Joanne Butler | All Articles

Joanne Butler
Joanne Butler
Former Staffer, House Ways and Means Committee
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      Joanne Butler

      Joanne Butler is a senior economics fellow at the Caesar Rodney Institute of Delaware. You can email her at [email protected]

A New Culture For U.S. Trade Negotiations

Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific nations in Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers meeting post in TPP Ministers

Trade is a big topic in this election cycle, but I wonder if the trade negotiation process will change when the shouting’s over. Inside-the-Beltway people are used to their old ways. As the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is within the Executive Office of the President, it will be up to the new President to change the negotiation culture. Culture change is hard work: will they have the focus and determination to do it?

How Would Hillary Govern?

10:45 AM 04/21/2016

After her big win in the New York primary, some are musing on Hillary’s governing style if she became president. My one sentence analysis: she’s the high priestess of the power of experts.

Disability Benefits As An Economic Escape Hatch

12:23 PM 04/04/2016

Friday's positive jobs report for March 2016 has some liberals scratching their heads, wondering why voters are so angry. Part of the answer is: the jobs number looks better than it should, as so many people have exited the workforce completely – shrinking the pool of available workers.  For example, according to Social Security’s statistics, from January 2012 through last month, about 5.7 million people were awarded Social Security disability benefits. 

Rick Santorum Needs To Give It Up And Go Back To Virginia

11:43 AM 01/14/2016

Rick Santorum needs to enter a 12-step program for those who are addicted to running for president – could someone please start one now? How he can flit around Iowa and tell folks with a straight face that he’ll be the nominee? But I can guess why he does it: he’s still sore over Senate loss ten years ago.

Two Paul Ryans, One Speakership

5:18 PM 10/20/2015

As Paul Ryan edges closer to his House speakership decision, which half of his personality will come out? The controller or the corporatist?

TPP Deal Maintains Sugar Protectionism, Does That Bother Marco Rubio?

2:19 PM 10/07/2015

As the ink dries on the Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP) deal, some U.S. winners and losers are beginning to emerge. U.S. workers in sugar-utilizing industries: sorry, you lose. U.S. sugar producers: you win. The reason: while the United States made concessions in other areas, America’s protectionist system for sugar suffered only minor tweaks. Plus, Marco Rubio likely is very pleased with the sugar deal – will it effect his election chances?

Jimmy Carter, Deregulator

3:51 PM 08/28/2015

With the many “pre-eulogies” of President Jimmy Carter, here’s mine: he actually deregulated a major sector of the U.S. economy. Yes, Carter did create the Energy Department, cobbling a bunch of energy-related agencies together (similar to George W. Bush’s creation of the Department of Homeland Security). But Carter’s deregulation of the transportation sector remains significant and historic, but unlikely to be noted by the mainstream media at the last.

How Long Will Paul Ryan Stay In The House?

2:18 PM 06/12/2015

As President Obama’s trade bill limps to a vote in the House, some conservatives are upset at how House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has used many pivots and head-fakes to get votes for an Obama trade deal that many members haven’t read (it’s locked in a secret room in the Capitol). Amazingly, Ryan unwittingly echoed Nancy Pelosi when he admitted yesterday that the secret deal would be made public after it was passed.

Get The List: Time To Find Out Who’s Burrowed Into The Bureaucracy

4:19 PM 04/16/2015

Now that candidate announcement season is fully upon us, a question hangs in the air. Could these people actually govern the behemoth of the federal government? Governing has nothing to do with artful stage backdrops and speechifying. But it has everything to do with success; if a president can’t get his or her policies implemented properly and timely, he or she is a failure. Thus I pose this challenge to the Republican candidates and those in waiting: can you obtain a list of Obama appointees who have ‘burrowed in’ and are now career civil servants?

How The Likely 2016 GOP Presidential Candidates Stack Up On School Choice

4:41 PM 01/29/2015

As it’s National School Choice Week, I wanted to see how Republican presidential hopefuls measure up on their actions to increase school choice (versus just talking about it). My specific focus: how charter schools are faring in their home states. Some states are doing well, others are muddling through, and still others are failing. (You can view a state-by-state matchup on charter schools here).

37 Years From The DC Hanafi Hostage Situation To The Charlie Hebdo Massacre — What Have We Learned?

5:51 PM 01/14/2015

Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris brought back the disturbing memory of an attack in D.C., by a sect of Black Muslims on several institutions, including B’nai Brith’s headquarters and D.C.’s City Hall. The disturbance was prompted in part by anger over a film about Mohammed. A city councilman caught a stray shot, which may have helped in his campaign for mayor a year later. The councilman was Marion Berry, and the year 1977.

Making It Easier To Fire Executives Won’t Fix The VA

2:41 PM 10/17/2014

Last summer, Congress and President Obama, reacting to the scandals at the Department of Veterans Affairs, rushed through a law giving the Secretary of Veterans Affairs a speedier process with which to fire underperforming executives.  Problem solved? Not so fast. There’s a wee thing called due process – which has created a loophole for bureaucrats in the crosshairs to retire instead of being fired.

Julia Pierson’s Resignation Won’t Fix A Dysfunctional Secret Service

11:36 AM 10/03/2014

While Julia Pierson’s resignation from the top spot at the Secret Service was no surprise; the roots of her resignation were no surprise to me either. As I see it, she was promoted as a result of managerial panic concerning the 2012 sex scandal involving agents doing presidential advance work in Cartagena, Columbia.

Conflicts Of Interest In Discussions About End-Of-Life Care

10:13 AM 09/19/2014

On Wednesday, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Science (both institutions receive a combination of federal and private funding) issued a report on how America’s medical system lacks proper end-of-life care. (You can read a summary here.) While I agree that end-of-life care is an issue worth discussing, I think the report’s recommendations contain a basic flaw: having a patient register his/her preferences with the doctor. It’s a lawyer -- a professional third-party advocate -- the patient needs, not a doctor.

Will America’s Obesity Epidemic Help Make Social Security More Solvent?

3:22 PM 08/25/2014

Andrew Biggs, a policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute (former George W. Bush appointee at the Social Security Administration) recently wrote yet another of his doom-and-gloom articles about the long-term fate of Social Security’s retirement system.  I too worked at Social Security (as a career employee) but I don’t share his priorities. If Biggs took an afternoon off from AEI’s hushed offices for a subway ride, he’d see why. Amongst the hoi polloi, he’d see lots of fat people – very fat people: workers, tourists and (sadly) kids. If I were Biggs I’d be more worried about this population’s health care costs than whether Social Security will be there for them in thirty years.

John Witherspoon’s Presbyterian Rebellion

4:57 PM 07/03/2014

Ben Franklin is the prototype for the celebrity-as-politician. His autobiography is still in print; if he were alive, he’d be on Drudge’s columnists’ list, and command speaking fees that would turn Hillary Clinton green with envy. A popular T-shirt has a quote erroneously attributed to Franklin: 'Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.'

What Does Cantor’s Defeat Mean For The Ex-Im Bank?

10:34 AM 06/17/2014

If the sun’s setting on the Export-Import Bank, they have only themselves to blame. Back in the early 1990s I did a training stint there and it’s when I first heard the ‘Bank of Boeing’ joke. Fast forward to last week, when Eric Cantor lost in his primary and Boeing’s stock dropped by 2.3 percent. Which raises the question, given his connections to the big business wing of the GOP, could Cantor’s loss be a death knell for Ex-Im?

The VFW And American Legion’s Veterans Affairs Conflict Of Interest

12:01 PM 06/05/2014

With Father’s Day approaching and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation last week, I am reminded of a promise my late Dad (WWII vet, bronze star medalist) demanded I make when I was in 8th grade: That I never send him to a VA hospital. I expect if my Dad were here today, he’d be calling me to say ‘see, I told you.’ My question: where were the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars when the problems began to bubble up last year and earlier this year?