happy with John Roberts right now, and for good reason. For the second time, the Bush-appointed chief justice has handed down a decision …

Interpreting the law in 2015

Almost any high school textbook on U.S. government will tell you Congress makes the laws, the president approves the laws and the Supreme Court interprets the laws. Based …

Members and staff may use official resources to participate in open source projects, procure and publish open source software

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2015) — The OpenGov Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation and the Congressional Data Coalition (CDC) today announced that members, committees and staff within the U.S. House …

Why can’t the federal government sell unneeded real property more quickly?

This piece was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. Consider the hut. Its real name is unknown. For all anyone knows, it might have been used …

A new era in government transparency

Ohio citizens can access an in-depth look at how their tax money is spent, thanks to a first-of-its-kind online "checkbook" launched last year by Ohio State Treasurer Josh …

Why does Congress diminish itself?

The Founding Fathers set up Congress as the most powerful of the three branches. Per the U.S. Constitution, Congress possesses "all legislative power." This includes the most fundamental …

Postal banking is an idea whose time has come—and gone

From 1911 through 1967, the old U.S. Post Office offered savings accounts. The enterprise started because private banks seldom insured deposits. The establishment of the Federal Deposit Insurance …

Coalition letter to Sen. Cardin on private prisons FOIA loophole

We, the undersigned 20 organizations committed to transparency and open government, write to thank you for your concern with the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) …

Coalition letter to OMB on evidence-based budgeting

We want to thank you, once again, for the important steps the Obama administration has taken over the last seven years to increasingly drive taxpayer dollars toward evidence-based, …

USPS should sell its real estate

The U.S. Postal Service's latest financial results have been released. They are not good. The agency booked a loss of $2.1 billion in the first half of the fiscal year, which …

Trade authority is good for Texas

The U.S. House has indicated that it’s likely to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority, and that’s good for Texas. Also known as “fast-track” trade authority, TPA makes it easier for …

Give federal employees bonuses for finding spending cuts

Congress seems to have a problem finding places to cut in order to get government spending under control. Budget deficits are a way of life in Washington, adding …

Yes, healthy congressional politics are transactional…and more

Jonathan Rauch has written both an impish and important report for the Brookings Institution, Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money and Back-room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy …

A gambling ban’s federalism problem

Even as the rise of the Internet has driven communications and economic growth to heights previously unimagined, some lawmakers are using that very explosion as pretext to expand …

More laws should have sunsets

The past weekend's Senate debate over the PATRIOT Act reminds us of the value of placing sunsets in legislation. For years, the National Security Agency had operated far …

The federal government is looking to control your puddles

And lo, he of the name Obama shall have dominion over all of the birds of the air and the fish of the sea and the water that …

Congress looks to reduce the regulatory behemoth

The Code of Federal Regulations is more than 170,000 pages long. How did it become such a behemoth? Simple: every year, about 4,000 new regulations are proposed, and …

How to reform Amtrak?

In an ideal world, Amtrak wouldn't exist. Transportation is one of those services best left to the free market. But the fact is that virtually all of America's …

It really is nearly impossible to fire a federal employee

Some credulous Beltway media sure took the bait last week. Consider: “A lot of people still think it’s close to impossible to fire a federal employee, but that’s just …

Yes, the U.S. Congress has a role in foreign affairs

As the U.S. Congress this week continues to debate legislation to address President Barack Obama's proposed nuclear deal with Iran, some critics howl that the bill would usurp …

Audio from SxSW ‘Your Laws, Your Data’ panel

In the two decades that it has been managed by the Library of Congress, THOMAS -- the online record of Congress' activities, named for Thomas Jefferson -- has …

House appropriators look at legislative branch transparency

At last week’s full committee markup of the legislative branch appropriations bill, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., offered an amendment that set the stage for more transparency around Congressional …

Pointier Heads: Efficiency shrinks while government grows

I had my first reckoning with big government in a small town in New Jersey. The incident remains startlingly fresh in my mind, although it was years ago. A …

Legislative project ideas for coders and noncoders

I thought it would be useful to identify legislative data projects in advance of the House's annual Legislative Data and Transparency Conference and #Hack4Congress, a congressional hackathon the …

R Street urges Texas to restore local control of pension plans  

AUSTIN, Tex. (April 20, 2015) - The R Street Institute expressed strong support for H.B. 2608, under consideration today by the Texas state House Pension Committee. Sponsored by Rep. …

Man lands gyrocopter on Capitol lawn, wants campaign finance reform

What do you get when you cross Citizens United, an unlawful single-pilot airborne vehicle, the Postal Service and Florida? Apparently, the dude who decided to land his "gyrocopter" on …

Is it time to rethink the congressional budget resolution?

April 15 has arrived and Congress once again has not adopted a budget resolution. It was not for lack of trying. The Senate voted for S.Con.Res.11 on March …

Congress should vote to override Obama’s latest veto

Congress returns from its two-week break on Monday. If it has any respect for itself, it will promptly schedule a vote on President Obama’s most recent veto. The nixed …

Parliament’s lone Pirate wants copyright restrictions to walk the plank

Geo-blocking is more than just an annoyance. Which is why Julia Reda, the sole member of the Pirate Party serving as a member in the European Parliament, is …

Do we still need the Post Office?

Do you like trees? I do. Who doesn’t? So why does our government encourage private companies to chop down millions of them each year and grind them into …

End life tenure for federal employees

J. David Cox traveled to Selma, Ala. at the invitation of. President Barack Obama to commemorate the hallowed civil rights march. It was an honor for the president …

It’s time for open data in insurance

The National Association of Police Organizations is a non-profit group that represents and serves police officers, police unions and local police associations. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners …

What if Congress won’t do its job?

The U.S. Constitution is abundantly clear about which branch of the federal government creates our laws: "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of …

Single-device user Hillary Clinton actually used two devices at State

Remember when Hillary Clinton stood in front of a press gaggle at the United Nations and claimed that she used her personal email in order to simplify her …

The U.S. Postal Service’s existential problem

The U.S. Postal Service has an existential problem. For five years, the agency has flirted with insolvency. It has $15 billion in debt, its statutory maximum. According to …

CDC testimony to the Senate Committee on Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee

The attached written testimony was submitted by the Congressional Data Coalition to the Senate Committee on Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee regarding appropriations for open government data as part …

Resisting bureaucracy

The third time will apparently be the charm for the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” regulations. Having been shot down twice by the courts in earlier attempts to …

Hillary now thinks this email thing is hilarious

If you're keeping score, based on familiarity with the Clinton playbook, we have now delightfully exited the "pretend nothing is wrong" phase of Hillary Clinton's private email scandal …

Free-market groups urge senators to support the Small Business Regulatory Sunset Act

Dear Senators, On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the organizations below, we urge you to support Sen. Mark Kirk and Sen. Steve Daines’ recently introduced “Small …

Congressional Data Coalition applauds House legislative data transparency efforts, asks for more

On March 6, the Congressional Data Coalition and allies submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Committee's Legislative Branch Subcommittee regarding its 2016 appropriation that applauded recent progress in making …

Obama champions mandatory voting

Apparently, not enough people vote in this country for President Barack Obama's taste, and he knows just how to make voting both more palatable and more appealing to …

AP sues State for Hillary’s emails

The State Department may have initiated the request for Hillary's emails, but it seems they weren't overly specific in terms of what they were looking for. Their oversight …

Congress needs to reassert regulatory oversight, R Street study finds

WASHINGTON (March 10, 2015) – After years of ceding authority to the executive branch, Congress should take steps to regain its rule-making power, according to a paper released …

Three steps for reasserting Congress in regulatory policy

Each year, federal agencies produce more regulations. These regulations affect nearly every aspect of our lives, yet are never voted on by Congress. This is a remarkable and …

Testimony to House Legislative Branch Subcommittee on congressional data

The attached written testimony was submitted to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch jointly by members of the Congressional Data Coalition and the Data …

House of Representatives places an order for legislative data transparency

When the House of Representatives adopted new rules for the 114th Congress, it took an unprecedented step forward. As part of the orders for the new Congress, the …

Time for full investigations of Hillary Clinton

Recent press revelations indicate that Hillary Rodham Clinton likely violated federal law by conducting State Department business via a personal email account. Both Congress and the State Department …

Joint statement to House Government Operations Subcommittee on FOIA reform

Attached is the joint statement of the American Library Association, American Society of News Editors, Association of Alternative News Media, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the …

Coalition urges Congress to keep budget promises

Rep. Tom Price, Chairman Committee on Budget U.S. House of Representatives 207 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Chairman Price: On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our combined memberships, we urge …

Coalition letter on FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act

Feb. 5, 2015 Sen. John Cornyn Sen. Patrick Leahy Rep. Darrell Issa Rep. Elijah Cummings Dear Sens. Cornyn and Leahy and Reps. Issa and Cummings: The undersigned organizations announce their support for the …

Transparency in government-sponsored ads

In recent years, Americans have been inundated with commercials highlighting the Affordable Care Act, some of which have been slagged as rather tasteless and exaggerated. The Department of …

Congress should pass the president’s ‘kill list’

President Barack Obama’s penultimate budget will be delivered to Congress today. Per the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the president’s budget will enumerate recommended spending levels for …

A tale of two turnpikes

Several times a year, I make the drive from Chicago to my parents' house in Youngstown, Ohio. It's a 400-mile straight shot on the Indiana and Ohio Turnpikes …

US returns Magna Carta to England

Today, America bids farewell to the Magna Carta. The 800-year old document returns home to Lincolnshire, England, after six months in America. It landed at Boston’s Museum of …

Five reasons why you can’t judge a Congress by counting laws

For the past six weeks, the media has bid a raucous good riddance to the 113th Congress. They have trashed it for its hyper-partisanship, for shutting down the …

The message Boehner should give to House Republicans

I used to work for a big and complicated enterprise – a multinational, multibillion dollar financial services confection of companies. I worked on public policy. In large commercial …

Why I left the Congressional Research Service

The attached piece originally appeared in the January/February 20 edition of Washington Monthly. If there’s one event that epitomizes why I quit my job last October as a researcher …

Obama admin publishes 1,200 new regs ahead of New Year

Happy New Year's Eve! Tonight, while you're too busy getting wasted on cheap champagne and arguing with your Uber driver over surge pricing to notice, the Obama administration will …

Free-market groups outline requirements for new CBO director

Dear Leaders in the House and Senate, The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in recent years has employed inaccurate and opaque models that impacted political debates and policy outcomes, ultimately …

Senate will release bulk downloads of legislative summaries, bill text from 113th and 114th Congress

WASHINGTON (Dec. 19, 2014) — The U.S. Senate will deliver access to its legislative information in modern, open data formats, starting when the 114th Congress convenes in January …

Why we need to get DATA Act standards right

Passing the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) Act was a victory for open government and congressional data transparency. But passing the law alone is not enough -- …

After CRomnibus, a conservative wish list for a Republican-controlled Congress

While enactment of the trillion dollar "CRomnibus" left some conservatives fuming over Republican leadership's unwillingness to fight a shutdown battle over immigration or the Affordable Care Act, here …

‘Commemorative’ bills plunge in 113th Congress

For all the talk of congressional dysfunction, there is a bit of good news: Congress has spent less of its valuable time passing "commemorative" legislation. For this development, …

All hail the CRomnibus

After much hemming, hawing and belt-tightening, Congress finally unveiled their "pared-down" yearly budget, this year lovingly titled the "CRomnibus" because it is the product of the unholy union …

Congress and public opinion: Five things you may not know

As anyone with an iota of awareness has already heard, Congress is exceedingly unpopular these days. A mere 14 percent of the public approve of the job Congress …

Congressional Data Coalition joins ‘Free Law Founders’

The Congressional Data Coalition is pleased to join the Free Law Founders, a nationwide organization that shares resources and expertise around opening up laws, legislation and the lawmaking …

Federal snow storm aid, self-government and CRS reports

The Federation of American Scientists recently posted a copy of a report titled, “Major Disaster Declarations for Snow Assistance and Severe Winter Storms: An Overview.” The document was …

Save the date: multidisciplinary hackathons on congressional data

Boston Kickoff Weekend Co-Hosted by Harvard University’s Ash Center and The OpenGov Foundation; Finals on Capitol Hill Spring 2015 The weekend of January 30, 2015, The OpenGov Foundation and Harvard’s Kennedy School …

Collection of CRS reports released to the public

Something rare has occurred---a collection of reports authored by the Congressional Research Service has been published and made freely available to the public. The 500-page volume, titled “The …

Mail surveillance: The time for secrecy has passed

Recent news that federal authorities approved 49,000 instances of mail surveillance in 2013 is disturbing. Not only was this a huge jump from the usual average number of …

Yes, the government can open your mail without a warrant

By law, first-class mail is sealed against inspection, meaning that government officials may not open it without first getting a warrant from a judge. A citizen would be …

Why it matters that Jeff Sessions will be Senate Budget Committee chairman

With Republicans taking control of the U.S. Senate, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions will likely take over the Senate Budget Committee as chairman. If Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., becomes …

Postal Service mail-tracking: three big questions

Last week, the New York Times reported there were nearly 50,000 incidents of mail surveillance in 2013. Under the "mail cover" program, which has been around for …

Bureaucracy’s latest challenge: listening to the public

The American public often rails about bureaucracy. It is not difficult to fathom why. Who among us has not fumed while standing in a long line at an …

U.S. government celebrates half-trillion dollar deficit

Yesterday’s presentation by the U.S. Treasury was a comical spectacle—at least for those of us with sardonic senses of humor. The good news? The deficit for FY2014 (which …

Clinton and Enamorado on ‘The Fox News Effect’

Too often, political science journals publish articles focused on questions too distantly connected to real-world political phenomena. It is a modern sort of scholasticism, as my friend Professor Lawrence Mead …

A welcome message from R Street’s Governance Project

The R Street Institute this month launched the Governance Project, an effort to assess and improve the state of America’s system of national self-governance, with particular attention to …

Is all-or-nothing better than nothing at all?

The loudest criticism of the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnerships negotiations between the United States and the European Union is that they are conducted behind closed doors. …

Law against porn-watching by fed workers?

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., has introduced legislation to prohibit federal employees from accessing pornographic websites on their computers. As reported by The Washington Post, this legislation was prompted …

The unfortunate rise of data protectionism

The age of Internet exceptionalism is at risk of coming to a close. Thus far, the Internet has served as a platform for data transfer and information sharing …

Publish the Constitution Annotated as data

Dear Library of Congress and Government Printing Office, For decades, you have jointly published a handy compendium that explains the U.S. Constitution as it has been interpreted by the …

Turkish rights and digital delights: an IGF recap

The annual Internet Governance Forum was established to foster an open, inclusive dialogue among the parties that "govern" the Internet. IGF is a conference designed, somewhat counter-intuitively, to …

Legal fiction and fictional legality

"The Case of the Speluncean Explorers," a 1949 Harvard Law Review essay by Lon L. Fuller, may prove instructive to the ever-growing number of Americans who follow with …

Vote for R Street at SXSW 2015

We've put together four awesome panels for SXSW Interactive. Your vote can help us bring free market ideas to Austin's annual gathering of 30,000 technologists, activists, and entrepreneurs. Please …

Half a trillion unaccounted for on federal spending transparency website

The federal government can’t find $619 billion dollars on the website it built six years ago to give a transparent account of its spending activities. USA Today‘s Gregory Korte has …

Political hacks stand to gain from Florida gerrymander fix

Looks like Florida lawmakers will have to put their summer campaign activities and fundraising on hold. Last week, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ordered the Legislature …

Jerry Brown provides powerful argument for California separation

Gov. Jerry Brown's spokesman has raised questions about the feasibility of the Six States proposal, arguing that "the proposal has serious practical challenges." But does this position harmonize …

The conservative case for precedent

Treating like cases alike is central to the U.S. legal system. Socially and morally, the advantages of juridical consistency are assumed to be foundational. For this reason, among …

Coalition opposes Section 303 of the FIRST Act

The Hon. Lamar Smith Chairman, Committee on Science, Space and Technology The Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson Ranking Member, Committee on Science, Space and Technology CC: Members of the Committee on Science, Space, …

Democracy and open data: are the two linked?

Are democracies better at practicing open government than less free societies? To find out, I analyzed the 70 countries profiled in the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Data Index …

Congressional Data Coalition asks Senate to publish legislative info in digital formats

Earlier today, the Congressional Data Coalition submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee on improving public access to legislative information. The coalition made two requests. First, we asked the …

Public access vs. open access

“Doesn't Congress already make its information publicly accessible?” That's the question I hear most frequently when I tell people about the Congressional Data Coalition's mission to get Congress to …

U.S. Statutes-at-Large: Essential to understanding our laws and legislative history

One of the benefits of the Congressional Data Coalition has been our ability to collaborate on mutual projects of interest. CDC members recognize that reusable, cleaned-up legislative information, …

To make Congress more accountable, make it more open

This piece was co-authored by Daniel Schuman is policy director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Nearly two decades ago, Congress began publishing some of its …

Congressional Data Coalition launches with panel discussion

WHAT: Official launch of the Congressional Data Coalition and discussion on public access to congressional information WHO: Daniel Schuman, policy director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW); Director, …

Coalition to Congress: Reform agency grant processes

March 28, 2014 Dear Representatives: On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the undersigned organizations, we write to urge you to support the Grant Reform and New Transparency …

Congressional Data Coalition letter to House Appropriations Committee

Dear Chairman Cole, Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz, and members of the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee: We write on behalf of the  Congressional Data Coalition, a coalition formed in …

The REINS Act doesn’t go far enough

In a recent Rasmussen poll, more than half of likely voters (51 percent) said they believe EPA regulations should require congressional approval before they are implemented.  Given that …

Support the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act

Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, Democratic Leader Pelosi, and Democratic Whip Hoyer: We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to encourage the House to consider the bipartisan Access to …

Coalition letter to U.S. Senate supporting the REINS Act

Oct. 28, 2013 Dear Member of the United States Senate: We, the undersigned public interest organizations, write to urge you to support the Regulations from the Executive In Need of …

Supreme Court takes another look at the takings clause

In good news for property rights, the Supreme Court granted cert this term to hear a case about a kind of abuse that has been festering for nearly …

What happens when the government shuts down…

There's a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the government shutdown that started today. Democrats in both chambers of Congress have been complaining about how it …

CNN poll: 57% oppose Obamacare, GOP gets blame for government shutdown

Opposition to Obamacare has hit its highest level since March 2011, according to the latest CNN poll, but Americans place the blame for the government shutdown largely on …

Coalition urges senators make tax reform proposals public

July 26, 2013 Dear Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Hatch, We understand your committee is undertaking comprehensive tax reform.  We write to urge you to make all correspondence with the …

Toward a new and improved regulatory apparatus

The following was co-authored by Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum. No one in Washington, D.C. is particularly happy with the nation’s current regulatory …

Not deciding is a decision

Those who are following the great sequestration drama might get the impression that, while this kind of federal budget management is not ideal, at least something will be …

Keeping up with the Texas Legislature

Want to keep up with the Texas Legislature? If you are into high tech toys, then you are in luck. These are a few of my favorite tech things... On …

Luck of the draw

Yesterday, Texas state senators drew lots to determine if they would serve a two- or four-year term before defending their seats at the ballot box again. One of the …

Talking it out: It will solve (some) problems in Congress

It's a new year. More than 100 new members of Congress were sworn in Wednesday and a majority of President Barack Obama's first-term cabinet members will likely depart …

Once again, there’s no free lunch

The president seems to be holding most of the cards in the negotiation to resolve the so-called "fiscal cliff". If no deal is reached by Jan. 1 (as …

The green(ish) case against wind power subsidies

As an energy source, wind power looks just about perfect: it creates no greenhouse gases, requires pulling nothing out of the earth, and relies on an inexhaustible resource. …

Backing away from the cliff

The broader long-term implications of the election should be apparent after the fiscal cliff is resolved. Whatever the outcome, it will not be the most important piece of …

The postal service should go…now

Finding true "fat" in the government budget proves harder than it appears at first blush. Many commonly cited sources of "waste" like the National Endowment for the Arts, …

Why Romney lost: It’s governance, stupid

Every faction of the Republican Party will use the 2012 presidential campaign to draw conclusions that pander to their ideological biases. Arch Tea Partiers will argue that the "moderate …

Ohio’s ‘fair’ elections question

Ohio voters once again enjoy the opportunity to make a huge policy change through this year's Issue 2 on the general election ballot. In the last general election, …

Save the earth! Shrink the state!

America has some good things to show for its more than 40 years of intense environmental activism: the air and water are cleaner than they were and the …

Texas voter ID trial wraps up

Attorneys for the State of Texas have not been lacking for work recently. Last week, arguments in the Texas voter identification trial wrapped up in U.S. District Court  for the …

Free markets don’t have to mean no regulation

A one-time boss of mine—a bearded gentleman who liked cigars, opera, candy and the Austrian School of economics—used to insist to me that the private sector would insure …

Congresswoman presses Geithner on delayed insurance report

Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., wants to know why the Federal Insurance Office still hasn’t issued its much-awaited report on insurance regulatory modernization. Biggert, who serves as chairwoman of the …

Waiting game continues for FIO report

Those awaiting delivery of the Federal Insurance Office’s first major report on ways to improve and modernize U.S. insurance regulation will have to wait a bit longer, Insurance …

FIRE Podcast- J.P. Freire: Cordray appointment is White House power grab

[podcast]http://redesign.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/fire011012_0.mp3[/podcast] In a move that cheered some liberals and infuriated many conservatives, President Barack Obama moved Jan. 4 to name former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as head of …

The Insurance Data Protection Act’s hidden sop to the NAIC

I’ve been publicly critical of the Insurance Data Protection Act, which was endorsed yesterday by a 7-5 tally of the House Financial Services Committee’s insurance subcommittee. It’s been interesting …

FIRE Podcast- Ted Frank: Fighting abusive class action settlements

[podcast]http://redesign.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/FIRE113011.mp3[/podcast] Since its founding two years ago, the non-profit Center for Class Action Fairness LLC has stepped in to object to 30 class action settlements on behalf of consumers …

November 2011 comments to Federal Insurance Office

These comments were submitted in November 2011 by R Street President Eli Lehrer and Public Affairs Director R.J. Lehmann to the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Insurance Office in response …

FIRE Podcast- R.J. Lehmann: Capitol Hill update

[podcast]/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/FIRE111711.mp3[/podcast] In this week’s edition of the FIRE Podcast, I offer updates on major insurance issues brewing on Capitol Hill, including delays in getting a Senate floor vote on …

Top



Print Friendly and PDF