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.
Papers: Effective Government
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This paper develops a new framework for understanding the mortgage markets based on behavioral economic insights and proposes a ‘sticky’ opt-out mortgage system.
Bringing Jobs to People: How Federal Policy Can Target Job Creation for Economically Distressed Areas
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mending the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: Improving Consumer Choices and Restructuring Purchasing
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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