In 2012, China and 11 EU countries from Central and Southern
Europe and 5 non-EU members from the Western Balkans met in Warsaw, Poland for
the first time in a “16+1” format to deepen economic cooperation in the areas
of infrastructure as well as information and green technological development.
The occasion was marked by the signing of “China’s Twelve Measures for
Promoting Friendly Cooperation with Central and Eastern European Countries” and
the official launch of the 16+1. Seven years later in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the
format has now grown to “17+1” with the inclusion of Greece. Nearly 40
bilateral deals were announced between China and partner countries, which
included the opening of credit lines between the China Development Bank and
Hungary worth €500 million, Croatia worth €300 million, Romania worth €100
million, Bulgaria worth €300 million, and Serbia worth €25 million.
It could be suggested that this region was in fact an early
test case for the Chinese government’s 2013 announcement of its global Belt and
Road Initiative (BRI), which envisions land and maritime transportation
corridors stretching across and around the Eurasian landmass to Europe.
Certainly, there was a strong infrastructure demand signal emanating from the
region, which grew frustrated when its needs for new roads, modern ports, and
high-speed rail went unmet by Western investment. Having developed the unique,
mixed EU and non-EU 16+1 structure, Beijing could claim to be helping to
“bridge” the EU and non-EU divide. It also gained a high-profile vehicle to
channel a portion of the BRI’s $1 trillion in promised infrastructure
investment. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program was enacted in
1975 as a federal-state program (Title IV-D of the Social Security Act). The
primary purpose of this program was to reduce public expenditures for
recipients of cash assistance by obtaining ongoing support from noncustodial
parents that could be used to reimburse the state and federal governments for
part of that assistance. (This purpose often is referred to as “welfare
cost-recovery.”) Relatedly, the program also sought to strengthen families by
securing financial support for children from their noncustodial parents on a
consistent and continuing basis to enable some of those families to remain
self-sufficient and off public assistance. Over the years, CSE has evolved into
a multifaceted program. While welfare cost-recovery still remains an important
function of the program, its other aspects include service delivery and promotion
of self-sufficiency and parental responsibility. The CSE program has different
rules for assistance families (e.g., those receiving cash benefits under the
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; TANF) and nonassistance
Although the United States spends over $400 billion per year
on infrastructure, there is a consensus that infrastructure investment has been
on the decline and with it the quality of U.S. infrastructure. Politicians
across the ideological spectrum have responded with calls for increased
spending on infrastructure to repair this infrastructure deficit. The issue of
infrastructure costs is particularly important as calls for increased
infrastructure spending are sometimes coupled with prescriptions for dealing
with higher perceived costs. However, the scholarship on the cost of
infrastructure is lacking. [Note: contains copyrighted
Since 2009, New York City has implemented the Jobs-Plus
program to increase employment and earnings public housing residents. The
program is modeled after a successful federal demonstration from the 1990s that
combines employment services, financial incentives, and community supports to
promote work. The Urban Institute evaluation of the program combined interviews
and focus groups with staff and participants with analysis of data on Jobs-Plus
participation, public housing residency, and quarterly earnings before and
after implementation. We concluded that the program provided personal,
culturally competent employment services and cultivate a network of employers
interested in hiring Jobs-Plus participants. Among participants, Jobs-Plus
increased employment by 12 percentage points and quarterly earnings by $497.
Our evaluation found mixed evidence that the program slightly improved
employment rates for residents of the targeted developments and found no
evidence that it improved earnings. We attribute this lack of impact primarily
to two factors. First, the Jobs-Plus providers might not have assisted a high
enough proportion of residents to change overall trends within the
developments. Second, our evaluation could not capture the program’s impact on
the many participants who lived in the targeted developments but were not
officially listed on the lease and were thus not included in our data. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The 193 million acres of the National Forest System (NFS)
comprise 154 national forests, 20 national
grasslands, and several other federal land designations. Management of
the NFS is one of the three principal responsibilities of the Forest Service
(FS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most NFS
lands are concentrated in the western United States, although FS administers
more federal land in the East than all other federal agencies combined. The
Secretary of Agriculture has various authorities to acquire or dispose of NFS
lands, although these are often constrained by geography or other factors.
Christopher Avery, Jessica Howell, Matea Pender, and Bruce Sacerdote,
analyze state policies to increase four-year college completion rates,
concluding that increased spending at all public colleges and targeted
elimination of tuition and fees at four-year public colleges for
income-eligible students are the most cost-effective options, while free
community college is the least effective—finding it actually reduces four-year
degree completion rates and provides the least benefit to low-income students.
[Note: contains copyrighted material].
Governors, lawmakers, and journalists often decry
constitutional and statutory formulas, federal grant requirements, and court
rulings they think excessively limit state budget decisions.
Some observers estimate as much as 70 percent of state
spending is “on autopilot,” meaning these constraints are in place before
proposals or negotiations begin.
But measuring predetermined state budget commitments is far
from straightforward. The federal government explicitly defines “tax
expenditures” and “mandatory spending” and reinforces these concepts through
the annual budget process. In contrast, few states rigorously and transparently
assess the long-term cost of tax breaks and spending programs that are either
fixed in size or will grow automatically without policy changes.
In this report, the authors perform a first-of-its-kind
analysis of how much spending was restricted or partially restricted in
California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Virginia from 2000 to 2015.
[Note: contains copyrighted material].
Human Rights are part of the American DNA. Congress has long
advocated for human rights to play an integral role in U.S. foreign policy,
with significant success. However, rising authoritarianism and the gross human
rights violations taking place around the world call for immediate and stronger
U.S. leadership and Congressional action. To that end, the Human Rights
Initiative of CSIS worked with CSIS scholars, who developed recommendations
relevant to their expertise that identify how Congress can build on its past
human rights leadership to meet today’s challenges. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is the nation’s civil
campaign finance regulator. The agency ensures that campaign fundraising and
spending is publicly reported; that those regulated by the Federal Election
Campaign Act (FECA) and by commission regulations comply and have access to
guidance; and that publicly financed presidential campaigns receive
funding. As of August 31, 2019, the
Federal Election Commission is operating without a policymaking quorum. FECA
requires that at least four of six commissioners agree to undertake many of the
agency’s key policymaking duties. As of August 31, 2019, three of six
commissioners remain in office, after the fourth remaining commissioner
resigned. Also as of this writing, one commission nomination is pending in the
Senate. This CRS report briefly explains
the kinds of actions that FECA precludes when a quorum is not possible because
fewer than four FEC members are in office. This episode marks the second quorum
loss in the agency’s history—the first occurred for six months in 2008—leaving
the commission unable to hold hearings, issue rules, and enforce campaign
finance law and regulation. The agency remains open for business with remaining
commissioners and regular staff, but new policy decisions and enforcement
actions cannot be advanced or finalized.
Climate change poses risks to energy security, financial
markets, and national security. Energy companies and local, state, and federal
governments need to better prepare to face these challenges. [Note: contains copyrighted material].