Public Square

A Meeting Place for RAND Voices

Government Testimonies


RAND experts regularly present testimony to Congress on public policy issues of domestic and international importance. Recent testimonies offered recommendations for compensating U.S. doctors and withdrawing from Afghanistan.


How the Great State of Arkansas May Fare Under the Affordable Care Act


For Arkansas, the ACA will result in an increase in GDP of around $550 million and the creation of about 6,200 jobs. The new law will also increase health insurance coverage by 400,000 newly insured individuals.

How the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania May Fare Under the Affordable Care Act


Expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania under the ACA would provide 340,000 more residents with health insurance and boost federal revenue to the state by more than $2 billion annually. The additional spending will add over $3 billion a year to the state's GDP and support 35,000 jobs.


Mapping Egyptian Politics

Jeffrey Martini

"We're looking essentially at the red-state, blue-state dynamic within Egypt. We see public support for Islamists waning over time. We would suspect that, in future years, there's going to be stiff political competition between Islamists and non-Islamists and that non-Islamists will have a say in the future of the country. The trend lines we identify offer hope for optimism that Egypt will not be dominated by a single party or ideological bloc."

Jeffrey Martini, Middle East analyst


Gun Risks Outweigh Benefits


"An ample body of evidence indicates that the benefits of keeping a gun for protection are substantially outweighed by the associated risks. We found that keeping a gun in the home didn't affect a family's risk of homicide at the hands of an intruder. However, the overall risk of homicide was nearly three times higher, mainly due to a higher risk of domestic homicide. And the risk of suicide in homes with guns was nearly five times higher. The bottom line for would-be gun owners is this: A firearm that is kept loaded and readily available in the home for protection may also be reached by a curious child, an angry spouse, or a depressed grandparent."

Arthur L. Kellermann, Paul O'Neill-Alcoa chair in policy analysis, citing research he conducted before joining RAND in 2010, in the New York Daily News, March 25, 2013


Commercial Pot Industry


"If there is a commercial pot industry, businesses will have strong incentives to create and maintain the heavy users who use most of the pot. To get a sense of what this could look like, look no further than the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have found ingenious ways to hook and reel in heavy users."

Beau Kilmer, codirector of RAND's Drug Policy Research Center, in USA Today online, April 23, 2013


Killer Mutant Viruses


"Authorities have to be ready for a possible worst-case scenario, if an especially deadly flu virus like H7N9 mutates to become easily spread from human to human. This could happen at any time if human and animal flu viruses get a chance to 'mix and match' in a person or in some types of animals, and if one resulting mutant form packs both the killer potential of the bird flu and the contagiousness of human influenza. That could be the spark for a new and deadly flu pandemic."

Melinda Moore, natural scientist, on the Asia Healthcare Blog, May 10, 2013


Separate Beds?

Lucy and Desi

"For women, marital strife can lead to a sleepless night; for men, a sleepless night can lead to marital strife. These interactions can create a vicious cycle. On nights when couples sleep together, they tend to have more fragmented or restless sleep than nights when they sleep alone. Should couples sleep together or sleep apart? Couples need to decide what works best for them and consider how to optimize their sleep as well as their time together."

Wendy Troxel, clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist, on ABC News, May 20, 2013


Healthy Food Policy


"For two decades, subsidies to farmers have helped make corn and soy increasingly cheaper than fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Food companies have built entire brands based on these cheaper commodities, which make up the raw material for a range of unhealthy processed foods and animal feed. If Americans don't want to be forced to pay more for unhealthy foods, perhaps we should flip the logic on its head: Reduce the cost of healthy foods. Lowering the costs of healthy foods in supermarkets not only increases the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that people eat, but it also seems to reduce their consumption of less nutritionally desirable foods."

Roland Sturm, economist at the RAND Corporation, and Derek Yach, executive director of the Vitality Institute, in Modern Healthcare, May 25, 2013


To Libya via Sierra Leone


"By adopting a laissez-faire policy toward security in Libya after the war, the United States and its allies who helped the Libyan rebels topple [Muammar] Gadhafi share in the responsibility for the country's current predicament. The best thing the United States and its allies can do now is to deploy a small team to train and equip a Libyan security force that is loyal to the government in Tripoli. Such a force might be roughly modeled on the successful British effort in Sierra Leone, which trained a cadre of several thousand soldiers with only a few hundred British officers in 2000 and 2001."

Christopher S. Chivvis, political scientist, on, May 13, 2013


An Energy-Independent United States

Money Pipeline

"I would like to put a question mark at the end of the title today, because I'm going to, in some ways, debunk the importance of energy independence. We've seen a really healthy energy industry in the United States, especially in the past five years. Even though we're drilling and producing more oil, it's not going to make any difference to you in terms of the effect it has on the price at the pump, because oil is a global commodity, and the price is set by increased numbers of cars in China or increased demand in India or elsewhere, no matter how much oil we're producing in the states. Even if by some big surge in production we would end up actually being an oil exporter again, it's not going to really affect that price you face at the station."

Keith Crane, director of RAND's Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program, on RAND's "Events@RAND" podcast


Innovation Versus Bureaucracy


"Innovation is the antithesis of bureaucracy. This tension between bureaucracy and creativity is not unique to the European Commission. Innovation is about people, not process, and innovators need to operate in a free-thinking, entrepreneurial, risk-taking society to deliver."

Jonathan Grant, principal research fellow, and Rebecca Helen Schindler, policy analyst, at RAND Europe, on The RAND Blog, March 13, 2013

Crisis in Syria


The Opposition Forces

"What is required in Syria now is a program like the one the United States established in the mid-1990s to train and equip the armed forces of the Bosnian Federation. One of the goals was to eradicate Iranian and foreign radical influences from Bosnia. The leverage that the program gave the United States with the Bosnian government made it possible to achieve this objective. The Bosnian experience provides a relevant template for Syria today, but time is running short. It is critical to establish as soon as possible a task force to organize and supervise a train-and-equip program for the Syrian opposition forces."

Angel Rabasa, currently a political scientist at the RAND Corporation and formerly a member of the Bosnia Train and Equip Task Force of the early 1990s, in U.S. News & World Report, May 22, 2013


The Chemical Weapons

"The lessons of the attack and disarmament of Iraq's chemical weapons in the First Gulf War suggest that chemical weapons are hard to find and destroy. Lots can survive even a sustained attack. Moreover, those that remain will present a disposal operation of industrial scale and environmental concern. There is no reason to believe that the U.S. is better able to deal with chemical weapons in Syria today than it was with chemical weapons in Iraq in 1991. It will take several years — as it did in Iraq — to accomplish the destruction. During that time the material must be adequately secured by reliable forces."

James Quinlivan, international policy analyst, on, May 22, 2013


The Diaspora

"Syria's sizable émigré community has so far remained far away from the devastation, waiting in cities like Paris and London to see where the political chips will fall. But, by taking a more active role, the diaspora can help to end the conflict at home and to rebuild in its wake. Syrians abroad have an important opportunity — and responsibility — to help end the violence and contribute to the country's political, economic, and social renewal."

Wasif Syed, Middle East analyst, for Project Syndicate, May 22, 2013