A Majority of Americans Continue to Favor Replacing Electoral College with a Nationwide Popular Vote

A Majority of Americans Continue to Favor Replacing Electoral College with a Nationwide Popular Vote. Pew Research Center. Andrew Daniller. March 13, 2020.

A majority of U.S. adults (58%) say the Constitution should be amended so the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationwide wins, while 40% prefer to keep the current system in which the candidate who receives the most Electoral College vote wins the election.

Support for amending the Constitution has increased slightly since the period immediately following the 2016 election. In a November 2016 CNN/ORC survey, roughly half of adults (51%) favored amending the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College. And in a March 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 55% favored taking this step. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

The Age of Mass Protests: Understanding an Escalating Global Trend

The Age of Mass Protests: Understanding an Escalating Global Trend. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Samuel Brannen, Christian Stirling Haig, Katherine Schmidt. March 2, 2020

We are living in an age of global mass protests that are historically unprecedented in frequency, scope, and size. Our analysis finds that the mass political protests that have captured media attention over the past year, such as those in Hong Kong and Santiago, are in fact part of a decade-long trend line affecting every major populated region of the world, the frequency of which have increased by an annual average of 11.5 percent between 2009 and 2019. The size and frequency of recent protests eclipse historical examples of eras of mass protest, such as the late-1960s, late-1980s, and early-1990s. Viewed in this broader context, the events of the Arab Spring were not an isolated phenomenon but rather an especially acute manifestation of a broadly increasing global trend. Analysis of the root causes of these global protests suggests they will continue and could increase in 2020 and beyond. While each protest has a unique context, common grievances overwhelmingly center on perceptions of ineffective governance and corruption. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 42 pages].

What to Do About Health-Care Markets? Policies to Make Health-Care Markets Work

What to Do About Health-Care Markets? Policies to Make Health-Care Markets Work. Brookings Institution. Martin Gaynor. March 10, 2020

The Problem

Health-care markets have become much more consolidated over time. That consolidation has generally resulted in higher prices without gains in quality or other improvements. There are many health-care markets where competition can be effective, but the right policies are needed to support that competition. In other markets, robust competition would be more difficult to achieve, necessitating a different policy approach.

The Proposal

Gaynor proposes three types of policy reforms that would increase competition in health care and improve market functioning.
• Reduce or eliminate policies that encourage consolidation or that impede entry and competition.
• Strengthen antitrust enforcement so that federal and state antitrust enforcement agencies can act effectively to prevent and remove harms to competition.
• Create an agency responsible for monitoring and overseeing health-care markets, and give that agency the authority to flexibly intervene when markets are not working. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 40 pages].

Guidance for Calculating Water Use Embedded in Purchased Electricity

Guidance for Calculating Water Use Embedded in Purchased Electricity. World Resources Institute. Paul Reig et al. February 2020

This working paper provides the first comprehensive approach published that guides organizations on how to calculate upstream water withdrawals and consumption associated with purchased electricity. In addition to a structured methodology, the guidance document provides international country-level and U.S. subnational-level water use factors detailing grid average water withdrawal and consumption resulting from electricity consumption. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 116 pages].

Detecting Malign or Subversive Information Efforts over Social Media: Scalable Analytics for Early Warning

Detecting Malign or Subversive Information Efforts over Social Media: Scalable Analytics for Early Warning. RAND Corporation. William Marcellino et al. March 16, 2020.

The United States has a capability gap in detecting malign or subversive information campaigns before these campaigns substantially influence the attitudes and behaviors of large audiences. Although there is ongoing research into detecting parts of such campaigns (e.g., compromised accounts and “fake news” stories), this report addresses a novel method to detect whole efforts. The authors adapted an existing social media analysis method, combining network analysis and text analysis to map, visualize, and understand the communities interacting on social media. As a case study, they examined whether Russia and its agents might have used Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup as a launching point for malign and subversive information efforts. The authors analyzed approximately 69 million tweets, in three languages, about the World Cup in the month before and the month after the event, and they identified what appear to be two distinct Russian information efforts, one aimed at Russian-speaking and one at French-speaking audiences. Notably, the latter specifically targeted the populist gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement; detecting this effort months before it made headlines illustrates the value of this method. To help others use and develop the method, the authors detail the specifics of their analysis and share lessons learned. Outside entities should be able to replicate the analysis in new contexts with new data sets. Given the importance of detecting malign information efforts on social media, it is hoped that the U.S. government can efficiently and quickly implement this or a similar method. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 66 pages].

Introduction to the Federal Budget Process

Introduction to the Federal Budget Process. Congressional Research Service. James V. Saturno. February 26, 2020

Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress exercises the “power of the purse.” This power is expressed through the application of several provisions. The power to lay and collect taxes and the power to borrow are among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8. Furthermore, Section 9 of Article I states that funds may be drawn from the Treasury only pursuant to appropriations made by law. The Constitution, however, does not prescribe how these legislative powers are to be exercised, nor does it expressly provide a specific role for the President with regard to budgetary matters. Instead, various statutes, congressional rules, practices, and precedents have been established over time to create a complex system in which multiple decisions and actions occur with varying degrees of coordination. As a consequence, there is no single “budget process” through which all budgetary decisions are made, and in any year there may be many budgetary measures necessary to establish or implement different aspects of federal fiscal policy. This report describes the development and operation of the framework for budgetary decisionmaking that occurs today and also includes appendices that provide a glossary of budget-process-related terms and a flowchart of congressional budget process actions.

[PDF format, 41 pages].

Climate Solutions Series: Deep Decarbonization Pathways

Climate Solutions Series: Deep Decarbonization Pathways: CSIS Briefs. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Stephen J. Naimoli, Sarah Ladislaw. March 10, 2020

Reducing emissions to lessen the long-term impacts of a warming climate has been a shared objective of the international community for decades. To date, progress toward this goal has not kept pace with pathways necessary to deliver a stabilized climate by the end of the century. The result is that the emissions pathways necessary to achieve this target relative to current activity are necessarily steeper and the energy and land-use system changes required are more abrupt. The current scientific consensus indicates that to stabilize the climate and prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we must reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net-zero by or soon after 2050.1,2 In 2010, GHG emissions reached 49 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2)-equivalent per year. To reach net-zero, the world must reduce emissions through a combination of replacing GHG-emitting resources with zero-emissions sources and capturing emissions from the remaining sources that cannot be replaced. This resource brief explores how to understand the pathways to net-zero emissions and some of the ways to achieve this goal. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 8 pages].

Reducing Administrative Costs in US Health Care

Reducing Administrative Costs in US Health Care. Brookings Institution. David M. Cutler. March 10, 2020

The Problem

Administrative costs account for one-quarter to one-third of total health-care spending in the United States—far greater than the amount necessary to deliver effective health care. Excessive administrative burden results in higher costs for physicians, insurers, and patients alike.

The Proposal

Cutler proposes several reforms to the U.S. health-care system aimed at reducing administrative costs. Specifically, his proposal would establish a clearinghouse for bill submission, simplify prior authorization, harmonize quality reporting, and enhance data interoperability in the health-care system. Cutler’s proposal to lower administrative costs could save $50 billion annually. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 28 pages].

Productivity Comparisons: Lessons from Japan, the United States, and Germany

Productivity Comparisons: Lessons from Japan, the United States, and Germany. Brookings Institution. Martin Neil Baily, Barry P. Bosworth, and Siddhi Doshi. January 22, 2020

Economic growth provides broad and substantial benefits. When growth is strong, household incomes rise, and wages increase; it becomes much easier to balance budgets and to meet the needs of the poorest members of society. Overall economic growth does not guarantee that everyone in an economy will be better off, but it helps.

Strong economic growth, in turn, comes from two sources, the growth in the workforce and the growth in output per worker (that is, labor productivity). The demographic trend in advanced economies has been towards lower birth rates leading to slower growth in the population and in the labor force, with the population aging as its growth slows. Immigration can supplement the growth of the domestic population, but this can generate social stresses and political problems. In the advanced economies, labor force growth is much slower than in past, particularly in Japan but also in Germany and the United States, with a negative impact on the rate of increase of national incomes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 40 pages].

Cybercrime Prevention Principles for Internet Service Providers

Cybercrime Prevention Principles for Internet Service Providers. World Economic Forum. January 23, 2020

While certain cyberattacks focus on specific organizations, the majority target the largest number of internet users possible. Such attacks are often relatively easy for cybercriminals to undertake and can cause serious harm. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the impact of indiscriminate malicious activity online can be significant and carries an estimated global price tag of $6 trillion in 2021.
The World Economic Forum Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust brought together a group of leading ISPs and multilateral organizations to develop new ways to protect and prevent these attacks from reaching consumers. Following a year of development and testing, four actionable principles were identified as successful in preventing malicious activities from getting “down the pipes” to consumers, set out in the report. Each principle is considered from the perspective of the challenges it is seeking to address, as well as providing demonstrable evidence from service providers of the benefits of implementation. Further, more technical detail on how each principle could be implemented is also provided in related recommendations. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages].