An outdated U.S. law adopted in the aftermath of World War II prevents Americans from listening to broadcasts on Voice of America and other taxpayer-supported broadcasters. Yet when two lawmakers offered a bipartisan solution to reverse that prohibition, critics on the right and left complained that our own government would be spreading propaganda to its citizens.
The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, adopted by the House last month, would finally remove restrictions on U.S. public diplomacy efforts that date to 1948. Reps. Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) proposed the legislation in hopes of updating America’s communication tools for the 21st century — and also being more transparent in the process.
Critics immediately pounced, misrepresenting the legislation’s goals and warning that Americans would be subject to government propaganda from the State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors. In reality, they would now have access to taxpayer-supported programming — much like they already do with China’s CCTV, Russia Today and Al-Jazeera.
Thornberry will visit The Bloggers Briefing today at noon ET to set the record straight.
Meanwhile, as voters in Wisconsin head to the polls for today’s recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, The Heritage Foundation’s Jason Richwine will share the results his research on the cost of public pensions. A study by Richwine and Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute revealed that even when Walker’s reforms are factored in for government workers, they still enjoy significant benefits.
Their study examined the reforms of Act 10 and their consequences for Wisconsin. Among the key findings, according to Richwine:
- Before Act 10, Wisconsin state workers received health benefits about 2.3 times as valuable and pension benefits about 5.7 times as valuable as what workers in large private firms receive. After Act 10, Wisconsin state workers still receive health benefits nearly twice as valuable and pension benefits more than 4.5 times as valuable.
- Before Act 10, Wisconsin state employees received total compensation (salary and benefits) about 29 percent higher than comparable private-sector workers. After Act 10, the compensation premium is about 22 percent.
- In dollar terms, the average Wisconsin state worker after Act 10 receives total compensation including benefits equal to $81,637, versus $67,068 for a similarly skilled private worker.
The Bloggers Briefing is a weekly gathering of conservative bloggers and journalists at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The event is streamed live each Tuesday at noon ET.