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News and stories from the campaign to reclaim individual responsibility and liberate Americans from bureaucracy and legal fear.

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Bob Litan on the Need for Sunsets, Review Commissions

Writing in Foreign Affairs, Bob Litan of the Brookings Institution makes the case for sunsets and review commissions to clear the regulatory jungle hindering American entrepreneurship. An excerpt:

More broadly, Congress should regularly reevaluate and update federal regulations, many of which pose unnecessary barriers to entry for new firms. Federal regulations are expensive, often costing small businesses thousands of dollars per employee, and such costs pose a distinct disadvantage for younger and smaller firms, which rarely have the resources to hire full-time attorneys or compliance officers. To facilitate the dismantling of unnecessary regulations, Congress should include sunset provisions on all major federal rules so that every ten to 15 years or so, Congress is forced to reevaluate its regulations, removing those that do not pass a cost-benefit test and improving those that do. Congress could also authorize a bipartisan panel of experts to identify outmoded regulations and submit them on a regular basis to lawmakers for an up-or-down vote.

You can read his full essay (“Start-Up Slowdown: How the United States Can Regain Its Entrepreneurial Edge”) here. Common Good and Philip Howard have previoulsy made similar proposals—click here to read Philip’s proposed “Bill of Responsibilities” from The Rule of Nobody

Litan also made this case at Common Good’s recent forum, The Future of the Individual—click on the image below to watch an excerpt from his presentation.

You can watch his complete presentation from the forum here.

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John Micklethwait & Philip K. Howard on Commissions

The Economist's editor-in-chief, John Micklethwait, recently joined Philip Howard for a discussion around their two recent books: Micklethwait's The Fourth Revolution and Howard's The Rule of Nobody. Watch an excerpt of their conversation here:

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Video: Infrastructure Now forum

The benefits of greater public and private investment in infrastructure are enormous—job creation, enhanced economic competitiveness, and a greener footprint. But first, America has to fix its paralytic legal infrastructure. Common Good and Regional Plan Association hosted a forum in Washington, D.C. on November 21 to explore obstacles to effective infrastructure investment and solutions to the regulatory and beaurocratic mess. Below, see video of all the presentations from the Infrastructure Now forum. A full schedule of the event can be viewed here, and you can read Common Good's press release on the forum here.

Senator Angus King (I-ME) introduced the forum, observing that because of our convoluted approval process, many of our most crucial infrastructure projects could not be built today:


Diana Mendes of the engineering consulting firm AECOM continued with comments on the history of environmental review, the National Environmental Policy Act, and what we can do today to achieve NEPA's goals without crippling our ability to undertake infrastructure projects (Mendes also used a slide presentation which you can download here):


Nick Malyshev of the OECD compared international approval processes that hold lessons for the U.S. approach (Malyshev's slide presentation can be downloaded here):


A panel of experts on environmental review shared a variety of perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for reform of the environmental review process:


Finally, a second panel investigated the issue of jurisdictional overlap in infrastructure permitting:

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Senator Angus King on fixing infrastructure approval

Senator King's opening remarks from the Common Good/RPA Infrastructure Now forum:

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Video: Is America a “Kludgeocracy”?

Liberals and conservatives may disagree about the appropriate size and reach of the federal government, but according to Johns Hopkins professor Steve Teles, that debate is largely a red herring. In his article "Kludgeocracy: The American Way of Policy," Teles suggests that the most important questions about modern American governance concern efficiency rather than scope. "The issues that will dominate American politics going forward," he writes, "will concern the complexity of government, rather than its sheer size."

Teles presented the idea of "kludgeocracy" in Common Good’s 2010 forum on "Fixing Government Paralysis;" here are some of his comments:

From healthcare to education to infrastructure, the works of government are gummed up by convoluted, piecemeal, and reactionary laws and regulations. As Teles puts it, "For any particular problem we have arrived at the most gerry-rigged, opaque and complicated response."

Philip K. Howard, founder and chair of Common Good, made a similar case recently in The Atlantic: "Simplification does not mean eliminating government oversight. It makes oversight better by allowing people to use their judgment. Rules can't think. Nor does it give tyrannical powers to officials. Checks and balances can safeguard against abusive decisions--but these checks must also be based on judgment."

That’s why Common Good is producing issue briefs that describe common sense reforms to simplify government, cut deficits and create jobs in our economy. Take a look at our briefs on education, obsolete law, infrastructure, and more here. And read Steve Teles’s essay here.

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Video: “Need to Know” looks at our medical malpractice system

On the second of two inauguration specials examining Common Good’s proposals to end bureaucratic gridlock and get the United States moving forward, “Need to Know” anchor Jeff Greenfield explores how malpractice lawsuits contribute to rising healthcare costs. Correspondent William Brangham travels to Denmark, where medical disputes are settled by experts without ever going to court. Here’s the video:

For more information, read Common Good Chair Philip K. Howard’s recent essay on Health Courts at the Health Affairs blog.

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Video: PBS looks at the obstacles to rebuilding America’s infrastructure

On the first of two inauguration specials examining Common Good's proposals to end bureaucratic gridlock and get the United States moving forward, "Need to Know" anchor Jeff Greenfield explores why it now takes nearly four times as long to complete infrastructure projects in the United States than it did in the 1970s.

Here’s a 90-second preview from WNET:

Watch the full program here or below:

For more information, download Common Good's issue brief "Rebuilding America: Fixing the Infrastructure Process".

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The 1-minute intro to Common Good’s Start Over campaign

The basics of Common Good's Start Over campaign--in just one minute!

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Video: William Galston on Obsolete Law

Last week's forum panelists included William Galston of the Brookings Institution, who cleanly articulated the central problems of obsolete law and the challenges standing in the way of reform:

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Forum on Obsolete Law: Panels

These are the final videos from the Common Good/Bipartisan Policy Center forum on February 7 in Washington, D.C. The first panel included Philip Howard of Common Good, Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Richard Buery of the Children's Aid Society, Julie Barnes of the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Alan Morrison of George Washington University:

The second panel featured Ryan McConaghy of Third Way, Jim Maxeiner of the University of Baltimore, Don Elliott of Yale, and William Galston of the Brookings Institution:

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