William Galston for the Brookings Institution: As economic worries gradually subside, concern about terrorism is on the rise. The survey finds that terrorism now trails only the economy on the list of top public priorities. Sixty-seven percent of the people regard the Islamic State as a "major threat" to the security of the United States.

The public is not satisfied with the Obama administration's response to this threat. Only 39 percent approve of the president's handling of terrorism, down from 52 percent a year ago, while 54 percent disapprove. When it comes to the Islamic State, the public's view is even more negative: only 35 percent approve of the president's approach; 55 percent disapprove.

These sentiments translate into broad support for much more assertive policies. The Quinnipiac survey found that by a stunning margin of 62 to 30 percent, the American people now support sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ...

[N]either the Congress nor the president can afford to ignore the rising public demand for a tougher response to the Islamic State. Despite divisions among elected officials about the precise terms of a new authorization to use military force, members of Congress would be well advised to hold hearings as soon as possible and resolve their disagreements expeditiously. As for the president, President Obama could be one beheading or immolation away from having his hand forced by a public that has grown increasingly impatient with halfway measures.

Those of us who lived through the 1973-1979 epoch, book ended by our evacuation from Vietnam and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, have seen this movie before, and it ended badly for doves. It's not 2009 anymore. Welcome to the post-post-Iraq era.


Clio Chang and Jeff Madrick for the Century Foundation: One policy idea that is disregarded or even disdained in the United States is regular cash allowances to parents. Of 35 economically advanced countries evaluated by a 2012 UNICEF report on child poverty, which included most of Europe, Japan, Canada and Australia, the United States is the only one without some sort of cash allowance policy ...

As currently practiced in many nations, a cash allowance is provided monthly or weekly to parents for each child. Usually, all that's needed to collect is a birth certificate.

The justification for the policy is that additional cash income allows parents to invest more in their children, but in a way that is adaptable to specific circumstances. In the United States, for example, a single working mother who doesn't have enough cash income to buy the cheaper monthly Metrocard in New York City would have very different needs than an unemployed family of four living in rural Utah needing gas for the car. Transferring cash allows each family to use the money as it sees fit, while respecting each family's autonomy.

A typical American bias against such allowances that we often hear is that poor parents will merely use the money, perhaps on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. But there is strong evidence from others nations and a few programs in the United States that parents tend to spend the money on their children, not themselves ...

Britain offers a highly useful case study on how cash allowances are used. An in-depth analysis by sociologist Jane Waldfogel at Columbia University and co-researchers tracked the spending habits of British parents after a substantial increase in a universal child allowance in 1999. Low-income families prioritized spending of the cash allowance on goods for their children, such as clothes, books, and toys. It turned out that high-income parents who received the allowance were significantly more likely than low-income parents to spend the extra income on alcohol and tobacco.


Steve Hanke for Downsizing Government: The U.S. Congress hoards real estate like proud pack rats. For example, the Department of Defense has 562,000 facilities that cover 24.7 million acres — an area about the size of Virginia.

The Pentagon has surprisingly indicated that it might be wise to shed some of its real estate. Congress has stonewalled the Pentagon on this. Indeed, Congress has barred the Pentagon from even thinking about the Department of Defense's excess asset problem.

The congressional — and often bureaucratic — asset-hoarding pathology is a result of perverse economic incentives that accompany public ownership. These incentives encourage bad behavior. The fact that capital carrying charges or rents are not paid for publicly owned assets means that no costs have to be budgeted for holding them. Once assets are under government ownership and control, they are viewed as being free; nothing must be given up for the assets' use and retention. Furthermore, if a decision is made to dispose of some of those assets, the revenues from their disposal are usually not earmarked for use by the department or agency that initiates the sale. Hence, there are no bureaucratic or budgeted benefits that flow from the liquidation of government property.

Compiled by Joseph Lawler from reports published by the various think tanks.