Niskanen Center Profile picture
A moderate, nonpartisan think tank that works to promote an open society and change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process.
Leonard Balsera Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
23 Jun
NEW PAPER and THREAD: The waiting list for green cards has grown well into the millions.

The wait times = decades.

Cost to the U.S. economy = billions.

Recapturing these green cards is possible and will add billions to the U.S. GDP.…
Administrative errors and #COVID19 have left hundreds of thousands of green card slots unused.

(Want more on how GCs work and why we have the slots that we have? See this from @chooseboundless).…
Just how bad is the green card backlog? @catoinstitute’s @David_J_Bier has found that the employment-based green card backlog surpassed 1.2 million applicants last year and could double by FY 2030.…
Read 17 tweets
22 Jun
THREAD: @POTUS’s announcement that the U.S. will donate 500 million #COVID19 vaccine doses in the next year will save lives.

It will protect people abroad and make Americans safer too.

BUT we must do even more. 1/
Fighting the spread of dangerous variants means that the U.S. won't have to consider reimposing or extending travel restrictions to protect public health.

The faster the world is vaccinated, the sooner our lives and economy can return to normal. 2/
The 500m-dose donation also earns us goodwill abroad as we re-engage with the world. And offering doses with "no strings attached" contrasts with China & Russia, powers making demands in exchange for doses. 3/
Read 7 tweets
28 May
We applaud Sens. @amyklobuchar / @SenatorCollins for re-introducing bipartisan legislation to address physician shortages in the U.S.

The bill would allow international doctors trained in the U.S. to remain here if they practiced in underserved areas.…
As @SpeakSamuel wrote in 2018 the U.S. "is facing a growing doctor shortage—which could reach 121,300 by the year 2030." (That was before the pandemic stretched our HC system and professionals to a near-breaking point!).…
The following orgs have endorsed the bipartisan Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act: @FAHhospitals, @AmerMedicalAssn, Niskanen Center, @ahahospitals, @ruralhealth, @AAMCtoday, and @SocietyHospMed.
Read 4 tweets
26 May
THREAD: @jenniferdoleac and @annalilharvey share the results of the latest @CJExpertPanel poll:…
Statement 1: Increasing police budgets will improve public safety.

Respondents generally agreed, but noted that what the budget was used, and the type policing mattered. Image
Statement 2: Increasing social service budgets (e.g. housing, health, education) will improve public safety.

Respondents again seemed to agree but indicated that some programs and services were much more effective than others. Image
Read 4 tweets
18 May
THREAD: Expanding the police force can actually help fix racial disparities in public safety (deterring and protecting against major crimes).

It’s the overzealous policing of MINOR crimes that tends to harm communities of color. 1/…
The Defund movement tends to focus on the SIZE of the police force, but the end goal is better policing that improves public safety for everyone, as @ProfFortner has demonstrated. The type of policing matters. 2/
New research shows that expanding police personnel leads to reductions in serious crime. “Every 10-17 officers hired abate one new homicide per year. In per capita terms the effects are approximately twice as large for Black victims.” 3/…
Read 9 tweets
16 Mar
NEW PAPER via @Alon_Levy: Why is American infrastructure so expensive?

We have urgent infrastructure needs. Meeting those needs would create jobs.

But not until we stop making critical mistakes. So let’s look at what other countries are doing right. 1/…
Infrastructure creates more long-term productive potential for the economy and society. It improves productivity and living standards. But most countries spend a fraction of what the U.S. does, with better results. 2/
First, U.S. infrastructure is too slow. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sought to tackle infrastructure projects but was plagued by extremely slow lead times and massive delays. This is mostly thanks to U.S. red tape. 3/
Read 10 tweets
19 Nov 20
THREAD: In the absence of Congressional action on immigration reform, administrations have taken charge. The result? Unpredictable policies that disrupt businesses and families.

It’s time for Congress to step in. Here are 15 reforms to prioritize.…
This is not a comprehensive plan for immigration reform; it’s a shortlist of the ideas that will most obviously benefit Americans.

Nativist sentiment permeates American politics right now. It's important to demonstrate how immigration reform can serve the national interest.
We’ve carefully selected a range of academics, scholars, entrepreneurs, lawmakers, lawyers, advocates, and immigrant contributors from a broad range of ideological spectrums to weigh in.

Without further ado, here are the reforms they believe could best serve our citizens.
Read 27 tweets
5 Oct 20
MASSIVE NEW PAPER: Last year, we released our policy vision that rejected the false dichotomy of “pro-market” and “pro-government."

We've transformed this into a concrete agenda, our blueprint for the "free-market welfare state" THREAD 1/…
The focus of our efforts is not to provide a complete program to save America. In this agenda, we’re addressing the problem of restoring inclusive prosperity — revitalizing lagging economic dynamism while ensuring that the rewards of such dynamism are broadly shared. 2/
Even before #COVID19, America’s 21st-century malaise of dimming economic vitality and deepening social divisions demonstrated that something has gone wrong. Very wrong. Let’s do a little review.…
Read 36 tweets
1 Oct 20
NEW PAPER and THREAD: “Defunding the police” does not enjoy broad public support in Black communities.

Most voters prefer reform (community groups, a larger social safety net, and limits on police violence) over abolishment. 1/…
First, some history. It’s been common to portray African Americans as passive victims of policies. This downplays the intentionality and purpose behind Black leaders’ long struggle for public safety in their communities in the ‘80s and ‘90s. 2/
Here’s a chart of the crime wave, which rose in the ‘60s and ‘70s, stalled in the ‘80s, and peaked again in 1991 before declining. The black community was hit hard, and calls for more policing and more punitive justice were bipartisan and crossed racial lines. 3/
Read 25 tweets
24 Sep 20
THREAD: A @CIS_org report claims that refugees cost the govt more than they contribute. But the report inflates costs and reaches overconfident conclusions.

Left plot: CIS estimates. Right plot: w/ descendant effects and w/o educational downgrading…
.@CIS_org's method of calculating avg refugee cost: 1) start with estimates of the lifetime fiscal impact of immigrants by age+edu from @theNASEM report 2) add costs for refugee resettlement/welfare, 3) apply estimates to refugees based on their age+education in the 2016 (ASR).
The ASR includes a question on educational attainment, but rather than rely on refugees' responses, CIS report opts to subject their answers to arbitrary cutoffs based on the ASR's years of schooling question, effectively downgrading educational attainment.
Read 12 tweets
24 Sep 20
STARTING NOW: Hear from @Blitterman, @RepRooney, Matt Sonnesyn, @CFTCbehnam, and @khilldavis as they discuss implications of climate change risk to the U.S. financial system.

We'll also be live-tweeting the event in this thread.…
"From a political and from a 'what's right' point of view, climate change is a central issue. Republicans have left the discussion entirely, but Florida is ground zero. People are starting to realize that." - @RepRooney Image
.@Blitterman: "Climate is a risk management problem. And when you look at it from that perspective, a lot of things become very clear. For one, we don't have the right incentives...the first recommendation of this report is that the U.S. has to price carbon." Image
Read 10 tweets
22 Sep 20
THREAD: For the first time since the passage of the 1980 Refugee Act, the U.S. is no longer the world’s leader in refugee resettlement.

A NEW PAPER by @IdeanSalehyan and Larry Yungk lays out 5 measures we must take if we are to save this program. 1/…
Historically, there has been broad, bipartisan support for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

The Trump administration has politicized the idea of refugee assistance and has slashed refugee admissions across the board. 2/…
In 2017, the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. was less than half of the 100,000 proposed by President Obama. The Trump administration has repeatedly slashed the ceiling on refugee admissions — with fiscal year 2020’s proposal standing at 18,000. 3/ Image
Read 16 tweets
16 Sep 20
.@RachelBitecofer has been saying for over a year that there's a blue wave coming. The shocks of the pandemic, economic collapse, etc. haven't really changed things.

The issues aren't deciding this election. Party affiliation is.
If you're looking at the @FiveThirtyEight aggregator, you might see an expanded advantage for Biden pre and post pandemic. But that only goes back to March 2020.
But the Real Clear Politics aggregator, which stretches back well into 2019, shows that Biden has merely recovered the level of support he had prior to the Democratic primary- a period where the Dems had to endure a brutal public intra-party fight while the GOP was inert.
Read 4 tweets
9 Sep 20
New from @jtlevy: It's easy to conflate openness to different ideas and "free speech" with bestowing prestige on the powerful, even if they have used that power for evil.

There's a difference. It's time to set some standards.

<Thread> 1/…
Take universities: Professors should be allowed to lecture as they see fit, students should be allowed to defend their viewpoints, and campus organizations should be able to invite speakers of their choice....even if the arguments are in favor of odious ideas or policies. 2/
But those who used their power to stymy human rights, those who lied throughout their careers, those who undermined democracy...the list goes on...should not be HONORED for they did. Nor should they receive recognition simply because they held power. 3/
Read 8 tweets
3 Aug 20
THREAD: There has perhaps never been a better time to discuss the legacy of the Never Trumpers, who warned of the gross incompetence we’d see from the Trump administration.
.@RobSaldin and Steve Teles have a new book which analyses why lifelong Republicans would repudiate their party due to the Trump presidency. It also weighs the movement to determine whether it failed or whether it will come to shape post-Trump politics.…
The book has sparked a conversation among several prominent thought leaders, each critiquing the book and lending their own analysis to the questions: “Why did Never Trumpers rebel against their party? What’s their legacy?
Read 9 tweets
27 Jul 20
We applaud the landmark reforms to the Small Business Investment Company (SBICs) program in the Phase IV relief bill. Along with a bipartisan group of experts, we’ve sent a letter to Congress, urging for their inclusion in the final relief package.…
“If thousands of small businesses are allowed fail, the recovery will stretch on for years, if not decades. Where bankruptcy is unavoidable, this same program will enable new, productive businesses to form in the wake,” writes @hamandcheese.
We’re proud to sign this letter along with @RobAtkinsonITIF, @jonathangruber1, @oren_cass, @rainforestbook, Carrie Hines, @LettieriDC, Sridhar Kota, @WilcoxNMP, @JuliusKrein...
Read 5 tweets
27 Jul 20
THREAD: There are 100 days until #Election2020. Ensuring voters will have an array of safe options to #vote will require additional funding for states to conduct secure and inclusive elections. This is the last opportunity we have before the November elections. 1/
Niskanen was an early proponent of bipartisan support for ensuring access to more varied voting modalities. In March, @RuleandRuin highlighted the partisan divisions despite calls from Republican and Democratic state leaders for more funding. 2/…
Along with our coalition partners, we asked Congress to help fund elections. @IssueOneReform, @DemocracyFund, @RSI, @StandUpAmerica, @protctdemocracy, @ProjectLincoln, and many others published incredible analysis. From @BrennanCenter:…. 3/
Read 41 tweets
22 Jul 20
We are live on Zoom to discuss open societies in partnership with @TakshashilaInst (featuring @khilldavis, @RuleandRuin, and Narayan Ramachandran). You can watch right now on YouTube. We’ll also be tweeting out the highlights here!
Narayan Ramachandran: In India, the politics of frequent elections is to use division for political gain. The Indian government is similar to that of the U.S. now. One could say that where the U.S. pampers the elites, India pampers the majority.
.@RuleandRuin: In a broad sense, the US Civil Rights movement has never ended. The difference between now and then: it was possible to believe that both parties would support the movement. Today, as Republicans have mostly become a party of whites, this is not what we are seeing.
Read 8 tweets
21 Jul 20
Come join @hamandcheese, @RepDelBene, @SenatorBennet and other leading experts for a dialogue on reducing child poverty. We’ll be live tweeting the event. See the highlights here! @TCFdotorg…
Sophie Collyer: Most wealthy nations have some form of child allowance as part of their network of social policies. The closest thing we have in the U.S. is the Child Tax Credit.
This credit leaves out the 1/3 of children who would benefit the most. If your tax liability exceeds the credit amount, you can only receive a partial refund.
Read 10 tweets
16 Jul 20
We applaud @RodneyDavis for leading a House GOP initiative to oppose the recent guidance by ICE that challenged the legal status of international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities.

The Trump admin was right to rescind ICE’s guidance.…
International students deserve to stay in the U.S., even if their schools go online due to the coronavirus. They pay full tuition and encourage their communities to grow culturally and economically. Image
The following individuals signed the letter: @RepRobWoodall, @RepBrianFitz, @RepJohnCurtis, Rep. Peter T. King, @RepPeteOlson, @RepTomReed, @TomColeOK04, @RepFredUpton...
Read 4 tweets
15 Jul 20
NEW POLICY BRIEF from @JeremyLNeufeld: Economists have long touted the material benefits of immigration. But less work has been done on how immigration impacts subjective well-being.

Here’s how happiness research can inform policy decisions 1/…
Objective measures of income like gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP per capita are imperfect indicators of welfare. While material well-being can certainly set the stage for happiness, it doesn’t tell the whole story. 2/
Happiness research asks individuals about their happiness directly. This allows economists to compare the relative importance of various well-being factors, allowing them to paint a more complete picture. 3/
Read 11 tweets