Papers: Effective Government

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Unlocking Spectrum Value through Improved Allocation, Assignment, and Adjudication of Spectrum Rights

March 2014 • J. Pierre de Vries, Phil J. WeiserEconomic Security, Effective Government, Infrastructure, Technology & Innovation

In a new Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, J. Pierre de Vries and Philip J. Weiser propose further reforms to move spectrum regulation away from its “command-and-control” regime to allow for a more-efficient allocation of spectrum resources.  De Vries and Weiser propose three distinct but complementary lines of reform. 

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The Economic Promise of Wireless Spectrum

March 2014 • Benjamin H. Harris, Melissa S. KearneyEconomic Security, Effective Government, Infrastructure, Technology & Innovation

In a new policy memo, The Hamilton Project highlights four policy challenges hampering the economic potential of wireless spectrum and opportunities to address these challenges through innovative, evidence-driven approaches to reform.

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address

January 2014 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Global Economy, Infrastructure, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of a “breakthrough year for America” and foreshadowed a “year of action.” He focused on ways to expand opportunities for Americans by enhancing employment and education options for low-and middle-income citizens, developing more robust worker training programs, investing in America through infrastructure investments and energy innovation, the importance of making progress on immigration reform, and more. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to addressing many of the policy priorities set forth in the Presidents address.

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The “Ripple Effect” of a Minimum Wage Increase on American Workers

January 2014 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty

In this month’s Hamilton Project employment analysis, we consider the “ripple effects” of a minimum wage increase on near-minimum wage workers, finding that a minimum wage increase could benefit up to 35 million workers.

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The Importance of Unemployment Insurance for American Families & the Economy: Take 2

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty

In the absence of congressional action to extend unemployment insurance, 1.3 million Americans will immediately lose their benefits on December 28th. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project reexamines unemployment insurance and highlights evidence suggesting that extended benefits provide a sizable boost for workers and the economy.

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A Dozen Facts about America’s Struggling Lower-Middle Class

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, Tax Policy

These economic facts focus on two key challenges facing lower-middle-class families: food insecurity and the low return to work for families who lose tax and transfer benefits as their earnings increase.

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Giving Secondary Earners a Tax Break: A Proposal to Help Low- and Middle-Income Families

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Lesley TurnerPoverty, Economic Security, Employment & Wages, Effective Government, Tax Policy

The current tax system hampers low- and middle-income families who add secondary earners to the workforce to augment their primary breadwinner’s income. In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Melissa Kearney and Lesley Turner propose a secondary earner tax deduction that would help make work pay for dual-earner families.

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Strengthening SNAP for a More Food-Secure, Healthy America

December 2013 • Diane Whitmore SchanzenbachPoverty, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government, State & Local

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as the Food Stamp Program—is an essential part of America’s social safety net. In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Diane Schanzenbach proposes five reforms that could strengthen SNAP, including incentives for participants to purchase healthier foods and improvements to the benefit formula.

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Hunger and the Important Role of SNAP as an American Safety Net

November 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Health Care, Poverty

In this month’s economic analysis, The Hamilton Project focuses on two critical issues related to SNAP: (1) the widespread existence of both food insecurity and obesity among low-income children in the United States, and (2) the role of SNAP in fighting poverty during times of weak labor markets. SNAP participation rises and falls in lockstep with the unemployment rate, highlighting SNAP’s role as a safety-net program that bolsters family resources when employment and wages are low.

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Simplifying Estimates of College Costs

October 2013 • Phillip LevineEducation, Economic Security, Employment & Wages, Effective Government

The lack of clear information about the widening gap in perceived and actual costs of college can act as an impediment in students' decision-making process. In his new Hamilton Project proposal, Phillip Levine proposes a way to simplify and improve the transparency of college cost estimates based on a pilot program currently underway at Wellesley College. 

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Loans for Educational Opportunity: Making Borrowing Work for Today’s Students

October 2013 • Susan M. Dynarski, Daniel KreismanEducation, Employment & Wages, Effective Government

The current federal student lending system requires students to repay loans during the first decade after college, when their incomes are relatively low and variable. In a new Hamilton Project paper, the University of Michigan's Susan Dynarski and Daniel Kreisman propose a strategy to improve student lending through the adoption of an income-contingent repayment plan.

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Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century

October 2013 • Judith Scott-Clayton, Sandy BaumEducation, Effective Government, Economic Security

The structure of the Pell Grant program has remained fundamentally unchanged since its inception in 1972. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute and The George Washington University and Judith Scott-Clayton of Columbia University propose three major structural reforms to fit the needs of a twenty-first-century economy and student population.

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Improving College Outcomes: Key Findings

October 2013 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages

On October 21st, The Hamilton Project hosted a forum focusing on the evolving role of higher education in American society and released three new policy proposals by outside experts on how changes in student lending and financial-aid policies can help improve college outcomes. Key findings from each of the papers are outlined here.

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Higher Education Today: Innovative Approaches for College Financing

October 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEducation, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government

For many Americans, the high cost of higher education provides a substantial barrier to college entry and ultimate completion. In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project provides a snapshot of today’s higher education student, illustrating how the current generation of students are older and more financially independent than in the past, and highlights three forthcoming Hamilton Project papers that address the complicated landscape of higher education financing through innovative policy proposals.

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The Lasting Effects of the Great Recession:  Six Million Missing Workers and A New Economic Normal

September 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEmployment & Wages, Effective Government

Despite the consistent pattern of modest jobs growth over the last several years, the nation’s goal of a full recovery from the Great Recession remains elusive. One factor contributing to this outcome is an unclear definition of what “recovery” means, as policymakers have suggested a wide variety of economic goals. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs the economy would have to add to offset the effects of the Great Recession, which we offer as a useful target for economic recovery. The analysis discusses how changes in population and labor-force participation rates will affect the time it takes to close the gap and how we measure progress toward our economic recovery. 

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New Approaches to Promoting College Access for More Americans

June 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEducation, State & Local, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government

The role of education in improving social mobility is well-known, and new evidence identifies promising ways to help more low-income students improve their educational opportunities. In a new blog post, The Hamilton Project compares a range of interventions aimed at boosting college attendance and completion among low-income students.

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Should the United States Have 2.2 Million More Jobs?

May 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEffective Government, Employment & Wages

Following the last five recessions in U.S. history, the economy added government jobs—an average of 1.7 million, in fact—that helped  spur our economic recovery.  In contrast, during our recovery from the Great Recession, the economy has shed more than 500,000 government jobs. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project  explores the trajectory of public-sector employment since the Great Recession. The findings show that if the policy response to this recession had been similar to the response after other recent recessions, the economy would have about 2.2 million more jobs today.

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Using Data to Improve the Performance of Workforce Training

April 2013 • Louis S. Jacobson, Robert J. LaLondeEmployment & Wages, Economic Security, State & Local, Effective Government

Workforce training programs have the potential to improve the lives and incomes of millions of Americans by lifting many into the middle class and preventing others from falling out of it. Despite their promise, however, too many workers enroll in courses that they do not complete or complete courses that do not lead to better jobs, reducing the benefits to workers and the economic return to workforce investments. Louis Jacobson of New Horizons Economic Research and Robert LaLonde of the University of Chicago propose a competition to increase the return on training investments by developing the data and measures necessary to provide the information prospective trainees need, by presenting the information in user-friendly “report cards,” by providing help for prospective trainees to use the information effectively, and by creating incentives for states to implement permanent information systems once they prove cost-effective.

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Building on Recent Advances in Evidence-Based Policymaking

April 2013 • Jeffrey B. LiebmanEffective Government, State & Local

Over the past decade, and particularly over the past five years, new government strategies have begun to emerge—at the federal, state, and local levels—that offer the potential of simultaneously making better use of taxpayer dollars and speeding up progress in addressing serious social problems. Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University discusses several of these strategies and outlines five steps that policymakers can take to better inform their work with evidence. He also proposes a grant competition that identifies and encourages innovation in ten social policy priority areas as well as federal support for state and local Pay for Success initiatives.

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An Evidence-Based Approach to Improving Worker Training Programs

April 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEmployment & Wages, Effective Government

There is significant pressure facing policymakers at all levels of government to fund programs that provide the best results for the best value. Worker training programs provide one example of where better use of evidence could dramatically improve outcomes for many Americans. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores how the use of evidence and data could help workers determine which training programs can most effectively help them find employment and increase their earnings.

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Sequestration’s Threat to America’s Most Vulnerable

March 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyPoverty, Employment & Wages, Effective Government, Economic Security

In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project looks at current poverty trends in the United States, the important role of government support programs, and how sequestration could remove critical aspects of the safety net in the midst of continued labor-market weakness. The Project finds sequestration could throw many American families back into poverty during this sensitive period of economic recovery by cutting the very programs that are helping them stay above water.

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Increasing the Role of the Private Sector in Housing Finance

February 2013 • Phillip L. SwagelEffective Government

Changes in the government’s role in housing finance could contribute to budget savings. Phillip Swagel’s proposal to increase the role of private capital in housing finance improves incentives for risk taking and investment, reduces taxpayer exposure to risk, and fosters competition and innovation in housing finance.

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Reforming Federal Support for Risky Development

February 2013 • David R. Conrad, Edward A. ThomasEffective Government, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment

David Conrad and Ed Thomas explore how the National Flood Insurance Program and other federal disaster relief programs could be reformed to better align the costs and benefits of living in disaster-prone areas and help put the budget on more sound footing. This proposal aims to reduce budget costs of natural disasters and reduce risk to life and property of Americans living in disaster-prone areas.

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Limiting Individual Income Tax Expenditures

February 2013 • Diane M. LimTax Policy, Effective Government

Diane Lim’s approach to individual income tax expenditures would raise revenue more efficiently and progressively by reducing tax expenditures, limiting potential negative impacts on subsidized sectors by preserving certain tax incentives, and equalizing implicit subsidies across middle- and higher-income taxpayers. 

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Replacing the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction

February 2013 • Alan D. ViardTax Policy, Effective Government

Tax reform discussions often center on tax expenditures. Alan Viard proposes to replace the mortgage interest deduction with a refundable credit as a way to reduce the artificial incentive for the construction of high-end homes by better targeting the tax breaks for housing.

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15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget

February 2013 • Economic Security, Effective Government, Tax Policy, Employment & Wages

As policymakers work to find solutions to reduce the federal budget deficit, The Hamilton Project presents 15 pragmatic, evidenced-based proposals that would both reduce the deficit and also bring broader economic benefits from leading experts from a variety of backgrounds.

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National Defense in a Time of Change

February 2013 • Adm. Gary Roughead (USN Ret.), Kori SchakeEffective Government

In response to likely cuts to the defense budget, Gary Roughead and Kori Schake propose restructuring the force to improve the military’s ability to respond to modern challenges, making military procurement of assets more efficient and competitive, and creating benefits packages more in line with troops’ preferences.

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Making Defense Affordable

February 2013 • Cindy WilliamsEffective Government

Cindy Williams proposes measures for sustaining a strong military while reducing future annual defense expenditures, mainly through addressing growing internal costs in the defense budget and reshaping military forces in a way that reduces future budgets while preserving strong and ready military capabilities.

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15 Ideas for Smart Deficit Reduction

February 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEconomic Security, Effective Government, Tax Policy, Employment & Wages

Hamilton Project Director Michael Greenstone and Policy Director Adam Looney preview The Project’s forthcoming budget report, which includes fifteen pragmatic, evidenced-based proposals to reduce the deficit and achieve broad-based economic benefits.

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the State of the Union Address

February 2013 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Global Economy, Health Care, Infrastructure, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama outlined an ambitious second-term agenda focusing on policies to help strengthen America’s middle class through broad-based economic growth. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to address many of the priorities set forth in this year’s address, which we offer as a resource to policymakers in response to specific ideas mentioned by the President this week.

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How Does Our Economic Future Compare with That of 2008? A Glimpse at America’s Road to Recovery

November 2012 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages

As Americans prepare to cast their ballots for president, many voters are pausing to assess the state of the economy. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project reviews the available data to explore whether America’s economic future looks brighter today than it did four years ago and finds that the data clearly indicate a much rosier future for the United States than was the case in 2008.

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Regardless of the Cost, College Still Matters

October 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEffective Government, Education, Employment & Wages, State & Local

There is ongoing debate about the rising cost of college and whether that investment is still worthwhile in today’s economy. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines the rising cost of college over the last 30 years and finds that while college costs are growing, the increase in earnings one receives from a college degree—and, by extension, the cost of not going to college—are growing even faster. 

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A Record Decline in Government Jobs: Implications for the Economy and America’s Workforce

August 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEmployment & Wages, Education, State & Local, Effective Government

The Hamilton Project examines the short- and long-run impacts of public-sector job cuts since the Great Recession. If the share of government employment to population had remained at historical levels, the unemployment rate would be approximately 7.1 percent.

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The Role of Fiscal Stimulus in the Ongoing Recovery

July 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEmployment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government, State & Local

The Hamilton Project examines the relationship between government spending and unemployment, finding that states that spent more during the Great Recession experienced a smaller increase in their unemployment rate.

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Modernizing Bonding Requirements for Natural Gas Producers

June 2012 • Lucas DavisEffective Government, Energy & Environment

To ensure funds are available for clean-up when natural gas accidents occur, Lucas Davis of UC Berkeley explores new approaches to bonding requirements for producers, including increasing federal minimum bond amounts and encouraging states to adopt similar minimum bond amounts for drilling on non-federal land.

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A Dozen Economic Facts About Tax Reform

May 2012 • Michael Greenstone, Adam Looney, Leslie B. SamuelsTax Policy, Effective Government, Employment & Wages

To provide an economic context for tax reform, The Hamilton Project has a new paper focusing on the role of our tax system in the long-run budget deficit, global competitiveness, and rising income inequality.

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A Better Approach to Environmental Regulation: Getting the Costs and Benefits Right

May 2011 • Ted GayerEnergy & Environment, Effective Government

Ted Gayer proposes three reforms addressing several problems that undermine the role played by cost-benefit analysis in environmental regulation: 1) agencies should use a check list of good empirical practices for using cost-benefit analysis; 2) regulators should presume that consumers can make their own energy-saving decisions and focus on regulations addressing harm people impose on others; and 3) a six-month, early regulatory review process should be established for particularly important regulations.

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A Strategy for America’s Energy Future: Illuminating Energy’s Full Costs

May 2011 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEnergy & Environment, Effective Government

America’s energy choices are built on the prices we see at the pump and our utility bills. Yet these prices mask the social costs arising from those energy choices, including shorter lives, higher health care expenses, a changing climate, and weakened national security. Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney provide four principles for reforming America’s energy policies to help level the playing field for all energy sources — moving away from a system that favors energy sources with lower prices at the pump but higher costs to society through health impacts and our ongoing reliance on foreign oil.

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Public-Private Partnerships to Revamp U.S. Infrastructure

February 2011 • Eduardo Engel, Alexander Galetovic, Ronald FischerInfrastructure, Effective Government, State & Local

Eduardo Engel, Ronald Fischer, and Alexander Galetovic propose a series of best practices for state and local governments to follow when using public–private partnerships to provide infrastructure.

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Fix It First, Expand It Second, Reward It Third: A New Strategy for America’s Highways

February 2011 • David M. Levinson, Matthew E. KahnInfrastructure, State & Local, Effective Government

Matthew Kahn and David Levinson propose a reorganization of our national highway infrastructure priorities to preserve, maintain, and enhance existing infrastructure and the creation of the Federal Highway Bank to meet these goals.

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Lowering Borrowing Costs for States and Municipalities Through CommonMuni

February 2011 • Andrew Ang, Rick GreenInfrastructure, Effective Government, State & Local

Andrew Ang and Richard Green propose the establishment of CommonMuni, a not-for-profit advisory firm designed to reduce borrowing costs for municipalities by overcoming the difficulty individual municipalities and investors have coordinating with one another.

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Grading Higher Education: Giving Consumers the Information They Need

December 2010 • Bridget Terry LongEducation, Effective Government

Potential students and their families must navigate a labyrinth of incomplete and uncertain information when deciding where to go to college, what to study, or what career to pursue, resulting in an arrrray of poor choices being made every day. This proposal calls for the federal government to expand the types of information that are available and allow users to compare indicators like cost, financial aid, student debt, employment outcomes, and average salaries following graduation, across peer institutions.

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Bringing Jobs to People: How Federal Policy Can Target Job Creation for Economically Distressed Areas

October 2010 • Timothy J. BartikEmployment & Wages, State & Local, Effective Government

This paper proposes three solutions to bring jobs to distressed areas: customized job training programs for businesses and employees, advice and consulting services through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, and a package of grants for local services and tax breaks through a reformed and revitalized Empowerment Zone program.

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From Prison to Work: A Proposal for a National Prisoner Reentry Program

December 2008 • Bruce WesternEmployment & Wages, Poverty, Effective Government

This paper proposes a national prisoner reentry program whose core element is up to a year of transitional employment available to all parolees in need of work.

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An Opt-Out Home Mortgage System

September 2008 • Michael S. Barr, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar ShafirEconomic Security, Effective Government

This paper develops a new framework for understanding the mortgage markets based on behavioral economic insights and proposes a ‘sticky’ opt-out mortgage system.

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Air Support: Creating a Safer and More Reliable Air Traffic Control System

July 2008 • Dorothy RobynInfrastructure, Effective Government

Dorothy Robyn argues that there are fundamental problems with the way the federal government manages the air traffic control system and proposes policy changes to improve the system’s safety and reliability.

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Mending the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: Improving Consumer Choices and Restructuring Purchasing

April 2007 • Richard G. Frank, Joseph P. NewhouseHealth Care, Effective Government

This paper proposes a series of reforms to address the challenges facing Medicare’s Part D prescription drug benefit. These reforms include creating a standardized set of plans, increasing competition, and lowering prices paid for drugs. 

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College Grants on a Postcard: A Proposal for Simple and Predictable Federal Student Aid

February 2007 • Susan M. Dynarski, Judith Scott-ClaytonEducation, Effective Government

This paper analyzes the federal student aid system and finds that the level of complexity makes it ineffective at increasing college enrollment. The paper then outlines a simplified system to address this issue.

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The Simple Return: Reducing America’s Tax Burden Through Return-Free Filing

July 2006 • Austan GoolsbeeTax Policy, Effective Government

In this paper, Austan Goolsbee proposes a program known as the "Simple Return," which would make it much easier for the millions of taxpayers with a relatively simple tax status to file their taxes.

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