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The Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal
Issue No. 9, Fall 2015

Thank You To Our Staff!!
Executive Board and Directors
Hilary Gelfond, President ‘16
Alexander Fields, Senior Policy Chairman ‘16
Julie Gokhman, Events Director ‘17
Zachary Schmetterer, Events Director ‘18
Frances Yang, Foreign Policy Center Director ‘17
Anita Li, Economic Policy Center Director ‘17
Blake Michael, Domestic Policy Center Director ‘17
Philip Susser, Healthcare Policy Center Director ‘16
Gideon Teitel, Education Policy Policy Center Director ‘17
Elizabeth Zelko, Science & Techology Policy Center Director ‘16
Liam Berigan, Energy & Environmental Policy Center Director ‘17

Front Cover:
Inside Photo:
Back Cover:
Copyright (C) 2015 by the Cornell Roosevelt Institute. All rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed
herein are those of the authors. They do not express the views or opinions of the Cornell Roosevelt Institute.

Table of Contents
About the Roosevelt Institute
Page 1

I. Center for Domestic Policy
Page 2

II. Center for Economic Policy
Page 22

III. Center for Education Policy
Page 43

IV. Center for Environmental Policy
Page 49

V. Center for Foreign Policy
Page 67

VI. Center for Healthcare Policy
Page 77

VII. Center for Science and Technology Policy
Page 93

About the Cornell Roosevelt Institute

The Roosevelt Institute at Cornell University is a student-run policy institute that generates, advocates, and
lobbies for progressive policy ideas and initiatives in
local, university, state, and national government. Members write for our campus policy journals, complete advocacy and education projects in the local community,
host research discussions with professors, write policy
and political blogs, and organize campus political debates and policy seminars.
The Roosevelt Institute at Cornell University is
divided into seven policy centers:

Center for Economic Policy and Development
Center for Foreign Policy and International Studies
Center for Energy and Environmental Policy
Center for Education Policy and Development
Center for Healthcare Policy
Center for Domestic Policy
Center for Science and Techonology
Interested in joining? Contact Us!

I. Center for Domestic Policy
“The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people
strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Blake Michael ‘16
Michael Alter ‘16
Jack Robbins ‘19
Delphi Cleaveland ‘17 Zachary Schmetterer ‘18
Henry Graney ‘19 Jared Siegel ‘17
Alex Green ‘19 David Taylor ‘17
Taylor Keating ‘17 Jackson Weber ‘17
Cris Lee ‘17 Alex Goldstein ‘16

Letter from the Policy Director
Lines in the Sand: New York’s Redistricting Problem
Michael Alter‘16
The Juvenile (In)Justice System
Delphi Cleaveland ‘17
Free the Lot: Expanding S.2123 to Nonviolent Offenders Serving Lifetime Sentences
Henry Graney ‘19
Corruption in Higher Education: For-Profit Colleges Abuse of Federal Funds
Alex Green ‘19
Preventing Sexual Assault: Teaching Students About Healthy Relationships and Consent
Taylor Keating ‘17
Proposing a Political Interim for Washington, D.C.
Cris Lee ‘17
Cosmic Risk Management: A Proposal for Detecting and Eliminating Nearby Asteroids
Jack Robbins ‘19
Mileage Based User Fees: Bringing Progressivity and Efficacy back to Transportation Taxation
Zachary Schmetterer ‘18
Restoring U.S. Income Tax Revenue: A Responsible Restructuring of Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Tax Rates
Jared Siegel ‘18
Meet the Center for Domestic Policy

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am pleased to present the ninth issue of Looking Ahead: The Cornell
University Roosevelt Institute for The Center for Domestic Policy. This has been
my first semester as the Director of this policy center, and I have been constantly impressed by both the effort put in by the analysts and the exceptional
quality of their work. Domestic policy is as broad and diverse as the wide array
of problems we face in this country. Each analyst has devoted ample time to
researching a problem we face and presenting a unique, interesting solution. I
have tremendously enjoyed reading and working with these pieces, finding each
one thourougly thought provoking. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Blake Michael ‘16

Director, Center for Domestic Policy

Lines in the Sand: New York’s Redistricting Problem
By Michael Alter, Majors: Government, History, Economics ‘16, Email:
New York’s legislative redistricting system needs an overhaul. The state Senate and Assembly districts, not to mention Congressional districts, are drawn in an inherently partisan way, leading to less competitive elections and lower
voter turnout. Reforming the commission process would be good for democracy in New York.


New York State has a national reputation for political “insidership,” and for good reason. The old
trope about Albany being run by “Three Men in a Room” is known by every New Yorker who is interested in politics and many who aren’t. In the past seven years,
Key Facts:
three such men (the Governor, Assembly Speaker,
• The 2014 elections had the lowest voter turnout in 72 years; NY had
and Senate President Pro-Tempore) have resigned
the 4th lowest at 28.8%.13
in ethics-related scandals. Voter turnout has been • Of NY’s 27 Congressional districts, 20 were won by a margin of
15% or more. In the NYS Legislature, 61 districts had only one matrending downward for the past several elections
jor party candidate; those with two major candidates that still were
(taking the upswing during presidential election
uncompetitive were the overwhelming majority of districts.1415
years into account) – so much so that the 2014
• 43% of the nation’s state legislators are Democrats, and Democrats
control only 30 of 99 chambers, even though Democratic vote share
elections were the worst in over half a century, with
is not low enough to produce those numbers without gerrymander2
NY turnout at below 29%. Legislators frequently
run unopposed, and districts are often drawn in
• 6 states use independent commissions: AK, AZ, CA, ID, MT, and
such a way that the seat becomes “safe” for one
party or another. 345

These problems, however, are not unique to the Empire State, and thus it can look around the nation to
other states to see how they have combated these problems. One area to look at is legislative redistricting, which
is mandated to occur every ten years in all states after the preceding federal census. Currently, the NYS Legislature is primarily responsible for the drawing of district lines; a commission exists to recommend borders, but the
Legislature has final approval and does not have to comply with the commission’s recommendations. The Governor may also veto the Legislature’s line bill.6

The Policy Idea:

NYS should adopt an independent redistricting commission to draw our state and federal legislative
district lines, composed in a way to minimize gerrymandering influences. This would help eliminate the natural
tendency for incumbent individual politicians and political parties to draw districts to favor themselves and their
party. It would also help to address the very low voter turnout by drawing districts in a way that would be more


Redistricting involves several criteria, the most significant of which are contiguity, which states that all
territory in a given district should be physically connected, and compactness, which requires that the distances
between the different parts of a district be as small as possible. NY also takes into account county lines when
drawing districts. Although state law requires districts to obviously try to be of the same population, they are
allowed to deviate from the ideal up to 5% in either direction.7 The definition of what constitutes a fairly drawn
district is, although legally stated, quite flexible, as any glance at the most recent round of redistricting will show.

Most states have their legislatures in charge of drawing district boundaries, but some, mostly in the west,
have independent commissions.8 Suffolk County tried to implement a commission for drawing its county legislative boundaries, but it failed soon after, whereas Ulster County has had some success with such a scheme.9
New Jersey has an explicitly partisan commission draw its lines.10 California voters passed via referendum the
Citizens Redistricting Commission in 2008; to select the members of this committee involves a lengthy process
of randomization, vetting by state auditors, controlling for party bias, and mandating no familial, monetary, or
otherwise conflicting interests be held by the commissioners.11

NY passed in 2014 a constitutional amendment to create the NY Redistricting Commission, which will

draw the boundaries for every election after 2020 and which the Legislature can no longer ignore. However
much this commission might seem to be a solution, it actually is a retrenchment of the problem: it is explicitly
partisan. Supreme Court Judge Patrick McGrath ruled that the word “independent” had to be taken out of the
commission’s title because it “cannot be described as
Talking Points:
‘independent’ when eight of 10 members are the hand- • New York State has a familiar American problem: that its
picked appointees of the legislative leaders and the two
state and federal legislative districts are drawn in partisan
ways by partisan individuals. One of the largest incentives
additional members are essentially political appointees
for people to vote is if they believe their vote matters; how
by proxy.”12
can one’s vote matter when a district is perceived as solid red

Next Steps:

or solid blue?
Having an independent redistricting commission draw our
legislative boundaries will increase willingness to run, increase interest and thus turnout, and decrease the likelihood
lifelong politicians and political machines will get to control
a district for decades.

The institutions primarily responsible for this
change would be the NYS Legislature. Given that the
problem largely originates with that body and they recently passed this reform that does not go far enough, it
would not be conducive to real reform to go through the Legislature. However, NY’s constitution has a uniquely
radical democratic provision: every twenty years, the question of whether or not to call a constitutional convention to propose articles to amend the state constitution must be put to the voters. In the 2017 election, when that
must be asked next, voters should approve the calling of a constitutional convention and then any amendments
can be put directly to the people, bypassing the self-interests of the Legislature in this (and several other) matter(s) entirely. In preparation for that election about two years hence, a campaign should be launched to garner
voter support for the calling of such a body.


1) Erica Orden and Mike Vilensky, “Sheldon Silver Conviction Shakes Albany,” The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2015, accessed December 1, 2015, http://
2) Matthew Hamilton, “New York’s 2014 voter turnout 49th best in the US,” The Albany Times Union, March 19, 2015, accessed December 1, 2015, http://www.
3) Sam Wang, “The Great Gerrymander of 2012,” The New York Times, February 2, 2013, accessed November 29, 2015,
4) Jen Chung, “Hello, Gerrymandering: NY’s Sucky Proposed Redistricting Maps Will Probably Get Vetoed,” Gothamist, January 27, 2012, accessed November
23, 2015,
5) The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, accessed November 23, 2015,
6) “All About Redistricting,” Loyola Law School, last modified September 2015, accessed November 23, 2015,
7) Ibid.
8) “State-by-state redistricting procedures,” Ballotpedia, last modified March 2015, accessed November 23, 2015,
9) “Voters First – Five New York Counties to Learn From,” Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition, accessed December 1, 2015,
10) “Redistricting in New Jersey,” Ballotpedia, last modified May 2015, accessed November 23, 2015,
11) “Redistricting in California,” Ballotpedia, last modified April 2015, accessed November 23, 2015,
12) Christine Carrie Fien, “[Updated] Judge says proposed redistricting commission could not be independent,” Rochester City Newspaper, last modified
September 17, 2014, accessed November 23, 2015,
13) The Editorial Board, “The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years,” The New York Times, November 11, 2014, accessed November 23, 2015, http://www.nytimes.
14) “Redistricting in New York,” Ballotpedia, last modified May 2015, accessed November 23, 2015,
15) “New York State Assembly Elections, 2014,” Ballotpedia, last modified August 2014, accessed December 1, 2015,
16) Ledyard King, “Democrats face long House odds,” USA Today, November 28, 2015.
17) “National Overview of Redistricting: Who Draws the Lines?” The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, June 1, 2010, accessed December 1, 2015.

The Juvenile (In)Justice System
By: Delphi Cleaveland, Major: German & Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies (AS ’17),

Juveniles are increasingly being treated as adults within the criminal justice system. Yet these actions harbor detrimental repercussions not only for the child’s prosperity, but that of our nation as well.


As of 2015, 2,570 individuals are serving life sentences for crimes they committed as minors.1 Many
more juveniles are being subjected to punitive methods that impede their ability to escape the cycle of inequality
from which they come. For example, schools across the country, whether because of a lack of funds or a culture
of fear, have increasingly turn over the disciplinary
Key Facts:
functions of schooling to local police forces.2 Activ- • The disparity between incarceration compared to that of an effective,
community-based alternative-to-incarceration program is roughly
ities that might have previously landed a student in
to $75.
the principal’s office now result in a criminal record. • $241
In 2005, Roper v. Simmons prohibited the use of the death penalty in
Such a record immediately impedes future employany juvenile offenses due to its violation of the Eighth Amendment.3
ment and educational opportunities. In 2005, it was • It is estimated that there are 55,000 individuals under the age of 21 are
being held in juvenile justice facilities nationwide—a disproportionate
ruled that sentencing minors to the death penalty
number of whom are young people of color.2
constituted as cruel and unusual punishment.3 Since • Miller v. Alabama (2012) was the first court hearing that precedented it
unlawful to sentence minors to life in prison without parole.1
then California has been the only state to rule that the
same argument can be made in sentencing minors to
life without parole.4

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act (JJDA) was initially signed in 1974, as the first piece of legislation in United States history established to protect minors in the event of conviction. The Act explicitly differentiates children from adults by implementing more restorative methods of conviction for the former. Yet these
provisions are eroding with time and the Act has been due for renewal and revision since the turn of the decade.
The Act grounds itself in four pillars of distinction, separating juvenile delinquents from their adult counterparts.5 Firstly, Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders promotes searching for alternatives to prison for young
offenders, particularly those without stability at home. Secondly, the Sight and Sound provision removes juvenile
delinquents from adult jails and detention centers during the period of their initial trial. Thirdly, Jail Removal
requires that juvenile delinquents be kept in facilities separate from those of adult inmates, except under unusual
circumstances, so as to protect them from harassment and abuse by adult inmates. And finally, the Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC), established in response to shockingly high rates of colored youth in the justice
system, requires states to address this over-representation of juvenile minorities.

Approaches to juvenile justice and delinquency typically operate on a state-by-state basis, and are thus
difficult to assess through a federal framework. Earlier this year, advocacy campaigns in Buffalo, New York successfully passed “new school discipline codes of conduct” in response to increased levels of colored youth being
suspended from school.6 Not long after, Colorado also chose to limit the role of police in schools, emphasizing
restorative as opposed to punitive justice.7 The JJDA has been due for renewal since 2002. What better time to
ensure long-lasting mandates for the protection of juveniles in front of the law?
The Policy Idea:

There is an urgent need for the renewals of the JJDA. In doing such, amendments should be made to
the first pillar of the bill -Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders- mandating the incorporation of some form
of restorative practice, such as community involvement, therapy, or counseling, for convicted minors. Further,
it should be possible for those receiving a life-sentence as minors to be re-tried as adults after having received

In addition states should urge their school districts to limit the direct involvement of police in the disciplining of their students, following the examples recently set by New York and Colorado.


Juvenile offenders are the most receptive to and in need of rehabilitation. Yet the absence of such op-

portunities proliferates and promotes detrimental cycles of inequality and depression.1 The JJDA was a first step
towards ensuring restorative methods of treatment for minors in the event of conviction, but now it is time to revisit the drawing board before renewing an outdated bill. The term “school to prison pipeline” has become widely
recognized across inequality literature, and highlights the growing linkage between underprivileged schools and
the criminal justice system.8 By providing juveTalking Points:
niles with the opportunities to grow and develop • Schools should establish autonomous capacities for disciple independently from outside police forces. Keeping students free from the
away from detrimental lifestyles of criminality,
fear or pressure of being convicted while in school and providing
mutual benefit can be reaped by school, commuthem with agency when needed can harbor positive impacts across
entire communities.
nities, taxpayers, and the child.2
• The juvenile justice system in the United States should operate on

At its inception, the underlying arguments
the pretenses of restorative justice rather than punitive actions and
of the JJDA legislation were two-fold. First the Act
independently from adult criminality. Thereby, adolescents can be
given the support and agency needed to develop away from harmful
rests on the notion that minors are qualitatively
different from adults in their psychology. As such • lifestyles.
By establishing restoration as a key facet of juvenile justice, the pojuveniles do not have complete ownership of their
tential is created for the greater rehabilitation of convicted adolescents, decreased prison populations, and safer communities moving
actions, given their acute dependence on external
social resources. Instead of merely convicting and

imprisoning this population, it is to the benefit of
both the state and the child to implement restorative practices designed to deter from further criminality. Secondly, the Act emerged from data showing that youth offenders are statistically among the inmates most susceptible to physical and sexual assault during their incarceration. Thus, it is the responsibility of the criminal justice
system to protect these children from further harm -i.e., “cruel and unusual punishment.1” In order to combat
the mistreatment of juveniles in the justice system, it is imperative that steps be taken to reestablish and solidify
restorative justice frameworks for individuals under the age of 18, as they are still within a critical period of psychological malleability and development.9

Next Steps:

The JJDA needs to be renewed. However, in the meantime it is imperative that the discussions of juvenile injustice be brought into public discourse. School districts should be made aware of the detrimental impact
suspension can have, particularly on the students who are at highest risk of becoming entangled in the criminal
justice system. Strengthening internal capacities for disciplining and counseling, separated from police forces,
would be a good first step.

Leading up to the renewal of the JJDA lobbyists should also promote amendments to follow the precedent set by California to prohibit minors from being sentenced with life without parole.10


1) Calvin, Elizabeth. “Against All Odds.” Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 03 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <>.
2) “America’s Addiction to Juvenile Incarceration: State by State.” American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, 2015. Web. 30 Nov.
2015. <>.
3) “Roper v. Simmons, No. 03-0633.” Juveniles and the Death Penalty. Death Penalty Information Center, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <>.
4) Calvin, Elizabeth. “California: First Release Under New Child Offender Laws.” Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 30
Nov. 2015. <>.
5) “History of the JJDA.” Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Coalition for Juvenile Justice, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <>.
6) Contractor, Danya, and Cheryl Staats. “Interventions to Address Racialized Discipline Disparities and School “Push Out”.” Kirwan Institute (2014):
1-19. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <
7) Brown, Emma. “Police in Schools: Keeping Kids Safe, or Arresting Them for No Good Reason?” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 8 Nov.
2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. <>.
8) “What Is the School-to-Prison-Pipeline.” American Civil Liberties Union, 2015. Web. <>.
9) “Youth in the Justice System: An Overview.” Youth in the Justice System: An Overview. Juvenile Law Center, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <
10) S. 260, 114 Cong. (2014) (enacted). Print.

Free the Lot: Expanding S.2123 to Nonviolent Offenders Serving Lifetime Sentences
By Henry Graney ‘19,
Senate Republicans and Democrats have proposed S.2123 which will reduce mandatory minimum sentences in an
attempt to address mass incarceration but must be expanded to reach all prisoners, state or federal, serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes in the U.S.


The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, or S.2123, is a bipartisan bill with the goals
of addressing excessive sentencing and reducKey Facts:
ing the number of nonviolent drug offenders in

Little: 75% of Drug Court graduates remain
federal prisons.1 As of 2007, the prison populaarrest-free at least two years after leaving the program AND, nationwide,
for every $1.00 invested in Drug Court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36
tion in the U.S. was almost 1.6 million, with an
avoided criminal justice costs alone6
incarceration rate higher than any other coun- • in
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) there are more
try costing taxpayers an average $44 billion
than 3,278 nonviolent offenders serving life in prison without parole7

The War on Drugs during the mid to late 20th century caused an explodollars in tax revenue annually toward prison
sion in prison population, and increasingly racialized sentencing with the
systems.2 Efforts to reduce the incarceration
crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity of the Anti-Drug Act of 1986
rate and prison overcrowding have focused on • With bipartisan support from conservatives such as Mike Lee of Utah and
Democrats such as Cory Booker of New Jersey there is hope for S.2123 in
mandatory minimum sentencing laws. These
Congress and its expansion is a feasible addition to the bill
laws give judges no discretion in sentencing
and force judges to administer strict sentences that are often unfit for an offender’s crime. This had led
to nonviolent offenders receiving lifetime sentences without parole (LWOP) for repeated offenses or
drug possession. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) there are more than 3,278
nonviolent offenders in this situation.3 While the majority of nonviolent LWOP prisoners are housed in
federal facilities, the bill, fails to address those serving the same sentences in state prisons.

The Policy Idea:

To combat rampant mass incarceration, the federal government should expand bill S.2123 and
reward states who actively seek alternatives to mass incarceration. Money should be allocated to states
who reduce mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and establish and maintain alternative criminal
justice measures such as drug courts, veteran courts and rehabilitation centers for nonviolent criminal
offenders. The money allocated to the states, however, would be funneled directly back into those alternatives in order to further the reduction of incarceration and serve both states and the federal government.


The solution to the issue of LWOP sentences for nonviolent criminal is to incentivize states to reduce excessive sentencing in their respective states and provide for alternative measures. Drug courts as
alternatives, for example, have proven effective with 75% of drug court graduates remaining arrest-free
at least two years after leaving. Drug court graduates have actually caused a net economic benefit in
their local communities ranging from $3,000-$13,000.4 Considering many of nonviolent offenders serving LWOP are minorities who were charged with drug crimes, the expansion of S.2123 to them and the
alternatives that would await them after leaving prison would serve to help them and society at large.
The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 lessened the incarcerations of minorities by reducing the sentencing
disparity of powdered and crack cocaine offenses to 18:1 from 100:1.5 Under S.2123, the Fair Sentencing Act would be made retroactive and would reduce the sentences of offenders sentenced under the
anti-drug acts of the 1980s. Only the expansion of the S.2123, however, would provide for alternative
measures, such as drug courts, in instances of relapse or other repeated drug offenses that would lessen
the risk of recidivism.

Next Steps:

The Sentencing Reform and Correction Act, or S.2123 is still merely a bill trying to get through
Congress. In order to expand
Talking Points:
its reach, leaders must use
• LWOP sentences for nonviolent offenders are cruel and unusual, bordering
the bipartisan support the
on human rights violations
bill has garnered and propose • Most of these LWOPs are mandatory minimum sentences, meaning judges
the bill to states. If it passed
have no discretion or freedom to impose lesser sentences
and states were able to receive • An overwhelming majority of those sentenced to LWOP for nonviolent
crimes had been suffering from drug dependency, poverty and mental
funding to combat their reillness at the time of sentencing
spective incarceration problems, the reduction of man- • The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 neglects those serving
LWOP in state prisons
datory minimum sentences
would reach both State Prison
facilities and the Bureau of Prisons. Those serving LWOP in both state and federal facilities would either
have their sentences reduced or be released into either state or federal recidivism reduction programs.
If they were to repeat the offenses that incarcerated them in the first place, namely drug offenses, they
would be referred to the federally and state funded drug courts that see criminal offenders of both federal and state laws.


1) “The Sentencing Reform and Correction Act of 2015.” Judiciary Committee, Senate (n.d.): n. pag. Http://www. Web.
2) “One in 100: Behind Bars in America, 2008.” The Pew Center on the States (2008): n. pag.
3) “The Forgotten Men: Serving a Life without Parole Sentence.” Choice Reviews Online 53.02 (2015): n. pag.
4) Marlowe, Douglas. Research Update on Adult Drug Courts. N.p.: n.p., n.d. National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 2010. Web.
5) “Fair Sentencing Act.” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.
6) Marlowe, Douglas. Research Update on Adult Drug Courts. N.p.: n.p., n.d. National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 2010. Web.
7) “The Forgotten Men: Serving a Life without Parole Sentence.” Choice Reviews Online 53.02 (2015): n. pag.
10. S. 260, 114 Cong. (2014) (enacted). Print.

Corruption in Higher Education: For-Profit Colleges Abuse of Federal Funds
By Alex Green, Major: Government and Philosophy ‘19, Email:
Congress should pass legislation to ban the disbursement of federal funds to for-profit colleges to improve the education, decrease the debt, and increase the likelihood of graduation for citizens utilizing student loans, grants, and the
GI Bill to fund their education.


For-profit colleges are profit-seeking organizations that provide education to students with the intention
of making money for shareholders. Since the 1850s, these institutions have operated in the United States with
the promise of a providing a quality education for
Key Facts:
its student body.1 However, the promises that these
• -72 percent of the programs offered at for-profit colleges procolleges have made are often not fulfilled and instead,
duce graduates who earn less than high school drop outs.4
they take advantage of federal funds that are given out • -54 percent of the students who had enrolled in for-profit
by the federal government through Pell Grants and the
college in 2008-2009 had left without a degree or certificate by
GI Bill. In 2013, roughly $1.7 billion in funds from
the post-GI bill were given to for-profit colleges as 31 • -96 percent of students at for-profit colleges take out student
percent of veterans attended these institutions.2
Not only have the for-profit colleges taken monetary advantage of citizens, but they have poor graduation
rates and are providing a poor education. In 2008, approximately 55% of students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at
a nonprofit public university graduated; however, only 22% of students pursuing the same degree at a for-profit
graduated.3 According to The Atlantic, approximately 72 percent of programs that are offered at for-profit colleges produce students who then earn less than high school dropouts.4
Finally, for-profit colleges fail to offer students proper career and debt advising to ensure their success
after they have completed their degrees. In 2010, the for-profit colleges that were analyzed by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions had over 35,502 recruiters on staff while only employing
3,512 career services staff and 12,452 support services staff.3 In addition, although the federal government has
attempted to put checks on for-profits colleges by limiting the percent of students who default on their payments,
internal documents show that often the schools place a greater emphasis on signing students up for “forbearance
and deferment” so they can maintain their access to public funds.

The Policy Idea:

To prevent abuse of students by for-profit colleges, the government needs to set minimum performance
standards that for-profit colleges must adhere to before allowing students to use federal funds at these institutions. These standards include graduation rates, default rates, and job placement. By doing this, it will prevent
these companies from taking advantage of the funds given out by the federal government and it will protect
veterans who are looking to earn a degree with the GI Bill, so they can re-enter the workforce.


By banning the use of federal funds at for-profit colleges, fewer students will enroll in for-profit colleges
and more students (specifically those who are utilizing federal funds through student loans, grants, and the GI
Bill) will enroll in nonprofit public and private colleges. One benefit of this policy would be an increase in the
likelihood that a student will graduate. As former for-profit students transfer to attend non-profit colleges, their
likelihood of graduating increases since nonprofit public and private colleges boast graduation rates of 58 percent
and 65 percent, respectively.5
In addition, students using federal aid (either through student loans, grants, or the GI Bill) will be able to
more effectively spend their money and, as a result, incur lesser amounts of debt. For example, students who attend for-profit colleges for a bachelor’s degree spend 20% more than a comparable state college, four times more
on an associate’s degree than a comparable community college, and 4 and half times more on certificates than
comparable programs.3 Therefore, enrolling in nonprofit colleges will save money for the federal government

and the consumer.
Finally, by discontinuing federal funds to for-profit colleges, the national government will be able to
make a difference in the income inequality across America. For-profit colleges often target low-income citizens
and veterans who would need to take out loans to pay for
Talking Points:
their education. After taking advantage of their students, • Cutting off federal funding to for-profits will improve gradfor-profit colleges then pay out millions of dollars to their
uation rates, decrease debts incurred, and help citizens find
jobs after graduation.
chief executive officers.

Next Steps:

-For-profits are abusing federal funds to finance their business operations: they received approximately $32 billion in
-Even though for-profit colleges have higher tuition rates
than nonprofit colleges, they have lower graduation rates
and focus most of their staff on recruiting new students

Since this change would require the disbursement of federal funds, the only branch that could affect •
the policy’s implementation is Congress since they have
the “Power of the Purse.” So, to garner support for the

legislation within Congress, it would be necessary to gain
support from both sides of the political aisle. To do this, it would be crucial to show how supporting this bill
would lead to increased support amongst each congressman’s constituency. For Democrats, the cause would be
a notable way to prevent further economic inequality within the nation by preventing for-profit colleges from
taking advantage of poor Americans. For Republicans, their backing of the legislation will help show their commitment to helping our troops by protecting their rights at home while they protect the United States and its
citizens abroad.


1) “The Long and Controversial History of For-Profit Colleges.” Accessed November 28,
2) “Obama’s Budget Aims to Eliminate For-profit Colleges’ GI Bill Loophole.” Fortune Obamas Budget Aims
to Eliminate Forprofit Colleges GI Bill Loophole Comments. February 3, 2015. Accessed November 28, 2015.
3) Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to
Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success, Washington, D.C.:
imo/media/for_profit_report/ExecutiveSummary.pdf (Accessed November 28, 2015)
4) Wong, Alia. “The Downfall of For-Profit Colleges.” The Atlantic. February 23, 2015. Accessed November 28,
5) “Fast Facts.” Fast Facts. Accessed November 28, 2015.

Preventing Sexual Assault: Teaching Students About Healthy Relationships and Consent
By Taylor Keating, Major: ILR ‘18,
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should establish legislation that educates public school 9th graders about
healthy relationships and consent to reduce the rates of sexual assault on college campuses and across the nation.


Sexual assault is not a new problem, but it is one that has been inadequately addressed by public policy.
Fortunately, rates of sexual assault have fallen in recent years,1 but even today, a sexual assault occurs every 107
seconds.2 College campuses have even higher rates of sexual assault than the national average, with one in four
women experiencing sexual assault during her time at college.3 This has been recognized as a national issue, and
President Obama launched the “It’s On Us” initiative in 2014 to address the high rates of sexual assault on college
campuses across America. This initiative aimed to
Key Facts:
• One in four women will be sexually assaulted during her
provide awareness of the issue, and while the Presiacademic career3
dent made necessary steps forward, his initiative did
not address the entirety of the problem. More people • New York received over $10.6 million in funding from the
federal government for abstinence-only education during
need to be aware of sexual assault, but at the same
time, too many students are entering college without
• 39% of female high school students and 45% of male high
fully understanding what consent or healthy relaschool students are sexually active7
tionships look like. Educating college students about

consent is important, but college should not be the
first time these students are having this conversation.
Open conversations about healthy sexual relationships seem unlikely during a time when 25 states still require
that abstinence be stressed in sex education classes.4 However, a similar policy has already been implemented in
California,5 the most populated state in the nation. If New York, the 4th most populated state,9 implemented this
policy, there would be millions of students heading to college with a solid understanding of the topic. Furthermore, there would be fewer perpetrators and more knowledgeable bystanders, lowering the rates of sexual assault
and making college campuses safer for everyone.
The Policy Idea:

Implemented throughout the State of New York, this policy will mandate that all public schools make a
class on healthy relationships and consent a requirement for graduation. The class should be targeted towards
9th graders, although students may take the class later on if there are scheduling conflicts. Parents may authorize
their students to opt out of the class if there is a conflict with religious beliefs. New York State will authorize $1
million in funding for this program, which will cover teacher training and any additional curriculum expenses
related to the course.


In 2015, Congress expanded funding to abstinence-only programs through Title V of the Social Security Act,
increasing grants to states by $25 million annually.6 In 2006, the State of New York received over $10.6 million
in funds for abstinence only education.7 This is an ineffective use of taxpayer money, especially at a time when
almost 50% of NYC public high school students are sexually active.8 This rate will almost certainly increase as
these students go off to college. Millions of dollars are spent putting teenagers at risk for STIs and unplanned
pregnancies. Funding for consent education is less expensive, and New York can apply for a grant through the
federal Personal Responsibility and Education program, which would offset some of the costs of the program.

This proposal best addresses the issue of sexual assault and the lack of related education as it allows students to have necessary conversations with professionals on the complex issue of consent. Even adults have issues
in clearly defining consent, as the consumption of alcohol can make consensual sexual interactions confusing
and unclear. This policy is realistic about the number of sexually active young people, although it is beneficial to
all students. By receiving this training, students will be better prepared to intervene in situations that may lead to
sexual assault or help friends or peers seek help after a sexual assault has occurred.

Next Steps:

New York State legislators should draft a proposed bill, modeled off the legislation passed in California,
so that it can become law and teachers can undergo any necessary training to be eligible to instruct the course.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has already testiTalking Points:
fied before the New York City Council Committee on
• Education on healthy sexual relationships and consent will
Health about the need for comprehensive sex educareduce rates of sexual assault
tion, so they should be involved as key allies in mov- • California has already passed legislation that requires high
schools to teach students about sexual violence prevention and
ing this policy forward. Any national institutions that
supported California’s legislation should be contacted
as potential key allies in supporting this legislation. • Students who undergo consent education will be better bystanders and resources for victims of sexual assault
Public high schools should identify the teachers who
will instruct the course and plan to incorporate this
full-year course into their curriculum for 9th graders.

New York State senators should sponsor this legislation and put it forward within the early months of
2016. If they are willing, the New York Civil Liberties Union should testify on behalf of this bill, as well as any
victim advocacy groups that are willing to speak on behalf of the proposed legislation. The NYCLU’s network
should be contacted to expand the network of allies for this policy. Proponents of the bill should do community
outreach with parent groups in order to gather support and educate parents on the importance of these classes.
For similar reasons, there should be community outreach to teacher groups and unions. Education and awareness campaigns should be utilized to draw attention to high rates of sexual assault and the lack of education
regarding healthy relationships.


1) U.S. Department of Justice. National Crime Victimization Survey. 1993-2013.
2) “Statistics | RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.” Statistics | RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
3) “Sexual Assault Statistics.” One In Four USA. 2007. Accessed November 29, 2015.
4) “State Policies in Brief: Sex and HIV Education.” Guttmacher Institute. November 1, 2015.
5) “California: Sexual Consent Lessons Now Required.” The New York Times, October 1, 2015.
6) “We’ve Been Here Before: Congress Quietly Increases Funding for Abstinence-Only Programs.” RH Reality Check. April 23, 2015.
7) “The Statistics: Abstinence-Only Programming in New York State | New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) - American Civil Liberties Union of New York State.” 2013.
8) “Testimony: NYC DOE Must Provide Comprehensive Sex Education | New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) - American Civil
Liberties Union of New York State.” 2010.
9) “Florida Passes New York to Become Nation’s Third Most Populous State.” Florida Passes New York to Become Nation’s Third Most
Populous State. U.S. Census Bureau, 23 Dec. 2014. Web.

Proposing a Political Interim for Washington, D.C.

By Cris Lee, Majors: History and International Relations ‘17,
Washington’s voice is a marginalized aspect in our democracy. In order to amend this, Washington must be offered
a status that allows it full representation within the House of Representatives. This status does not require the recognition of D.C. as a state, but an equivalent that allows the voice.


Key Facts:

Washington D.C. is plagued by the fact that
• -Washington has more residents than two states: Wyoming and
the dictation of its affairs are delegated to the U.S.
Vermont. 4
congress. The Washington D.C. city authorities are
• -Washington’s laws are under review by Congress, which contypically curbed from making the final decision on
trols its budget and effectively, its right to govern itself.5
laws to pass by Congressional efforts, and have done • -Washington’s delegation to the Congress of the United States is
so on several occasions, particularly through limitnot provided with the right to vote.6
ing financial resources to the cities.1 Though there
are occasions, such as with recreational marijuana legislation, Congress has developed several other avenues of
preventing laws it disagrees with by preventing funding or attaching preconditions for the laws to pass called
riders.2 Residents of the district are further constrained about what they are capable of doing due to the fact that
elected representatives have no ability to vote and the budget is tied to Congressional approval.3 Consequently,
D.C. may be unable to carry out projects and fund public facilities such as needle exchanges. Previous laws had
allowed Washington residents to vote in counties in both Maryland and Virginia, but the organic acts have since
prevented Washington residents from voting for representation in Congress at all. This is put in place while Congress continues to levy national action that requires Washington to engage in national functions that all other
states engage in, including aspects such as selective service and taxes.

The Policy Idea:

Washington would do well to be granted, by a congressional act, the ability to govern its municipal affairs, preventing Congress from challenging municipal laws in D.C. and granting a vote to its Congressional delegate. This political status and right for its delegate to vote on bills until Washington is given full status as a state
with population based representation in Congress. The power to levy taxes in the district is meant to allow D.C.
to provide itself with powers to self govern.


The interim status idea is designed to address the basic grievances of many Washington’s residents and to
protect their civil liberties. In particular, the D.C. recreational marijuana laws would allow the decriminalization
of marijuana possession and prevent the mass incarceration of citizens in the city. It would also allow the Washington’s right to decide its priorities and needs for itself, such as needle programs and abortion rights. The city
will also be able to prevent Congress from forcing laws upon the district that are highly unpopular. The status
would allow Washington D.C. to act as a city with the rights of self governance, which would symbolize the
recognition that D.C. is capable of self governance, opening the gate to recognizing further rights in D.C. as a full
fledged member of the federal constitutional republic. The right for congressional delegates to vote is largely designed to provide the basic rights of all American citizens by having their voices heard in the national congress.
The political interim status maintains the distinction between D.C.’s current political standing and the standing
of a state. The interim status recognizes that there are those in Congress that do not believe in Washington’s statehood, due to the questions of balance within the Congress as well as D.C.’s ability to self govern.

Next Steps:

The primary organization that can carry out this
Talking Points:
action is Congress itself. The action needs to be under• Washington’s municipal decisions to be given to City austood as a compromise that will provide some semblance
thorities and only to municipal authorities. Congress will
no longer be able to levy financial restrictions on Washingof self -governance of D.C. and the ability to resist unwantton’s programs.
ed Congressional intrusions. The policy can be supported
• Washington’s congressional representative to be given the
by the Washington D.C. municipal functions in addition
right to vote on acts within Congress
to D.C. constituents. Federal action may take an extensive
amount of time, but it is possible for the District of Columbia to organize polls and a citywide movement to campaign for the new interim political status, such as a referendum organized by the district government in order to
demand action from Congress.

The primary drive of the policy must come from voters that support the proposition. As university students, it would be ideal to start off with the creation of campus activities and movements to begin campaigning
and lobbying for the interests of the city of Washington. The scale of campaigning must be expanded to citywide
petitions in Washington and beyond in order to garner vocal support. Online petitions may also function to satisfy this need. Alongside petitions and campus activities, it is crucial for students to encourage citizens to engage
in Individual petitions to state representatives to Congressional representatives and delegates.


1) Noble, Andrea. “Congress Axes D.C. Marijuana Legalization in Spending Plan.” Washington Times. December
9, 2014. Accessed November 25, 2015.
2) Davis, Aaron. “House Republicans Rebuff D.C. on Budget; Reproductive Law under Threat.” Washington Post.
June 17, 2015. Accessed November 25, 2015.
3) “Get up to Speed on DC Budget Autonomy.” Get up to Speed on DC Budget Autonomy. Accessed November
25, 2015.
4) “U.S. Population by State, 1790 to 2014.” Infoplease. Accessed November 25, 2015.
5) “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875.” The
Library of Congress. Accessed November 25, 2015.
6) “Paul Takes Aim at Washington Gun Law Restrictions.” TheHill. November 19, 2015. Accessed November 25,

Cosmic Risk Management: A Proposal for Detecting and Eliminating Nearby Asteroids

By Jack Robbins, Major: Economics, Government and Philosophy ‘19,
The US Federal Government should increase funding for NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Program in order for it
to identify 90% of NEOs in our solar system and construct a fleet of kinetic interceptors to redirect NEOs headed to


From the recent Chelyabinsk incident that left over 1,500 residents injured1 to the 1908 asteroid that detonated
in Serbia with the force of 1,000 Little Boy’s,2 asteroids pose a real threat to global security. Currently, there are
an estimated one million NEOs in our solar system, many of which could be dangerous.3

Why, then, is there not more focus on mitigating the likelihood of something that could pose such a
grave existential threat? One answer appears to be
Key Facts:
insufficient funding.4 In 2005, Congress instructed
• Currently, NASA is unable to detect 10-20% of asteroids that
NASA to meet a benchmark of identifying 90 perare larger than 1 km in diameter, a size that would vaporize its
immediate surroundings and cause a mini nuclear winter in the
cent of all large NEO’s. Current NASA Administrator
Charles Bolden estimates that with the current budget
• Some estimates of asteroid fatalities are underestimating potenthat goal won’t be met until 2030. Thus, as budgets
tial asteroid fatalities: there could be up to 13 million asteroid
tighten, delays in asteroid detection rise and global
fatalities over the next 10,000 years.10
security falls. With greater federal spending, NASA
• Proximal motion analysis shows that kinetic interceptors are
can improve its NEO detection to meet Congress’s 90
a feasible method for re-directing asteroids away from earths
percent benchmark and reform its kinetic interceptor

the goal of detecting 90% of NEO’s would lower
technologies to quickly redirect the trajectories of
predicted annual asteroid fatality rates by 97.7%.12
asteroids on a collision course with Earth.
The Policy Idea:

The United States Federal Government should raise NASA’s NEO Program funding to $450 million from $4
million, because current budgetary constraints suffocate the agency’s ability to detect asteroids which may collide
with Earth. The initial priority should be to improve detection technology to identify 90% of asteroids within five
years, a 15-20-year improvement over current standards. In the long term, this funding should then include the
development of an Earth-orbiting fleet that can deploy “kinetic interceptors” that can quickly ram into incoming
asteroids and shift their trajectory away from Earth.


Since 9/11, the US military has focused primarily on dismantling international terror networks. Terror
attacks are consequentially similar to meteor strikes in that both are infrequent yet catastrophic. However in
2014, $496 billion dollar was spent on the US military, while NASA only had $4 million to research NEO’s. 5
Recent statistical analysis suggests that the likelihood that someone dies of a terror attack is almost equal to the
likelihood of them being killed by a meteor, suggesting that there should be least some more equitable spending
on NASA’s search for NEOs in the solar system.6

Once NASA finds these NEO’s, eliminating them is still a problem. In the status quo, it would take 1020 years to prepare for and destroy an asteroid.7 Establishing a fleet of Earth-orbiting ready-to-deploy kinetic
interceptors in advance shortens this preparation time and allows for a more flexible response to detect asteroids. Cost-effective methodologies for constructing individual kinetic interceptors have already been proposed
to NASA8 but have no potential to be funded due to the current lack of resources. Funding these methods will
provide a needed insurance policy in case of catastrophe.

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

The federal government’s lack of funding for NASA’s Near Earth
Object Program significantly limits its ability to detect asteroids
potentially on a collision course with Earth.
Asteroids pose a much greater risk than the public perceives,
and occur much more often than people think.
More funding for NASA’s NEO Program will improve its detection capabilities and allow it to build a fleet of Earth-orbiting
kinetic interceptors to deflect incoming asteroids.
Establishing an Earth-orbiting fleet of kinetic interceptors means
that less time is needed between detecting an incoming asteroid
and successfully eliminating it.

Much of the research and experimentation for
kinetic interceptors is completed but there has been

little talk of implementation. NASA estimates that
increasing detection funding to $450 million dollars a •
year could meet the 90% discovery goal in five years.12
Therefore, the federal government should appropriate this sum of money from the military budget and •
use it as a research grant, where NASA, university
teams, and private companies can compete to receive
the funding. Utilizing a research grant style method is perfect for a situation in which cost is an issue, as market based incentives will drive prices down as firms compete to produce for the contract. Once a contract has
been reached, the US federal government, in conjunction with the state and local government where the winner
resides, should create a streamlined regulatory environment to allow for easier testing procedures.

For an issue that appears to be out of a sci-fi horror movie, the way this policy is branded and framed is
critical in achieving successes. Since the policy is national in scope, congressional testimony will be a key first
step in the messaging process. As noted earlier, key figures in NASA have been on the record citing the need for
more funding but they have failed to connect the need for funding to the present dangers that asteroids pose.
Testifying before the Senate Defense Committee will provide legitimacy and awareness to an issue that is bound
to be taken lightly by the public. In addition, lobbying Congressmen in military districts that depend on large
research and development budgets for their constituents’ employment will be an effective method for building
legislative support.


1) Lemonick, M. 2013. “The Rock That Clobbered Russia: Meteor Post Mortem”. Time Magazine. Retrieved from: http://science.time.
2) Swanson, A. “The greatest threat of planetary extinction that we’re all not talking about”. Washington Post. Retrevied from: https:// ws/wonk/wp/2015/06/30/the-greatest-threat-of-planetary-extinction-that-were-all-not-talking-about/
3) NASA. 2010. “Earth Impact Risk Summary: 2005 YU55”. JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office.
4) Moskowitz, C. 2013. “Asteroid Threat Collides with Earthly Budget Realties in Congress”. Retrieved from:
Retrieved from:
6) Harris, A. n.d. “Harris on Terrorism and Asteroid Risks” Space Sciences Institute Retrieved from:
7) Greeenwood, V. 2013.“Why Can’t We Prevent an Asteroid Strike?” Retrieved from:
8) Szondy, D. 2013. “Cost-effective laser-based asteroid defense system pitched to NASA” Retrieved from:
9) Prado, M. n.d. “Earth Impact by an Asteroid: Prospects and Effects” Projects to Employ Resources of the Moon and Asteroids Near
Earth in the Near Term Retrieved from:
10) Paine, M. 2000. “Simulation of Asteroid/Comet Impacts with Earth”. Retrieved from:
11) Vasile, M. 2011. “Optimal Impact Strategies for Asteroid Deflection” Glasgow University Retrieved from:
12) NASA. 2003. “Study to Determine the Feasibility of Extending the Search for Near-Earth Objects to Smaller Limiting Diameters
Report of the Near-Earth Object Science Definition Team” Retrieved from:

Mileage Based User Fees: Bringing Progressivity and Efficacy back to Transportation
By Zachary Schmetterer, Major: PAM ‘18,

The New York State Legislature should resolve to switch from a per-gallon fuel tax to a mileage based user fee system
to more adequately fund ground transportation infrastructure, improve the progressivity of the current tax metrics,
and effectively hypothecate tax revenues.


The first U.S. tax on fuel was introduced in February 1919 in Oregon as a means to pay for road construction and maintenance. Nearly 100 years later, we are still relying on a per-gallon tax on gasoline and diesel
as the primary means of funding for our country’s ground transportation infrastructure network; however, it is
a lot less effective nowadays, rendering declining
Key Facts:
revenue streams, a regressive impact on the people
• With current New York fuel taxes yielding only about $3 billion
taxed, an a disconnect between taxation and fundannually and predicted to decline to about $2.4 billion by 2025, the
New York State Department of Transportation and the MetropolEven with one of the highest per-gallon fuel taxes

in the nation, New York’s ground transportation
network is falling apart. The American Society of
Civil Engineers reports that only 10% of bridges
in need of repair were given attention in the past •
two years and that by 2030 New York will need to
spend about $40 billion on roads to keep up with
road conditions.4 To make things worse, the New •
York State Department of transportation predicts
that if we continue to use our current system
of funding, more than half of the annual funds
available for transportation capital purposes could
disappear by the year 2025.9

itan Transportation Authority will not come close to having their
capital needs of $16 billion met by a per-gallon fuel tax.9
Per-gallon fuel tax revenues have been on a steady decline as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards increase, requiring an average of 34.5 mpg for new cars by 2016 with an actual
new-car model year average in 2013 average of 24.7 mpg.6
Due to the poor hypothecation incentives of a per-gallon fuel tax,
New York currently only spends 30% of its fuel tax revenues on
highways compared to 100% and 98% in states like Nevada and
The regressive nature of New York’s per-gallon fuel tax is evident
when the owner of a Tesla Model S, costing $70,000, pays no variable user fee for traveling on New York state roads, but the owner of
a 2005 Hyundai Sonata GL, costing $3,995 that gets 22MPG, pays
26.74 cents per gallon of gas purchased in order to travel on New
York State roads.3,8

The Policy Idea:

The New York State Legislature should resolve to switch from a per-gallon fuel tax to a mileage based
user fee system to more adequately fund ground transportation infrastructure, improve the progressivity of the
current tax metrics, and effectively hypothecate tax revenues.


While, the problems that stem from a per-gallon fuel tax are a nationwide issue, we can start making
meaningful change to improve the lives of New York’s residents at a state level first. The solution is simple: replace the current fuel tax with a mileage based user fee system. Currently the state of Oregon has already begun
phasing in this concept by starting a pilot program that charges road users a flat fee per mile rather instead of the
state gas tax. With the help of private partners, Oregon is able to fairly tax its motorists using technology-based
systems. This tax also guarantees an adequate and sustainable stream of funding to support transportation infrastructure’s maintenance and development.2
According to policy expert Robert Poole, we can cost effectively and sustainably fund New York’s ground transportation infrastructure network through a three-tiered system designed to win public acceptance. Residents of
New York could either pay a flat annual fee based on an assumed level of miles driven, a variable per-mile fee
based on an annual odometer reading, or opt to have a third party vendor install technology making the user
only accountable for the miles driven within New York. Under the new mileage based user fee system: the state

of New York will be able to raise the revenues it needs to adequately fund for road construction and maintenance; the residents of New York will be directly taxed in a proportionate manner for their use of the roads; and
tax revenues will be more effectively hypothecated to go to their intended purpose.7

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

Taxing users directly based on the distance they travel more
effectively links use of roads with the cost of maintaining the
associated ground transportation infrastructure network.
Moving away from a per-gallon fuel tax ensures that every user
of the road, regardless of vehicle type or fuel efficiency, pays
their fair share of taxes.
Using a per-mile fees increases transparency and allows for
the creation of a dedicated source of sustainable infrastructure

The New York State Department of Transportation would be in favor of receiving a more reliable

source of infrastructure funding hypothecated to
transportation infrastructure improvement and
would support a policy to do so. The Cornell Program •
in Infrastructure Policy could provide the necessary
expertise and connections help make this system a
reality. The Tax Foundation, another supporter of
this policy, could help petition the New York State legislator to implement this policy by drafting legislation,
lobbying, filing briefs, and assisting in organizing a popular support base. The end product would be bringing a
comprehensive resolution to replace the per-gallon fuel tax with a mileage based user fee system before the Committee on Transportation and have it move on to the legislator as a whole for approval.


1) Alfred, Randy. “Feb. 25, 1919: Oregon Taxes Gas by the Gallon.” February 25, 2011. Accessed November 29, 2015. http://
2) “Join OReGO Today!” OReGO. July 1, 2015. Accessed November 29, 2015.
3) “Model S.” Model S Design Studio. 2015. Accessed November 29, 2015.
4) “New York’s 2015 Infrastructure Report Card Gives C- Overall.” 2013 Report Card for Americas Infrastructure. September 2015.
Accessed November 29, 2015.
5) O’Toole, Randal. “Highway Taxes vs. Road Expenditure (Diversion) by State.” MasterResource. January 1, 2015. Accessed November
29, 2015.
6) Poole Jr., Robert W., and Adrian T. Moore. “10 Reasons Why Per-Mile Tolling Is a Better Highway User Fee Than Fuel Taxes.” Reason
Foundation. February 2014. Accessed November 29, 2015.
7) Poole, Robert. “Economists vs. Realists on Mileage-Based User Fees.” Reason Foundation. November 10, 2012. Accessed November
29, 2015.
8) “Used 2005 Hyundai Sonata GL.” 2015. Accessed November 29, 2015.
9) Zupan, Jeffrey M., Richard E. Barone, and Jackson Whitmore. “Mileage-Based User Fees: Prospects and Challenges.” New York State
Department of Transportation. June 2012. Accessed November 29, 2015.

Meet the Domestic Policy Center
Michael Alter
Michael is a senior in Arts and Sciences, triple majoring in Government,
Economics, and History. He is a member of the Cornell Speech and Debate
Union, the Cornell Democrats, the Cornell Republicans, and is Vice President of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. From a big Irish family in Westchester,
NY, in his spare time Mike enjoys videogames, tennis, archery, and chocolate.
Delphi Cleaveland
Delphi Cleaveland is a junior from Poughkeepsie, New York. She is in the
College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Government and German Studies. Outside of Roosevelt, she is a member of the Cornell Student Athletic
Council, Big Red Leadership, and competes on both the Women’s Cross
Country and Women’s Track& Field teams. Delphi’s primary interests are
issues involving inequality and the rights of women and children.
Taylor Keating
Taylor Keating is a sophomore in the ILR School from Oakland, CA. Outside
of Roosevelt, she works at the Cornell Annual Fund and volunteers with College Mentors for Kids and Consent Ed. She is specifically interested in economic and immigration policy.

Cris Lee
Crispinus “Cris” Lee is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He studies
history and international relations. He enjoys East Asian Policy and hopes to
develop a foreign policy career.

Zachary Schmetterer
Zachary Schmetterer is a sophomore majoring in Policy Analysis and
Management from Youngstown, Ohio. Outside of Roosevelt, he is a
member of the Recreational Fencing Club, the Cornell Ski Team, and the
New York Beta Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Some of his interests include
politics, fitness, and traveling.

Meet the Domestic Policy Center
David Taylor
David Taylor is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences from Charlottesville Virginia. He is a member of The Cornell Cross Country and Track
Teams. He is interested in Economic and Domestic Policy.

Jared Siegel
Jared is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is a government and
history double major.

Jackson Weber
Jackson Weber is a junior Government major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In
addition to his work with the Roosevelt Institute, he is a starting linebacker on
the Cornell Varsity Football team and a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Not pictured: Alex Green, Jack Robbins, Henry Graney, Alex Goldstein, Blake Michael (Director)

II. Center for Economic Policy
Director: Anita Li ‘17
Hanna Blunden ‘16
Jill Sternthal ‘18

Letter from the Policy Director

Mason Miller ‘17
Jady Wei ‘19
Yibo Sun ‘19
Puneet Brar ‘18

Jack Polizzi ‘ 18
Tony Zhou ‘18

“Solving the Urban Affordable Housing Crisis: Mandated Inclusionary Zoning”
Hanna Blunden ‘16
New York State should implement a policy that incentivizes the construction of affordable housing for low income residents in
problematic areas.
“Combatting Economic Disparity in Upstate New York”
Jady Wei ‘19
Leaders from districts and counties across upstate New York must instigate a systematic approach to implementing cross-sector
organization in combatting the economic disparity.
“Advancing Job Opportunity on a Level Playing Field: Expanding the Intern Tax Credit”
Jill Sternthal ‘18
With the rising cost of college tuition, many students cannot afford to work for nothing in unpaid internships. To resolve this,
the federal and state governments should ensure the right of all interns to be paid.
“Black subsidies: Why their elimination is important for sustainability”
Puneet Brar ‘18
Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies will force companies to internalize the costs they impose on the society, which will reduce carbon emission and will benefit the society.
“Bridge the Skill Gap: Support sector partnerships”
Mason Miller ‘17
We should attempt to bridge the skill gap by fostering sector partnerships between community colleges and employers.
“Lift the cap on taxable income and tax capital gains”
Jack Polizzi ‘ 18
The Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted soon. The cap on taxable earnings for social security should be lifted, and
unearned household income should be subject to taxes.
“Expanding the Coverage of Paid Sick Leave”
Yibo Sun ‘19
The United States remains one of few developed countries without a national paid sick leave law. The coverage of paid sick
leave should be expanded to create a more employee-friendly work environment.
“Improving International Developmental Aid: Embracing Microfinance”
Tony Zhou ‘18
The Federal Government should reallocate a portion of the current USAID budget toward funding microloans for local entrepreneurs in regions currently receiving developmental aid.
Meet the Center for Economic Policy

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am excited to present to you the ninth issue of Looking Ahead: The Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal by the Center for Economic Policy and
Development. This journal contains the work of eight policy analysts, each of
whom spent many hours doing in-depth research and careful inventing solutions to the problems plaguing our economic system today.

Some students explored reform on a federal level, like financing the Social
Security Trust Fund, while others explored legislation on a more microcosmic
level, like forming cross-sector partnerships in upstate New York. Each analyst
provided a concrete and detailed plan of implementation, as well as a list of potential public resources to implement his or her policy vision.

The amalgam of policy proposals provides an interesting insight into the
most critical issues in the US economy, and innovative solutions to those problems.
Anita Li

Policy Analysis and Management (HumEc ‘17)
Director, Center for Economic Policy

Solving the Urban Affordable Housing Crisis: Mandated Inclusionary Zoning
By Hanna Blunden, Major: Industrial Labor Relations‘16, Email:
Exorbitant rent hikes over the past decade have created a destabilizing economic environment for low income
residents and resulted in their mass exodus from US cities to be replaced by an increasingly homogeneous wealthy
population. In response, New York State should implement a policy that incentivizes the construction of affordable


In the United States, rent prices in many urban centers have reached historic heights and act as a choke
on the American economy. Costs related to rental housing have risen dramatically over the past ten years at a
much quicker rate than incomes. In fact, the cost of housing in proportion to income has risen dramatically.
Over the past decade, the percent of renters who
Key Facts:
spend more than 30% of their income on housing has
The average rent in New York City and Ithaca are with rental rates at
increased from 38% in 2000 to over half in 2013 with 39% and 38% of average tenants’ income.
some of the most debilitating proportions existing in The tenant income to rent cost proportions have increased by 4.3%
New York municipalities like Ithaca and New York
in Ithaca and 15.8% in New York.
n New York City, 40% of the housing affordable to low income resiCity (1). As housing costs rise, residents with fixed
incomes have less and less income to devote to food, dents has disappeared over the past ten years.
transportation, clothing, or family related expenses. Lower income Americans, largely characterized as young adults and minority families, must often resort to
“doubling-up” households in which family members move in with one another to save money (1). As a result,
residents such as these with limited financial flexibility have been steadily forced out of inner city areas. In New
York City, for example, 40% of the housing affordable to low income residents has disappeared over the past ten
years (5). This has bolstered the establishment of much wealthier populations within cities that naturally monopsonize the tenant market.

New York State has attempted to address this problem in the past. The most recent solution came in the
form of rent control programs in 1943 as a response to a hike in rent prices that were a result of the housing
scarcity in the postwar period (7, 9). Without the rent control in place, many tenants were faced with far less
economic freedom or eviction. Rent control solution allowed many residents to hold onto their homes and facilitated the preservation of many neighborhoods. As time passed, however, rent controlled areas increasingly fell
into disrepair while old dilapidated units were less and less likely to be replaced by new developments. The rent
controls had in effect removed economic incentive for capitalists to maintain properties or invest in new ones. In
response, many municipalities responded with loosened or abolished rent-control and since then, have experienced steadily rising rent prices once more.
Counter to traditional trends, current increases in rent prices have accelerated consistently over the last five
years despite slowed rates of inflation and market and institutional phenomenon are to blame (2). In the wake of
the housing collapse and the Great Recession, more and more Americans are choosing to rent over buy (2). This
abrupt change in preference has increased demand for rental housing across the wealth spectrum and caused
prices to rise quickly. Additionally, American cities have become increasingly clean and safe, and as a result
wealthy populations that historically relocated from cities to suburbs have begun to return in large numbers
(10). This phenomena has in turn created a robust market for high end rentals and also contributes significantly
to rises in overall neighborhood rental prices. Lastly, government actions such as the loosening of rent-control
laws and reduction of HOME grant eligibility and distribution have helped to enable these hikes and to exacerbate their negative effects (9).

Policy Idea:

Changes should be made to New York state law to treat the high rent crisis in Ithaca, New York City, and other
affected New York municipalities that has caused the effective expulsion of low income residents from inner cities and created a rental market only available to the wealthy. New York State law should be amended to include a
provision holding that any developer wishing to build rentable housing units in a municipality in which median

rent exceeds 33% of the average income, must produce 40% of those units to be sold at rate below market price
for low income tenants. This reduced price is to be set cooperatively by the developer and the local housing authority. The law additionally provides a tax break
Talking Points:
to developing companies.
• Most economists agree that for rent to exist at a healthy affordable


rate, it must not exceed 30% of the tenant’s income, yet numerous
cities in New York do just that.
Inclusionary zoning provides a middle ground between the interests
of property owners and tenants, by providing affordable housing for
low income tenants without disincentivized investors.

This policy is designed to generate affordable
rental offerings for low income individuals in
progressively overly priced urban areas of New
York State. It first does this by imposing targeted provisions to municipalities that exhibit unhealthy economic
conditions for the average tenant. This allows the law to address the regions in which the problems associated
with high rent are likely the most pervasive and in most need of alleviation. In these cities, the law mandates
that any new housing development with rentable units must devote 40% of its units to low income residents by
setting the price at some point below market rate. This ensures that affordable renting units are made available in
inner cities for use by lower income residents. In addition to this mandate, the state government will also provide
a tax break designed to help counter any immediate loss of company profit as a result of the mandate. This tax
break works as an incentive to encourage developers to develop in the city regardless of the mandate (7). Finally, the ultimate rent price for the affordable units is to be set during a discussion between the developer and the
local city housing authority and low income residents. This process is important because it takes into account
the economic interests of the community as well as the company, ultimately yielding what is a positive economic
outcome for both parties.
This policy avoids problems faced by past plans. Twentieth century rent control law was designed in overwhelming favor to the tenant and disregarded interests of the property owners. The rental market lost its competitiveness and money making ability, thus capitalists lost motivation to improve or invest in it. By not setting a universal rent ceiling, this plan can avoid market stagnation while promoting socioeconomic integration (8). This plan
also successfully combines the efforts and resources of both the private sector and the government to produce a
solution for the people. By employing and incentivizing the private sector to construct affordable housing, the
government avoids having to incur the total cost of the project typically felt in purely public housing ventures
utilized in countries like Singapore in which over 85% of housing is public (7).
The policy proposed is equipped with appropriate thresholds to successfully facilitate its goals while remaining
realistic within the economic and political climate that it operates. Most economists agree that for rent to exist at
a healthy affordable rate, it must not exceed 30% of the tenant’s income. When the portion of rent that a person
pays exceeds 30% of what they make, the individual is left with an insufficient share of money for other necessary
expenses which can negatively affect their health, security, consumer spending habits, and economic freedom
(4). In fact, low income residents that pay half of their income to housing costs, spend ⅓ less on food, ½ less on
clothes and 80% less on healthcare than low income families with affordable housing costs (4). The degradation
of any of these areas can result in no other choice for residents but to leave an overly expensive inner city home.
This standard was additionally used because it would mandate improvements in New York State that currently
contains two of the country’s worst offending cities, New York City and Ithaca, with rental rates at 39% and 38%
of tenants’ income. Both of these proportions have also seen large growth over the past decade, increasing by
4.3% in Ithaca and 15.8% in New York (1). By implementing a standard close to this one, the law itself proves
most useful in addressing the specific issues faced by of NYS.
The 60/40 provision will facilitate the reintegration of lower income residents into urban centers alongside
wealthier tenants. This ratio is best because it is a compromise between commercial interests and the physical
reality of the neighborhood that this law attempts to promote. As it stands, this ratio is not proportionate to
the actual distribution of relatively high income and low income residents, and still overwhelmingly supports a
wealthier class over a less wealthy one. As Bertha Lewis of ACORN suggests, an accurate representation of a city
as stratified as New York City for example, would likely require the current incentivized ratio of 80/20 (80% high
income, 20% low income) to be flipped (1).

In fact, if actual demographics were taken into account, half of the 40% mandated by this plan would immediately go to much more impoverished residents who currently make up over 21% of New York City’s population,
living under 20% for the significantly more robust population of merely low income (6). However, the ratio of
60/40 was included in the plan because it sought to achieve an end for the low income residents while simultaneously not foiling the plan entirely by scaring off likely developers who attract to the revenues a higher income
market would provide (8). By incentivizing developers with 60% market price revenue off the bat in addition
to tax breaks provided, this law is able to achieve its goal of low income homes built by requiring a significant
portion per development while maintain an attractive investment market.

Next Steps:

Community organization and grassroots lobbying will be central tools in accomplishing this. Formation of a
central organization is an essential first step. Through this organization, the activists can present a unified face
for the movement, recruit interested organizers, conference ideas, and ultimately mobilize for a direct public action. Through this group, activists can then generate awareness by setting up info stands in community hotspots,
putting up flyers, and/or publishing an op-ed in the school or local newspaper, and social media. Additionally,
focusing on local neighborhoods with high levels of renters will be most advantageous for this movement and
likely find the most committed supporters. After support has been rallied, direct actions can then be made.
Smaller groups could be successful in staging public demonstrations and executing letter writing or calling
campaigns. A large group of followers could potentially stage a rent strike. The final step would be to form coalitions with other groups with similar goals to combine forces and resources in order to increase the power of the
movement and extend its voice further until they are heard.


Dewan, Shaila. “In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class.” The New York Times. April 14, 2014.
Searcey, Dionne. “More Americans Are Renting, and Paying More, as Homeownership Falls.” The New York Times. June 23, 2015.
Joint Center for Housing Studies. America’s Rental Housing: Evolving Markets and Needs. Harvard University Press. http://www.jchs.
Arnold, Althea. Out of Reach 2014.
Sparshott, Jeffrey. “Rising Rents Outpace Wages in Wide Swaths of the US.” Wall Street Journal. July 28, 2015.
Roberts, Sam. “Gap Between Manhattan’s Rich and Poor Is Greatest in the US, Census Finds.” New York Times. Sept. 17, 2014. http://
Smith, Stephen. “Five Extreme Models to Combat High Rents.” Next City. Feb. 6, 2014.
Block, Walter. “Rent Control.” The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. The Library of Economics and Liberty. http://www.econlib.
Willis, John. “Short History of Rent Control Law.” Cornell Law Review.
Christie, Les. “Cities are hot again.” CNN Money. June, 15, 2006.

Combatting Economic Disparity in Upstate New York
By Jady Wei, Major: Economics and Government ‘19, Email:
Leaders from districts and counties across upstate New York must instigate a systematic approach to implementing
cross-sector organization in combatting the economic disparity


In Albany, New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has paid numerous visits to upstate New York, particularly the
suburbs and periphery regions, this year as he touts his agenda around ways to bolster and expand the economy.
Yet, even as unemployment figures are beginning to show signs of improvement, the economic divide remains
Key Facts:
his most formidable challenge.

the Rockefeller Foundation launched

For the past several years, upstate New York
the Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation (PSMI), a
has been encountering severe economic hindrances.
five-year initiative to expand economic growth and opportunity
In Elmira, a sparsely populated rural region of the
in metropolitan regions
Chemung County, more than 2,000 manufacturing
• Over the last four years, the project has worked with 22 metropolitan regions and seven states to create and deploy economic
jobs have been disbanded since the beginning of 2012.
development strategies designed to grow and retain high-qualiAdditionally, IBM plans to layoff nearly 700 employty jobs in innovative, productive industries in ways that expand
ees in Dutchess County. Bausch & Lomb, an anchor
opportunity for all
of Rochester’s economy since the mid-1800s, publicly • By one measure, U.S. income inequality is the highest it’s been
announced at the beginning of the year that it will be
since 1928
relocating its headquarters from Upstate New York

to New Jersey, and abandoning its downtown office
tower. Subsequently, Rochester is envisioned to lose over 400 jobs that have been crucial to its financial stability.
Moody’s Investment Services said earlier this month the layoffs at Bausch & Lomb will greatly exacerbate the
already fragile upstate economy. According to New York’s credit ratings agency, major job announcements have
been made in the Southeast, which reflects a credit negative trend of job losses in the historical industrial employment centers of upstate New York.
In 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo established 10 councils his first year in office, with the goal of developing
regional approaches to economic development. Under Cuomo’s leadership, the state has designated more than
$1.4 billion in tax breaks and grants to projects across the state, with an additional $750 million to be awarded in
December. Some business groups credit Cuomo with the new improvements and changes initiated in the upstate
economy. Others, however, maintain that the changing economy is caused in part to national factors rather than

Policy Idea:

At the regional level, New York must implement cross-sector partnerships of leaders to rigorously assess the
unique assets in different regional economies and develop strategies to leverage those assets and drive sustainable
expansion. At the state level, cross-sector leadership involving cities, districts and counties must come together
to rethink and revamp economic development policies. Additionally, officials must convey the urgency, rationale,
and emerging outcomes of their strategies to encourage others to adopt this new approach.


In 2011, Brookings and the Rockefeller Foundation launched a project (PSMI) intended to expand economic
growth and opportunities in periphery regions. As part of its commitment to learning, Brookings funded ongoing monitoring of five regions and one state, including Louisville-Lexington, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Northeast
Ohio, Portland, upstate New York, and the state of Nevada. Last December, Brookings convened leaders from the
various regions for a conference to assess the project’s efficacy holistically, its impacts thus far, and its trajectory
for future work. The findings from those assessments and interviews suggested that the PSMI has proved effective in shaping the thinking and practice related to economic development. The project has bolstered, deepened, and expanded its efforts in periphery sites to develop and deploy new approaches for sustaining economic

growth and expanding opportunity.
Ultimately, only a cross-sector approach involving partnerships across the region can have a strong, collaborative
capacity at the state level to carry out and sustain critical economic expansion. New York must bring together
public and private sector leaders to focus together on regional issues, and close the income divide.

Next Steps:

Leaders must be able to work across programmatic and jurisdictional boundaries to strategically implement the
new model. Although the work is long term and systemic, the funding is short term and programmatic which requires regional leaders to allocate grants on a long-term basis. Additionally, officials must look at the state’s economic issue through a holistic and critical perspective; focusing on single projects is more feasible but reduces
the potential for broader impact and transformation of systems on a state level. Ultimately, leaders from districts
and counties across upstate New York must instigate a systematic approach to implementing cross-sector organization in combatting the economic disparity.

Talking Points:

After accounting for taxes and transfers, the U.S. had the second
highest level of inequality, after Chile
The U.S. is more unequal than most of its developed-world peers
Yet barely half (47%) of Americans think the rich-poor gap is a very
big problem


Carlson, Pete. “Expanding Growth and Opportunity: Findings from the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation.” Brookings. The Brookings Institution, 23 July 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <>.
Desilver, Drew. “5 Facts about Economic Inequality.” FactTank. Pew Research Center, 7 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <http://www.>.
“Economy at a Glance.” Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor, 24 Nov. 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <http://www.>.

Advancing Job Opportunity on a Level Playing Field: Expanding the Intern Tax
By Jill Sternthal, Major: Policy Analysis and Managemeny ‘18, Email:
In today’s age of ever-increasing competition in the job market among college graduates, experience is undoubtedly
one of the leading characteristics of a winning resume. Yet with the rising cost of college tuition, many students cannot afford to work for nothing in unpaid internships. To resolve this, the federal and state governments should ensure
the right of all interns to be paid.


Key Facts:

Internships today are subject to the regulations of • It is estimated that about 1 million internships a year are
staffed by college undergraduate students.4
the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which sets six
• About half of all internships are unpaid.4
mandatory requirements for the use of unpaid internships. This criteria specifies that the intern: must • 71% of college graduates (or 1.3 million students) in 2012
had student loan debt, the average amount of totaling
receive some sort of beneficial training or educational
$29,400 per person in 2012.7
experience, does not displace regular employees, does • Since 2011, 35 lawsuits have been filed by unpaid interns
not confer immediate advantage to the employer, does
against their employers.9
not receive automatic job placement at the end of the • A survey conducted of more than 7,300 college students
internship, and that both parties understand that the
and graduates indicates that interns have a 7/10 chance of
work will be unpaid.2
being hired by the company they interned with.8
Internships that fail to meet all six standards legally
require the payment of interns, as the New York Federal District court proved in 2013 when two production interns sued Fox Searchlight Pictures for their unpaid
work on the movie “Black Swan”. In his ruling in favor of the interns, the judge found that the environment of
the internship was not primarily educational, as they filled the roles of regular, full-time employees and their
work directly benefitted the movie studio.4 This suit, filed in 2011, elevated this issue to the attention of unpaid
interns in many other fields, as 33 lawsuits have since been filed.9
Some states, such as Minnesota, North Dakota, and New York have implemented or regarding state-wide,
government programs that provide tax credits to employers, which then must be used to pay their otherwise
unpaid interns.3, 5, 6 In June of 2013, New Jersey passed Assembly Bill 1271, which calls for the payment of
college interns based on tax credits to businesses.1

Policy Idea: In order to reduce the inequality associated with unpaid internships while increasing the opportunities to obtain valuable job experience, states should ensure that all internships—whether private or public—are
paid. Specifically, the federal government should mandate that each state have an intern tax credit available on
a voluntary basis to businesses and organizations that hire unpaid interns so that they can pay them at the state
minimum wage.

By instituting an intern tax credit, states can ensure that their college students are gaining the necessary
experience and training for work after graduation without having to suffer the economic impacts of providing
work to companies for free. By implementing this program in the tax structure, through a credit, the government
can best meet the policy goals of reducing inequality among college students and increasing internship opportunities without hindering the economic incentive to businesses of employing interns. Rather than imposing
further costs for organizations, such as non-profits, that may not be able to give paid internships, this program
would be funded in the form of fewer taxes paid by these enterprises.

Because these programs are administered at the state level, they vary greatly in costs to the state, benefits
paid out to employers to pay their interns, and the number of interns affected. The Greater Minnesota Internship

Tax Credit gives a credit equal to 40% of the compensation paid to a college intern, with a maximum of $2,000
per student, provided the employer meets all eligible criteria.3 In North Dakota, companies can qualify for an
income tax credit for employing college students enrolled in the state’s internship program. The credit is equal to
10% of the compensation paid per intern for no more than 5 interns at a time, at a maximum credit of $3,000.6
In New York, the amount of credit allotted to eligible employers is equal to the number of total hours worked by
student interns during which they are paid minimum wage, multiplied by the annual tax credit rate—which in
2015 was 75 cents.5
Talking Points:

By allowing companies • Allows for the fair, compensated payment of all college interns through a
that hire interns to apply for
tax credit to employers on a voluntary basis
these tax credits, the state gov- • As part of the tax code, the program does not create disincentives for busiernments foot the bill for this
nesses to hire interns and would instead increase internship opportunities
program, rather than employers • Minnesota, North Dakota, and New York have already successfully impleor interns. Compared to other
mented such state-wide government programs
alternatives, such as outlawing
unpaid internships altogether,
this policy is the most hands-off approach, allowing for as little government intervention in this sector of employment as possible. Through the subsidization of internship programs, these states are investing in their college
students, allowing them to receive greater work experience that will generate multiplicative benefits. Not only
will the intern see higher job prospects upon graduation, society as a whole will benefit from a more educated
and skilled population that is ready to contribute to the work force.
between ratings agencies from attracting the most customers through high ratings to developing the best and
most accurate risk-assessment models. In turn, this will generate greater social welfare and positive externalities
by reducing the likelihood of a financial crisis like that in 2007.

Next Steps:

As these programs are state specific, the next step moving forward would be to petition individual states to
follow in the footsteps of Minnesota, North Dakota, New York, and New Jersey by passing legislation and implementing programs under which eligible employers that hire college interns can afford to pay them each state’s
designated minimum wage. As the program is administered on a voluntary basis, eligible employers must apply
for the tax credit themselves. To be eligible, the interns hired by the employers must be enrolled in a college or
university, must not have replaced other employees, and must work for a minimum amount of 16 hours per week
for at least 6 weeks. Federal funding will support these state programs; for every dollar that a state spends, the
federal government will pay 30 cents to states in reimbursement. By implementing this kind of intern tax credit,
the government can increase the access and equitability of valuable opportunities that give college students the
training and job experience they need to excel in their fields.


“Bill Providing Tax Credits to Employers Hiring Students for Internships Advanced by Senate Committee.” Press Releases.
Dan Benson for Assembly, n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
“Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act.” U.S. Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division. U.S. Department of Labor, Apr. 2010. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
“Greater Minnesota Internship Tax Credit.” Minnesota Revenue. Minnesota Revenue, 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Greenhouse, Steven. “Judge Rules That Movie Studio Should Have Been Paying Interns.” The New York Times. The New York
Times, 11 June 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
“Intern Tax Credit for New York Employers.” Halpern Advisors. Jules Halpern Asssociates LLC, 20 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov.
“Internship Employment Credit.” North Office of State Tax Commissioner, State of North Dakota, n.d. Web. 19
Nov. 2015.
“Quick Facts About Student Debt.” (n.d.): n. pag. The Institute for College Access and Success. The Institute for College Access
and Success, Mar. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Smith, Jacquelyn. “Internships May Be the Easiest Way to a Job in 2013.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 6 Dec. 2012. Web. 17 Nov.
Suen, Stephen, and Kara Brandeisky. “Tracking Intern Lawsuits.” Pro Publica. Pro Publica, 15 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Black subsidies: Why their elimination is important for sustainability
By Puneet Brar, Major: Applied Economics and Mangement’18, Email:
By proposing a Shared-Goods Credit Score(SGCS) System, defaults and harmful risks of utilizing shared-goods can
be minimized, and the society will function more efficiently.


Subsiding fossil fuels is externalizing a lot of societal costs, which is allowing the companies to maintain low
prices for the fuel. This is not only harmful to the environment, since excessive fuel is consumed, but also places
an unnecessary financial burden on the public due to increased taxes. According to the International Monetary
Fund, fuel companies are benefiting from global subKey Facts:
sidies of $5.3 trillion a year, which roughly translates If fossil fuels bore the full cost that they impose on the economy,
to 10 million per minute for a year. Though the citithen the federal gasoline tax could be quadrupled and could be
zens are aware of fuel prices, they are rarely accurately taxed on the order of 200 percent.
Eliminating global fossil fuel subsidies could reduce global oil
aware of what share of their taxes are going towards
such subsidies. This lack of transparency can affect the consumption by more than 4 million barrels per day, which would
lower crude oil prices and benefit consumer nations like United
political dynamics to revise or eliminate subsidies.
States and India.
Global carbon dioxide emissions contributing to climate change

Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies will force companies would fall by about 7 percent by 20202 and 10 percent, or more than
5 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, by 2050. (International
to internalize the costs they impose on the society,
Energy Agency 2012)
which will reduce carbon emission and will benefit

the society. Due to high lobbying influence, fossil fuel
companies have been able to continuously expand the subsidies they receive from the government. These subsidizes allow polluters to not pay the costs imposed on the society through the emissions of greenhouse gases,
like carbon and sulfur. These emissions harm the society through air pollution, diseases, or changing global
climate, which results in floods, droughts and storms. There is no justification for such subsidies as they distort
markets and damage economies. The artificially low price of fossil fuels makes it extremely difficult for green
energy technologies to enter the market as their high costs chase customers away. It also allows people to use
more than the socially optimal level of fossil fuels as the price is maintained artificially low. The current subsidies
toward renewable energies are a fraction of those provided to the fossil fuel companies and are mostly targeted
towards corn-based ethanol, which is another major contributor of the green house gases. This raises the question of whether scare government funds might be better allocated to move the United States economy towards a
low-carbon economy.

Policy Idea:

I propose eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies to level the playing field for all fuel companies. To increase such
support, we can pair fossil fuel tax preference with corporate tax reform that lowers the marginal tax rate on corporate income. Even a modest reduction in marginal tax rate and the elimination of such preferences will elicit
major support from the large oil companies as they will benefit less than smaller producers from the subsidies.
Additionally, removing these subsidies is a necessary step for nascent and developing renewable technologies to
receive funding and emerge in the markets.


The elimination of fossil fuel subsidies will allow customers to make the rational decision and shift towards
using the socially optimal level of fossil fuels, if not entirely towards using renewable energy sources. Obama has
proposed elimination of taxes since 2009. There is not a lot of political support for eliminating fossil fuel subsidies from the big companies and the lobbyists.
To gain the necessary public and corporate support for the policy, we should highlight the following:

It will decrease the fiscal burden and allow governments to use the tax funds for a socially beneficial program like universal health care or investing in education.

Most countries that provide such high level of fossil fuel subsidies to consumers have an equivalent or a

significant increase in their domestic health expenditure.

They are often advocated as a means of helping the poor access sources of energy, however, a report published by the IMF shows that subsidies are always “bad policy” and “even apart from the increase in emissions
they cause, there are generally better ways to help the poor”.

Next Steps:

Global agreement in 2016 to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020.

International support to provide common frameworks to standardize the measurement of fossil fuel subsides

International assistance to help the phasing out of fossil fuel subsides in developing countries as they will
feel unfairly targeted and will not have the necessary funds or technology to bear the short-term adverse effects

Data collection, sharing and analysis on subsidies and investment in climate relevant sectors.

Promotion and support of low-carbon investors to increase the funding to green technologies so that
they are able to quickly mass produce and enter the markets as a competitor.


“Figure 3.1. Energy Subsidies.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

“Fossil Fuel Subsidies Cost $5 Trillion Annually and Worsen Pollution.” Scientific American. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.

“Fossil Fuels Subsidised by $10m a Minute, Says IMF.” The Guardian. N.p., 08 May 2015. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

“Has the Time Come to Cut Off Fossil Fuel Subsidies?” The Electricity Journal 24.4 (2011): 1-7. Web.

“Has the Time Come to Cut Off Fossil Fuel Subsidies?” The Electricity Journal 24.4 (2011): 1-7. Web.

Weaver, Karen. “A Game Change: Paying for Big-Time College Sports.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning 43.1 (2010):
14-21. Web.

Bridge the Skill Gap: Support sector partnerships
By Mason Miller, Major: Industrial and Labor Relations, ‘17, Email:
Major structural changes to the skill composition of the economy over the last few decades have led to a widening
skill gap between workers and employers. We should attempt to bridge this skill gap by fostering sector partnerships
between community colleges and employers.


Since 1983, the proportion of middle-skill jobs in the U.S. has declined from 59% to 45% . This monumental
trend has caused the displacement of millions of American workers, who have attempted to reintegrate themselves into the economy. These skill-biased layoffs, however, put more stress on the economy than cyclical layoffs.
A displaced middle-skill worker essentially has three
Key Facts:
options: to remain unemployed for long periods of
• Twenty one states have already established sector partnership
time while searching for another similarly skilled job,
to take a lower-skill, lower wage job, or attempt to ob- • Studies show that those who go through sector partnership
tain new skills necessary for higher-skilled work. Each
training programs make $4,000 more per year on average than
those who go through other training programs
of these options entails a huge reduction in earnings,
• $10 million in funding per state could train 5,500 workers per
which translates to reduced consumer demand and
year for as long as they last
threatens our economy.
But describing the shift of declining middle-skill employment is only telling half the story. If these displaced workers were all being integrated back into the workforce through one of the three options listed above, we wouldn’t have a problem. But analysis of the Beveridge
curve, a tool that plots the unemployment rate against the job vacancies rate, shows that there are currently more
job vacancies per unemployed person than there were before the recession . We see this from the employers’ side
as well, who frequently lament the fact that they can’t fill their vacancies with somebody of an appropriate skill
level. Average length of a vacancy is now over 40 days, where a more normal number would be less than twenty.
This trend is accompanied by significantly reduced job training by employers, as offshoring and automation have
proven to be cheaper than training workers . Job vacancies are detrimental as well, as having a position unfilled
can cause employers to lose hundreds of dollars in profits per day . These all point to a significant skill mismatch
between workers and employers.

Policy Idea:

To mitigate this skill gap, I propose that the federal government support the formation of sector partnerships.
In essence, these involve employers of a specific industry and educational institutions working together to write
educational curricula and establish work-oriented school programs. Generally, the goal is to provide a smooth
pathway from school to work.


This support would take the form of formulaic federal subsidies to individual states, which would then parcel
out the money and other forms of technical assistance to groups of employers and community colleges that apply for it. Current state-funded initiatives such as Wisconsin’s tell us that roughly $5 million will support 12-18
sector partnerships, which will collectively train around 5,500 displaced workers in a year. An average of $10
million per state could potentially train upwards of 55,000 workers. There is a healthy body of evidence showing that workers going through sector partnership programs are placed in jobs at a higher rate, and make about
$4,000 more per year than a control group . Given employer complaints about not being able to find skilled
enough workers, it makes sense that they should want to be active in filling their vacancies.

The Wisconsin Regional Training Program (WRTP) is an example of such a sector partnership that

focuses on providing skills to disadvantaged workers specifically (partnerships could focus on any other demographic, such as displaced workers, or not focus on any particular group of the workforce). WRTP is an association of employers and unions that primarily develops two- to eight-week training programs. These training programs are designed to fill either immediate employer
Talking Points:
needs or longer-term structural skill deficiencies, and
• There is a huge skill mismatch between today’s workers and
the main goal of the WRTP is to bring flexibility and
adaptability to the local workforce. Curricula of these • 96% of chief academic officers believe that their schools prepare
workers for well for the workforce, but only 33% of business
training programs mainly consist of technical training
leaders agree
in the manufacturing, construction, and healthcare
• Fostering sector partnerships will bring lasting structural changindustries, but also include a more general orientation
es to the job training landscape, ensuring the long-term competthat prepares trainees for the industry culture. Trainitiveness in our country’s regional industries
ing is aimed at longevity in tenure as much as it is
focused on job placement.

A study that looked at the WRTP in examining the effectiveness of sector partnerships found that it increased participant earnings by an average of $6,255 more than controls over the 24-month study period . Participants were also more likely to have longer tenure at their new job, and much more likely to have a higher hourly

Next Steps:

The federal government should run an educational initiative via the Department of Labor, and follow it up with
funding of an average of $10 million per state. States should encourage industry employers and community colleges to partner up and apply for this funding. The result will be better trained workers, more profitable employers, and more competitive American industries.


Tüzemen, Didem, and Jonathon Willis, The Vanishing Middle: Job Polarization and Workers’ Response to the Decline in Middle-Skill
Jobs, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, (2013)
For more information about the Beveridge curve and its implications regarding structural unemployment look towards the BLS:
Taylor, Timothy, A Decline in On-the-Job Training, Conversable Economist,
Gillespie, Patrick, America’s Persistent Problem: Unskilled Workers, CNN Money,
Fuller, Joseph, Whose Responsibility is it to Erase America’s Shortage of Middle Skilled Workers? The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.
com/business/archive/2015/09/whos-responsible-for-erasing-americas-shortage-of-skilled-workers/406474/ September 22, 2015

A Better Alternative to the Incarceration of Drug Users
By Jack Polizzi, Major: Policy Analysis and Management ‘18, Email:
The Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted soon. The cap on taxable earnings for social security should be
lifted, and unearned household income should be subject to taxes.


The Social Security Administration predicts that the Social Security Trust Fund for Old Age, Survivor, and
Disability Insurance (OASDI) will be completely exhausted between the years 2033 and 2037, after which point
the trust would only be able to pay around 75% of all benefits, unless some action is taken. By eliminating the
cap on taxable earnings for social security, and subjecting unearned household income (capital gains income) to
the same 6.2% paid on earned income, Social SecuriKey Facts:
ty’s solvency can be extended by more than 30 years. • Would turn a $10.6 billion hole into a $1.3 trillion surplus for

Social Security is widely considered one of
Social Security over the next 75 years
the most successful public programs in the history of • Keeps Social Security solvent until at least 2065, possibly
the United States. Since the Great Depression it has

Only impacts 1.5% of America’s highest earners
provided for the retirement of millions of Americans,
• Makes the Social Security payroll tax more equitable and
and surpluses in the trust fund have funded trillions
progressive for all Americans, ensuring everyone pays their
worth of other public programs. However, as the baby
fair share
boomer generation ages and the ratio of retirees to

workers increases, the trust fund is projected to run
out of money between the years 2033 and 2037, at which point the amount of benefits being paid out would
exceed payroll taxes coming in, and the trust fund would no longer be able to pay full benefits . The payroll tax
of 12.4% is assessed on earned household income (wages), with half paid by the earner and half by the employer.
Since the program’s inception however there has been a maximum amount of income the tax can be assessed on,
unlike the Medicare payroll tax, which has no such limit. This limit currently stands at the first $106,800 earned,
a limit last raised in 2009, and one that does not include alternative earnings such as capital gains .

Policy Idea:

My proposal is to increase revenues brought in by the social security payroll tax by lifting the cap on taxable
earnings for earners above $250,000, and instituting an equivalent payroll tax on capital gains. This would open
up a major new source of revenue for the trust fund, one that would not impose any burden on the vast majority
of Americans while ensuring they would receive their government-entitled benefits in full for another genera-


The social security administration itself calculated the effects of such a policy at the request of Senator Bernie
Sanders, Independent of Vermont. Overall, the administration calculated that over the next 75 years, the proposal would increase revenue by a whopping $11.9 trillion, more than enough to cover the expected $10.6 trillion unfunded liability projected for that time frame . The proposal itself takes advantage of the fact that, since
the mid 1970s, the ratio of earned income over the maximum to income under it has increased from .7, where it
had sat for nearly 35 years, to almost 3.0 in 2007, which means that in past decades a higher and higher proportion of income is ineligible to be taxed, contributing to the current situation, which this proposal corrects .
This proposal would also not harm average Americans, as the tax increase would only apply to the highest 1.5%
of earners in the country, and would tax some of them more fairly, as it is estimated that the top .1% of earners
make nearly half of their annual income from capital gains . Additionally, it would make the payroll tax fairer
for everyone. The tax is currently regressive, for the more one makes over the taxable maximum, the smaller the
percentage of their income they pay in payroll taxes, meaning poorer families and individuals are disproportionately affected, something that would be corrected by this proposal, as now everyone would be subject to the
same rate on almost all income.

Next Steps:

Social Security is a program that benefits every single American, and it should be protected at all costs. I
would encourage everyone, but especially Millenials and Gen Xers expecting to retire after 2035, to write to their
congressperson or Senator and ask them to support Senate Bill S. 731, the Social Security Expansion Act, introduced last year by Senator Bernie Sanders. The bill includes language which would eliminate the cap on taxable
income and applies the payroll tax to capital gains, along with changing the way cost of living adjustments are
made , slightly increasing benefits to our nation’s seniors. The bill is projected by the Social Security Administration to keep the program solvent until at least 2065, ensuring most everyone alive today access to their entitled
social security benefits.


“Proposals Affecting Trust Fund Solvency.” Proposals to Change Social Security. Accessed November 27, 2015.
“The Evolution of Social Security’s Taxable Maximum.” The Evolution of Social Security’s Taxable Maximum. Accessed November 27,
Goss, Stephen. “Response to Senator Sanders.” 2014. Accessed November 27, 2015.
“The Evolution of Social Security’s Taxable Maximum”
“Sanders Files Bill to Strengthen, Expand Social Security.” Sen. Bernie Sanders. Accessed November 27, 2015. http://www.sanders.
“Response to Senator Sanders”

Improving International Developmental Aid: Embracing Microfinance
By: Tony Zhou, Major: Economics and Philosophy ’19, Email:
The Federal Government should reallocate a portion of the current USAID budget toward funding microloans for
local entrepreneurs in regions currently receiving developmental aid.


The United States Federal Government currently provides international development aid to a plethora of
countries and regions around the world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh,
Cambodia, and Indonesia, through the United States
Key Facts:
Agency for International Development (USAID). Re- • 1. USAID is funded at $10.7 billion for fiscal year 2016.
quested by the President to be funded at $10.7 billion • 2. Historically, 97 percent of low-income borrowers repay their
for fiscal year 20161, USAID has extensive reach and • 3. Many NGO’s have been providing microloans throughout
operational capability for the worldwide alleviation of
the past decade.
suffering through long-term development.

With regards to this proposal, however, microfinance2
is defined as the supply of loans, savings, and other
basic financial services to the poor, most of whom live in developing regions of the world that already require
international assistance. Conducted through the form of providing microloans which typically range from 25
dollars to 1000 dollars, microfinancing provides people the means for financial stability and entrepreneurship
in order to self-improve their livelihoods. While the United States government currently only conducts larger
scale microfinancing domestically through the Small Business Administration (SBA), many non-governmental
organizations (NGO’s) such as Kiva, Accion, the Grameen Foundation, BRAC, and Pro Mujer have effectively
provided microloans to people in struggling regions throughout the past decade. While some have argued3 that
NGOs have already oversaturated the microfinancing market, there is more than enough room for the microfinancing market to expand into a viable and legitimate form of developmental aid as evidenced by the many
regions around the globe that currently require USAID assistance.

Policy Idea:

The Federal Government can engage in microfinancing as a form of developmental aid through a three
step process. First, it should reallocate a portion of the current USAID budget toward the Small Business Administration for the exclusive implementation of microloans to people in regions that currently require developmental aid. Second, it should engage in the normal means of oversight that USAID provides for developmental
aid projects. Lastly, it should solicit feedback from both NGO’s currently engaging in microfinance and the
recipients of microloans themselves in order to gauge the effectiveness of the program.


The crux of this issue can be defined in a simple consideration: are current models of implementing
developmental aid effective, and if not, how can microfinancing remedy the flaws? Examining developmental
aid, one can see two severe deficiencies. First, there is an overemphasis on the states of developing or struggling
regions rather than the regions themselves – subsequently, the state sector frequently flourishes while simultaneously edging out the private sector5. Even though the state sector may be important, this result is problematic because the lack of true prosperity in the private sector means that economic development would still be
contingent on state intervention instead of happening on its own accord. Consequently, for people in struggling
regions without much government support, there would not be any real improvement in quality of life. Second,
current developmental aid projects are subject to the inefficiencies and corruption of the government bureaucracy that presides over struggling regions, frequently causing aid to be siphoned away, misallocated, or simply
wasted. As a result, a Forbes 2012 study6 finds, there is a neutral or negative correlation of developmental aid
with economic growth across 131 countries because very little of the aid is actually properly implemented.

On the other hand, a microfinancing program would be implemented in a similar fashion to the tested and
proven programs of current microfinance NGOs, where any individual needing capital within an impoverished
region could apply for a small loan. While critics may question the solvency of such approach, a consultation
with those NGOs with regards to interest rates and and an extension of oversight would prevent possiblecompetition or abuse. This method would remedy both of the deficiencies with conventional models of developmental
aid because microloans are meant for private entrepreneurs within a local, developing region and would bypass
the state. Not only will the private sector be able to flourish in a counterbalancing effort against overwhelming
state sectors in some countries, but also the inefficiencies and corruptions of government but reaucracies would
not be able to affect the direct channels of microfinancing. Furthermore, looking at the track record of current
private NGO’s, millions of peoples around the world have been able to lift themselves out of poverty while still
paying off their loans, generating a high rate of return for the NGO’s as well. This added benefit means the microfinancing program would become net revenue positive and even offset some of the other costs that the SBA
may incur.

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

1. Current developmental aid has two deficiencies: focus on state
sector as well as bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption
2. Microfinancing remedies both of these deficiencies and also
generates revenue

The U.S. SBA should consolidate its
stance internationally and make the availability of microloans well known to all regions that
require developmental aid.
The U.S. SBA should periodically consult NGO’s with regards to strategies of coordinating microfinancing efforts for further efficiency and effectiveness.
Overall, USAID and the U.S. SBA should make an effort toward localized developmental aid instead of a
focus on the state sector.
Overall, the U.S. SBA should reinvest returns toward further development efforts.


1. U.S. Agency for International Development. “Fiscal Year 2016 Congressional Budget Justification”. Press
(2015). <>.
2.Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. “About Microfinance”. Site created and designed by < http://>.
3.University of Pennsylvania. “Under the Microscope: Microfinance’s Latest Growing Pains”. Press (2011). <>.
4. Magid, Larry. “Microlending: Do Good, Make Money?”. CBS News. Press (2009). <
5. Cato Institute. “Foreign Aid and Current Lending Fads”. Handbook For Congress: 537-539.
6. Harvey, Phillip D. “$4.6 Trillion Later, Foreign Aid Remains An Economic Somnolent.” Forbes. Press(2012).

Expanding the Coverage of Paid Sick Leave
By Yibo Sun, Major: Economics ‘19, Email:
Among developed countries, the United States remains one of few countries without a national paid sick leave law.
The coverage of paid sick leave should be expanded to create a more employee-friendly work environment.


On September 7, 2015, President Obama
Key Facts:
issued an executive order, requiring federal con• Up to March 2015, 35% of all workers in the United States do not
have paid sick leave.
tractors to grant at least seven days of paid sick

Up to November 2015, in only twenty-six jurisdictions in the
leave to their employees. The recent history of paid
United States, paid sick days laws are or will soon be in place.
sick leave can be traced back to November 2006
• Only 22 percent of workers in the lowest 10 percent of wage distriwhen San Francisco became the first city where
bution are benefited by paid sick leave.
all employers must provide paid sick leave to each
employee. Employees in the private sector accrue one hour of paid sick time (including sick time for family
members’ care) for every 30 hours worked within the city and can accrue and use up to 40 or 72 hours, depending on the employer’s size. Since then, four states, twenty cities and one county have followed and passed similar
laws to provide employees with the benefits of paid sick leave. However, on the national scale, there is still more
to be done. Among developed countries, the United States remains one of few countries without a national paid
leave law. In addition to the lack of legislation on a national level, the access of paid sick leave is also unequal.
For example, 89 percent of the employees earning a wage within the highest 10 percent have access to paid leave
benefits, while for employees in the lowest 10 percent of the wage distribution, only 22 percent of them are benefited from paid sick leave. The coverage of paid sick leave still needs to be expanded.

Policy Idea:

Federal, state, and local governments should enact laws or regulations to spread the benefits of paid sick
leave to employees without any paid sick time and facing the hard choice between work and health of their family members or their own. Currently, Family and Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid and job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The federal government
should amend this act to include paid sick leave. Employees should be permitted to accrue a certain number
of hours of paid sick leave, depending on the number of hours him or her performs work, the size of his or her
employer, and the type of his or her workplace.


Paid sick leave promotes health for employees and their families. If an employee works long enough,
he or she will need paid sick days at some point, either because of the illness of his or her own or of his or her
family members. Workers recover from health problems faster when they can take time to recuperate. Also, with
paid sick leave, they will not face the loss of wages or be forced to choose between staying at home and going to
work with illness or with a sick child left at home or sent to school. Paid sick leave also promotes health in the
workplace, since contagious illness will be prevented from spreading if a sick employee can stay at home. Secondly, paid sick leave is also beneficial for employers. A study of the effects of paid sick leave law in San Francisco shows that six out of seven employers did not report any negative effect on profitability. In Connecticut, in a
survey conducted by Center for Economic and Policy Research, almost two-thirds of employers reported that
the new state law had led to no change (46.8 percent) or a small increase of less than 2 percent (19.1 percent) in
their overall costs. Even though they have to pay wages to employees on legitimate sick leave, gains still outweigh
the loss. Employers can cope with the temporary leave of a few employees by such means as swapping shifts.
With paid sick leave, employees at work are healthier and more productive. Paid sick leave also reduces stress
and improves morale in workplaces. In fact, in Connecticut, a year and a half after its implementation, more
than three-quarters of surveyed employers expressed support for the paid sick leave law.

Finally, paid sick leave does not have a negative impact on the economy as feared by opponents. Right after the
introduction of paid sick days, from 2007 to 2008, employment increased by 4.5 percent in San Francisco, and
1.4 percent in the surrounding counties.

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

Federal and local governments should amend their • There is a huge skill mismatch between today’s workers and
respective laws on sick leave, most of which are now
• 96% of chief academic officers believe that their schools prepare
not paid, to promote paid sick leave benefits among
workers for well for the workforce, but only 33% of business
workers in more professions and workplaces. Emleaders agree
ployees should be guaranteed a certain amount of
• Fostering sector partnerships will bring lasting structural changes to the job training landscape, ensuring the long-term compethours to stay at home for health issues of his or her
itiveness in our country’s regional industries
own or his or her family members without worrying
about his or her income or the risk of losing the job.
Since the outcome of San Francisco and Connecticut are optimistic, it is a good idea to start with similar ways of calculating paid leave time, but in the process of
legislation, further investigation into this issue is called for. It is important to keep track and get a clearer picture
of the outcomes or impacts of paid sick leave laws on cities and states where they are already implemented. Research is also needed on a local level to come up with the optimal ways of accruing the number of hours of paid
sick leave, and also to see if discrepancies should be allowed depending on the sectors that employees work in,
or whether the employee is part-time or full-time. Meanwhile, more emphasis should be put on employees earning low wages or working in sectors with typically low rates of access to paid sick leaves, such as accommodation and food service, since they are the workers who enjoy the least benefits now and will be most significantly
influenced by the new legislation.


Appelbaum, Eileen, Ruth Milkman, Luke Elliott, and Teresa Kroeger. “Good for Business? Connecticut’s
Paid Sick Leave Law.” Center for Economic and Policy Research. March, 2014. Accessed November 23, 2015.
“Current Paid Sick Days Laws.” National Partnership for Women & Families. November 4, 2015. Accessed November 20, 2015.
Drago, Robert, and Vicky Lovell. “San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers
and Employees.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. February, 2011. Accessed November 23, 2015.
Earle, Alison, Jody Heymann, Hye Jin Rho, and John Schmitt. “Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid
Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries.” May, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2015.
“Executive Order -- Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors.” The White House. September
7, 2015. Accessed November 20, 2015.
“Family and Medical Leave Act.” United States Department of Labor. Accessed
December 4, 2015.
Grinyer, Anne and Vicky Singleton. “Sickness Absence as Risk-Taking Behavior: A Study of Organizational and Cultural Factors inthe Public Sector,” Health, Risk & Society 2 (March, 2000):14.
Miller, Kevin, and Sarah Towne. “San Francisco Employment Growth Remains Stronger with Paid Sick
Days Law Than Surrounding Counties.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. September, 2011. Accessed November 23, 2015.
“San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance - Fact Sheet” City and County of San Francisco Office Of
Labor Standards Enforcement. Accessed November 23, 2015.
“Table 6. Selected Paid Leave Benefits: Access.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. March, 2015. Accessed
November 22, 2015.

Meet the Center for Economic Policy and Development
Anita Li, Director
I’m a junior majoring in Policy Analysis and Management. While
originally from China, I’ve been living in New York City for the past
several years. In additon to the Roosevelt Institute, I’m also a undergraduate research assistant at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research at the College of Human Ecology. My policy interests
include immigration, education, and urban policy. I plan to pursue a
PhD in Sociology after graduation. In my spare time, I enjor reading,
hiking and going to museums.

Mason Miller

My name is Mason Miller, and I’m a Junior pursuing a major in ILR
with a minor in Economics. Besides writing for the Roosevelt Institute, I research and present on macroeconomics and monetary policy
as part of Cornell’s Federal Reserve Challenge Club, conduct research
on higher education policy for Professor Ronald Ehrenberg, serve as a
Commissioner on the SAFC, and act as President of Men’s Club Water
Polo. In my free time you can find me researching more about economic policy, reading literature, hiking, exploring U.S. National Parks,
or relaxing on the Southern California beaches I call home. Someday I
hope to make this world a better place through economics, education,
love, and compassion.

Puneet Brar
Puneet Brar is a sophomore studying Applied Economics and Management at Charles Dyson School in Cornell University. She intends
to concentrate in Energy, Environmental and Resource Economics
and Strategy and minor in Policy Analysis and Management and
Law and Society. She is heavily involved in campus in various types
of organizations like Cornell Consulting Club, Cornell Global Economics and Finance Society, Cornell International Business Affairs
and Roosevelt Institute. She also works as a undergraduate research
assistant in the Policy Analysis Department in Human Ecology. She
aspires to work in a career field that is a combination of economics
and policy. Outside of academics, she enjoys readings, painting and
taking long walks.

Jady Wei

Tony Zhou

Hanna Blunden

Jill Sternthal

Jady is a freshman studying Economics and Government in the
College of Arts & Sciences. Outside of writing for Roosevelt Institute’s Economic Policy Sector, she is also involved with economics
through Ellevate and Global China Connection. Additionally, as
a part of AIESEC Cornell and a volunteer through the Alternative
Breaks program, Jady is passionate about reaching out to her community and creating social impact in any small way she can. Last
summer, Jady just finished coding her own software program, “The
History Hopper,” using the JAVA language.

Tony Zhou is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences at
Cornell University, majoring in Economics and Philosophy and
minoring in International Relations. He is a member of the Cornell Policy Debate Team and a Staff Writer for The Diplomacist.
His policy interests include international economic development
and U.S. foreign policy in Africa. He is from Naperville, Illinois.

I’m a senior from North Carolina in ILR with a focus on Labor Economics and a minor in Inequality studies. In addition to the Roosevelt Institute, I work as a communications assistant at Wilson Lab
for the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source. After graduation, I
hope to work in economic policy research and design in an attempt
to address wealth inequality and the failure of American institutions
to adequately address socioeconomic stratification. In my spare time
I enjoy writing, cinema, live music, and the outdoors.

Jill is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology, majoring in
Policy Analysis and Management. She is particularly interested in
studying the economics behind public policy. Outside of the Roosevelt
Institute, she is an active member of the Cornell Ultimate club team.

III. Center for Education Policy
“The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Gideon Teitel ‘17
Phoebe Keller ‘18
Toni-Anne Richards ‘18
Letter from the Policy Director
“Expanding College Opportunities for Eager Rural Students ”
Toni-Anne Richards
Richards ‘18
By implementing ‘fifth-year’ high school programs in rural school districts, Oregon legislators can ensure that these
students consider college a viable option through guidance from counselors.
“A Level Playing Field: All Colleges Should Face Gainful Employment Regulations”
Phoebe Keller ‘18
Gainful employment regulations, which govern the allocation of Title IV funding, must be applied to the non-forprofit sector of higher education as well if they are to equitably expose all schools underpreparing their graduates to
enter the workforce.

Meet the Center for Education Policy

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am excited to present to you the ninth issue of Looking Ahead: The Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal by the Center for Education Policy and
Development. This journal contains the work of two policy analysts; each of
whom spent many hours doing in-depth research and careful deliberation to
find solutions to the problems plaguing our education system today.

As students at Cornell University, we’ve experienced firsthand much of the
benefits that our education system has to offer. With this, however, we become
more aware of the gaping and ever-incresing inequality that still exists. From
school vouchers to teacher unions to charter schools, one could spend countless hours debating proposed solutions. We all come from incredibly diverse
backgrounds to attend one of the best academic institutions in the world, and
with our varying perspectives we are in a unique position to discuss and search
for solutions that ensure the greatest possible equality in education.

Each proposal in this journal engages with some of the toughest issues
surrounding education reform. Together, they show all that we have the potential to accomplish if we fight hard enough. We’re lucky to be where we are today
because of education; it’s up to us to provide this opportunity to everyone.
Gideon Teitel

Industrial and Labor Relations ‘17
Director, Center for Education Policy and Development

Dual Language Programs Should be Expanded among New York City Public Schools
By Toni-Anne Richards, A&S ‘18, Email:
My proposal would continue the extension of dual language programs in New York City public elementary and
middle schools, which have proven to foster improved language development between English-language learners and
native speakers while also producing better test scores overall.


Key Facts:

Dual language programs first appeared in
• The dual language programs at George Washington Elementathe 1960s to address the needs of Spanish-speaking
ry helped 2nd grade dual language students outperform their
students in Florida and French-speaking students in
peers on the Developmental Reading Assessment by 8%.
Maine. In 1963, the Coral Way School in Miami be•  Latinos in two-language programs performed better on the
state’s English Language Arts test than students in English imcame a pioneer for dual language learning by establishmersion programs, going from 0.15 standard derivations below
ing a “Spanish for Spanish” program and becoming the
their peers in second grade to 0.2 derivations above them by
first bilingual school in the United States with the goal
eight grade.
of promoting bilingual fluency among all students.
•  Dual language programs in NYC schools have increased to
Once considered a novelty, dual-language programs
the current total of 180.
are now being recognized as a benefit to both native
and nonnative speakers and increasing in numbers
across the country. In many New York City elementary schools, these programs have expanded with the primary goal of increasing access to English Language Learning (ELL) students, but have also attracted the parents
of native English speakers who feel bi-literacy will give their children an advantage in the global economy. This
fall alone, 39 programs were either created or expanded, a large increase from the 25 programs established two
years earlier that brings the total to 180.2 While some have advocated for differently structured forms of language instruction for ELL students, like structured English immersion or English Second Language Push-in and
Pull-out, the dual language method offers the most cost effective and successful means of teaching language to
students of multiple backgrounds.

The Department of Education should continue to foster the expansion of dual-language programs where
there is a demand through subsidization of bilingual teachers and planning grants to provide support for materials and consultants who can get these programs started. Many have claimed that dual language programs
hinder the progress of English language learning students for the benefit of native English-speaking parents
who want their children to learn a second language. In this regard, the focus is on immediate, tangible evidence
of improvement rather than long-term success in terms of mastery of the English language. Because of this,
the structured English immersion (SEI) form of teaching is still the dominant method among schools. In these
programs, teaching is focused on English grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation with subjects being taught in
English at the student’s comprehension level. Besides the costs associated with having to create English immersion programs separately from a school’s curriculum, the claim that dual language programs hinder nonnative
English-speaking is not statistically accurate. A 2002 George Mason University study using data from 15 states
over the course of 18 years compared students in dual language programs to those in transitional bilingual or
English-only classes. It revealed that the dual language model closed the achievement gap between ELL and
native speakers. In 2011, the dual language program at the George Washington Elementary served a school
population that was 50% Latino, 20% black and 30% white or another race. The program boosted involvement by
Latino parents, fostered cross-cultural appreciation among students and helped 2nd grade dual language students outperform their peers on the Developmental Reading Assessment by 8%. The ESL Push-In and Pull-Out
method has tutors work alongside teachers in classrooms to help them learn English, which emphasizes a steadier build towards English comprehension. By comparison, dual language is a more cost effective method that can
address the literacy needs of English language learners within a regular classroom setting and without the need

for additional teachers. In 2014, Stanford University study showed that, in the long-term, Latinos in two-language programs performed better on the state’s English Language Arts test than students in English immersion
programs, going from 0.15 standard derivations below
Talking Points:
their peers in second grade to 0.2 derivations above them • Expanded dual language programs have statistically
positive effects on English language learners and native
by eighth grade.

Next Steps:

 Enrollment in dual language programs have more positive effects on ELL students in the long term
Compared to structured English immersion method, the
dual language arrangement is more conducive to improved
language and comprehension skills.

Funding for language programs often come

through partnerships with city universities. The Subsidized Bilingual Extension Program allows principals to
nominate new and current teachers at their schools to
start teaching bilingual students under a supplemental
New York state bilingual extension program while completing coursework at a partnering university. The cost
would then be subsidized by the city’s Department of
Education. The expansion of dual language programs, per request of the parents of students in different school
districts, could continue to foster the kind of improvement among English language learners that also benefits
English native speakers.


2 Harris, Elizabeth. “Dual Language Programs Are on the Rise, Even for Native English Speakers.” New York Times. http://www. (Accessed
November 30, 2015)
3 Wilson, David McKay. “Dual Language Programs on the Rise.” Harvard Education Letter. (Accessed December 1, 2015)
4 Myers, Andrew. “Students learning English benefit more in two-language instructional programs than English immersion, Stanford
Research finds.” Stanford Report. (Accessed December 1, 2015)

A Level Playing Field: All Colleges Should Face Gainful Employment Regulations

By Phoebe Keller, Email:
Gainful employment regulations, which govern the allocation of Title IV funding, must be applied to the non-forprofit sector of higher education as well if they are to equitably expose all schools underpreparing their graduates to
enter the workforce.


In the wake of increasingly virulent backlash against for-profit schools, the Obama administration has
taken steps to regulate and defund poor performing for-profit schools. A new federal policy, instituted in July,
requires for-profit schools to make public information including program costs, graduation rate, average graduate earning and average debt.1 New regulations also
Key Facts:

require that the estimated anaim to penalize schools that do not provide their
does not either exceed
average graduate with “gainful employment.” These
20 percent of his discretionary income or 8 percent of his total
regulations require that the estimated annual loan
payment of a typical graduate not exceed
• In 2013, New York State’s two-year for-profits graduated a larger
either 20 percent of his discretionary income or 8
percentage of their full-time associate’s degree students than
any other higher-education sector, including private nonprofit
percent of his total earnings.2 Any for-profit colcolleges.
lege which does not fulfill this requirement becomes
• 32% of all community college graduates and 57% of private
ineligible for federal Title IV funding – often nearly
institutions earn less than high school dropouts, according to a
90 percent of revenue at for-profit institutions.3 One
recent Pell report.
shocking statistic, touted by the Department of Education, is that 72% of graduates of for-profit programs make less than high school dropouts. 4 However, further
investigation by the Washington Post revealed that 32% of all community college graduates and 57% of private
institutions also earn less than high school dropouts.5 These statistics reveal the bias inherent in evaluating
for-profit colleges. Although there is certainly variability among different types of schools and majors hidden
within this overarching statistic, the breakdown of which types of schools and programs are weakest would be
most clearly revealed in the
release of information required by gainful employment regulations. By applying these metrics exclusively to
for-profit schools, the federal government is failing to save students from equally poor not-for-profit schools.


The federal government must broaden its imposition of the Gainful Employment Act to monitor all colleges and
universities that currently receive Title IV funding. This amended policy would require that all colleges make
additional performance statistics available to the public. The new act will also provide strict criterion for government investment by denying funding to any school whose graduates are not “gainfully employed,” and thus
saddled with crippling debt and poor job prospects.
In 2012, an earlier draft of the gainful employment rule was stuck down by a federal judge on the grounds that its
requirements seemed “arbitrary.”7 The only way to tell whether the metrics used by any version of gainful employment are consistently strong predictors of a college’s success is to expand the policy beyond a small pool of
for-profit schools. The new college Scorecard represents the administration’s understanding that often the most
efficient way to expose poor schools is to create a class of rational, informed consumers, and trust that they will
not waste their money on weak programs. Therefore, additional information, like program costs, average
graduate salary and average graduate debt should be made public by all institutions, not only those in the
for-profit sector. There is good reason to believe that some colleges in the not-for-profit sector would fare worse
than the average for-profit when faced with stringent gainful employment regulations. In 2013, New York State’s
two-year for-profits graduated a larger percentage of their full-time associate’s degree students than any other
higher-education sector, including private nonprofit colleges. Many low-performing or unmotivated students,
who are still encouraged to pursue a bachelor’s degree, attend exceptionally poor four-year colleges with low
graduation rates, like Southern University at New Orleans, Louisiana which has a graduation rate of 4% or the
University of the District of Columbia, Washington D.C., which has a graduation rate of 7.7%.10 Although these

statistics may be somewhat deflated, because students who transfer out of these poor schools are only counted
in the denominator of graduation rate calculations, the poor performance of these schools still merits further
investigation. All schools should be required to produce graduates capable of securing gainful employment,
not only for-profit colleges.

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

The release of Obama’s college Scorecard represents the
vital importance of making students informed consumers.
All schools should be required to release the additional
statistics that currently only available for for-profit schools.
Some critics have claimed that gainful employment regulations are too stringent, calling the metrics used unfair.6
The validity of this argument could be verified if regulations were applied equally to all colleges.
If the federal government has decided not to fund schools
that underprepare students to enter the workforce, why
should it continue to invest in not-for-profit schools of even
worse quality?

The Department of Education, lead by Secretary
Arne Duncan, must move to amend the Gainful Employment Act and propose that funding to all colleges,
not just for-profit institutions, be made contingent upon •
whether they are able to succeed under this new policy.
Duncan and others at the Department of Education have

taken increasingly aggressive action against for-profit
schools recently, demonstrating that they are interested in protecting student interests at weak or fraudulent
colleges. Student loan companies could also be potential
allies in this effort, as they are interested in increasing
the information available about the success of a college’s graduates. These companies are interested in information indicating which schools produce graduates best equipped to secure lucrative employment, and are thus
most likely to repay their loans completely and efficiently. Just as the details of gainful employment regulations
were announced to for-profit schools significantly before they were implemented, all schools should be given
advanced notice before this policy is implemented so they can begin to consider any necessary changes to their
All college students and prospective students should be interested in this issue, because it has or will affect them
directly which schools are entitled to Title IV funding. Many students have not heard about or do not understand gainful employment; they have only heard horror stories about the failures of different for-profit colleges.
The first step in raising student support for this amendment would be to host a panel to educate students about
gainful employment, and how increasing the available information and statistics about colleges would be beneficial to them. Besides students, another key ally could be private student loan companies. There are certain
organizations, including the company College Avenue, that loan to certain, vetted for-profit colleges. It would be
useful to speak to representatives from these agencies to see how they compare which for-profits are equally or


1 “Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Increases Accountability for Low-Performing For-Profit Institutions.” Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Increases Accountability for Low-Performing For-Profit Institutions. Accessed November 22, 2015.
2 “Do 72 Percent of For-profit Programs Have Graduates Making Less than High
3 “CommentariesGainful Employment: An Unfair Rule With Bad Consequences ByMarc Jerome.” Accessed November 22, 2015.
4 School Dropouts?” Washington Post. Accessed November 22, 2015.
5 “Gainful Employment Will Hit For-profits and Their Students Hard, Industry Study Finds | Inside Higher Ed.”
6 ”President Obama’s College Scorecard.” The New York Times. September 20, 2015.
7 “A Gateway to the Working World by Judah Bellin, City Journal Spring 2015.”
8 Miller, Ben. “America’s Worst Colleges.” The Washington Monthly. October 1, 2014.
9 “Simple and Quick Student Loans | College Ave.” College Ave Student Loans Home Comments.
10 “About ED.” Overview and Mission Statement. Accessed November 22, 2015.

IV. Center for Energy & Environmental Policy
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to
our people.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Liam Berigan ‘17
Veronica Dickson ‘18
Abhinav Vijay ‘17
Shashank Vura ‘19

Jineet Patel ‘18
Julia Heyman ‘18
Julia Malits ‘16

Letter from the Director

“Mid-Frequency Sonar: Marine mammals are paying the price for our military practices”
Veronica Dickson ‘18
The use of mid-frequency military sonar has changed the landscape of cetacean life. In the last half-century, whales and dolphins have suffered through a mélange of side-effects related to increased noise pollution. The negative effects on their habitat
and physiological well-being can permanently affect whale and dolphin populations. Environmentalists and marine scientists
are on a campaign to decrease the use of sonar and create protected sites in order to mitigate the decline in marine life.

“Wind Energy: North Carolina Needs to Step Up and Take Charge”
Jineet Patel ‘18
Although the federal funding for wind energy is shaky at best, North Carolina must take charge and tap into this resource by
both extending and increasing their renewable energy state tax credit for starter commercial wind projects.

“Conservation Banking: The need for reform to enhance conservation”
Abhinav Vijay ’17
Conservation Banking provides a mechanism for ranchers and landowners to receive payments for managing their land to
benefit wildlife. However, the system is in need of reform to ensure that the species are effectively protected.

“Cornell’s Energy Resources: Wind Power is the Key”
Julia Heyman ’18
Cornell University should reinstate its wind turbine project from 2004 to harness locally-produced wind electricity to improve
cost effectiveness and utilize a clean, sustainable source of fuel.
“Restoring the Prairies: Returning the Bison to its Old Stomping Grounds”
Shashank Vura ‘19
To preserve both prairie habitat and Native American heritage, the federal and state government should reintroduce the American Bison (Bison bison) to parts of its former range.
“Fracking Wastewater: A Ban on Road Spreading”
Julia Malits ‘16
In June of 2015, New York State banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) under the Cuomo administration. The
law came after an extensive seven-year review of the fracking industry, whereby the Department of Conservation found strong
evidence of associated adverse environmental and public health impacts. Surprisingly, New York State continues to allow the
practice of “road spreading,” which pours fracking wastewater on roads to break up ice, suppress dust and stabilize roads. In
order to fully deflect the harmful environmental and health effects of fracking, New York State must next impose a ban on the
practice of “road spreading”.

Meet the Center for Energy and Environment

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am proud to present the ninth issue of Looking Ahead: The Cornell
Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal from the Center for Energy and Environment. In my final semester as the Policy Director and Editor of this journal,
I once again had the privilege of working with each these analysts individually on the issues that inspire them. Their talent and innovation never cease
to amaze me.

Each analyst has combined creativity and passion with careful research and hard work to produce the policy proposals that comprise this
publication. I have found each piece to be enjoyable to read and incredibly
thought provoking and I hope you will as well.
Liam Berigan
Biology (CALS ‘17)
Director, Center for Energy & Environment

Mid-Frequency Sonar:
Marine mammals are paying the price for our military practices
By Veronica Dickson, Major: ILR ‘18, Email:

The use of mid-frequency military sonar has changed the landscape of cetacean life. In the last half-century, whales
and dolphins have suffered through a mélange of side-effects related to increased noise pollution. The negative effects
on their habitat and physiological well-being can permanently affect whale and dolphin populations. Environmentalists and marine scientists are on a campaign to decrease the use of sonar and create protected sites in order to
mitigate the decline in marine life.
Key Facts:

The ocean has long been considered a barrier • Under research conducted by the Navy, estimates say that
increased sonar training could significantly harm marine life
to humans, yet under the waves there lie an intricate
more than 10 million times during the next five years on the US
network of pathways, currents, and channels that
coast alone.xiv
remain essential to scores of marine species. While

In 2000, 16 whales of three different species became
military sonar exercises are crucial for the economic
stranded across 150 miles of Bahamian coastline.xv
vitality and safety of many countries, the ecological

There are vast expanses of ocean with limited marine life,
and conservationists urge Naval scientists to set up exercise in
impact has become too hazardous for several species
these oxygen starved “deserts”.
of whales, dolphins and porpoises. A single sonar
system can operate at over 235 decibels.i To put this
in perspective, a Saturn V rocket launch measures in at 220 decibels. In fact, the space shuttle launch is so loud,
there is a sound suppression system entirely dedicated to preventing the sound waves from damaging the craft.
Sound waves can travel across hundreds of miles of ocean and interfere with various aspects of cetacean life.
As whales use echolocation in order to hunt and navigate, the intensity of man-made sound waves has forced
whales to swim hundreds of miles off course, rapidly change their depth, and stray from age-old migratory
patterns. The journal Nature, published research citing that sonar has been known to cause permanent hearing
loss in some cetaceans.iii Without their hearing, whales and dolphins have a very low chance of survival. Physiologically, the sonar can cause bleeding of the brain, eyes and ears and has caused decompression sickness in
whales due to increased surfacing.iv Nitrogen begins to bubble in major organs and this has been known to cause
fatalities among whale populations. In fact, recent years have seen increased cases of whales beaching themselves
in order to get away from the sounds of sonar.

Policy Idea:

The past two decades have seen an alarming rise in whale strandings linked to military sonar use.v Marine mammal scientists and conservation NGO’s have been pressuring military authorities to decrease the use of
sonar in the mid-frequency range in order to mitigate beaked whale population decline. While the military must
continue to train and develop new sonar technologies, there is a responsibility to develop a better understanding
of the mechanisms that lead to mortality in whales exposed to As well as increased research, the military
must recognize protected areas (including offshore) where there might be increased cetacean activity. These sensitive regions should be declared off-limits for military sonar testing.vii


Mid-range frequency sonar is the Navy’s primary tactical sonar and the main tool used to combat ultra-quiet submarines, but it is hugely damaging to any species exposed to the sound waves.viii In order to mitigate the effects of sonar use, there are policies in place that restrict the use of mid-range frequencies and prioritize training using low frequency sonar. Species of beaked whales have been found to be the most sensitive to
mid-frequency sonar use.ix Since 1991, there have been over 60 cases of beaked whale beachings. These numbers
far exceed the death toll of sonar on any other marine mammal. Research shows that beaked whales have more
sensitive hearing abilities and their vocalizations tend to be concentrated at a very high frequency range. This
prevents beaked whales from communicating between pods and can affect the number of calves born in a year.
In order to tailor new sonar technology to the needs of all marine mammals, a five-year project was launched in

2010, fully funded by the Navy with the express intent to analyze why and how sonar affects marine mammals
so deeply.x Several entities have denied the Navy access to offshore locations where they might train and perform
exercises. The California Coastal Commission has rejected a five-year plan for offshore training in Southern
California- a plan that could inadvertently kill an estimated 155 whales and dolphins. Certain exercise camps
have adopted a technique of slowly ramping up the intensity of the signal in order to warn all cetaceans in the
area. Studies thus far have shown that high-frequency sonar may be less harmful to marine mammals due to the
fact that the sound is quickly absorbed by water therefore the range is far shorter.xi Commercial vessels can also
rely on sonar for navigational purposes, and oil tankers use loud airgun arrays to search for underwater oilfields.
In order to decrease overall noise pollution I propose the Navy and commercial manufacturers adopt a heavier
reliance on high-frequency sonar for the time being. There should also be increased air coverage in areas where
the Navy plans to develop and train with sonar. By flying planes and drones over coastal regions, scientists can
analyze the footage and detect whether there is increased marine mammal activity in the region.
Next Steps:

While there are many bodies and groups invested in the decreased use of mid-frequency sonar, the Navy
has often sidestepped permit requests or illegally used off-limits sites.xii On September 14th 2015, a federal court
approved a settlement brought by environmental
Talking Points:
organizations in the wake of illegal Naval testing • Whales, dolphins and porpoises are facing severe impacts due to
mid and low frequency Naval sonar testing and exercises.
off coasts of Hawaii and California. There has

The effects of sonar on marine mammals range from bursting
been back and forth litigation between environblood vessels around their eyes and ears, and preventing communimentalists such as the NRDC (Natural Resources
cation between pods and families. Without active communication, a
Defense Council) and US military. Until the
whale or a dolphin has little chance of survival.
Navy can reconcile the national security needs of • Increased litigation and activism in the marine conservationist
community has affected environmental policy in order to prevent the
the country with the requests of marine scientists
widespread use of sonar in highly populated coastlines. There have
and conservationists, it is unlikely that increased
also been strides in regards to using less potent sonar (high frequenregional restrictions or more sensitive training
cy) and research is being directed to mitigating the damaging effects
will increase the quality of life for all cetaceans.
of sonar.
Even without the use of sonar, increased human
presence in the ocean means an increase of ship strikes and pollution. Coastal Commissions and lawsuits can
keep the Navy at bay for the time being, however until whale populations begin to severely decrease, it is unlikely
that there will be any action on a federal level. The use of mid-frequency sonar violates the National Environmental Policy Act, however it is up to grassroots organizations such as Seaflow, or coastal commissions to enforce the standards upheld by the Act. The Navy is compelled to assess and mitigate any damages done to marine
life, however this is not enough. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Protection
Agency have the means to lobby congressional decision makers, launch educational campaigns and financially
support regional organizations to oppose LFA (Low Frequency Active) Sonar.xiii


i “Lethal Sounds.” NRDC:. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
ii “How Loud Is a NASA Rocket Launch (for Public Observers)? - Straight Dope Message Board.” RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
iii Shrope, “Nature” 415, :. 10 January 2002 N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
iv “Lethal Sounds.” NRDC:. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
v Whiting, Candace Calloway. “Mass Whale Stranding Proven to Be Caused by Sonar.” The Huffington Post.,
n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
vi “Science Wire: How Does Sonar Work? Whales and Sonar | Exploratorium.”Science Wire: How Does Sonar Work? Whales and Sonar
| Exploratorium. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
vii “Science/AAAS | News.” Scientific Community. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
viii “Mid- And Low-Frequency Sonar.” Mid- And Low-Frequency Sonar. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
ix “Blue and Beaked Whales Affected by Simulated Navy Sonar - BBC News.”BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
x “Whales to Gain ‘Long-sought Protections’ as Navy Limits Sonar Use, Activists Say (x-post).” - Democratic Underground. N.p., n.d.
Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
xi “Whales and Sonar.” Whales and Sonar. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
xii “U.S. Navy to Limit Sonar Testing to Protect Whales.” U.S. Navy to Limit Sonar Testing to Protect Whales. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec.

Wind Energy:

North Carolina Needs to Step Up and Take Charge

By Jineet Patel, Major: Human Biology, Health and Society ‘18 , Email:
Although the federal funding for wind energy is shaky at best, North Carolina must take charge and tap into this resource by both extending and increasing their renewable energy state tax credit for starter commercial wind projects.


The United States is consistently one of the top energy consumers in the world, and the majority of our
energy production comes from the usage of petroleum, coal and natural gas. Renewable energy and nuclear
power, on the other hand, only accounted for about 20% of domestic energy production in 2014.i This percentage
is the product of a decade-long surge in renewable energy production, but the United States is still dominated by
non-renewable energy sources that will prove to be fatal in the long run.

Out of all of the renewable energy sources, wind energy is one of the most promising prospects. Wind
energy is one of the most reliable sources of energy, apparent in both onshore and offshore usage in many European countries. Wind energy use has grown quickly in the US over the last ten years, with an annual growth
around 25%.ii However, even with the growth, only 4% of the domestic electricity production in 2014 came from
wind energy.iii Although the US Department of Energy has a goal of achieving 20% electricity production via
wind energy by 2013, many companies are closing or relocating because of uncertain future federal tax benefits.
Despite federal uncertainties, states with a large potential for wind industry (like North Carolina) have the
capacity to step in and provide the tax security that these wind power companies need.

Policy Idea:

North Carolina’s coastline offers a unique opportunity for both onshore and offshore wind energy that
would help make the state more energy independent. Rather than arguing over the state’s renewable tax credit,
the NC General Assembly needs to extend the tax credit and also add a clause that would increase the tax credit
specifically for companies starting new wind energy facilities. This would specifically encourage more companies
to start facilities in the state, both onshore and offshore.


Earlier this year, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published an Environmental Assessment
report that stated that “environmental effects associated with the commercial wind lease issuance and related
activities would not significantly impact the environment”.v The only step remaining that separates North Carolina from greatly increasing its wind energy capabilities is the large financial burden that comes with commercial
investment in wind energy. The tax credit, offered by both federal and state governments, assists companies in
embarking on high cost projects that would later pay large dividends. With the status of the federal tax credit
becoming increasingly unclear, it would only be beneficial for the state to take charge, and increase its support
for wind energy.

The benefits that would result from this change in policy are immense. With the policy directly increasing
the number of new wind energy facilities, the job growth would increase for the construction and maintenance
phases of the operations, with many permanent jobs created. This would also assist in making North Carolina
more energy independent, in a manner that would sustain projected growth in expected energy consumption
in the On top of everything, the state would receive millions of dollars in newly charged property taxes.
Property taxes that would essentially pay for the cost of the tax credit in new tax revenue. All in all, it’s clear that
such both extending and increasing state tax credit for wind energy is the right move.vii

Next Steps:

In order to both extend and increase renewable state tax credit for wind energy facilities, the NC General
Assembly would have to pass those actions. In order to make that as efficient as possible, a comprehensive study
is the right option. This study could utilize any of a number of government agencies, both state and federal, that
are involved in the implementation and regulation of renewable energy technology. This policy would have the
backing of numerous commercial companies that would benefit from the renewable energy tax credit, which
would only help in convincing senators and representatives. However, it is important to note that only the NC
General Assembly can pass these changes and make all of this possible.


i “U.S. Energy Facts.” US Energy Information Administration. March 26, 2015. Accessed December 6, 2015.
ii “U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2014 Market Report.” January 28, 2015. Accessed December 6, 2015.
AWEA Market Report Public Version.pdf.
iii “Electric Power Monthly with Data for January 2014.” March 1, 2014. Accessed December 6, 2015.
iv Gerhardt, Tina. “Wind Energy Gets a Boost off Fiscal Cliff Deal.” January 6, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2015.
v “North Carolina Activities.” Accessed December 6, 2015.
vi “Why Wind Power for North Carolina?” North Carolina Wind Energy. February 1, 2003. Accessed December 6, 2015.
vii “Offshore Wind for N.C.” Accessed December 6, 2015.

Conservation Banking:

The need for reform to enhance conservation efforts.
By Abhinav Vijay, Major: Environmental Science and Sustainability ‘17, Email:
Conservation Banking provides a mechanism for ranchers and landowners to receive payments for managing their
land to benefit wildlife. However, the system is in need of reform to ensure that the species are effectively protected.

Background and Context:

Key Facts:

Conservation banks were designed by the US • Conservation banking was established to incentivize conservation among landowners vi
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to allow landowners to earn income by managing their lands to benefit • President Obama released a memorandum stating that all
development projects must result in net benefit to environmenwildlife. This was seen as a solution to the unintendtal resources
ed incentives of the rigid Endangered Species Act

Conservation banks are suffering from failure in measuring
of 1973 (ESA) which propagated the “shoot, shovel,
ecological outcomes
and shut up” approachi which resulted in landowners
quickly disposed of endangered or threatened species on their property instead of protecting them as the act
intended. Conservation bank programs are implemented to mitigate impacts of development projects on species
of concern (endangered or threatened). These banks are publicly or privately held lands that are protected by
easements and managed to provide habitat of species of concern.ii Conservation banking has been implemented in California since 1995 while the USFWS released a guidance in 2003. What initially started as a way of an
innovative approach to conservation has morphed into a pseudo-industry worth 100-370 million USD that has
potentially prioritized profit maximization over other conservation motives.iii

Policy Idea:

Currently, conservation banks are awarded an initial quantity of credits that can be sold after a biological
analysis by the USFWS. However, once credits are sold out, the bank becomes inactive and reverts to the long
term management plan stated in the initial conservation banking agreement. This is not ideal as there is not long
term financial incentive to maintain the habitat. Furthermore conservation banks need to be held to more stringent measureable outcomes. The current system suffers from a failure to monitor ecological outcomesiv which
needs addressing.


On 3rd November 2015, President Obama released a memorandum stating that development projects on
public lands should achieve net benefit for the nation’s environmental resources.v To achieve this objective the
conservation banking system needs to be reformed. The FWS states that “monitoring is the responsibility of the
conservation bank” in their guidance. However to better ensure that ecological outcomes are achieved, monitoring has to be conducted from the federal government. The guidance states that performance standards to be
achieved must be stated in the conservation bank agreement. However FWS does not state how these standards
will then be verified. Furthermore, there is a lack of transparency over the management of these conservation
banks. While credit transactions are accessible through Regulatory In lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking
System (RIBITS) online database, actual ecological performance is harder to come by. A potential solution is to
migrate towards a credit exchange, some have already been developed in some western states, as opposed to the
current model. This will ensure that credits are continually being generated as opposed to the one-time generation from the establishment of the bank as well as requiring more stringent monitoring of ecological outcomes.

Next Steps:

Firstly, the FWS needs to be the clear driver for the changes in approach towards conservation banking.
However the organization will need to engage various other institutions such as the banks owners themselves,
other non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to utilize the best science possible for

ecological monitoring. This sort of policy change
Talking Points:
is driven mostly by institutional change given

The conservation banking guidance released by the Fish and
Wildlife Service is in need of an update.
that it directly affects a small proportion of the
population. The more stringent monitoring will • Many conservation banks are privately owned despite setting up
easements on public lands.
be welcomed by both environmental groups and

Economic development is in perpetual conflict with environacademic institutions alike as this presents an
mental conservation and new approaches are needed to incentivize
opportunity for enhancing conservation goals as
well implementing greater scientific tools. An
updated guidance will need to be released for the FWS to be serious about conservation banking as a tool for
species protection.

End Notes:

i Lueck, Dean, and Jeffrey A. Michael. “Preemptive Habitat Destruction under the Endangered Species Act*.” The Journal of Law and Economics46
(2003): 27-60.
ii Bunn, David, Mark Lubell, and C. Johnson. “Reforms could boost conservation banking by landowners.” California Agriculture 67, no. 2 (2013): 86-95.
iii Pawliczek, Jamie, and Sian Sullivan. “Conservation and concealment in SpeciesBanking. com, USA: an analysis of neoliberal performance in the
species offsetting industry.” Environmental Conservation 38, no. 04 (2011): 435-444.
iv Bull, Joseph W., K. Blake Suttle, Ascelin Gordon, Navinder J. Singh, and E. J. Milner-Gulland. “Biodiversity offsets in theory and practice.” Oryx 47,
no. 03 (2013): 369-380.
v The White House Office of Press Secretary. Presidential Memorandum: Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging
Related Private Investment (3rd November 2015).
vi FWS, US. “Guidance for the Establishment, Use, and Operation of Conservation Banks.” (2003).

Cornell’s Energy Resources:
Wind Power is the Key

By Julia Heyman, Major: Policy Analysis and Management ‘18, Email:
Cornell University should reinstate its wind turbine project from 2004 to harness locally-produced wind electricity to
improve cost effectiveness and utilize a clean, sustainable source of fuel.


Key Facts:

In October of 2015 Cornell’s Board of Trustees • Wind energy is completely air and water pollution-free
source of inexhaustible energy
voted against divestment from fossil fuels in which

Harnessing wind power would reduce our reliance on
the University currently has millions invested, against
imported, international sources of energy
the wishes of hundreds of students who voiced their • Wind turbine development will create local jobs from conopinions. The student organization KyotoNow! construction and maintenancevvi
ducted research on the topic and found that from

Wind power are a low-cost energy source, costing only 4
cents per kilowatt hour producedvii
2006 to 2015, $45 million of Cornell’s endowment was
spent on fossil fuel investments.i In fiscal year 2015
Cornell emitted 167,000 metric tons of CO2 and consumed 3.14 trillion Btu (British thermal unit) of energy.ii
Overall, Cornell has a pretty sizeable environmental footprint. Fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy
and thus alternative sources of energy must be adopted to prepare for the time when we can no longer rely on
coal, oil, and gas for energy. As a leading research university in the country, Cornell should be a pioneer in clean
and renewable energy sources.

Policy Idea:

I propose that Cornell invests in a wind turbine project to build and utilize wind turbines either on Cornell property or a nearby area. The purpose of these wind turbines is to generate a substantial amount of energy
and provide the University with an alternative, renewable source of energy to allow the institution to wean off of
their current reliance on fossil fuels.


The most obvious and arguably most important benefit of wind turbines is their nature as a clean, renewable source of energy. Wind turbines create no air emissions, which contribute to acid rain and greenhouse gasses. The lack of air emissions is remarkable considering how large of an environmental problem air pollution has
become. Wind power is also sustainable because it is a form of solar energy: “winds are caused by the heating of
the atmosphere by the sun, the rotation of the earth, and the earth’s surface irregularities”.iii So just as solar power
is sustainable, wind power is as well. Ithaca is also an apt location for wind turbines. In a 2014 study by Cornell
professors, they found that wind speeds on the eastern U.S. coast exceeded the station-specific 95th percentile.iv
Wind power is also a very cost-effective method of energy production. Over the past few decades technological
advances have allowed the price to produce wind energy to decrease significantly. In 1980 it cost 40 cents per
kilowatt-hour and in only 35 years that cost has fallen to a remarkable 4 cents today.v

Next Steps:

Cornell University has a responsibility to help make a cleaner energy future. Adopting a wind turbine
project would substantially improve the university’s energy resources and also declare Cornell’s prominence as
a leader in energy innovation and solidify their commitment to environmental protection. The New York State
Energy Research and Development Authority would likely support Cornell’s efforts to switch to wind power, as
well as local organizations such as the Environmental Management Council of Tompkins County. To support
the implementation of wind turbines for Cornell’s energy, I will target the Board of Trustees, as they are the main
governing body of the University, and I will also target the Energy and Sustainability Department because it is
highly likely that they would support the adoption of wind power and could have a more influential say with the


i Nelson, Wyatt. “GUEST ROOM | Trustees Fail; Now The Burden Is Ours.” October 27, 2015. Accessed November 25, 2015. http://cornellsun.
ii “Fiscal Year 2015 Cornell University Central Energy Plant (CEP) Fast Facts.” November 12, 2015. Accessed November 25, 2015.
iii “Advantages and Challenges of Wind Energy.” Accessed November 26, 2015.
iv Pryor, S. C., R. Conrick, C. Miller, J. Tytell, and R. J. Barthelmie. “Intense and Extreme Wind Speeds Observed by Anemometer and Seismic Networks:
An Eastern U.S. Case Study.” Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 53, no. 11 (2014): 2417-429. Accessed November 26, 2015. http://journals.
v “Wind Energy.” Infrastructure Properties and Planning: Energy and Sustainability. Accessed November 26, 2015. https://energyandsustainability.
vi “About Wind Energy: Benefits of Wind.” Accessed November 26, 2015.
vii Pryor

Restoring the Prairies:

Returning the Bison to its Old Stomping Grounds
By Shashank Vura, Major: Undeclared ‘19 , Email:
To preserve both prairie habitat and Native American heritage, the federal and state government should reintroduce
the American Bison (Bison bison) to parts of its former range.


Key Facts:

Before the arrival of European settlers onto

1.1. million acres of pristine prairie habitat are available in
Montana’s Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge to support a wild
the Great Plains, estimates suggest that between
herd of bison that already provides a home for other ungulates
twenty and thirty million American bison roamed
such as elk, with further BLM land available nearby.xi
the prairies, coexisting with abundant wildlife and

70% of Montanans believe their state is large enough to
the Native Americans. Yet in a matter of only desupport wild bison, suggesting that there is broad public supcades, habitat destruction, overexploitation, and
port for restoration efforts.
conflict with humans plunged their numbers to below • Only 4% of bison (less than 20,000 individuals) currently
live in conservation herds and even fewer lack genes introduced
a mere thousand bison at the advent of the twentieth
by breeding with domestic cattle.
century. Now, as a result of carefully planned conser- • From 1800 to 1900, the population of bison dropped from
vation efforts, both in captivity and the wild, about
around thirty million to possibly around a hundred, all in
3,500 individuals live in three wild populations. Of
captivity. While the vast herds of wild bison of the past are gone
forever, there is still room for their descendants to play a role in
a total population (both wild and captive) exceeding
the remaining prairie ecosystems of the West.
500,000, only about 7,000 bison are purebred, lacking
hybridization with domestic cattle.

The lack of these huge ungulates from the prairies where they once flourished has been devastating,
for both grassland ecosystems and the American Indians with whom they share a deep cultural history. While
balancing the concerns of ranchers about potential threats to their livelihoods by diseases bison often carry and
the competition they might provide to herds of livestock, immediate action must be taken to help stem further
degradation of the remaining prairie habitats by bringing bison-induced habitat disturbance. In order to maintain the hallowed traditions and lifestyles of various American Indian tribes, the bison must once again come
into direct contact with their lives.ii

Policy Idea:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with its state counterparts, should work with organizations such
as the B.L.M., local Indian tribes, and landowners to restore purebred, disease-free bison onto prairie habitat that
closely resembles what their ancestors would have roamed centuries ago. Using the models of reintroduction already available in Yellowstone National Park, along with those in Utah and Alaska, they should attempt to restore
populations of this extirpated bovine wherever possible in western states such as Montana and Colorado.


The bison, according to numerous conservationists, through consumption and digestion of native grasses, provide a great source of nutrient recycling to the environment. In addition, as the largest herbivores native
to the United States, their constant movement prevents the buildup of litter which in turn can harbor nonnative
species. They instead create large open areas by trampling flat earth, creating valuable spots for the growth of
native brush and

Many prominent American Indian tribes, including the Oglala Lakota of South Dakota and Sioux of
Montana, have actively advocated for the restoration of bison herds to their lands. Bison was an important factor
in the diet of these tribes, and its absence has quite possibly played some role in the massive rise of health conditions such as diabetes as this has contributed to a far more sedentary lifestyle. In addition, many tribes need
the products that bison can provide, such as hide which can be used to create traditional drums. Many youth
long for deeper connection with their heritage, and have grown up without ever seeing a bison, with the possible
exception of in a zoo.vii

Preexisting populations will also need
Talking Points:
more space, as the population in Yellowstone has • To prevent the destruction of cultural memory and improve the
collective health of Native American communities, the bison must be
begun to exceed its carrying capacity, while the
restored into more wild locations where it can come into contact with
genetically valuable bottlenecked population in
these peoples.
Ordway Memorial Preserve needs a much larger

In lieu of the bison (which once ranged in tens of millions), praipopulation to ensure its survival. Although some
rie grasslands, dependent on constant change for renewal, have suflandowners and politicians have raised concerns
fered from the lack of this species, which provides essential services
such as the creation of open spaces, seed dispersal, and the prevention
about this threatening local livelihood, similar
of invasive species by stopping debris buildup on the plains.iii Cattle
reintroductions of a close relative, the northern
cannot perform this task as well because they feed more on short
Wood Bison, in Saskatchewan and Manitoba,
shrubs than pure grasses, and cause undue environmental impact on
have proceeded without issue,viii and the indiareas rich in woodland and water; in addition they are unable to scale
viduals scheduled to be re-released into the wild
more rugged terrain and can only reach a limited portion of a large
have been quarantined to ensure they are dis•
Although many ranchers are concerned that bison will introduce

Next Steps:

bovine brucellosis into their herds and outcompete their cattle, these
concerns, while understandable, are unfounded, since the individuals in question have been quarantined to prevent this threatv and the
original disease was transmitted to bison by domestic cattle in 1997.

Millions of acres in the Western United States, much of it protected by organizations such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
already exist as prime habitat that could support bison herds.

Various nonprofit groups should work
with the Fish and Wildlife Service to implement •
pre-existing plans for reintroduction in states
such as Colorado,ix Montana, and the Dakotas.x
Native American groups should be consulted
about these actions and should be encouraged to have an active role in these efforts. Outreach must also be made
to landowners and ranchers, some of which depend on grazing permits on public land from the B.L.M. for their
livelihoods. They must be assured that new bison populations will be carefully managed, and not threaten their
cattle herds or economic vitality. The pilot projects underway in locations like Alaska must be carefully researched and further promising locations must be identified where purebred bison may be allowed to roam once


i Bison Restoration on American Prairie Reserve | American Prairie Reserve. (n.d.).
ii New Bison War: Should Buffalo Be Reintroduced to the West? (n.d.).
iii Are cows just domestic bison? Behavioral and habitat use differences between cattle and bison - Western Watersheds Project. (n.d.).
iv Helzer, C. (2014, January 21). Bison Good, Cattle Bad??
v Jackson, E. (2015, March 16). Purebred Bison Returning to the American Plains.
vi Putting Bison Back on the Prairie | The Nature Conservancy. (n.d.).
vii Small: Restoring buffalo is an act of healing. (2015, August 14).
viii Smith, P. (2015, March 31). Wood Bison Return to the Alaskan Wilderness.
ix Marmaduke, J. (n.d.). Genetically pure bison to return to NoCo prairie.
x Majerus, J. (2013, March 25). Returning the American bison to the Northern Great Plains.
xi Restoring Bison to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge - National Wildlife Federation. (n.d.).

Fracking Wastewater:

A Ban on Road Spreading
By Julia Malits, Major: Biology ‘16, Email:
In June of 2015, New York State banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) under the Cuomo administration.i The law came after an extensive seven-year review of the fracking industry, whereby the Department of Conservation found strong evidence of associated adverse environmental and public health impacts. Surprisingly, New York
State continues to allow the practice of “road spreading,” which pours fracking wastewater on roads to break up ice,
suppress dust and stabilize roads. In order to fully deflect the harmful environmental and health effects of fracking,
New York State must next impose a ban on the practice of “road spreading.”


Key Facts:

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of cracking • High-volume fracking was banned in New York State
in June 2015 after a seven-year review by the Department of
rock formations via highly pressurized water jets in
Conservation found that the processes and substances involved
order to release deeply buried oil and gas. Fracking
were directly associated with a number of adverse environmena single well can involve billions of gallons of water
tal and public health impacts.
and millions of gallons of chemicals. The water used • Since the ban of high-volume fracking in New York State,
comes from a variety of sources, including freshwater
fracking wastewater continues to be spread across numerous
roads because its salinity suppresses dust helps to melt ice.
and recycled fracking water. The chemicals used in the

Chemicals known to exist in fracking wastewater pose
fracking water, however, are subject to loose federal
serious threats to human heath, including miscarriages, birth
and state regulation and are exempt from disclosure if
defects, and preterm birth.
they are considered trade secrets. Some of the known
and harmful chemicals in most fracking water include barium, benzene, bromide, chloride and toluene.ii From
a report in Reviews of Environmental Health, the following health effects are associated with chemicals used in
fracking operations: miscarriages and stillbirths, preterm births and low birth weight and birth defects.iii Virtually all of the chemicals laced into fracking water must return to the surface as wastewater, which the industry handles through recycling, underground well injection disposal,iv evaporation pits, landfills, wastewater treatment
facilities,v and road Despite New York State’s ban on fracking, the Cuomo administration continues
to permit the import and use of fracking wastewater because of its salinity. Most notably, New York State spreads
the fracking wastewater, which is six times more briny than seawater, on its roads as a deicer, dust suppressor and
stabilizer. However, the water eventually seeps into the surrounding ground surface water, nearby water bodies
and soil. The chemicals in this water are unsuitable for human use and lethal in many instances. As a result, it is
the state’s duty to protect its environment and its people by imposing a ban on road spreading.

Policy Idea:

New York State, with its ban of high-volume hydraulic fracturing earlier this year, has shown that it is
willing to flex its political muscle in order to promote the well being of both its citizens and the environment.
The Cuomo administration should not lose the momentum it has gained on this front,vii and must continue to
pursue the highest quality of health in consideration of the effects of fracking wastewater. An optimal policy
would involve a statewide ban on the use of fracking wastewater for road spreading.


The New York State Department of Conservation has already proven that fracking processes pose serious
threats to the integrity of the physical environment, as well as the health of the public. Given that fracking wastewater is no exception, the Department of Conservation must take one step forward and ban the use of fracking
wastewater for road spreading throughout New York State. The department already has the legislative authority
to do so in light of its seven-year review, and can make the case to Governor Cuomo’s executive administration.

In this capacity, the wastewaters from its low-volume hydraulic fracturing operations should be diverted
to appropriately equipped treatment facilities, and the state should cease to import fracking wastewater from
states like Pennsylvania for this purpose.viii

Instead, New York State can switch to other
Talking Points:
cost-effective saline solutions, such as rock salt,ix • New York State must extend its recent ban of high-volume hydraulic fracturing to the practice of spreading the wastewater across
in order to maintain the integrity and safety of its
its roads and highways, given the environmental and health impacts.

Next Steps:

The treatment of fracking wastewater continues to be highly
overlooked by regulators, and must be addressed with the utmost

The wastewater generated by the fracking industry contains a
cohort of dangerous chemicals that merits highly cautious treatment
and handling.

The next step for this policy proposal lies with
the Department of Conservation. Administrators
should address the executive Cuomo administration and show, just as it did in June, that fracking
processes present harmful threats to both the environment and the public. The Department of Conservation
must compile documentation of the known chemicals in fracking wastewater as well as their associated health
and environmental impact. In order to further bolster its claims, the department must survey the land and water
bodies adjacent to roads subject to fracking wastewater spreading in order to show that the same chemicals are
in fact present in elevated quantities. With this information, the Department of Conservation will have a strong
case to move forward with a ban on the practice of road spreading with fracking wastewater.


i NYS Department of Conservation (2015, June 29). New York State Officially Prohibits High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing.
ii U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2015, June).
iii Reviews on Environmental Health. Volume 29, Issue 4, Pages 307–318, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: 10.1515/
reveh-2014-0057, December 2014
iv Ferrar, Michanowicz, Christen, Mulcahy, Malone, Sharma. (2014, March 4). Assessment of Effluent Contaminants from Three Facilities Discharging
Marcellus Shale Wastewater to Surface Waters in Pennsylvania,
v Boerner, Leigh. Sewage Plants Struggle To Treat Wastewater Produced By Fracking Operations . (2013, March 18).
vi River Keeper. The Facts about New York and Fracking Waste.
vii Kaplan, Thomas. (2014, December 17). Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State.
viii Mantius, Peter. (2013, August 14). New York Imports Pennsylvania’s Radioactive Fracking Waste Despite Falsified Water Tests.
ix Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Highway Division. Winter Road Treatment and Snow Removal.

Meet Our Energy and Environmental Policy Center
Veronica Dickson
Veronica is a sophomore in ILR. Outside of the Roosevelt Institute, Veronica is publicity chair for Hearsay A Cappella and has
a a radio show on Veronica is also a member
of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women.

Jineet Patel
Jineet Patel is a sophomore majoring in Human Biology, Health
and Society and minoring in Infectious Disease Biology and
Policy Analysis and Management. Outside of medicine and
biology, his main interests include the environmental impact
of human actions, specifically global climate change, and the
development and usage of smart energy sources such as nuclear and renewable energies. This is his first semester in the
Roosevelt Institute.
Abhinav Vijay
Abhinav Vijay is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life
Sciences, majoring in Environmental Sciences and Sustainability. Besides the Roosevelt Institute, Abhinav works at the
Blossey Lab in the Department of Natural Resources, contributing to research on invasive species in New York State. He
is also on the Eboard of the Cornell Chapter of the Wildlife

Julia Heyman
Julia Heyman is a sophomore majoring in Policy Analysis and
Management from Philadelphia, PA. In addition to the Roosevelt Institute, she is a member of Cornell International Affairs Society, a Student Ambassador for the College of Human
Ecology, and a member of the Alpha Chapter of Sigma Delta
Tau Sorority.

Meet Our Energy and Environmental Policy Center
Shashank Vura
Shashank Vura is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. Originally from Houston, Texas, he has not yet made up his
mind on what major he wants to pursue, but eventually hopes
to work in the field of law. With regard to policy, he possesses a
particular interest in conservation biology and other environmental issues.

Julia Malits
Julia Malits is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life
Sciences, majoring in Biology with a minor in Environmental
Science and Sustainability. This is Julia’s third semester as a
policy analyst with the Energy & Environment Center of Roosevelt Institute. Julia is passionate about environmental public
health, and plans to pursue this line of work upon graduating
from Cornell in Spring 2015.

Liam Berigan, Director
Liam Berigan is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life
Sciences, majoring in Biology and concentrating in Ecology
and Evolutionary Biology. He focuses primarily on natural
resources regulation, including oil and gas issues and water
rights. Outside the Roosevelt Institute, he engages in research
on House Sparrow population trends with the Bonter Lab

V. Center for Foreign Policy
“In every country the people themselves are more peacibly and liberally inclined than their governments.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt


Frances Yang ‘17
Assistant Director
Christopher Hanna, ‘18

Chris Hamlin ‘16

Alexandra Gugliuzza, ‘17

Letter from the Policy Director


Dhruv Kumar ‘19
Jennifer Kim, ‘17

“Tapping into Potential: Moving Toward A Truly Open Irish Border”
Christopher Hanna ‘18
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains difficult to traverse for international travelers,
due to the countries’ maintenance of separate, mutually inconvertible visa systems. The United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should bilaterally recognize both British and Irish short-stay travel visas
belonging to international visitors wishing to cross the internal Irish border, thus facilitating free cross-border movement
around the island of Ireland.
“Sustainable Urbanization in China: Planning for an Exodus with Renewable Technology”
Christopher Hamlin ‘16
By prioritizing transmission infrastructure and renewable energy integration in the planning and construction of its new
cities, the Chinese Government can better face the challenges of increased urbanization and electricity demand.
“Reforming the World Health Organization: Seeking Autonomous Budgeting ”
Alexandra Gugliuzza ‘17
The future of the WHO hangs in the balance in light of operational failures and ongoing criticism. A multi-faceted reform
approach is necessary and ensuring sustainable financing is part of the answer. Autonomous budgeting in the form of
non-dicretionary spending will give the agency leverage to reestablish its leadership in international health.
“Stop Funding Conflicts: Ending US Military Aid to Pakistan”
Dhruv Kumar (‘19)
By ceasing the provision of American monetary aid to the Pakistani military, the United States will shift power back from
the military to the democratic government, leading to peace and stability in South Asia, better Indo-Pakistani relations, and
reduced American expenditures.
Meet the Center for Foreign Policy & International Affairs

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

It is with great pleasure that I share the ninth issue of Looking Ahead: The
Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal by the Center for Foreign Policy and
International Affairs. The following journal includes four policy proposals, each
of which was researched, developed, and composed by an analyst with careful
consideration and hard work. Focusing on issues spanning from institutional
reform, national security, and sustainable technological transformation, each
analyst sheds valuable insight into how the state of today’s global affairs might
be improved and implemented.
I hope you are as thoroughly impressed by their work as I am.
Frances Yang

Policy Analysis & Management (HumEc, ‘17)
Director, Center for Foreign Policy and International Affairs

Tapping into Potential: Moving Toward A Truly Open Irish Border
By Christopher Hanna, Major: Development Sociology ‘18, Email:
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains difficult to traverse for international
travelers, due to the countries’ maintenance of separate, mutually inconvertible visa systems. The United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should bilaterally recognize both British and Irish
short-stay travel visas belonging to international visitors wishing to cross the internal Irish border, thus facilitating
free cross-border movement around the island of Ireland.


Key Facts:
Ireland is politically divided between the independent
• Custom controls, military checkpoints and security blockages at
Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the latter
the internal Irish border were abolished in the 1990s as part of
belonging to the United Kingdom.1 In 1993, customs
the Northern Ireland peace process.3
controls at the border between the two states were
• Tourism Ireland, a new cross-border body, is to spend £60 million (€76 million) promoting Ireland and the United Kingdom
abolished as part of the European Economic Commuas a single, welcoming and safe destination for international
nity’s efforts to foster regional market integration.2 A
year later, a multi-actor peace process brought thirty
years of ethno-sectarian civil war in Northern Ireland
to a definitive end. The resultant ceasefire among Northern Irish militant groups formally ended a Catholic guerrilla insurgency that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland and bring it into the fold of a united Ireland.1
The cessation of regional violence ended a volatile security situation at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, allowing for the elimination of the border’s military checkpoints and the reopening
of blocked roads.3 Although the two countries were to remain sovereign, legally distinct entities, they pledged “to
carry out on a democratically accountable basis delegated executive, harmonising and consultative functions” to
promote cross-border unity and ensure that ethno-sectarian warfare in the border areas would not resume.4
The demilitarization of the border, alongside the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland’s membership in the
Common Travel Area, allows citizens of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland to cross the Irish border with minimal identity documents.5 However, despite a non-binding
bilateral agreement in 2011 to implement a common visa system for international travelers, free travel across the
Irish border for visitors remains interrupted by the two countries’ maintenance of wholly separate visa systems.6
The borderlands between the two countries remained economically neglected and the vision of robust cross-border cooperation and movement remains unrealized.3 As the Republic of Ireland emerges from an unprecedented
debt crisis and the British Isles recover from the economic devastation of the Great Recession, it is imperative
that action be taken to establish a truly open Irish border.

Policy Idea:

The inconvertibility of Irish and British visas at the internal Irish border hinders the free movement of international visitors to the island of Ireland’s two countries, squandering untold economic potential and undermining
the robust cross-border cooperation envisioned by the Northern Ireland peace process. The two states should
authorize border authorities to mutually recognize valid, short-stay visas issued to international travelers, allowing eligible visitors to move freely between the island’s constituent political entities.


When the Republic of Ireland instituted a Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme that allowed short-term visitors
from the United Kingdom to cross the border without Irish visas in 2011, it saw an annual influx of 45,000 additional visitors.7 A unified visa scheme was also extended to tourists, businesspersons and other visitors from
China in 2014, bringing 30,000 additional Chinese tourists to the island of Ireland that year and providing lifeblood to Ireland and China’s €8bn trade relationship.8 By stimulating cross-border activity, these experiments in
an integrated visa system also promoted unprecedented North-South cooperation on the island of Ireland, which
serves to undermine Ireland’s bitter cross-border cultural divide.4 Indeed, all-island tourism, which largely caters

to Irish-Americans, has helped to actualize the Northern Ireland peace processes’ vision of Irish integration and
binational harmony.9 Altogether, the results of experiments in unified visa schemes indicate that an international visitors’ visa recognition program between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would allow the
Irish-British region to tap into long-neglected outlets for trade, tourism, jobs and binational cooperation.
The regional economic activity from mutual recognition of visas for international travelers would be particularly
beneficial to the Irish borderlands. They suffer underinvestment and neglect, partly due to how they straddle a
border whose controls hinder the free movement of visitors. Not only the would border areas benefit, but also
tourism and foreign investment would become integral in enabling the whole of Ireland to recover from its
devastating post-2008 economic downturn, the effects
Talking Points:
of which are still being felt.10
• Nearly two decades after draconian military outposts at the
To prevent security breaches, Ireland and the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s immi- •
gration and intelligence authorities would share information to prevent the exploitation of a common visa
scheme by terrorists or undocumented immigrants, as •
they did with the program for Chinese visitors that was
instituted in 2014.11

Next Steps:

Irish border were dismantled, the vision of free movement
between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland remains unrealized
A truly open border is key to promoting cross-border
harmony and securing the success of the Northern Ireland
peace process
Mutual recognition of British and Irish passports by border
authorities at the internal Irish border would catalyze tourism and provide the region with much-needed economic

Representatives from the British and Irish governments must meet to meet to reach a memorandum of understanding concerning the future of the border, which ought to be publicly released. In particular, this memorandum
should involve a bilateral agreement to work towards a policy of mutual visa recognition for short-term visitors
seeking to cross the border. Prominent regional parties including Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, the Democratic Unionist
Party and the Conservative Party must throw their weight behind border reform, framing it is integral to the growth
of the island of Ireland’s economy and another step towards the Northern Ireland peace process’ goal of binational
harmony and cooperation. The success of earlier experiments in a common visa scheme will likely catalyze a clear,
multi-partisan consensus in favor of the establishment of an effectively open border via mutual visa recognition.


1 “The Troubles.” BBC News. 2015. Accessed December 4, 2015.
2 Ingraham, Jeson. “CAIN: Issues: Europe: The European Union and Relationships Within Ireland.” CAIN Web Service. 1998. Accessed
December 4, 2015.
3 “Living with the Border Today.” Irish Borderlands. 2015. Accessed December 4, 2015.
4 Anderson, Malcolm. The Irish Border: History, Politics, Culture. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999.
5 “Common Travel Area between Ireland and the United Kingdom.” Citizens Information. May 6, 2015. Accessed December 4, 2015.
6 “Joint Statement Regarding Co-operation on Measures to Secure the External Common Travel Area Border.” GOV.UK. December 20,
2011. Accessed December 4, 2015.
7 “Minister Fitzgerald and UK Home Secretary Launch Landmark British-Irish Visa Scheme.” The Department of Justice and Equality.
October 6, 2014. Accessed December 4, 2015.
8 “Ministers Flanagan and Sherlock Welcome Launch of Joint British-Irish Visa Scheme.” Ministers Welcome Launch of Joint British-Irish Visa Scheme. October 31, 2014. Accessed December 4, 2015.
9 “Tourism Ireland - New All-Island Tourism Promotion Agency in the United States Launched at New York Event.” PRNewswire.
January 23, 2002. Accessed December 4, 2015.
10 Quinn, Eamon. “Enda Kenny Praises Diaspora for Helping Ireland Emerge Strong from Financial Crisis.” Irish Examiner. November 21, 2015. Accessed December 4, 2015.
11 Hennessy, Mark. “UK and Ireland to Share ‘unprecedented’ Level of Information.” The Irish Times. October 7, 2014. Accessed December 4, 2015.

Sustainable Urbanization in China: Planning for an Exodus with Renewable Technology
By Christopher Hamlin, Major: China & Asia Pacific Studies ‘16, Email:
By prioritizing transmission infrastructure and renewable energy integration in the planning and construction of its
new cities, the Chinese Government can better face the challenges of increased urbanization and electricity demand.


Over the next decade, China’s rapid urbanization process constitutes the most substantial challenge to satisfying
the nation’s energy security and modern infraKey Facts:
structure needs. China’s urban population is pre•
increased 5.3%. In contrast, wind and nucledicted to increase from 527 million in 2005 to 926
over 21%.4
million in 2025.1 The number of cities with pop• Although China has more wind power capacity than any other single
ulations exceeding 1 million is likely to increase
country, it trails the United States in wind energy generation.11
from 153 to 226 in that same period.2 To satisfy • The wind energy curtailed in 2013 alone could power both the cities of
this growth, China is undertaking massive infraBeijing and Tianjin combined for well over a month.
structure investment in urban construction in- • In 2013, there were 193 approved pilot projects for smart cities in China.
cluding as many as ten new city clusters around • Between 2014 and 2020, China will account for with 48% of global
the nation, each consisting of 22 million to 100
transmission lines additions.5
million residents. Due to the intended scale of
these cities, many are finding it difficult to attract residents, leading to a “ghost town” phenomenon. Because of this massive urbanization project, and the immense increase in the nation’s long term electricity needs that this trend demands,
the Central government must find ways to ensure reliable and sustainable energy sources. Consequently, China’s energy generation capacity is moving away from thermal power such as coal and towards renewable energy technology.12

Since 2006, following the promulgation of China’s Renewable Energy Law, the government has increasingly emphasized broad adoption of renewables as part of China’s energy security strategy. However, while the nation far outstrips the
rest of the world in renewable energy investment,5 its underdeveloped power generation transmission infrastructure creates
major obstacles for making this renewable technology cost-effective for aggregate application. One reason for this is that
renewable energy projects can be built much more quickly than can transmission infrastructure. The result is frequent curtailment of renewable energy generation output because of transmission line inadequacies, which make renewable energy
less cost-effective and less attractive compared to cheap and established thermal energy alternatives. China plans to increase
its ultra high voltage transmission line infrastructure by 28% between 2014 and 2020 to unify a grid currently fragmented into six clusters.14 As it undergoes this transmission infrastructure transformation, China has a unique opportunity to
build strategically to minimize energy costs of its renewable technology while encouraging a new type of sustainable city.

Policy Idea:

The Chinese government should mandate transmission infrastructure and renewable energy be a fundamental part

of modern urban planning. This includes modeling new city location, design, and construction around the integration of renewable energy sources and environmental forecasting systems with a robust trans-regional power transmission grid. If this
integration is based on a wholesale power market model, the central government can minimize curtailed energy output from
renewable power plants. On one hand, providing cheaper and more reliable energy to these cities would take large steps towards attracting residents and businesses to municipalities struggling to fill up their new urban developments. Furthermore,
building forward thinking construction of latent transmission infrastructure before that of an urban development will attract
more foreign direct investment into the market system for both green energy projects as well as into the city itself. This is the advantage of integrating with greenfield developments. This integration will create conditions wherein cities can minimize their
renewable energy variable costs, and subsequently serve as pilot projects for future aggregate renewable technology adoption.


While thermal power continues to hold a prominent position in China’s energy resources for decades to come, the
Chinese Central Government can pressure on its state grid corporations to prioritize transmission line building to connect
its disjointed renewable supply and demand chains. to connect its disjointed renewable supply and demand chains. First,
China needs to create a more market-based power generation system similar to the US’s wholesale power market. This
would allow provinces with comparative advantages in renewable energy to sell to other provinces with less capability at
cheaper prices. Cross regional transmission infrastructure assists grid operators in avoiding congestion in times of high
electricity demand so that the demand unfulfilled by a congested transmission source does not have to be supplemented by
more expensive local actors.

Instead, access to multiple sources allows for a reliable
Talking Points:
transmission to fulfill demand. Secondly, China is plan- • China wants to reduce carbon emission per unit of GDP by 45%
ning a large investment in ultra high voltage transmisbetween 2005 and 2020. This cannot be done without reducing its
sion lines.6 This will lead to fewer transmission energy
reliance on thermal energy.
losses, lowering the variable price of renewable energy. • China’s wind and solar potential is located in the north, northwest,
west, and southwest. Greatest demand is located in the south, makHowever, these lines need to be constructed with a foring a cross-regional trading system a priority for cheap renewable
ward looking approach rather than incremental build
outs to connect new power plant projects and cities to the

If the Central Government incentivizes grid companies to support
existing grid. This way, the nation will already have the
renewables integration, these companies will consider all possibilifundamental infrastructure for the central government
ties before curtailing variable generation.
to pressure its state grid corporations not only to limit • Lower energy costs in new urban developments will attract invescurtailment of renewable energy full output capacity, but
tors, businesses, and residents, satisfying China’s urbanization goals
also to quickly connect new renewable power projects to
greenfield urban developments and the existing grid.7 By
coordinating this power plant and city integration with forecasting systems for wind and visibility to better anticipate demand
changes, new urban constructions can further minimize curtailment of energy output from renewable sources.12 The goal is
to help China move to a model for energy dispatch prioritization wherein the most cost effective energy source is dispatched
based on merit by making renewable energy more competitive as the prioritized energy source to new city developments.

Next Steps:

The first step towards pressuring state grid companies and local governments to adopt this policy is for the central
government to update the Renewable Energy Law. Its new standards should be better align with the progressive changes
in policy directives and emissions goals which were promulgated in the 2010 12th 5 Year Plan, in the 2015 “Deepening
Reform of the Power Sector” document and the 2015 proposal for the 13th 5 Year Plan. Most importantly, this amendment should reflect the recent governmental push towards partial privatization of the energy sector which is a step towards creating a market oriented trans-provincial and regional power system. This will create checkpoints, targets, and
competition for big and small actors, creating external motivation for their decision making. Furthermore, the Chinese
Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the Ministry of Industry
and IT should create a standards document that supplements the current 2015 GBEL green building certification system. This standards directive should further prioritize integration of renewable energy sources at time of construction as
a priority for 3-star certification and also include normalized standards for smart city construction. In many countries,
including the US, grid companies must pay wind and solar generators when the renewable output is curtailed. As the
State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) expects to double its transmission capabilities between 2012 and 2020, the Chinese government is uniquely positioned to use similar penalties to incentivize the SGCC to strategically construct transmission infrastructure that works to avoid curtailment and prioritizes renewable energy in greenfield urban planning.


1 “China’s Growing Green Building Industry and How U.S. Companies Can Get Involved.” The U.S. Consulate General Shanghai Commercial Service. http://www.export.
gov/china/build/groups/public/ @eg_cn/documents/webcontent/eg_cn_088721.pdf.
2 “Global Transmission and Distribution Market 2015 Report Says China Leading Power Transmission Line Additions to 2020.” PRNewswire. http://www.prnewswire.
3 Hoekes, Valerie. China’s Smart City Projects and Developments. wp-content/uploads/ChinaInroads_Chinas_smart_city_projects.pdf.
4 Li, Yongling, Yanliu Lin, and Stan Geertman. “The development of smart cities in China.” Master’s thesis.
Magill, Bobby. “Cheap Solar Power Pushes Renewables Growth Worldwide.” Climate Central.
Power Sector: Deepening Reform to Reduce Emissions, Improve Air Quality, and Promote Economic Growth. Beijing, China: The Paulson Institute, 2015. http://www.
“Reforming China’s Energy Sector.” Stratfor.
“Renewable Energy Law of the People’s Republic of China.” In Ministry of Commerce of the People’s
Republic of China.
Shepard, Wade. “The Myth of China’s Ghost City’s.” Reuters.
Sontakke, Mayur. “Renewable Energy’s Impact on China’s Transmission Infrastructure.” Market Realist.
Sontakke, Mayur. “Renewable Energy’s Impact on China’s Transmission Infrastructure.” Market Realist.
Wolfram, Gary. A Brief Analysis of the Effects of Multi-Value Projects in the Midwest ISO.

Reforming the World Health Organization: Seeking Autonomous Budgeting
By Alexandra Gugliuzza, Major: Policy Analysis & Management ‘17, Email:
The future of the WHO hangs in the balance in light of operational failures and ongoing criticism. A multi-faceted
reform approach is necessary and ensuring sustainable financing is part of the answer. Autonomous budgeting in
the form of non-discretionary spending will give the agency leverage to reestablish its leadership in international


Key Facts:
The World Health Organization (WHO) is an intergovernmental agency tasked with coordinating and directing global • Almost 70% of the World Health Organization’s
budget comes from non-flexible sources that are
health at the local, regional, and national level.1 The organiearmarked for donor’s preferred projects.
zation shapes the research agenda, sets norms and standards,
• Voluntary funds are badly misaligned with the
advises policy, and provides technical support to public
global burden of disease, virtually ignoring
health initiatives. The WHO governance structure consists of
non-communicable diseases, mental illness, and
the World Health Assembly (WHA), Executive Board (EB),
and Secretariat.1 The WHO was created in 1948 in a very
• The WHO must reform its financing system to
different context and was not designed for the new global orbecome more autonomous in its decision-making
and create a more sustainable funding stream.
der in which multilateral coordination is critical. The WHO
has increasingly faced criticism due to failed operations and
ineffective engagement.8 For example, the agency’s responses to the Haitian cholera outbreak in 2010 and the
2014 West African Ebola epidemic was inefficient, with approaches described as “outmoded, underfunded, and
overly politicized.”5 A part of the reason is the agency’s financial constraints.
The WHO’s $3.98 billion 2014-2015 budget comes from two sources: assessed contributions, which are mandatory and paid for through state membership dues, and voluntary contributions, which are paid for by private
donors and non-governmental organizations.2 Assessed contributions account for 25% of the total budget and
are a highly predictable, stable, and flexible source of funding.6 The remaining 75% comes from voluntary contributions, of which 91.5% is non-flexible and typically earmarked for strategic objectives and particular programs by donor agencies.6 Ultimately, the WHO does not have the freedom to carry out its tasks and instead, is
restrained to only addressing issues and programs that appeal to donors.

The Policy Idea:

The WHO must reform its financing system to become more autonomous in its decision-making and create a
more sustainable funding stream. This can be accomplished through two tangible reform strategies. First, the
WHO should broaden its donor base and seek unearmarked funding. Creating partnerships with the private
sector, emerging economies, and the general public can give the WHO a more diverse donor system compared
to its current system that is out of touch with a modern era. Secondly, the organization should increase state
membership dues to secure non-discretionary spending by mandating increased dues based on per capita GDP.
Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, any member state that declines to pay dues will be removed from
membership and any associated privileges such as voting power.


Earmarked funding skews global health priorities. Assessed contributions are more aligned with the actual global
burden of disease than voluntary funding because they give the WHO more freedom in spending on issues that
matter. For example, the WHO’s 2008-2009 budget was primarily allocated for infectious diseases (60%), while
only 3.9% was allocated to non-communicable diseases and 3.4% for injuries.6 Yet, in a modern health context,
non-communicable diseases account for 62% of all deaths worldwide, and injuries account for 17% of the global
burden of disease. The problem is that many donor agencies give earmarked funds to causes that are withdrawn
from the true nature of global health. BMGF’s 2013 annual report shows that within its global health budget,
82% is allocated to communicable diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis and Diarrheal Diseases.9

Currently, only 20 contribuTalking Points:
tors provide 81% of voluntary • The true burden of disease is often misinformed in the global health field.
contributions 7. Finding a more
Contrary to popular believe, the majority of global mortality is due to indiverse donor stream, can give
communicable diseases.
the WHO a greater chance to
• The future of global health will change drastically in the modern context.
acquire non-discretionary fundAs a result of changing lifestyles, longer lives, and increased wealth, the
ing. This funding strategy comes
status of health care will change as we know it.
at almost no cost to the organi- • A multi-faceted and collaborative approach is necessary to change the
zation. More resources will have
global response to health.
to be allocated to their marketing, outreach, and fundraising
team but greater benefits will come with the more donor partnerships the WHO forms. Alternatively, the WHO
can reassess their relationship with current donors and request greater discretion the funding by big donors.
However, this might be difficult to achieve because donors are unwilling to deter attention from programs they

Next Steps:

The World Health Organization should begin to make structural changes in their constitution and fundraising
approach to tackle these two reforms. Reaching out to a more diverse donor base will require a refined approach
through its marketing and outreach team. Engaging in social media platforms and improving its public image will
allow the WHO to reach far more donors around the world and capture their interest. In order to increase member
dues, the WHO will have to go through a structural approach by reforming its regulations through the organization’s Constitution. The due increase will have to be approved by voting members in the WHA and EB of the WHO.
Leaders will have to mobilize themselves and spearhead the issue in order to successfully make the policy change.


1 Cassels, Andrew, LLona Kickbusch, Michaela Told, and Ioana Ghiga. “How Should the WHO Reform? An Analysis
and Review of the Literature.” The Graduate Institute Geneva, 2014.
2 Gostin, Lawrence. “Reforming the World Health Organization After Ebola.” JAMA Forum, 2015.
3 Keating, Joshua. “Why Wasn’t the WHO Ready for Ebola?” Slate, 2014.
4 “Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD).” World Health Organization, 2015.
5 “Opinions: Questioning WHO’s Relevance; Reforming Foreign Aid; Efforts To Prevent Child Marriage.” Kaiser
Family Foundation, 2010.
6 Sridhar, Devi, and Lawrence Gostin. “Reforming the World Health Organization.” 2011.
7 “Top 20 Voluntary Contributors, 2012-2013.” World Health Organization, 2013.
8 “WHO Reform.” World Health Organization, 2015.
9 “2013 Annual Report.” Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2013.

Stop Funding Conflicts: Ending US Military Aid to Pakistan
By Dhruv Kumar, Majors: Economics and Government (A&S ‘19) Email:
By ceasing the provision of American monetary aid to the Pakistani military, the United States will shift power back
from the military to the democratic government, leading to peace and stability in South Asia, better Indo-Pakistani
relations, and reduced American expenditures.


Key Facts:

Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, has lost • From 2002 to 2009, the United States spent almost $18 billion
on Pakistan12
much of his political power and policy control to the
military due to a military-backed movement against the • During this time, $12 billion of those went to the Pakistani
military, despite being given for humanitarian purposes.13
country’s current democratically-elected government[1]. • The Pakistani military holds immense power over the demoSharif had hoped to ease tensions with India;2 howevcratic government. There have even been three military coups
er, Pakistani military officials thwarted him. Pakistani
in the last five decades14
military officials stated that India’s military was created • The total amount of aid the United States has given since the
country’s independence is expected to be almost $78 billion.15
solely to “undo Pakistan,”3 testified that India wants to
see Pakistan remain backward and undeveloped, and
stated that India wants Pakistan to suffer economically.4These statements add fuel to an already volatile situation between the two nations. Additionally, Sharif attempted to propose a demilitarization of the disputed region of Kashmir,
which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.5 Military leaders took advantage of this publicity to bring to the conversation their own bellicose goals regarding Kashmir.6 In order to encourage Pakistan to pursue extremist groups
within its borders, the United States donates billions of dollars designated for humanitarian aid and the rebuilding
of Pakistan’s broken democracy. Of the aid given from 2002 to 2009 alone, $12 billionwent to the military. The total
amount of aid the United States has given is almost $78 billion, of which 75 percent was earmarked for the military.10

The Policy Idea:

The United States government should cease the provision of all aid that is currently being given to the Pakistani
military. Once their government is stable and democratic again and is not controlled by the military but by a responsible leader, America can resume it in order to combat terrorism in the nation. Members of the US Senate’s
Foreign Policy Committee should draft a bill that would cease monetary aid to the Pakistani military. Members
of the Committee, the Senate, and then the House should then vote in favor of that, and the President should
sign it into law.


By giving monetary aid to the Pakistani military, the United States is not only worsening the democratic potential of that divided regime, but also creating a dangerous military situation in South Asia that could have global
consequences. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, and a rogue military in one country could lead to
devastating catastrophe. Ceasing American aid to Pakistan’s military would have numerous beneficial effects.
Firstly and most importantly, it would take away power from said military. Without billions of dollars of American funding, a primary contributor to the military budget, the military’s resources would be limited. This would
reduce its capabilities and abilities for action, which would significantly reduce its influence. That influence
would then shift to the actual government, where it rightfully belongs. This effect would achieve what is necessary to rebuild Pakistan’s broken system. In turn, tensions in South Asia would become much more amicable.
With a less powerful Pakistani military, India would be assured against their hostility. As the primary reason
both nations currently hold nuclear weapons is the threat of war between the two, this would likely lead to a nuclear disarmament of both nations. Especially if the prime minister follows through on his goal of demilitarizing
the Kashmir region, peace would be achieved. Both of those effects are highly beneficial for international society. Demilitarization and even reduced tensions in the region would decrease violence, therefore saving lives in
Kashmir and preventing the threat of nuclear war. Peace between India and Pakistan has been a goal for decades.
Implementing this idea would be a step toward achieving that goal.

The final important effect would be saving the US Government billions of dollars. In debt $19 trillion11, this
would make a significant difference. Furthermore, the money saved could be put to other causes, ranging from

Next Steps:

Talking Points:

This policy proposal aligns with many of the ideas
• Pakistan’s foreign policy is largely determined by the military
that South Asian activist groups from both India and • This overrules the democratic prime minister’s calls for peace
with India
Pakistan, human rights lobbyists and non-profits, and
• The US currently gives billions dollars to that military
isolationist lobbying groups tend to promote. First, • Removing that aid would shift influence to the democratic
those organizations should begin to lobby politicians
and media outlets. The most important action to be • Peace with India would then be likely
taken is publicizing the facts. This is not a very well • The United States would also save billions of dollars
known issue. However, the facts are strong and compelling enough on their own that once known, action will be taken. Thus, the priority lies on raising awareness
of those facts. Thus those activist and lobbying groups should reach out to both politicians and media outlets in
order to bring them to the forefront of international dialogue in the United States. Once that is done, pressure
should put on politicians in the Senate Committee on Foreign Policy to write and subsequently pass a bill. With
more lobbying efforts after that, it will hopefully pass both houses and be signed by the president.


[1] Zahra-Malik, Mehreen. “UPDATE 1-Pakistan Crisis Puts Army Back in the Driving Seat.” Reuters India. August 19, 2014. Accessed
December 3, 2015.
[2] “Pakistan Will Resolve All Issues with India through Talks: Nawaz Sharif.” May 23, 2013. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[3] “RAW Formed to Wipe Pakistan off the Map of the World: Khawaja Asif - The Express Tribune.” The Express Tribune. May 6, 2015.
Accessed December 3, 2015.
[4] Gishkori, Zahid. “Dar Warns India Not to Cast an Evil Eye on Pakistan’s Economic Prosperity - The Express Tribune.” The Express
Tribune. July 10, 2015. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[5] Sharif, Nawaz. “Statement by His Excellency Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharifÿ.” Lecture, General Debate of the Seventieth Session of
the UN Genera1 Assembly_, UN, New York, September 30, 2015.
[6] Kugelman, Michael. “Washington Doesn’t Help Pakistani Democracy.” Washington Doesnt Help Pakistani Democracy Comments.
October 20, 2015. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[7] Zaidi, Akbar. “Who Benefits From U.S. Aid to Pakistan?” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Outlook, 2011, 1-20.
Accessed December 3, 2015.
[8] “The (unspent) Money Trail.” - Pakistan. July 6, 2015. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[9] Ibrahim, Azeem. “US Aid to Pakistan - US Taxpayers Have Funded Public Corruption.” Belfer Center for Science and International
Affairs, 2009, 1-44. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[10] “Aid to Pakistan by the Numbers.” Center For Global Development. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[11] “REPORTS.” Historical Debt. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[12] Ibrahim, Azeem. “US Aid to Pakistan - US Taxpayers Have Funded Public Corruption.” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 2009, 1-44. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[13] Ibrahim, Azeem. “US Aid to Pakistan - US Taxpayers Have Funded Public Corruption.” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 2009, 1-44. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[14] Munir, Syed Rashid. “Politics 101: Why Military Coups Happen in Pakistan.” - Blogs. July 28, 2015. Accessed December 3, 2015.
[15] “Aid to Pakistan by the Numbers.” Center For Global Development. Accessed December 3, 2015.

Meet the Foreign Policy Center

Christopher Hanna
Christopher, who hails from Rochester, New York, is a sophomore
studying Development Sociology in the College of Agriculture and
Life Sciences. In addition to his work with the Roosevelt Institute,
he holds positions with the Cornell Daily Sun, Amnesty International at Cornell University, and Theta Delta Chi. His areas of
interest including human rights, social policy, international development, and conflict resolution.

Christopher Hamlin
Chris is a China and Asia Pacific Studies Major and a Law and
Society minor from Westport, Connecticut. He’s interested in strategic theory, democratic transition, international law, and energy/
environmental resource issues. His work experience has been split
between congressional internships as well as various environmental
nonprofits such as the WWF renewable energy sector. He is currently interning in the Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy in
Beijing as well as writing an honors thesis on the South China Sea
disputes. Besides worrying about my future, I also love playing soccer, walking my welsh corgi, and traveling to different countries.
Alexandra Gugliuzza
Alex is a junior majoring in Policy Analysis and Management with
minors in Global Health, Inequality Studies, and Demography. After
graduation, she hopes to pursue a masters in healthcare administration. She has policy interests in international health systems, public
health development, and community outreach initiatives. These
interests were realized this past summer where I got the opportunity to work with an NGO in Mysore, India called The Grassroots
Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM). Here, I conducted
research and field visits involving community monitoring in health
among marginalized populations.
Dhruv Kumar
Dhruv is a freshman majoring in Development Sociology in the
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In addition
to his role as a policy analyst at the Roosevelt Institute, he writes
editorials for for the Cornell Daily Sun and belongs to the CacresNeuffer Genocide Action Group. His areas of interest include
human rights, social policy, development, and international politics.

Meet the Foreign Policy Center
Frances Yang, Director
Frances Yang is a junior studying Policy Analysis & Management. She
is interested in the international reach of mission-driven businesses.
Her experiences at organizations like edX and WorldTeach have further reinforced her hopes to work with both the public and private sectors to support collaborative solutions to social issues. Outside of her
involvement with the Cornell Roosevelt Institute, she is also a member
of Social Business Consulting and Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity.

Jennifer Kim
Jennifer is a junior double majoring in Statistics and Government. Last
summer she interned at the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus in Chicago
through the Roosevelt Institute Summer Fellowship. She is particularly
interested in studying welfare politics in public policy, as well as global
US coercive diplomacy, with a focus on methodological approaches.
On campus, she is a research assistant in the Department of Government focusing on US foreign policy through both defense and diplomacy. She is also involved in the UN Association of the United States
at Cornell, the Cornell International Affairs Society, and the Cornell
International Business Association.

VI. Center for Healthcare Policy
“Neither the American people, nor their government, intends to socialize medical practice any more than they plan to socialize
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Philip Susser ‘16

Assistant Director
Angelica Culio ‘17

Alexander Gomez ‘17
Henry Kanengiser ‘18
Amy Kim ‘18


Nethan Reddy ‘18
Rebecca Shohet ‘18

Letter from the Director

“Regulating Big Pharma International Tax Inversion ”
Nethan Reddy ‘18
American drug titan Pfizer merged with the smaller Ireland-based Allergan. Tax inversion was a clear motivation for such
an agreement, but since efforts to prevent this business practice have failed, a better option would be to take advantage of the
revenues generated.

“Improving Health Outcomes of Dementia Patients Through On-Campus Training”
Alexander Gomez ’17
As baby boomers grow older, the proportion of elderly and cases of Alzheimer’s disease will increase. In the absence of a clear
cure, training on college campuses can help to mitigate the stress of the disease and increase awareness.
“Improving Health Outcomes of Dementia Patients Through On-Campus Training”
Angelica Culio ’17
Cornell University retail convenience stores should increase its depth of stock in order to meet the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program retail store eligibility requirements.
“Banning Fast-Food Restaurants from Hospitals: Holding Hospital Management and Large Food Corporations Accountable”
Rebecca Shohet ’18
Hospital management should be urged to cut ties with all fast food restaurant chains which profit in their facilities. The presence of such food outlets send inconsistent messages to patients who are already struggling with their health.
“Making Mental Health Matter: Cornell’s Health Leave Policy Analyzed”
Henry Kanengiser ‘18
Cornell’s health leave of absence policy is a popular leave policy with significant issues. Policy standardization between colleges
and increased policy transparency are needed to ensure that students properly understand the policy and know what to expect
when going through the leave process.
“The Perverse Effects of Sugar Sweetened Beverages on Obesity”
Amy Kim ‘18
Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to increased likelihood of obesity in both children and adults. A
policy solution to be considered is the labeling of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) as a means of encouraging consumers to
make healthier beverage choices and incentivizing beverage producers to reformulate their products to reflect the harmful
health effects of artificial sugars.

Meet the Center for Healthcare Policy

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

I am very pleased to present the ninth issue of Looking Ahead: The
Cornell Roosevelt Institute Policy Journal from the Center for Healthcare
Policy. This issue will address many pressing issues within healthcare and
suggest innovative and novel solutions. I have had the amazing experience
of working with each these analysts individually on the issues that inspire
them. Their ability to think outside the box with an analytic and detailed
framework is quite impressive. The analysts in this issue have diverse inquiries within the healthcare policy arena, making for a stimulating and
enriching journal.

Each analyst has combined creativity and passion with careful research and hard work to produce the policy proposals that comprise this
publication. I have found each piece to be enjoyable to read and incredibly
thought provoking and I hope you will as well.
Philip Susser ‘16
Policy Analysis and Management
Director, Center for Healthcare Policy

Regulating Big Pharma International Tax Inversion
By Nethan Reddy, Major: Biology and Psychology ‘18, Email:
American drug titan Pfizer merged with the smaller Ireland-based Allergan. Tax inversion was a clear motivation
for such an agreement, but since efforts to prevent this business practice have failed, a better option would be to take
advantage of the revenues generated.

The largest drug corporation Pfizer has merged with the smaller, Dublin-based Allergan to create the
world’s biggest drug corporation (a merge worth 152 billion dollars). The merge affects Pfizer and Allergan
shareholders and the patients each corporation indirectly provides for, with their product. Many have already
noted that this merge was a clear-cut example of tax
Key Facts:
inversion, a company shifting their legal address over- • Pfizer spends 33% of revenue on sales, general, and administrative expenses (largely advertising) while only 14.2% is spent
seas to take advantage of lower tax rates and higher
on research and development
profits, all while keeping central operations within do- • In 2014, Medicare accounted for 14% of the federal budget,
mestic territory. Last year, the tax rate for Pfizer was
totaling 505 billion.
26% while for Allergan it was only 5%. Even despite • Pharmaceutical companies signed deals worth a total of 211.7
measures set in place by the Treasury to offset tax
billion only in the first half of 2015.
inversion through tighter restrictions on what constitutes a tax inversion violated by tax code, drugmakers
like Pfizer have been able to consistently bypass tax code in the past. In having Allergan buyout Pfizer (its market
value less than half of Pfizer’s 219 billion), and consequently making the merge immune from regulation, the
company has continued this trend. The decision drew ire in Washington, particularly amongst Democrats who
cite the resulting increase in drug prices and the unfair ability larger firms like Pfizer have to hack international
tax law. Republicans are mostly resigned to the merger, claiming the move was natural considering the high corporate tax rates in America, preventing a thriving, competitive environment for drug corporations. Pfizer asks
politicians and the public to avoid looking at the tax cuts as the sole motive to merge, pointing out the higher
revenue enabled by the lower taxes will lead to the production of new, innovative drugs that will ultimately benefit American patients.

Policy Idea:

The government should enact policies that do not necessarily confront tax inversion itself, but the higher
revenues tax inversion produce as a result. Specifically, mandates on how drug corporations spend their heightened revenue. These mandates should make use of drug corporations’ distinct role as government contractors
and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the stated justification of tax inversion: greater innovation
and healthcare for Americans.


Policies enacted by the Treasury to combat tax inversion have been ineffective because they try to attack
loopholes drug corporations exploit with increasing complexity, inevitably matched by the corporations’ tax lawyers. A more direct form of regulation is needed. Attempting to prevent tax inversion would be less effective than
mandating what the drug companies are allowed to do with increased revenue through an international merge
deal. Despite the cynicism met by Pfizer’s better healthcare promise, Allergan has in fact been a drug corporation
heavily invested in research and development more so than American drug corporations, legitimizing Pfizer’s
promise of better drugs. Also, multinational companies may be willing to invest more in drug corporations that
partake in tax inversion for the benefit of lower tax rates internationally. Meanwhile, profits would be funneled
back in domestically to the profit of shareholders and, with governmental regulation, the benefit of American patients. This regulation should acknowledge the “best of both worlds” setup drug corporations are trying to reach
by both gaining from government health programs and at the same time paying lower taxes in other countries.
The government can use their weight to have drug companies, which are by nature government contractors, to
better finance the federally-sponsored healthcare system and provide better services for the Americans that use

Next Steps:

The government should enact policies that do not necessarily confront tax inversion itself, but the higher revenues tax inversion produces as a result.
Talking Points:
Specifically, mandates on how drug corpora•
in tax inversion is too difficult to prevent
tions spend their heightened revenue. These
mandates should make use of drug corpora• Regulating drug company revenue is a more efficient way of ensuring
tions’ distinct role as government contractors
drug company revenues benefit domestic programs.
and hold accountable their justification for tax • Drug companies are in the unique position of being government
contractors, making these controls easier to implement.
inversion as ultimately leading to better healthcare for Americans.


i Merced, Michael, David Gelles, and Leslie Picker. “Pfizer Chief Defends Merger With Allergan as Good for U.S.” November 23, 2015.
ii Armstrong, Drew. “Pfizer Deal for Allergan Could Spark Political Fight Over Taxes.” October 29, 2015. http://www.
iii Sommer, Jeff. “A Tax-Cutting Move That Pfizer Can Hardly Resist.” November 14, 2015. http://www.nytimes.
iv Merced, Michael, and Leslie Picker. “Pfizer Bid for Allergan Has Its Eyes on Ireland.” October 29, 2015. http://www.
v Tiefer, Charles. October 29, 2015.
vi Cramer, Jim, and Jack Mohr. “Cramer on Why a Pfizer-Allergan Merger Makes Sense.” October 29, 2015. http://www.
vii Staton, Tracy. “Does Pharma Spend More on Marketing than R&D? A Numbers Check.” FiercePharma. May 21, 2013. http://www.
viii “Everest 2013: Season Recap: Summits, Records and Fights.” The Blog on Alanarnettecom. June 3, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015.
viii “The Facts on Medicare Spending And Financing.” July 24, 2015.
ix Mark, Michelle. “Pfizer, Allergan Approve Merger Deal Worth $160B.” November 22, 2015.

Improving Health Outcomes of Dementia Patients Through
On-Campus Training

By Alexander Gomez, Major: Policy Analysis and Managment ‘17, Email:
As baby boomers grow older, the proportion of elderly and cases of Alzheimer’s disease will increase. In the absence of
a clear cure, training on college campuses can help to mitigate the stress of the disease and increase awareness.


Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is the only cause of death
ranked in the top ten that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. Of similar importance is the fact that only 45%
of Alzheimer’s patients are actually diagnosed, as opposed to other causes of death in the top ten such as cancer, which can have a diagnosis rate as high as 90%. These two statistics indicate that Alzheimer’s disease is both
widely prevalent and relatively unrecognized. Alzheimer’s impacts individuals across the United States; the level
of awareness needed to properly combat this condition is currently not adequate. This problem will only become
more serious as time goes on. As the baby boomer generation grows older, the proportion of citizens aged sixty-five and older will increase to approximately 20% and will bring with it a 40% spike in the number of people
diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2025. With this in mind, it is of the upmost importance to begin using public
policy to mitigate the effect of the disease as research for a cure lags behind.

Policy Idea:

There are currently a few local programs, such as in Payne Minnesota, where businesses and first respondents are trained to interact with community members who are experiencing symptoms of dementia. However
these programs are largely concentrated and exposure to training is highly dependent on location. By capitalizing
on the wide-spread reach of universities, implementing a standardized on-campus training procedure for recognizing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and interacting with people who are exhibiting symptoms will help
to increase health outcomes for those suffering from the condition all around the nation.


This policy is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, it is a way to increase community awareness and
teach people how to interact with any Alzheimer’s patient they may potentially meet. By implementing a training
program on campuses, students will be able to learn about challenges they may face and simultaneously gain the
tools to interact with someone who has Alzheimer’s. An open and honest discussion with individuals who may
personally feel quite removed from a condition that predominantly affects the elderly is vital. The next generation of adults will need to understand how to manage and accomodate individuals with profound cognitive
deficiencies. Wisconsin’s Dementia-Friendly Initiative has created a readily available tool-kit that explores these
perspectives. The tool-kit addresses everything from casual interactions to business interactions and is especially
comprehensive. One limitation of the program is its age. The program is new, and its effectiveness has not been
empirically evaluated. In this case, the lack of data is not especially troublesome, as the initiative is extremely
low-cost (the original Dementia-Friendly Initiative was created with only $300,000 of funding) and will be primarily put in place by leveraging current Alzheimer’s groups.

Next Steps:

Ultimately, the U.S Department of Health & Human Services is responsible for enhancing and protecting
the well being of Americans, and this agency will need to be worked with as a possible source of funding. However, it will probably be most beneficial to work with an outside group, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, in
order to lobby for this policy and get the Association of American Universities involved. Additionally, student
groups can be tapped to garner on campus support.



Talking Points:

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United
States and is relatively under diagnosed.
By 2025, the proportion of citizens aged sixty-five and older will
increase to approximately 20% and the number of Alzheimer cases will
rise by 40%.
Although there are some strong public health initiatives, such as the
Wisconsin Healthy Brian Initiative, these efforts are largely concentrated and exposure to training is highly dependent on where you live.
Adding a standardized training procedure for recognizing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and interacting with people who are
exhibiting symptoms will increase health outcomes for those suffering
from the condition.

Food Insecurity on College Campuses: SNAP Out of it

By Angelica Culio, Major: Biology & Society ‘17, Email:
Cornell University retail convenience stores should increase its depth of stock in order to meet the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program retail store eligibility requirements.


With tuition and living expenses rising at a rate that outpaces inflation, overall high cost of living and
large medical expenses, food spending is often the
Key Facts:
first basic necessity to be cut. Government support

choosing between paying for food
for food affordability has grown over the years. Beand
tween 2007 and 2012 SNAP participation increased
• In 2015, 1 out of 5 Cornell students skiped a meal due to
by 77% nationwide, and the number of students
financial constraints, accessibility, or other factors.
ages 19-24 receiving food stamps more than dou- • Students on Cornell’s least expensive meal plans only have
bled from 2001-2010. And undergraduates aren’t
1 meal a day or approximately $5 in ‘big red bucks’.
the only ones struggling with food insecurity: the
number of food insecure graduate students is also growing. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of doctorate-holding food stamp recipients tripled. Even students who are already receiving food stamp benefits go hungry because there are no locations on campus to use those benefits. Students with poor access to nutritious foods
struggle with concentrating, memory, and comprehension, and are more likely to suffer from depression and
anxiety. Despite these trends, few on-campus vendors accept food stamp benefits in lieu of other forms of payment. Changing the products offered so that campus convenience stores are eligible to accept SNAP would give
students the option to use their benefits while on campus. Applying those benefits to the student’s identification
card would reduce the stigma associated with using an EBT benefit card, and would the reduce negative impacts
of food insecurity on academic performance, health, and psychosocial function.

Policy Idea:

Cornell University retail food locations should apply to be a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits merchant. By completing an application to accept SNAP, Cornell University retail dining locations
would allow students who already have SNAP benefits to use their food stamps throughout the day while on
campus. These benefits should be applied to student identification cards, so students can continue to swipe their
student ID card instead of an EBT card at the time of purchase.


An increasing number of colleges are attempting to address issues of food insecurity by augmenting Food
Bank services or implementing meal swipe sharing programs. These solutions are commendable, however it’s not
clear that they would effectively address the challenges of food access at Cornell. While pantries are important
sources of supplementary food, it does not solve the problem of food access. Students who are receiving SNAP
benefits have limited access to merchants on or near college campuses that accept those benefits and are forced to
travel off campus to a grocery store that accepts SNAP. If the student does not have access to a car, this requires a
minimum of two hours and bus fare.

Allowing low income students to use their EBT benefits on campus will allow them to save time and
avoid resorting to inexpensive or free food options that may be calorie, but not nutrient dense.

In the Roseland Community of Chicago, stores that accept food stamps earn an average of $5, 000 a week.
Not only would accepting EBT benefit the University by providing an additional source of revenue, but it would
also demonstrate a commitment to community needs.

Cornell Dining is consistently ranked in Princeton review’s top 10 for best campus food among all U.S.
colleges and Universities by receiving top ratings for serving high quality, healthy foods. Expanding the variety
of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and/or meat offered at Cornell convenience stores would likely improve Dining
customer ratings. This product expansion could also help the Dining department promote it’s “Menu of Change”
Fruit and Vegetable initiative which aims to serve 10% more fruits and vegetables to students.

Next Steps:

Cornell convenience stores already offer items in all four staple food groups included in SNAP eligibility
requirements, so the first step would be to evaluate the foods sold at their stores to determine how they need to
change the composition of the products they sell in order to offer at least three varieties of qualifying foods in
each of the following four staple food groups,
Talking Points:
with perishable foods in at least two of the follow- • Food insecurity during college impacts students cognitive,
academic, and psychological development
ing categories:
• The number of people ages 19-24 receiving food stamps while

meat, poultry or fish
enrolled in school more than doubled from 2001-2010.

bread or cereal

Students who are eligible for SNAP benefits, but don’t apply,

vegetables or fruits
largely because of the stigma of using the benefits.

dairy products

First, Cornell Student Assembly should
pass a resolution strongly recommending that
Cornell Dining offer foods that make the store SNAP-eligible. Cornell Dining would then apply to be a SNAP
retail merchant. Cornell Dining would then work with the Bursar’s Office to retrofit student meal plan payment
methods to allow students to use SNAP benefits to purchase “Big Red Bucks” that can then be used at Cornell
convenience stores.

Cornell Student Assembly should pass a resolution strongly recommending that Cornell Dining offer
foods that make the store SNAP-eligible. Seeing as both the Cornell Community Coordination Committee and
President Elizabeth Garrett recently approved a student-run grocery store this November 2015, support for
addressing food insecurity issues can be enlisted when doing outreach and enlisting support from the Cornell
Community. The recently approved Anabel’s Grocery Store board of directors includes 31 students and 8 faculty
members who are actively working on addressing food insecurity at Cornell. Students interested in promoting this proposal could team up with Anabel’s grocer team members to get student signatures in support of the
policy, and to to brainstorm effective ways to collaborate with Cornell Dining. In December 2016, a working
groups of students would be convened to meet with Cornell Dining about the proposal and a resolution would
be drafted. In January 2017 the resolution would be presented to the Student Assembly. In February 2017, (barring approval) the resolution would then be proposed to the Community Coordination Committee. The student
committee would meet with University President Garrett to garner her support for the initiative.


i Philips, Matthew. “Cost of College on the Rise (Again).” Freakonomics RSS. October 27, 2011. Accessed November 26, 2015.
ii United States Census. (2015).
iii Wade, Lisa. “The Number of PhDs on Food Stamps Triples - Sociological Images.” Sociological Images The
Number of PhDs on Food Stamps Triples. June 19, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2015. http://thesocietypages.
iv “Food Research and Action Center.” Breakfast for Health. 2011. Accessed November 27, 2015.
v Roberts, R., J. Golding, T. Towell, and I. Weinreb. “The Effects of Economic Circumstances on British Students’
Mental and Physical Health.” November 1, 1999. Accessed November 24, 2015.
vi Moore, Natalie. “USDA to Crack down on Convenience Stores That Accept Food Stamps.” USDA Says Convenience Stores That Accept Food Stamps Must Carry Healthier Items. March 20, 2014. Accessed November 28,

Banning Fast-Food Restaurants from Hospitals: Holding Hospital
Management and Large Food Corporations Accountable
By Rebecca Shohet, Major: Policy Analysis and Management ‘18, Email:

Hospital management should be urged to cut ties with all fast food restaurant chains which profit in their facilities.
The presence of such food outlets send inconsistent messages to patients who are already struggling with their health.


Key Facts:

Fast food restaurant chains like the famous Mc• Of the 208 hospitals surveyed in the report, 20
Donald’s seem to appear in more and more places that
percent had fast food chains on campus (Huffington
they shouldn’t each year. Olympic athletes and impresPost)
sionable celebrities support these companies in return for
massive paychecks. However, having these corporations • The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine analyzed contracts and found that the hospitals
operate in hospitals has taken things too far and has
are incentivized to help the fast-food restaurants sell
put the health of patients in danger. Multiple hospitals
more processed food (TakePart).
across the country have contracts with the same large fast • Nearly 90 percent of hospitals in California have
food chains that hospitalize their patients suffering from
at least one fast food outlet on their campuses and
conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
high-sugar drinks in their vending machines (CenIn the early 1990s, hospitals made agreements with fast
ters for Disease Control)
food companies such as McDonald’s when information • A survey of hospitals showed the top five “worst
hospital environments” had at least one fast food
was limited, the health concerns of these foods weren’t
restaurant (The Physicians Committee for Responsias well known, and when the financial gains outweighed
ble Medicine)
any concerns of patient safety. Quickly, more and more
restaurant chains such as Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s followed in McDonald’s path and opened doors in hospitals in all regions of the U.S. Over time, services such as
“McDelivery”, which allows McDonald’s employees to deliver food to a patient’s bedside, have become more
common which has made fast food easily accessible to patients, even if they cannot physically get it themselves.
In many cases, these corporations set up agreements with upper level hospital management stating that profits
that the restaurants make from sales directly correlate to the rent they pay the hospitals (the more food they sell,
the more they pay the hospitals). And with each hospital they open in, they get more ammunition to open in
another hospital. The foods the “restaurants” serve are awful for patients - whether they suffer from a weight- related condition or not. Studies have found that Chick-fil-A chicken commonly have been found to contain PhIP,
“a carcinogen linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancer.” The more access these patients have to these foods,
the more likely they will be to eat them, and suffer the consequences that come from doing this.

Policy Idea:

This policy will make it mandatory for hospitals to eliminate unhealthy food choices. With the support
of partners such as the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine, CDC, and NIH, it would also include a
notice outlining the negative effects these foods have on patients. There will be an emphasis on the monetary side
of this issue; although hospitals make an initial profit from the fast food purchases, patient-consumers will eventually come back with more serious conditions and the hospital will have to incur those potentially avoidable
costs. The hospitals would have a certain number of days to reply with a plan of how to go about removing these
restaurants from their premises.


Though unhealthy foods have been around hospitals for many years, this issue has not gotten much publicity and not much action has been taken so far. The only real steps taken was the call to action made by John
Bluford and rumors of the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine organizing to tackle this issue. This
proposal, if passed, would be the first time hospitals would be contacted directly and forced to respond. This policy solution is a way to inform hospitals that their partnerships with fast food restaurants is a serious matter as
more than one third (34.9%) of U.S adults are obese (CDC). Serving greasy, sugary foods to patients in hospitals
regardless of what they are admitted for only exacerbates this growing issue further. If no action is taken, many

patients, hospital employees, and visitors would suffer from this access to unhealthy food choices. However, by
hiring talented staff to cook for the patients so they can enjoy their meals and not have to flock to the McDonTalking Points:
ald’s downstairs and by revamping the cafeterias,
hospitals can ensure they are doing their part to
provide their patients with healthy options so they • Urging hospital CEOs to remove fast food chains from
hospitals will be a pivotal step in decreasing obesity rates in
do not stray to unhealthy foods. The PCRM’s yearly
the U.S, which have been increasing at a disproportionately
report surveyed 200 hospitals across the nation and
high rate in the last few years.
found that Chick-Fil-A is in at least 20 hospitals
• Although some hospitals (like Houston’s Ben Taub General
(10%) and McDonald’s is in at least 18 (9%). HowHospital) benefit from the profits of fast food restaurants,
ever, more analyses was performed by the Internathese agreements between the two parties are hurting the
tional Food Information Council Foundation, which
very people that hospitals vow to protect- the patients.
showed that almost 80% of the population was aware • Encouraging the revamping of the hospital menu and
that they had unhealthy diets and were looking for
the inclusion of healthy options in hospital cafeterias will
means to get help and eat better. If hospitals are enencourage not only patients, but employees and visitors as
well, to eat healthier foods.
couraged to serve better food, there is a good chance
people will eat it.

Next Steps:

The institution that would charge this movement is a nonprofit group called the Physicians Committee
for Responsible Medicine, based out of Washington, D.C, that promotes and advocates for preventative care in
today’s medicine. The organization has done multiple surveys over the last few years and has seen the increasing
number of fast food restaurants in hospitals and believes this trend may be a factor in the increasing rates of obesity. Numerous physicians who all want to see fast food ripped from hospitals, as well as different healthy food
and lifestyle activists would support the PCRM. The main targets will be hospital CEOs around the U.S. It would
be advantageous to reach out to John Bluford, the previous chair of the American Hospital Association and the
past CEO of Truman Medical Centers, who has actively issued a call to action urging hospitals to eliminate unhealthy foods.


“Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 21, 2015. Accessed November 24,
Collins, Sam. “Doctors’ Group Calls On Hospitals To Stop Serving Fast Food.” March 23, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2015.
“Fast Food Chains In Cafeterias Put Hospitals In A Bind.” NPR. April 12, 2012. Accessed November 24, 2015.
Scherer, Josh. “Doctors Fight to Ban Fast Food From Hospitals—for Good Reason.” TakePart. March 21, 2015.
Accessed March 24, 2015.
Schumaker, Erin. “Fast Food Chains Are Allowed Inside Hospitals In These 15 States.” The Huffington Post.
April 10, 2015. Accessed November 24, 2015.

Making Mental Health Matter: Cornell’s Health Leave Policy Analyzed
By Henry Kanengiser, Major: Government ‘18, Email:

Cornell’s health leave of absence policy is a popular leave policy with significant issues. Policy standardization between colleges and increased policy transparency are needed to ensure that students properly understand the policy
and know what to expect when going through the leave process.


Mental health is an incredibly serious topic in higher education that is often overlooked or discounted, even at our
Key Facts:
alma mater, Cornell University. In a 2014 national self-reported study of undergraduate seniors, a majority of them
stated they felt depressed while in college. A Cornell specific • A majority of students in a study stated they felt depressed at some point in their undergraduate career.
survey showed that almost 40% of undergraduates surveyed
at Cornell have felt at some time during their academic career • Almost 40% of undergraduates surveyed at Cornell
have felt at some time during their academic career at
at Cornell that they were so depressed “it was difficult to
Cornell that they were so depressed “it was difficult to
function”. The number of students maintaining a full course
load while treating a serious mental illness is quite high, and
demonstrates the need for useful systems in addressing these • For each of the past two years, more than 200 students
have taken a HLOA.
issues. Without them, students may have to choose between
accepting poor grades and withdrawing from courses to focus
on health or allowing their mental health to worsen while remaining in school.
Like many other colleges and universities in the United States, Cornell has attempted to address this by implementing
what is called a Health Leave of Absence (HLOA). Taking a HLOA is managed by both Gannett Student Health Services
and the individual academic colleges at Cornell. Through a HLOA, students can leave Cornell at any point in the semester,
and will mostly have their grades expunged. It is the most popular type of leave available to undergraduate students, with
more than 200 students taking a HLOA each year for the past two years.
To go on a HLOA, students have to follow a series of steps. First, they must speak to a therapist at Gannett and state
their voluntary interest in taking a HLOA. The student then receives their treatment recommendations from Gannett,
dictating frequency of therapy visits and other forms of treatment that must be met while on leave. Once Gannet’s paperwork is completed, the student alerts their college or school advising office. Once the college or school replies with any
academic adjustments, the student will be placed on leave. All HLOAs must be at least six months long. Students on leave
are not considered Cornell students, and thus are unable to receive treatment from Gannett, continue living on campus, or
use the remainder of their dining plan. To return to Cornell following a HLOA, students must alert Gannett of their intent
to return by a strict deadline, and then have to send in all Gannet-required forms from therapists within one month. The
student is judged by a committee of Gannett clinicians on their return. If approved, the student returns to Cornell and pick
up their studies where they left them.

Policy Idea:

Students at Cornell are at serious risk for mental illness while at Cornell. One of the options available to students
here is a health leave of absence. However, the program as it exists at Cornell lacks standardization between schools and
transparency between the advising offices and the student population. Addressing these two areas of issue within the policy
are important ways to ensure that all students know about the details of the leave program, are treated as equally as possible
while on leave.


The current HLOA policy has significant flaws that must be addressed to improve its effectiveness as well as its
appeal and viability to potentially interested students. Since HLOAs are interpreted differently by each college and school
at Cornell, their policies regarding accepting grades varies. Some schools like Industrial and Labor Relations will label
courses as a “withdraw” on all future transcripts if the student takes a HLOA after their school-specific course drop
date and remove them entirely if they take it before the drop date. Other schools like the School of Hotel Administration will remove all courses from the student’s transcript, regardless of relation to the drop deadline.
The differences here give an unfair competitive advantage to students in some schools over others, based on
administrative differences. In a case where mental health may preclude academic success, administrative differences should only be due to necessary academic requirements, otherwise a system where some students receive
better treatment than others.

Another significant issue with current policy is the lack of transparency. Very little information about
the role academic advisors play and the college-specific policies in place is published in the public domain. This
leads to a lack of communication between Gannett and the colleges, and can result in extra stress placed on the
student taking a HLOA, Some of the imprecision is due to the variety in mental illnesses Cornell students live
with, and thus the variety of academic responses, but colleges fail to give examples of “academic conditions” to
be met while on a HLOA or provide enough information for students to sufficiently understand the requirements set for them while on leave. Furthermore, students may find out about the academic action taken towards
their grades only after committing to the process,
Talking Points:
and may eventually be stuck with the exact thing
they hoped to avoid – bad grades on their tran• Academic colleges’ and schools’ administrative differences
script. Transparency in the HLOA policy is essenin HLOA policy should only be due to necessary academic
tial to ensure its utility.

Lastly, Cornell fails to offer support to

Vagueness in HLOA policy posted by different colleges
students while they are on a HLOA. While many
and schools should be kept to a minimum so all students
students on a HLOA feel comfortable returning
can understand the requirements for them while they’re
to their homes and their support system there,
on leave.
finances or trauma associated with their home
leaves some students without a place to stay, a method to get enough money, or a connection to any therapists
or available to work with. These issues combine to make the HLOA process significantly flawed, and in need of

Next Steps:

In order to make the HLOA policy as beneficial to the students it hopes to help, the academic colleges
should construct a standardized policy that is the same between schools and should publicize this policy for all
students to access. It is unfair for some students to receive more leniency in their grades than others, for no reason other than college-specific policy. Transparency is also key, to help publicize what could be the best option
for a student who is unaware of HLOAs. Students deserve to know what specific requirements they be committing themselves to academic or otherwise. Furthermore, secrecy on the part of the colleges leaves Gannett
without sufficient information about HLOAs, limiting their ability to assist students.
Addressing these issues is imperative to make the HLOA policy into a useful and effective policy. Through
these changes, students will be able to easily understand the full process of taking a health leave without needing
to schedule meetings and acting for themselves in this way. Furthermore, students will receive similar treatment
between schools, and will transform the HLOA policy from a college-specific one to one that treats students
from each school equally. Making these changes will improve the quality of care available to students struggling
with mental illness, and will provide them with the understanding of their care that they deserve.

i Hurtado, Sylvia, M. Kevin Eagan Jr., and Maria Ramirez Suchard. 2014. “Findings From the 2014 College Senior Survey.”
Higher Education Research Institute, December.
ii Institutional Research and Planning. 2015. “2015 Cornell PULSE.” Cornell University Division of Planning and Budget.
iii “Gannett: Health Leave of Absence.” 2015. Accessed November 24.
iv Laura Lewis, email interview with author, November 19, 2015
v Dina Kristof, email interview with author, November 19, 2015

The Perverse Effects of Sugar Sweetened Beverages on Obesity
By Amy Kim, Major: Government ‘18, Email:

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to increased likelihood of obesity in both children and
adults. A policy solution to be considered is the labeling of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) as a means of encouraging consumers to make healthier beverage choices and incentivizing beverage producers to reformulate their products to reflect the harmful health effects of artificial sugars.


Key Facts:

Obesity has emerged as a major global health
problem. Two out of every three adults and one out of
• Sugar sweetened beverages are the primary source of
every three children are considered overweight or obese
added sugars in the American diet
and this poses a significant economic burden on the
• Percentage of overweight and obese adults spiked in
country. Daily sugary beverage consumption is associthe past four decades

Epidemiological studies indicate obesity is an imated with obesity and it is a health risk for a number of
portant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular
diseases and illnesses. Over the past four decades, the
disease, cancer, and premature death
portion sizes of sugar sweetened beverages have dramat•
$147 billion (9.1%) of total healthcare expenditures
ically increased and the American population is drinkattributable to obesity, disproportionately higher
ing more soft drinks than ever before.
burden on resource-poor communities

There are two suspected reasons why sugary
beverages can lead to obesity. First, sugary beverages
contain large amounts of calories, which can trigger satiety — a sense of fullness or satisfaction. Artificial sweeteners, however, confuse our bodies and weaken the link in our brains between sweetness and calories. This can
lead to weight gain and cravings for sweeter treats. Second, there is growing evidence that artificial sweeteners in
soda beverages can affect gut bacteria, which consequently affects digestive processes. An experiment tested the
effects of giving saccharine and sucralose to mice and found that it made them vulnerable to insulin resistance
and glucose intolerance — both of which can lead to weight gain. Other research suggests that artificial sweeteners are associated with a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone, leptin.

In the United States, the consumption of SSBs is particularly higher for Hispanics, African Americans
and low-income individuals, which are also the groups that have a disproportionately high prevalence of obesity
and obesity related chronic diseases. The demographic groups most likely to drink soda included young adults
ages 18 to 29 (50 percent said they mostly drink regular soda), non-white population (46 percent said they
mostly drink regular soda) and people with lower incomes (45 percent of people making less than $30,000 a
year said they mostly drink regular soda).

The prevalence of childhood obesity has been growing at an alarming rate among the youth and adolescent populations as it has more than doubled over the past 30 years. The prevalence rate was at 16.9% as of
2013.4 Obesity rates are a pressing concern because obesity reduces the overall quality of life for people. Obese
adults experience numerous health risks and face poor economic future prospects.

Policy Idea:

We propose to implement a traffic light food label law that influences which products consumers decide
to purchase. The goal is to make the healthy choice an easy choice by intervening at the food environment level.
We would designate each beverage with a red, yellow, or green label to differentiate between healthy options
and high-calorie sugary options. We suspect that consumers will choose the healthier beverage choice when the
option to do so is clearly laid out to them.


A number of alternative policies have been proposed at the local, state, and federal levels to
reduce consumption of SSBs. A penny per ounce tax has been proposed by many policymakers and
would generate a considerable amount of revenue, but would fail to effectively curb consumption due
to the substitution effect. The traffic light system of product labeling keeps healthy decision making an
easy choice at the point of sale, especially for minority and low income populations in resource poor

communities that may have a difficult time understanding the current system of labeling. This is in
hopes of deflecting the soda companies’ marketing and advertising that are often targeted at the poor,
low income populations that live in food deserts. The benefits of obesity reduction will be felt at the
macro-societal level. Individuals will have a better quality of life and a greater ability to fulfill their
potential when perverse health conditions are not holding them back. Consequently, economic output
and national GDP are projected to rise along with individual motivation to succeed.

Next Steps:

The goal is to use the coordination
Talking Points:
and cooperation between state and feder- • Use of product labels makes consumers aware of the negative health
al government to implement this policy
effects of sugar sweetened beverages, in the process reducing conproposal. Although there will be individusumption
al and state differences, the general intent • given that sugary drinks increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart
disease, and gout, it is important to take corrective action to curb
of the policy is meant to be preserved: to
consumers’ unhealthy behavior and to reduce the amount of marketmake the healthy option readily available
ing and advertising for obesity-promoting products that are directed
to consumers and easily distinguishable
at the low income population
from unhealthier options. The federal
• reduced quality of life restricts individuals’ ability to perform at full
level will have more red tape to bypass but
potential, stunting economic growth
the benefits of implementing this policy
de facto is much greater.

The biggest support for this policy will come from health advocacy groups such as the American Heart
Association and Obesity Action Coalition. Health groups recognize that obesity is a growing problem in the
United States rooted in over-consumption and poor consumer choices. This policy reform would resonate with
these groups because healthy options are not so clear in beverage aisles and consumers are unaware about the
detrimental health effects that sodas have.

The policy aims at targeting children, low income groups, and minorities such as Hispanics and blacks.
Across demographics, these groups were found to be most likely to purchase unhealthy sodas. Also these groups
tend to face the most health risks.


i Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet.” The Nutrition Source. Accessed November 22, 2015. http://www.hsph.
ii Oaklander, Mandy. “What Diet Soda Does to Belly Fat.” Time. Accessed November 22, 2015. http://time.
iii Andreyeva, Tatiana, Frank J. Chaloupka, and Kelly D. Brownell. 2011. “Estimating the Potential of Taxes
on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to Reduce Consumption and Generate Revenue.” Preventive Medicine 52 (6):
413–16. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.03.013.
iv Hu, F. B. 2013. “Resolved: There Is Sufficient Scientific Evidence That Decreasing Sugar-Sweetened Beverage
Consumption Will Reduce the Prevalence of Obesity and Obesity-Related Diseases.” Obesity Reviews 14 (8):
606–19. doi:10.1111/obr.12040.
v Malik, Vasanti, Barry Popkin, George Bray, Jean-Pierre Depres, and Frank Hu. “Sugar Sweetened Beverages,
Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Risk.” Circulation. Accessed November 23, 2015. http://

Meet Our Healthcare Policy Center
Henry Kanengiser
Henry Kanengiser is a sophomore in the College of Arts and
Sciences, studying Government. He is the Vice President of the
Cornell Political Affairs Commission and an editor for StethoSCOOP the Cornell undergraduate pre-medical journal. In his
free time, he likes to ski, run, and cook.

Alexander Gomez
Alexander Gomez is a junior majoring in Policy Analysis and
Management at Cornell University. He loves keeping up with new
technology and watching soccer and is also an avid outdoorsman.
Contact him at

Angelica Culio
Angelica is a junior in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
studying Biology & Society with a concentration in Public Health.
This is Angelica’s 3rd year with Roosevelt, and she is interested in increasing access and quality of preventive care, particularly mental and
psychiatric services. She believes that public policy should be guided
by data, and feels that effective mental health policy should implement preventive strategies in primary care settings.

Rebecca Shohet
Rebecca Shohet is a Sophomore Policy Analysis and Management major in the College of Human Ecology concentrating in health care policy and minoring in Design and Environmental Analysis. She joined
the Roosevelt Institute in the fall of 2014 as a healthcare policy analyst.
Aside from Roosevelt, Rebecca is also on the executive boards of the
Cornell Undergraduate Research Board and Into the Streets, and is a
member of the Student Assembly’s Health and Wellness Committee.

Meet Our Healthcare Policy Center
Nethan Reddy
Nethan is a sophomore Biology & Society major in the College of Arts
& Sciences. I am a very active member of Cornell Minds Matter, mostly working on the club’s public relations and our Dining with Diverse
Minds programming. I am also a research assistant for the Cornell
Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery with Dr. Janis Whitlock. Next semester I will be volunteering at the Southern Tier Aids
Program as a public service scholar. My hobbies include sobbing to
Adele’s new album, and finally understanding why Glee was so hyped
in 2010 through Netflix.
Philip Susser, Director
Philip is a Senior Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) major in
the College of Human Ecology. He joined the Roosevelt Institute in
the spring of 2013 as a healthcare policy analyst. He has focused his
studies on healthcare policy and conducted research on United States
Sick Leave Policy with PAM faculty. Outside of his policy interests, he
enjoys running on trails in the Ithaca area, writing for the Cornell Daily
Sun, and watching the Yankees. He plans to attend medical school after

Not Pictured: Amy Kim

VII. Center for Science & Technology Policy
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Elizabeth Zelko ‘16

Letter from the Policy Director

Chad Stephenson ‘17
Anna Kambhampaty ‘19
Marc Alessi ‘18
Alexander Maisel ‘18
Arielle Tannin ‘18
Daniel Oudolsky ‘16

“The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act: Foregoing Privacy in Favor of Safety”
Arielle Tannin ‘18
Given the increasing reliance of attacks on cyberspace, it seems logical that governments would want to pool their resources
to thwart cyber threats. The recent CISA bill is the latest effort to accomplish this, but it goes too far in infringing on the basic
right to privacy of American citizens.
“Serving At-Risk Students with Interactive Technology”
Chad Stephenson ‘17
Students of color and low income students are less likely to have access to a computer than white or high-income students.
There are major opportunities to improve educational outcomes for at-risk students by expanding technology access and leveraging interactive education.
“Using Technology to Fight ISIS: An Overlooked Aspect in the War Against Extremism”
Alexander Maisel ‘18
Violent extremists, such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have become increasingly sophisticated at
creating dense, global networks of online support. Governments looking to combat ISIS must pay closer attention to the information war that this group and others like it are waging.
“Climate Action: Public and Private Funding in Renewable Technologies”
Marc Alessi ‘18
Over the past few years, investment in renewable energy production has increased significantly. While this is good news for a
planet striving for independence from fossil fuel energy, there needs to be a push for more public and private funding of renewable technologies. Doubling or tripling the funding for renewable research and development could lead to technological
advancements that make renewable energy much more cost-effective than fossil fuels.
“Laboratory grown food: GM Food Labelling and the Future of Food Security in the United States”
Daniel Oudolsky ‘16
In this piece, the author advocates for the implementation of GMO food labelling by the FDA will lead to more prudent
economic decision making, higher transparency from Agricultural companies and a healthier nation overall due to a higher
availability of information.
“Regulating Hoverboards: Keeping Public Spaces Safe and Free”
Anna Kambhampaty ‘19
Hoverboards should be allowed for use in public spaces but still regulated. New York State should put in place certain safety
regulations on the use of hoverboards (similar to regulations on bicycles) so they can be safely used in public spaces, rather than
banning their use and limiting people’s means of transportation.
Meet the Center for Science & Technology

Dear Readers,

Letter from the Director

It has been one year since the Center for Science and Technology was
established at the Cornell Roosevelt Institute, and I am incredibly proud to be
a part of this growing policy area. This year we have six analysts, each of whom
brings their own diverse background to the table in investigating some of the
most pressing and relevant issues in science and technology today.

Though STEM is clearly an area of great cultural and political importance
today, it often feels as though it is neglected for more “polarizing” or traditional
policy issues. Even approaching the 2016 presidential election, surprisingly few
of the candidates have addressed pressing issues in this sphere. Such issues have
little to no presence in debates, and the majority of politicians are not particularly well-informed about them.

Therefore, I believe it is of particular importance for students of the Millennial generation to bring more of these policy concerns to light and to think
critically about potential solutions. Each of these proposals introduces an interesting policy idea that must be tackled in the near future. I am proud of the
work and passion these analysts have put into their proposals and their efforts
to bring important science and technology issues greater attention.
Elizabeth Zelko

Computer Science (A&S ‘16)
Director, Center for Science & Technology

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act:
Foregoing Privacy in Favor of Safety

By Arielle Tannin, Major: Information Science ‘18, Email:
Given the increasing reliance of attacks on cyberspace, it seems logical that governments would want to pool their
resources to thwart cyber threats. The recent CISA bill is the latest effort to accomplish this, but it goes too far in
infringing on the basic right to privacy of American citizens.


In the wake of the tragic attacks on Paris and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management hack among other
cyber attacks, governments are seeking to do all they
can to protect the safety of their citizens. The CISA
Key Facts:
(Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act) bill was
passed in hopes of combatting these threats. CISA was • CISA allows companies to bypass privacy of their customers
• Other countries take a more serious approach to privacy prointroduced in the U.S. Senate on July 10, 2014, and
passed in the Senate October 27, 2015 with a vote of • 25% of 300 British and Canadian companies terminated busi74-211. The purpose of CISA is to strengthen online
ness contacts with U.S. data hosting services for fear of data
being compromised by spying services
security by offering legal immunity to companies who

Of those who responded, only 5% reported the problem to law
share “cyber threat indicators” with the government.
This term used in the bill can refer to anything in a us•
er’s personal data that could be construed as evidence
of an intent to complete an attack.
CISA has been heavily criticized for infringing on privacy. Opponents of the bill have responded by arguing this
bill is paving the way for a surveillance state as it neglects the right to privacy of users by giving the unsolicited
right to companies to distribute their users’ data. Proponents of the bill argue it is necessary because much of the
sensitive information on servers is owned by large corporations, and sharing this with the government would
enable them to more quickly and effectively respond to potential attacks. Although enabling the government to
successfully prevent cyber attacks is critical, CISA fails in many respects to enable the government to be more
effective in this regard and does so at the cost of the public’s privacy. The bill repeatedly uses vague language to
distinguish the right and responsibilities of companies with respect to sharing their users’ data. For example, it
states that the government can share information with “relevant entities” which could be construed to encompass
anyone. This threatens the personal security of individuals.

The impact of the CISA bill is incredibly widespread. There are several key actors that are impacted by
the CISA bill, namely information technology companies, the Department of Homeland Security, and any American who participates in the cyber community. Some tech companies have been in favor of the bill, but many
have publically spoken out against it. One of the most notable is Apple which stated, “The trust of our customers
means everything to us and we don’t believe security should come at the expense of their privacy.”3 Similarly,
Google and Facebook have staunchly opposed this bill. The fact that three of the largest data processing companies have vocally expressed their disagreement with this bill is not only significant in terms of restricting the
government’s access to their data, but their influence makes it less likely other companies will participate as well,
essentially rendering CISA useless.

Policy Idea:

To rectify the privacy concerns raised by CISA, companies should be able to choose the type and extent
of user data they share with the government and obtain their users informed consent to do so. In tandem with
this policy, CISA should be revised to eliminate vague language that could potentially be used to justify an overly
invasive scope of surveillance. An amendment should also be passed that requires companies to remove (or
make private) personal data from information before sharing.


The online privacy system that the U.S. abides by offers little to no power to the individual with respect to
how their data is treated and who can gain access to it. When evaluating alternatives to CISA it is helpful to consider how other countries deal with privacy concerns. The European Union for example makes a concerted effort
to empower individuals to be in control of their data.4 In the E.U, the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development set out seven principles5 that govern
data protection: notice, purpose, consent, security,
Talking Points:
disclosure, access, and accountability. This increased • There is a need for the government to have some sort of avenue
to access relevant personal data
privacy protection does not mean the E.U does not
take measures to ensure national security, they simply • Cybersecurity threat is too broadly defined by CISA to allow
companies disclosing their customers’ information without a
have stricter, explicit language detailing when and
how personal data can be shared. This increased trans- • Companies that release information to the government receive
parency and agency has shown to be a critical part of
protection from legal liability if that information is sent to the
building a relationship between data users and distrib•
uters based on mutual trust.
The United States could stand to benefit from adopting a similar approach to privacy as Europe. It is important to ensure American citizens do not feel threatened by
their own government. This model would also be beneficial because it would prevent an excess of unnecessary
data being sent to the NSA. This merely clogs the NSA’s resources and impedes their ability to find meaningful
trends in data. The question is not whether the government needs unrestricted access to the personal information of its citizens, it is how will this data be treated and analyzed effectively. One of the major problems with
CISA is that it does not combat the root of the cybersecurity problem. Ben Johnson, Chief Security Strategist
stated, “It is the processing of that information, the application of that information, the operationalizing [sic] of
that information, and finally the incorporation of that information into an overarching cyber strategy and risk
mitigation platform that is sorely lacking. Threat intelligence sharing is not the problem.” Rather than taking
measures to accumulate more data, it would be more beneficial for the government to create a lasting infrastructure that will enable them to consistently thwart cyber threats.

Next Steps:

The proposed reforms should be presented to the Senate in the form of an amendment to the CISA bill.
Senators must think critically abut issues of privacy, encryption, and consent with regard to how personal information is treated by companies and government agencies. Allies for this amendment would come from influential tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter. Support should also come from public interest
groups in Internet security such as the Center for Democracy and Technology which has been active for nearly
20 years to find innovative policy solutions to maintain an open Internet.


1. Andrea Peterson, “Senate passes cybersecurity information sharing bill despite privacy fears,” The Washington Post, https://www.
2. Trevor Timm, “The Senate, ignorant on cybersecurity, just passed a bill about it anyway,” The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.
3. Kate Knibbs, “What Is CISA?,” Gizmodo,
4. Thomas H. Davenport, “Should the U.S. Adopt European-Style Data-Privacy Protections?”, Wall Street Journal, http://www.wsj.
5. Christian Laux, “Privacy concepts: US v. EU,” Stanford Law Center for Internet and Society,

Serving At-Risk Students with Interactive Technology
By Chad Stephenson, Major: Industrial Labor Relations ‘17, Email:
Students of color and low income students are less likely to have access to a computer than white or high-income students. There are major opportunities to improve educational outcomes for at-risk students by expanding technology
access and leveraging interactive education.


Achievement gaps in high school often lead to educational attainment and income differences in adulthood.
Disadvantaged student often have fewer educational resources available to them despite their growing population in
US schools and greater need for assistance and targeted educational initiatives to ensure future success. This
reality perpetuates a cycle of poverty that preserves
Key Facts:
• Rote memorization activities tend to decrease test scores, while
historical socioeconomic and racial injustices. The No
complex interactive tasks tend to increase test scores
Child Left Behind Initiative targeted educational achieve• Research shows that, compared to other socioeconomic groups,
ment disparities, but has had mixed results in achieving
disadvantaged students benefit the most from increased comits purpose.1 In schools with large low-income student
puter access at school
populations, inadequate funding, and teacher shortages, • High-engagement digital education can significantly improve
graduation and college acceptance rates among underprivileged
access to educational technology is often a major chalstudents
lenge as well. In fact, only 3% of teachers in high-poverty
schools agreed that students have the digital tools needed
to do assignments at home, and 70% of low-income K-12
schools have inadequate broadband internet access.2 Where children do have access to computers, digital learning
materials are nearly identical to traditional textbooks and workbooks, focusing on passive learning and rote memorization. This means that, for the most part, investments in technology have failed to increase student engagement and
improve learning outcomes.3

Policy Idea:

The federal government should provide new funding to ensure that each child has reliable access to at least
one computing device with fast broadband internet at school. In addition to expanding access to computers, federal
and state governments should work with incumbent textbook companies and new education companies to develop
innovative learning software that leverages the unique strengths of digital media to engage students in their work and
improve learning outcomes for disadvantaged students.


Giving each student reliable access to a computer with fast broadband is especially important for low-income students who frequently do not have access to a computer at home. Students who are less familiar with
computers will be severely disadvantaged upon in high school, college, and beyond.4 The UN has declared internet
access a fundamental human right, and familiarity with basic programs and the internet is all but required in more
advanced stages of education and in skilled occupations. While securing government funds for the expansion and
improvement of computer and broadband access may be difficult, failing to do so is an immense disservice to the
nation’s children and will one day harm the economy. Providing students with their own computing device has been
proven to improve valuable writing, multimedia, and research skills that would otherwise fall by the wayside.5 In
addition, investing in high student-engagement learning activities, including games, simulations, and data analyses,
have been shown to increase test scores, while drill exercises and tutorials decrease test scores.6 High engagement
digital learning activities also improve learning outcomes by providing automatic personalized feedback for each
student upon completion of the activities. In one implementation of educational technology with a focus on high
student engagement, students worked on assignments that required in-depth research, online forum participation,
blogging, and producing publications. Over two years, this approach led to a 24% increase in high school graduation rates and 35% increase in college acceptance rates among primarily low-income high school students.7

Next Steps:

The Department of Education should identiTalking Points:
fy low-income school districts where computer and
• Disadvantaged students have worse educational outcomes than
broadband access is inadequate and work with state
wealthier peers, which is strongly correlated to low educational
and municipal governments to administer funding
attainment and lower income in adulthood
for improved computer and broadband access for
• Many disadvantaged students do not have reliable computer access
at home or at school
students. The initiative must provide each student

Current educational software fails to increase student engagement
with reliable access to one computer with fast broad• Educational software has the potential to significantly improve
band while at school. Computer hardware vendors
learning outcomes and increase student engagement
and telecommunications companies will be partners
in ensuring fair prices and efficient distribution of
the computers and upgraded internet access.
The Department of Education will need to research and summarize findings regarding what digital learning methods
are most effective for improving engagement and comprehension. It will then need to partner with education and software companies to develop new educational software based on its findings. This software should make use of periodic
updates to improve the effectiveness of the learning software based on new findings. Considering the importance of
improving education for disadvantaged students, the initiative should be completed within five years.
of their zero impact on the World’s climate.


K. Purcell et al., How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center’s
Internet & American Life Project, 2013),
K. Harlow and N. Baenen, NovaNet Student Outcomes, 2001–2002,
Gowen, Annie. “Without Ready Access to Computers, Students Struggle.” Washington Post. December 6, 2009.
D. Grimes and M. Warschauer, “Learning with Laptops: A Multi-Method Case Study,” Journal of Educational Computing Research 38,
p. 319
Warschauer and Matuchniak, “New Technology and Digital Worlds,” p. 205.
Darling-Hammond, Linda, Molly Zielezinski, and Shelley Goldman. “Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning.” September 1, 2014.

Using Technology to Fight ISIS: An Overlooked
Aspect in the War Against Extremism

By Alex Maisel, Majors: Statistics & Economics ‘18, Email:
Violent extremists, such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have become increasingly
sophisticated at creating dense, global networks of online support. Governments looking to combat ISIS must pay
closer attention to the information war that this group and others like it are waging.


Extremist groups have worked to build networks that stretch across borders, allowing terrorist organizations to circumvent governments and task forces dedicated to fighting their recruiting efforts.
ISIS, in particular, is known for its efforts in communicating through social media. By taking advantage of
Key Facts:
the decentralized and unregulated nature of the Inter• ISIS is an extremist Sunni Islamist movement with a disnet, ISIS has mobilized armies of online followers to
ciplined military command that has operated for at least
engage followers through online tools such as Twitter,
two years.
Facebook,, Kik, SoundCloud, and Instagram.1 • The current leader if Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who assumed
In a single day this past summer, supporters of ISIS
the position in 2010 after the death of Omar al-Baghdadi.
sent out some 40,000 tweets, with a majority of sup- • ISIS promotes what experts call “Jihad cool” through
porters repeatedly using specific hashtags at particFacebook and Twitter, a recruiting method that glorifies
executions and taunts Americans.
ular times of the day to maximize trending a certain
• ISIS recruitment efforts have been extremely effective in
recruiting foreign fighters, especially those in Europe and

In addition to organizing online followers,
ISIS also strategically runs hashtag campaigns used
to redirect attention to itself during world events. For
example, while topics such as the World Cup and Ebola were trending, ISIS used Twitter to draw attention away
from these incidents and back toward its brand of violent extremism. ISIS affiliates have also used social media to
“focus group messages, disseminate ideological simulator games, and broadcast high production videos.”3 Recently, the group successfully created a smartphone app that was released last year and allows the extremist group
to amplify its messaging campaigns. ISIS has amassed the advantages of social media tools while the United

Policy Idea:

The process through which the United States and other governments looking to successfully combat ISIS
must engage in through technological means be a multi-faceted approach. In order to leverage the talent, creativity, and resources of the private sector to counter extremism, governments must encourage agile start-ups
to move into niche markets such as working against “extremist messaging.”4 ISIS operations resemble those of
a driven start-up looking to spread it message quickly and to as many people as possible. Governments must
recognize radicalization stems from a host of factors (identity crisis, sense of disempowerment), each of which
presents a potential business opportunity.5 Large companies and small start-ups must be accounted for in countering the volatility of today’s violent extremism.


The United States and other governments that have been heavily involved in working to counter extremism have, of course, reached out to large companies since early 2008.6 The notion of engaging companies such as
Google, Twitter, and Facebook is not a groundbreaking one. What must change, however, are the specific methods the government encourages these companies to use in combating how terrorists communicate with each
other and the rest of the world. Take, for example, the Against Violent Extremism online network catalyzed by
Google Ideas.7 While the organization has undoubtedly worked well in providing social media training to Muslim Americans, the initiative still lacks the scale of involvement required for large-scale, strategic impact.
Part of the challenge of engaging larger companies in the fight against violent extremism are the complex, often
cumbersome list of priorities that larger companies must navigate. Shareholders, profits, brands, and market

forces are all factors a company must consider, making decisive and rapid action exceedingly difficult.8
A solution to the risks the private sector faces in countering extremism is the inclusion of start-ups, which are
generally less encumbered by the risk calculations that slow down their larger counterparts.9 Many start-ups
consider social impact to be an essential
business imperative, a trend that will
Talking Points:
continue to grow as more millennials
• ISIS publishes a magazine called Dabiq.
start new businesses.10 Additionally,
the Muslim youth is experiencing huge • It goes into detail about the group’s strategic direction, recruitment methods, and targets.
cultural and religious transformations.
While larger companies may be more • Communication through mediums such as this magazine and social media in general are clearly very important to ISIS’ recruitment efforts.
nervous about engaging this volatile,
• Battling ISIS recruitment efforts through the use of technology should
new market, smaller start-ups, especialwork to weaken the organization as a whole
ly those stemming from Muslim communities, may be more motivated position to address the Muslim youth in a way that contributes substantially to
the fight against counter-terrorism.11

Next Steps:

The United States government and other governments looking to counter violent extremism must implement serious change within their current and future initiatives. In dealing with the technology used by extremists, the President and other high-ranking officials will no doubt call for technology companies to contribute to
counter extremism. If the administration shifts its policy and brings smaller, more agile startups into the fight
against online extremism, the effort to counter global terrorist could become a swifter, more effective one.


CNN “How tech can fight extremism,” Accessed November 29, 2015,
CNN “How tech can fight extremism,” Accessed November 29, 2015,
Huffington Post “The Risk of a Nuclear ISIS Grows” Accessed November 27, 2015,
CNN “How tech can fight extremism,” Accessed November 29, 2015,

Climate Action: Public and Private Funding in Renewable Technologies
By Marc Alessi, Atmospheric Science ‘18, Email:
Over the past few years, investment in renewable energy production has increased significantly. While this is good
news for a planet striving for independence from fossil fuel energy, there needs to be a push for more public and
private funding of renewable technologies. Doubling or tripling the funding for renewable research and development
could lead to technological advancements that make renewable energy much more cost-effective than fossil fuels.


Investment in renewable energy technologies has skyrocketed in recent years. According to a report
carried out by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Center and
Bloomberg New Energy Finance, global investment in
Key Facts:
renewable energy surged 17% to $270 billion in 2014.1

technology surged 17% in 2014
While the increase is significant, the funds are insufto $270 billion. Only $17 billion is invested in research and
ficient for a world committed to climate action. At a
development from the public sector.
recent conference discussing innovation to accelerate • Recent initiatives have increased investment in renewable techclimate action, Maria van der Hoeven, Director of
nology significantly, but not enough to reach climate targets.

There has been a notable shift in the private industry to invest
the International Energy Agency (IEA), noted that
in renewable research and development.
clean-energy deployment should be increased further to attain energy sustainability. “We are setting
ourselves environmental and energy access targets that rely on better technologies. Today’s annual government
spending on energy research and development is estimated to be USD 17 billion.”2 According to the IEA, a
tripling of this number is necessary to develop efficient renewable technologies. To do this, public and private
sectors would need to shift their focus from fossil fuel dependent technologies to low-carbon, renewable technologies.3

The United States ranks 4th in green energy research and development behind Europe, ASOC, and China, even with its large private sector. However, the spending bill approved by Congress and signed by President
Barack Obama in 20145 resulted in a 4.2 percent boost in funding for the National Science Foundation which
sponsors many renewable technology developments. Furthermore, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of
Science saw a 9.7 percent increase in funding over 2013 levels.4 The increase in funding for energy projects came
as a result of Obama’s “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,” which includes such goals as reducing dependence
on oil and doubling renewable electricity production.

The private sector of the United States is also pushing for increased investment in renewable technologies due to a shift in public policy. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, is planning to double his personal investment in innovative green technologies, committing more
than $2 billion over the next five years.7 Gates hopes the investment in early stage companies will result in breakthrough technologies to combat climate change. Although government subsidies added up to over $100 billion,

Policy Idea:

Although public and private investment in renewable energy research and development has increased
drastically over the past few years, the number is not enough for serious climate action. The United States
government should shift its focus from fossil fuels and invest significantly more in renewables. This includes
giving subsidies to start-up renewable companies, or increases in funding to the National Science Foundation.
The government should also consider funding educational programs to shift public opinion to be more open to
renewable energy research and development. A change in public opinion will then shift private company focus
to renewable energy development.


Climate change is arguably the most important
world issue of the 21st century. In order for the world to
Talking Points:
properly act, we must take steps to limit greenhouse gas • The world needs to invest in renewable research and development to reach its climate goals.
emissions for the safety of future generations. It is one

Governments should take the initiative to allocate funds for
thing to invest in the production of renewable energy,
the research of these technologies.
but investing in the development of renewable technol• Public opinion has lots of power and could push private
ogies would allow renewable energy production to be
companies to invest more in renewable technologies.
more efficient and be cheaper than fossil fuel production.
Leading by example, Bill Gates has taken the initiative to
stem private investment in start-up companies that could make a breakthrough in renewable technology. China’s
government has also decided to move plenty of funds to the research and development of renewable technology.
Other governments and private companies should follow these examples. If the United States encouraged renewable technology development through subsidies, advancements in the technology could turn the tables, making renewable energy cheaper than nonrenewable energy. Investing money in educational programs for younger
generations will shift public opinion to be more supportive of investing in renewable energy technologies. Once
public opinion has shifted, private industry will want to appeal to the general population, demonstrating to
consumers they care about public opinion. Private investment in renewable technologies would result in major
advancements in renewable technologies.

Next Steps:

Governments around the world, especially the United States’ government, should begin shifting funds
to support research and development of renewable technologies. More specifically, funds should be doubled or
possibly tripled to keep up with targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If necessary, this money could come
from funds allocated for renewable energy production. If we invest in technology more-so at first, advancements
will allow for higher efficiency energy production later on. Congress should also consider passing legislation to
increase education on renewable technology. It is important that the general public know why it is necessary to
invest in the technology needed for continued advancements. Finally, private companies should be encouraged
to begin investing more in renewable research. A shift in public opinion will push private companies to invest in
renewable technology, but a push from the government would speed up the process.


1. Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Center for Climate & Sustainable Finance, “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment
2. Maria van der Hoeven, “Launch of Energy Technology Perspectives 2015,” International Energy Agency,
3. Randy Showstack, “Renewable Energy Trend Could Help with Climate Mitigation,” Earth & Space Science News,
4. Ron Flavin, “The US Department of Energy’s 2014 Budget Request: Implications for Renewable Energy Funding,” Renewable Energy World,
5. United States Congress, “H.R. 3547 Omnibus,” The Library of Congress,
6. Christopher Adams and John Thornhill, “Gates to double investment in renewable energy projects,” Financial Times, http://www.

Laboratory grown food: GM Food Labelling and the Future of Food Security in
the United States

By Daniel Oudolsky, Major: Industrial and Labor Relations ‘16, Email:

In this piece, the author advocates for the implementation of GMO food labelling by the FDA will lead to more
prudent economic decision making, higher transparency from Agricultural companies and a healthier nation overall
due to a higher availability of information.


The topic of GM food products has long
Key Facts:
been a contested issue in the United States. In
• The median cost of designing and labelling a GMO product would
1982, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
be just $2.30 per person per year .
approved the first GMO for consumer use, a diabe- • In 2015, 92% of corn, 94% of soybeans, and 94% of cotton produced in the US were genetically modified strains.
tes medicine entitled Humulin.1 Whilst unrelated

About 88% of Americans support labelling of GMO food products.
to food products, this was a huge step nonetheless
because the approval of this GMO paved the way
for research and development of GMO’s in food
products geared towards the consumer market. The rest of the decade mainly involved research and development
of such products, as well as testing and experimentation to ensure that these products would be safe for sale.
In 1994, GMO products began to be approved for insertion into food products and legislation was codified
into law. In 1994, The FDA also determined that the FLAVR SAVTRM tomato was “as safe as tomatoes bred by
conventional means”.2 This thus paved the way for the simplification of the application process for GMO product
approval, and did not have to go a long, costly scientific review. This decision also affected food labeling requirements. The FDA thus made the determination that product labeling was not required on the basis of the method
of food production (i.e. genetic engineering), but only if the new food itself posed safety problems for consumers. As of today, the FDA has imposed no labeling requirements for any genetically modified foods.3 While EPA
did propose relatively strict regulations for the introduction of plants genetically engineered to resist pests (pesticides), the approval of such rulings never formalized in Congress and remains a major issue of policy concern

Policy Idea:

With the rapid development of GM food in the scientific setting, it is time for policy makers nationwide
to update a comprehensive and updated policy on the labelling of genetically modified food products to the
American consumer market.


In the United States, regulatory policy towards GMO’s is currently governed by the Coordinated framework for Regulation of Biotechnology, developed during the 1980’s and enacted into law.4 This allowed for a
framework for a partnership of governmental agencies- The EPA, USDA and FDA as the three primary regulatory agencies. This regulatory policy framework that was developed under the Presidency of Ronald Reagan to
ensure safety of the public and to ensure the continuing development of the fledgling biotechnology industry
without overly burdensome regulation. The policy as it developed had three tenets5:
(1) U.S. policy would focus on the product of genetic modification (GM) techniques, not the process itself
(2) only regulation grounded in verifiable scientific risks would be tolerated
(3) GM products are on a continuum with existing products and, therefore, existing statutes are sufficient to
review the products.
The FDA policy places responsibility on the manufacturer to ensure the safety of the food for consumers. The
firm is only required to post a label only given significant differences in composition or health impacts between
the non-altered food product and the GM food product. They have not identified such differences in any food
currently approved for sale. It is also important to note that it is the product of genetic modification that serves as

the primary basis of decision making for regulatory agencies, not the process by how said product was acquired.
There are several steps that have to take place in order for a GMO product to be approved for insertion into food
products and crops. For a GMO to be approved for release, it must be assessed under the Plant Protection Act
by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency within the US Department of Agriculture
(USDA). However, it may also be tested beforehand by
the Food and Drug Administration and the EnvironTalking Points:
mental Protection Agency, depending on the intended
• GMO food labelling will allow consumers to make effective
use of the GMO by the firm. The USDA analyzes the
informed choices on food purchases and consumption
plant’s potential to become a weed. Also, the FDA has • This would grant higher legal certainty for businesses, as this
would give businesses the opportunity to exhibit full transpara voluntary consultation process with the developers
ency on what GM’s are in the food products, leading to less
of genetically engineered plants. The Federal Food,
legal “murkiness”
Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which outlines FDA’s re• 64 countries currently have mandated GM labelling. The United
sponsibilities, does not require pre-market clearance
States is the only Western country to not have GM labelling for
of food, including genetically modified food plants.
food products
The EPA regulates genetically modified plants with
pesticide properties, as well as agrochemical residues.
Most genetically modified plants are reviewed by at least two of the agencies, with many subject to all three.

I am proposing that the FDA enact a comprehensive policy reform on the labeling of all products that
are genetically modified, since there has been no such policy revisions since the 1990’s. The FDA’s policy on
GMO labelling is stagnant and in urgent need of an update to reflect changing times, since it hasn’t been updated
since 1992. Since many food manufacturers modify labels often, this shouldn’t be of much concern for manufacturers. Consumers have the right to know what genetic modifications are included in the food products they
consume, so they can make wiser, healthy more prudent decisions on food purchases. The free market of the
U.S. is structured to provide us accurate information about products so we can make informed choices. GMO
labeling will provide consumers with information to make informed decisions about the food they purchase for
personal, religious, moral, cultural, ethical, health, environmental reasons. This would lead to greater transparency in the agricultural industry, more prudent decision making for consumers on food purchases, and most
importantly- a healthier nation that knows exactly what it eats.

Next Steps:

President Obama, The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture must work
together to codify laws and regulations to regulate the use of GM food, the way such products are manufactured
and sold towards consumers, thereby ensuring transparency in the economic market, and that the social welfare
of the nation is not adversely impacted. What such steps require is including the labeling of all GMO. Action
must be taken soon, as these issues will continue to be brought to the FDA’s attention as consumers continue to
mobilize on the labeling issue and state legislatures begin to address such concerns. Further, as awareness builds,
farmers and consumers are increasingly turning to non-GM products, because of the legal murkiness of GMO
use in the United States. As a result it may be time to amend FDA policy on GM foods.


“History of GMOS.” History of GMOS. American Radio Works, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. <http://americanradioworks.publicradio.
Murphy, Dave. “20 Years of GMO Policy That Keeps Americans in the Dark About Their Food.” The Huffington Post. N.p.,
30 May 2012. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <>.
Official FDA policy page on FDA labelling<>
Lynch, Diahanna. “The Regulation of GMOs in Europe and the United States: A Case-Study of Contemporary European Regulatory Politics.”Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, 5 Apr. 2001. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. <>.
Dyke, Andrew, Dr, and Robert Whelan, Mr. “GE Food Labellings Cost Study Findings.” Consumer’s Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec.
2015. <>

Regulating Hoverboards: Keeping Public Spaces Safe and Free
By Anna Kambhampaty, Major: Communications ‘19, Email:
Hoverboards should be allowed for use in public spaces but still regulated. New York State should put in place
certain safety regulations on the use of hoverboards (similar to regulations on bicycles) so they can be safely used in
public spaces, rather than banning their use and limiting people’s means of transportation.


Hoverboards have become increasingly
Key Facts:
popular as a form of transportation and enter• Instead of stalling hoverboard sales, bans in the U.K. have caused a
tainment. However, they can cause safety issues to
215% jump in sales.

Boards range in price from $270 to $2000.
the user as well as to those surrounding the user.

Amazon lists over 40 different models of hoverboards.
New York State has classified these self-balanced,
• The ban in New York means that hoverboard users could face fines
handleless, motorized scooters, or “hoverboards,”
up to $200.
as motorized vehicles that cannot be registered,
so riding them in public can result in a fine. Many
schools, malls, and stores have also banned their use. However, in California, a law effective January 1st allows
for the use of these hoverboards in bike lanes and pathways, so long as the user wears a helmet and is over the
age of 15. The most popular demographic using these appear to be teens and young adults. To allow this innovation to be used in a forward thinking manner, to replace or lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and let it be
a step in the right direction away from outdated forms of transportation, we must allow these hoverboards to be
used in public in a safe and regulated manner for purposes of short distance travel.

Policy Idea:

Similar to the law in place in California, New York State should allow for the use of approved hoverboards (registered and properly visible) in public bike lanes and paths. Restrictions in specific public areas that
are especially busy or dangerous may be allowed. A minimum age for using this form of transportation in public
should be put in place, along with required use of a helmet and turning signals similar to those bicyclists are
required to use.


This policy ensures that statewide, hoverboards can safely be used in public as they were
Talking Points:
meant to be without infringing upon the rights
• Allowing hoverboards in public will lessen our dependence on
of others. This policy protects users as well as byfossil fuels for short distance travel.
standers. These hoverboards have the potential to
• Legalizing their use will lead to further innovation and research
be improved into an even more advanced form of
in the field of transportation.
transportation, but if they are blocked from usage in • Transportation equity is at stake if we take away the public’s
right to use hoverboards.
public spaces, we lose this potential. They are a step
• Bicycles have widely changed our society’s means of getting
away from fossil fuel dependency that must be taken.
from place to place and ideas of entertainment, as we allowed

California’s hoverboard law, called AB 604,
their use but regulated it. Hoverboards should be regulated in
puts “electrically motorized boards” in a new legal
the same manner so we can continue to move forward in transportation and entertainment.
category. Under it, people can use hoverboards on
public streets so long as they wear a helmet and are
not under the influence of drinking or drugs. This is a good starting point for a New York State policy. It can be
improved by adding a minimum age for riding these hoverboards in public, similar to how one cannot legally
operate a car until they reach a certain age.

Next Steps:

The NY Department of Transportation would be responsible for this legislation. Supporters would include hoverboard manufacturers and common users. Opposition would stem from manufacturers of other forms
of transportation (ex. bicycle manufacturers) and those who would have to share the lanes and become accustomed to hoverboard users. Moreover, those who question the safety of hoverboards despite these regulations
would also oppose them (police officers, parents, pedestrians, etc.).


1. Booth, Barbara. “Guess What Gift Is Topping Wish Lists Worldwide.” CNBC. December 2, 2015. Accessed December 5, 2015.
2. “Data Reports.” Vehicle & Traffic Law. Accessed December 1, 2015.
3. Hern, Alex. “’Hoverboards’ Made Legal in California.” The Guardian. October 13, 2015. Accessed December 5, 2015. http://www.
4. Holson, Laura. “Laws Struggle to Keep Up as Hoverboards’ Popularity Soars.” The New York Times. November 25, 2015. Accessed
December 1, 2015.

Meet Our Science & Technology Policy Center
Arielle Tannin
Arielle is a sophomore majoring in Information Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is interested in the intersection of
emerging technologies with public policy and hopes to explore ways
in which design can make a positive impact on society. On campus
she is a project director for the Sustainable Education Ghana project
on Cornell University Sustainable Design and a brother of Kappa
Alpha Pi.
Chad Stephenson
Chad Stephenson is a Junior in the ILR School. He transferred to
Cornell from Oklahoma City Community College in Spring 2015.
Outside of Roosevelt, Chad serves as the transfer representative in the
ILR Student Government Association, and as a Science & Technology
Analyst in Cornell International Business Association. His interests
include politics, economics, emerging technology, sociology, and
specialty coffee.

Alex Maisel
Alex is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, majoring in
Statistics. Outside of Roosevelt, Alex serves as the Secretary-General of the Cornell International Affairs Conference, a collegiate-level
Model UN conference. He is also currently working as a research
assistant to Professor Elizabeth Karns in the ILR Social Statistics Department, dealing with sexual assault data on college campuses.

Marc Alessi
Currently a sophomore at Cornell studying Atmospheric Science. I
am a brother of the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, Social
Chair of the Cornell Chapter of the American Meteorological Society and Co-host of Lizard Lounge on Cornell Radio. In the future,
I hope to pursue a career in operational forecasting or work with
tropical cyclones.

Meet Our Science & Technology Policy Center
Daniel Oudolsky
Daniel is a current senior at the ILR School. He hails from Brooklyn,
NY. At Cornell,Daniel is involved in WVBR 93.5 FM and cornellradio.
com, CIBA and CIAS. Daniel greatly enjoys discussing foreign policy,
current events and topics on science, technology and futurology.

Anna Kambhampaty
Anna is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
studying Communication and Information Science. She joined the
Roosevelt Institute this fall as a policy analyst. Anna serves on the
executive board for the Cornell Democrats and is part of the Beekeeping Club. She has interned as for the Syracuse University Physics Lab,
Minimill Technologies Inc., and former Congressman Dan Maffei’s
2014 congressional campaign.

Elizabeth Zelko, Director
Elizabeth is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in
Computer Science. Her focus is mainly on cybersecurity and databases
as well as data analytics and data journalism. Her policy interests include cybersecurity, data privacy, and cyber harassment. After graduation she will moving to New York to work in information security as a
Technology Analyst at Morgan Stanley.