The William & Mary Policy Review is a publication of the College of William & Mary’s Public Policy Program. The Policy Review‘s purpose is to showcase critical analysis, applied research, and engaging opinions on current policy issues.
We publish two semi-annual issues of the Policy Review, an in-depth and peer-reviewed academic journal, per academic year. Articles published in our print journal may be viewed on our website for free. Submissions requirements for authors interested in publication may be found here.
Additionally, we semi-regularly publish more concise blog posts pertaining to contemporary policy topic areas. Authors primarily consist of current graduate students of public policy at William & Mary though pieces are additionally contributed by undergraduate interns, affiliated researchers as well as invited guests.
Preview of the Blog
Nearly a month ago, President Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports. Though the decision will not be made final until April, a 25% steel tariff and a 10% aluminum tariff were proposed, to be levied on all trading partners-no exceptions. The idea, the Commander in Chief claimed, was to promote American security interests and build up the steel and aluminum industry after “decades of unfair trade and bad policy."
The New York Times recently reported on the strict ban on plastic bags Kenya recently adopted—four years in jail or a hefty fine of $19,000 for importing or manufacturing plastic bags. Countries all over Europe and Asia are adopting similar policies to reduce the use of plastic bags. England implemented a 5 pence tax per bag bought, giving customers incentive to use reusable bags. The EPA reports that the United States alone uses 380 billion plastic bags every year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create, and only 5 percent of these plastic bags are recycled. Most plastic bags find their way into the environment, hurting or killing animals, largely in our waterways. While many cities in the United States have adopted plastic bag taxes or bans, are there economic benefits to a nationwide plastic bag tax policy implementation?
A conservative wave washed over Brazil last Sunday, October 28th 2018, when Brazilian voters elected Jair Bolsonaro as their next President, giving him 55.2% of the total vote. The media has nicknamed Bolsonaro, “The Trump of the Tropics”, for his right wing politics and nationalist agenda. However, President-Elect Bolsonaro and President Trump are vastly different in one regard: Bolsonaro has publicly admitted that he knows very little about the economy. While humility may be an admirable trait, the Brazilian Constitution does grant the President the authority to initiate legislation on tax and budgetary matters. This means that there is an expectation that Bolsonaro will do something about Brazil’s declining economy and increasing deficit. Like many countries today, one of Brazil’s biggest issues is the amount that it spends on its pension program. The average retirement age in Brazil is 54, with an average of 70% of the retiree’s final salary being paid out in the pension program. In comparison, the average retirement age in OECD countries is 65. As a result, the program accounts for about one third of government spending in Brazil and 9.1% of GDP. This is eerily similar to the pension program that contributed to the debt situation in Greece.
It’s an election year. Politics and policy conversations –whether intelligent or not- seem to be everywhere. This election cycle we have heard quite a bit about the economy but surprisingly not much about entitlements – at least not since the Republican primary ended. This is surprising considering entitlement spending accounts for nearly half of the federal government’s budget. That makes the issue an obvious channel for candidates to illustrate their particular politics on the role of government, government spending, and the economy. Not only that, but it is an issue that impacts every voter, whether they are retired, close to retirement, or paying taxes to fund others’ retirement. However, this election cycle, strangely enough, louder, more colorful topics have trumped the political arena and national conversation.
In President Trump’s 2018 proposed budget, he stated plans to eliminate federal funds to many independent agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). While the NEA represents only a very minute portion of the federal budget (0.004%), it’s worth examining if these programs should be defunded.
On July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump announced to the world that the United States military would no longer allow transgender people to serve as military personnel. Over the span of three tweets, he argued that transgender individuals create costs and cause disruption, impacting the US military’s effectiveness and readiness. Since the announcement, there has been a lively discourse between the LGBTQ+ community and its allies and those who support the ban. The question remains; is a ban on all transgender military personnel feasible?