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Blog Posts: Effective Government

Blog Post Oct 12, 2020

What Could Additional Fiscal Policy Do for the Economy in the Next Three Years?

This analysis shows the effects on economic activity, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), of illustrative versions of several policies. Specifically, researchers examine five policies: a second round of checks to households, a resumption of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, aid to state and local governments, support for small businesses, and other forms of fiscal support.

Blog Post Aug 14, 2018

Supporting Start-ups with Better Management Practices

Ryan Nunn and Jay Shambaugh's analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau's Management and Organizational Practices (MOPS) survey finds that management competence does not increase with firm age, and that small firms often lack the management skills necessary to help their firms grow. New Hamilton Project policy solutions would include more rigorous evaluation of management practices and strengthen entrepreneurship as a result.

Blog Post Feb 16, 2018

It Is Impossible to Make Sound Policy without High-Quality Data

The President’s 2019 budget contains a variety of proposals that would reshape policy and reallocate spending across various agencies and policy programs. As the nation debates the pros and cons of these proposals, it is imperative that they be informed by reliable data—data that is often collected and made freely available by the federal statistical agencies. In this blog, Hamilton Project Policy Director Ryan Nunn discusses the merits of sound federal data collection.

Blog Post Aug 18, 2016

Recent Developments in Federal Prison Policy

Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it will reduce, and eventually end, the use of federal private prisons. In a new Hamilton Project blog post, Diane Schanzenbach and Megan Mumford explore recent developments in federal private prisons. These issues will be further explored in a forthcoming series of papers that the Hamilton Project will release in October 2016, with a focus on: reducing high rates of incarceration; reducing recidivism; and facilitating the successful reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals.

Blog Post Mar 26, 2014

A New Approach to Making Work Pay

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray introduced the "21st Century Worker Tax Cut Act" to establish a new deduction for married couples who are both employed and have young children, and to increase the earned income tax credit (EITC) for childless workers.The Act would implement the policies introduced by two Hamilton Project proposals designed to help “make work pay” by allowing low- and middle-income families keep more of what they earn.

Blog Post Mar 7, 2014

Closing the Jobs Gap - February 2014 Jobs Gap Update

As of the end of February 2014, our nation faces a jobs gap of 7.5 million jobs. This chart shows how the jobs gap has evolved since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, and how long it will take to close under different assumptions for job growth. If the economy adds about 208,000 jobs per month, which was the average monthly rate for the best year of job creation in the 2000s, then it will take until September 2018 to close the jobs gap. Given a more optimistic rate of 321,000 jobs per month, which was the average monthly rate of the best year of job creation in the 1990s, the economy will reach pre-recession employment levels by September 2016.

Blog Post Sep 27, 2013

Don’t Call Retreat in the War on Hunger

This week in U.S. News and World Report, Patricia M. Anderson, Kristin F. Butcher, Hilary W. Hoynes, and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach discussed food insecurity and the role of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program in addressing the issue. The piece explores why food insecurity rates have been so high since the Great Recession, which can have long-term effects on health and economic well being. The authors argue that “we already have a program that has been shown to work at combating food insecurity and the consequences of inadequate nutrition” and suggest “these facts are worth contemplating as Congress resumes the fight about whether and how to fund it.” Later this year, The Hamilton Project will release a discussion paper by Whitmore Schanzenbach calling for a modernization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Blog Post Sep 11, 2013

Want Upward Mobility? Get an Education – If You Can Afford It

In a recent article on social mobility in the U.S., Jennifer Wadsworth discussed data on the effects of a child’s family income from The Hamilton Project’s recent policy memo, “Thirteen Economic Facts About Social Mobility and the Role of Education.” Wadsworth highlighted a chart from the paper on the probability of a child’s future income level, given their parents’ income level, which suggests children born into low-income families are likely to stay at the low end of the income distribution when they grow up. “That inequality manifests itself in higher education, too. While graduate rates for wealthy students continues to climb, those for their low-income counterparts remain stagnant,” Wadsworth writes. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Sep 3, 2013

Sequestration’s self-inflicted wounds

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta discussed the “mounting evidence that the sequester is doing serious damage to our defense, our society and our economy.” He outlines how the cuts are affecting defense readiness and argues that lawmakers should avoid “political gridlock” and take action. Two recent Hamilton Project papers propose strategies to create greater efficiency in the U.S. defense budget while maintaining our national security: “National Defense in a Time of Change,” by retired four-star Admiral Gary Roughead and Kori Schake, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and “Making Defense Affordable,” by Cindy Williams of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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. Roughead and 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.

Blog Post Aug 6, 2013

Why the Economy Could… Pop!

In this week’s issue of Time, Advisory Council member Roger Altman discusses the nation’s positive economic outlook, which he says is “as strong as it has been in more than a decade.” Altman writes that “a combination of cyclical recovery forces and uniquely American strengths are revving up growth,” and outlines factors contributing to the nation’s economic comeback, including the housing market and growth in the oil-and-gas sector.

Blog Post Jul 22, 2013

A Gang of 81 Surprises Washington

In his latest column in The Daily Beast, Advisory Council member Mark McKinnon discusses recent efforts by the bipartisan No Labels Problem Solvers coalition, comprised of 81 members of Congress. McKinnon outlines a legislative package recently announced by the group called Make Government Work!, which includes a measure to reduce duplicative government agencies and programs, and to lower energy waste in federal buildings. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Jul 18, 2013

4 Ways You Can Prove Your Program Isn’t Waste

In a recent Government Executive article on federal initiatives to focus on evidence and evaluation in policymaking, John Kamensky cites The Hamilton Project’s recent discussion paper, “Building on Recent Advances in Evidence-Based Policymaking.” In the paper, Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University discusses several 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 and outlines five steps that policymakers can take to better inform their work with evidence. Kamensky quotes Liebman, who wrote in the paper: “The only way to make progress in this fiscal environment is to produce more value with each dollar that government spends. . . . We need to reallocate funds from less-effective programs to more-effective programs.” To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Jun 20, 2013

Can Government Play Moneyball?

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Advisory Council member Peter Orszag and co-author John Bridgeland argue for more evidence-driven budgetary decisions. They highlight findings from a paper released by The Hamilton Project and Results For America, “Building on Recent Advances in Evidence-Based Policymaking,” in which Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University discusses several 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 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. Orszag and Bridgeland highlight Liebman’s finding that “spending a few hundred million dollars more a year on evaluations could save tens of billions of dollars by teaching us which programs work and generating lessons to improve programs that don’t.” To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post May 29, 2013

America’s Rehearsals for Retirement

In her latest Project Syndicate column, Advisory Council member Laura D’Andrea Tyson discusses the nation’s retirement system. Tyson highlights policies that would make saving easier and more financially rewarding, including better-targeted tax incentives, matching government contributions and state-wide retirement plans. In a recent, Hamilton Project paper, “Better Ways to Promote Saving through the Tax System” Karen Dynan explores the design of government incentives for personal savings, outlining how reforms to these programs would improve saving and economic security for low-income households and reduce expensive and ineffective federal subsidies for high-income households.

Blog Post May 15, 2013

The Rising Tide Of Evidence-based Solutions

In a blog post for Markets for Good, America Achieves Managing Director Michele Jolin provides highlights from a recent forum hosted by America Achieves and The Hamilton Project on the importance of using evidence to drive effective policymaking. Jolin calls for continuing the “growing momentum” toward evidence-based solutions that is being driven by members of the media, lawmakers at various levels of government and other stakeholders. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post May 7, 2013

Austerity Has Cost The U.S. Economy 2.2 Million Jobs: Study

In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Mark Gongloff discusses findings from The Hamilton Project’s latest employment analysis, “Should the United States Have 2.2 Million More Jobs?” In the analysis, the 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. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post May 6, 2013

How Our Incredible Shrinking Government Raises Unemployment and Hurts the Recovery

Today in The Atlantic, Derek Thompson discusses findings from The Hamilton Project’s latest employment analysis, “Should the United States Have 2.2 Million More Jobs?” In the analysis, the 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 blog post, Thompson writes “it's intuitive that expansionary public spending (including on people) following a private sector meltdown are useful to help the economy catch up to trend-line growth. But rather than Washington leading the still-weak economy, the cart has led the horse, with the private sector adding roughly 2.2 million jobs over the past year while state, local, and federal governments have shed more than 90,000 jobs.” To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post May 2, 2013

Everything you need to know about the Oregon Health Study

In today’s “Wonkbook,” Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas discuss the success of the Oregon Medicaid experiment, which they note is the first randomized-controlled trial on Medicaid coverage. For the experiment, Oregon held a lottery among low-income adults in 2008 to expand Medicaid coverage to 10,000 residents, and then compared this group with a similar group of adults without health coverage. Klein and Soltas write that the successful experiment was a “sad accident” because of its design and note that if more federal dollars were spent “to figure out which policies work and which don’t, we’d quickly amass a huge storehouse of evidence that could help us spend every other dollar in the budget more effectively.” Klein and Soltas highlight a recent Hamilton Project and Results for America proposal by Harvard Kennedy School’s Jeffrey Liebman, “,” which proposes reforming government funding practices to reward innovation and evidence. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Apr 30, 2013

America’s Healthy Path to Fiscal Health

In her latest Project Syndicate column, Advisory Council member Laura D’Andrea Tyson questions why the growth in health-care spending has slowed down over the last five years. She discusses a variety of studies that suggest the slowdown will continue even after the economy recovers. She concludes that without a slowdown in health-care spending growth, “stabilizing the federal debt at a sustainable level will require deep cuts in spending on other priorities and increases in taxes on the middle class.” To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Mar 29, 2013

Five ways to reform Social Security Disability Insurance

Today in the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog,” Dylan Matthews highlights two Hamilton Project proposals in a blog post on five ways to reform the disability insurance system. Matthews mentions “Supporting Work: A Proposal for Modernizing the U.S. Disability Insurance System,” in which David Autor and Mark Duggan discuss how the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has failed to support the ongoing employment and economic self-sufficiency of workers with disabilities, leading to declining employment of Americans with disabilitiesand a rapid growth in program expenditures. Autor and Duggan offer a blueprint for refocusing the SSDI program toward assisting individuals with disabilities to remain employed. Matthews also highlights “An Evidence-Based Path to Disability Insurance Reform,” in which Jeffrey Liebman and Jack Smalligan propose a path to improve our disability insurance systemthrough demonstration projects and administrative changesthat could potentially increase employment and economic engagement among workers with disabilities--and provide more rapid and reliable resolution of disability insurance claims for those who cannot work. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Mar 14, 2013

The Democrats’ Exceedingly Timid Budget

In a “Moneybox” post comparing budget proposals released this week by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan and Senate Democrats, Slate’s Matthew Yglesias discusses The Hamilton Project’s “15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget,” which includes pragmatic, evidenced-based proposals that would reduce the deficit and while also bringing broader economic benefits. Yglesias highlights two of the proposals: “The Many Benefits of a Carbon Tax,” by Adele Morris; and “Funding Transportation Infrastructure with User Fees ,” by Tyler Duvall and Jack Basso. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Mar 11, 2013

Budget ideas that Democrats and Republicans might agree on

In a recent Washington Post column on federal budget negotiations, Ruth Marcus highlights several proposals from The Hamilton Project’s “15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget.” Marcus offers the proposals as “suggested reading” for policymakers and suggests that there are several ideas that could be appealing to both parties. Marcus features ““Transitioning to Bundled Payments in Medicare,” by Michael Chernew and Dana Goldman; “Restructuring Cost Sharing and Supplemental Insurance for Medicare,” by Jonathan Gruber; “Replacing the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction,” by Alan Viard; and “Better Ways to Promote Saving through the Tax System,” by Karen Dynan. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Mar 5, 2013

Why has Congress left housing to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

In the wake of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s announcement on Monday that it will merge some operations for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Wonkblog’s Neil Irwin in a blog post questions why there has not been legislative action for a broader overhaul of the U.S. housing finance system. Irwin discusses the government’s role in housing finance and notes that reform is necessary so taxpayers are not “on the hook for everyone who wants a place to live.” In a recent Hamilton Project paper, “Increasing the Role of the Private Sector in Housing Finance,” Phillip Swagel of the University of Maryland proposes reforms of the U.S. housing finance system to increase the role of private capital in funding housing, reduce taxpayer exposure to housing risk, sell off the government stakes in the mortgage finance firms of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and charge appropriate premiums for secondary insurance provided by the U.S. government on housing securities. Read the full proposal here.

Blog Post Feb 27, 2013

How to Not Cut Stupidly

Last night on MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” Ezra Klein highlighted his top five proposals from The Hamilton Project’s “15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget.” Klein featured “The Many Benefits of a Carbon Tax,” by Adele Morris; “Transitioning to Bundled Payments in Medicare,” by Michael Chernew and Dana Goldman; “Limiting Individual Income Tax Expenditures,” by Diane Lim, “Funding Transportation Infrastructure with User Fees ,” by Tyler Duvall and Jack Basso; and “Making Defense Affordable,” by Cindy Williams. For more information on all fifteen policy proposals, or to download all the proposals in a single volume, either in PDF format or as a free ebook, click here. For the video clip, click here.

Blog Post Feb 22, 2013

The deal to avoid a US fiscal crunch

In a recent op-ed in the Financial Times, Advisory Council member Roger Altman discussed the need to avoid sequestration and provides steps policymakers should take to reach a deal. To read the full piece, click here. Altman will moderate discussion on the current state of the budget with three former directors of the Congressional Budget Office during part two of THP’s budget series on Feb. 26. For more information on the event, click here.

Blog Post Feb 11, 2013

US must do more than focus on deficit

In a recent opinion piece in the Financial Times, Advisory Council member Lawrence Summers calls for lawmakers to avoid focusing solely on deficit reduction and instead look for a “broader, growth-centered agenda” to help boost the U.S. economy. He discusses several steps that could help move toward this goal, such as spreading the budget cuts included in the sequester over time, and creating a year-end deadline to address certain aspects of corporate tax reform. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Jan 22, 2013

America’s deficits: The problem is more than fiscal

In a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, Advisory Council member Lawrence Summers writes that reducing the federal budget deficit should be prioritized but it should not “take over economic policy.” Summers writes that focusing on the debt could cause lawmakers to pursue policy measures that only provide cosmetic improvements in deficit reduction and while ignoring investments in areas such as preventative medicine that could have high returns in the long run. Read the full piece here.

Blog Post Jan 17, 2013

The Debt Ceiling Is Scarier Than the Fiscal Cliff

In a recent column in the Wall Street Journal, Advisory Council member Alan Blinder argues that the impact of hitting the federal debt ceiling at the end of February would have worse consequences than going over the fiscal cliff. He writes that if the parties fail to reach a compromise to raise the debt limit would cause spending to shrink by 6% of GDP, sending the nation into recession, and likely to a second ratings downgrade and higher borrowing costs for years to come. Read the full piece here.

Blog Post Jan 10, 2013

Guns are Killing the Republican Party

In his Daily Beast column, Advisory Council member Mark McKinnon discusses the GOP’s stance on gun control in the wake of the recent school shooting in Newtown, Conn. He questions why gun enthusiasts would oppose proposals by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others for initiatives such as requiring background checks for firearm buyers and strengthening mental health checks. McKinnon writes that the GOP is looking backwards on issues such as immigration, gay rights and guns, and suggests that the party could be on a “path toward irrelevance” if it fails to release a plan in response to the Newtown shooting and other recent massacres. Read the full piece here.

Blog Post Dec 13, 2012

Prosperity Isn’t Free: The Fair Way Down the Fiscal Cliff

In a recent piece in Foreign Affairs, Advisory Council member Bob Greenstein outlines the key components of a sound plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. Greenstein argues that the fiscal cliff negotiations should focus both on protecting our economic recovery in the near term, while also promoting long-term growth, opportunity, and shared prosperity. He writes that though the U.S. needs to cut spending and increase revenues, lawmakers should do so responsibly and avoid hitting low-income working families with new taxes. To read the full piece, click here.

Blog Post Nov 7, 2012

How Obama’s Reelection Could Shape Budget Talks

Advisory Council members Peter Orszag and Laura D’Andrea Tyson were among those discussing how President Obama’s reelection will affect budget negotiations going forward. Tyson, in an interview with Wall Street Journal Live, said the “key challenge is to find a way to avoid going over the fiscal cliff to provide time to really make a long-run deal.” Orszag in his Bloomberg column said the main obstacle will be determining how to handle the expiring Bush-era tax cuts and suggests that the Obama administration should have been working with one of three options over the past few months to move forward.