Friday, May 31, 2013

Fmr. Brookings Scholar to Pick Next Fed Chair?

Although many Obama officials are fleeing to think tanks, some think tankers are still climbing the ladder in the Obama Administration.

Jason Furman, Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council (NEC), will reportedly replace Alan Krueger as Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).  Its chairman is a member of the Cabinet, and thus, the nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Furman was a Senior Fellow and Director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution.  A variety of his articles and research from Brookings can be found here.

Furman was also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), where he specialized in social security and tax reform issues.

Politico notes that among other jobs, Furman is expected to play a chief role in helping President Obama pick the next Federal Reserve Chairman.  Current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's term expires on January 31, 2014.

As Think Tank Watch previously noted, there is decent possibility that the next Federal Reserve Chairman could come from think tank land.

Will Furman advocate for the next Fed Chairman to come from his alma mater, the Brookings Institution?

In April 2013, the Washington Post predicted that Donald Kohn, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, at the Brookings Institution, has a 5% probability of becoming the next Fed Chairman.

Perhaps the Post may recalculate once Furman is firmly in place...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #63

  • David Petraeus to head KKR & Co. LP's new global investment think tank.
  • American Action Forum (AAF) adds healthcare hires.
  • CEPR study: US lags in vacation time.
  • It's official.  State Department's Robert Einhorn will move to Brookings.
  • Chinese think tank CNDP warns of military clashes with Japan.
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) suing to see EPA nominee's text messages.
  • Former West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney (R) starts conservative think tank - Center for a Brighter Future.
  • Center for American Progress (CAP) destroys Wilson Center in think tank softball league game. 
  • AEI announces creation of $3 million Beth and Ravenel Curry Chair in Free Enterprise.
  • NAF: The hell of American daycare.

Rare Think Tank Convergence on Defense Cuts

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that more than two dozen military analysts from 10 major think tanks are planning to release a joint letter Monday (June 3, 2013) urging politicians to close military bases, overhaul the military's health care program, and cut the size of the Pentagon's civilian workforce.

Signatories (or think tanks where a scholar is a signatory) include:
  • Cato Institute
  • American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
  • Center for American Progress (CAP)
  • Brookings Institution
  • Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
  • Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA)
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Foreign Policy Initiative
  • Stimson Center

Todd Harrison, a defense specialist at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) is reportedly sprearheading the think tank campaign.

An event will be held on June 3 on Capitol Hill for the release of the joint think tank letter.

In related defense news, a group of four think tanks went to Capitol Hill yesterday (May 29) to hold what is being described as a "defense budget simulation game."  The four think tanks involved were:
  • CSBA
  • AEI
  • Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

CSBA reportedly hosted the simulation, where the think tanks were tasked with deciding how they would shape the Pentagon budget over the next decade if they had to cut $500 billion, the amount of the sequester over 10 years, or half that amount, a scenario some envision if a budget compromise is reached.

CSBA is calling the simulation a "Strategic Choices Exercise" and says it was held to "inform public debate."

Here is how CSBA describes the task of the four think tanks:
Each team was asked to develop a defense strategy and rebalance DoD’s portfolio of capabilities in a reduced budget environment.  Using CSBA’s rebalancing tool and methodology, the teams chose from several hundred pre-costed options to add or cut from the projected defense program over the next ten years, including major units of force structure, end strength, bases, readiness, civilian personnel, weapon systems, and modernization programs.  Each team had to weigh its decisions within the context of both Budget Control Act (BCA)-level cuts in defense spending and a lower reduction of half the BCA cut. Each team’s cuts and adds had to be consistent with the budget-level options considered by the Strategic Choices and Management Review that the Pentagon is wrapping up this week. The exercise was timed to inform the thinking on the way defense resources are allocated in light of declining budgets.

The briefing slides from the think tank participants can be found here.  Those that participated include:

The think tanks simulation was timed to coincide with a similar Department of Defense analysis, the Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR), which will lay out options for defense spending under three possible funding scenarios.  That report is set for release on May 31, 2013.

More about the think tank simulation can be read here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Brookings Beefs Up Republican Lineup with Dreier

Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), who served in the House from 1981-2013, has joined the Brookings Institution as a Distinguished Fellow.  Rep. Dreier was the longtime Chairman of the House Rules Committee.

A Brookings press release says that he will "participate in a wide range of events, activities, research projects, and conferences."

Here is what Brookings has to say on the title of Distinguished Fellow:
Brookings’s distinguished fellows are individuals of particularly noteworthy distinction whose work across several fields of public policy puts them at the pinnacle of worldwide research and policy impact. Distinguished fellows are actively engaged in the life of the Institution, often with more than one of Brookings’s five research programs. In assuming the title, Congressman Dreier joins Jean-David Levitte, former French ambassador to the United States; Sadako Ogata, former president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and United Nations high commissioner for refugees; Jon Huntsman, former ambassador to China and Singapore and governor of Utah; Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former U.S. secretary of health and human services; Itamar Rabinovich, an Israeli diplomat, scholar, and university president; Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania; Thomas Pickering, a career U.S. ambassador and former under secretary of state for political affairs; and Javier Solana, former secretary general of NATO and the European Union’s high representative for foreign and security policy.

Rep. Dreier has already penned a piece for Brookings with Joshua Meltzer on the Internet economy and the free flow of data across borders.

As someone already noted, "bringing on David Dreier to Brookings is one step closer to challenging American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for best-dressed think tank."  Rep. Dreier was often ranked as among the best dressed Members of Congress.

Rep. Dreier is not a think tank neophyte.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and he has served on the Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) Advisory Board.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post (which is updated periodically) on Members of Congress who are connected to think tanks.

The Brookings Institution was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Think Tank Quickies #62

  • Disclosing the funding of think tanks in Australia.
  • New Bahrain think tank MEPAR to help improve workings of government.
  • Chinese think tank CASS urged to research "Chinese dream."
  • Four think tanks release thoughts on a new European Global Strategy.
  • Joshua Foust: "Brookings has more Directors than most think tanks have research staff, and more fellows than most countries have policy researchers."
  • The sociology of think tanks. 
  • Bruce Bartlett attacks AEI columnist and blogger James Pethokoukis. 
  • RAND's 2013 Behavioral Finance Forum (BeFi) to be held May 31.
  • Brookings Institution: What do its numbers tell us
  • A 2% inflation target out of reach for Japan, says group of 11 think tanks.

Friday, May 24, 2013

AEI: How to Beat Memorial Day Traffic Forever

Doing some driving for the Memorial Day weekend?  Do you expect to be stuck in traffic?  Two American Enterprise Institute (AEI) scholars, Rick Geddes and Brad Wassink, have penned a piece for US News & World Report titled "How to Beat Memorial Day Traffic Forever."  Here are some highlights:
Given the state of America's highway system, perhaps members of Congress should be required to drive home for the national holiday as well.
At fault is an outmoded revenue structure that doesn't adequately fund the system or allocate revenues efficiently. The National Highway Trust Fund – through which the bulk of highway construction and maintenance monies flow – relies on a fuel tax that hasn't been adjusted for inflation in 20 years. The growing efficiency of cars in the U.S. compounds the shortfall – the fuel tax brings in considerably less money from a Prius than it did from a late 90s SUV. These twin forces ultimately pushed Congress to provide $35 billion in bailouts to the fund between 2008 and 2010.
A status quo solution would raise the gas tax to fund these needs. But Congress's willingness to raise the tax depends on Americans' willingness to accept a hike. And poll after poll shows Americans aren't willing. So where will the money come from?
Several solutions are detailed in the full article.  Happy driving!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #61

  • Rand Corp. turns 65.
  • Heritage Action letter to Congress gets slammed
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) rebrands itself. 
  • Guillaume Liegey on think tanks in Europe.
  • Will think tanks become the universities of the 21st century?
  • Disgraced Heritage employee identifies AEI's Charles Murray as his hero. 
  • Serious progress being made at future home of CSIS. 
  • See which think tankers are at Doha Forum 2013.
  • Liberal think tanks, the Obama campaign, and foreign money. 
  • Alliance for Main Street Fairness ad attacks Heritage Foundation's stance on online sales tax. 
  • BuzzFeed calls Heritage Foundation video on Benghazi attack timeline "excellently crafted."

CAP's "Secret" Donors

Ken Silverstein, a contributing editor to Harper's and a fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard Unversity, just penned a piece titled "The Secret Donors Behind the Center for American Progress and Other Think Tanks."

Following are several interesting points from the article, which largely focused on the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP):
  • The Center for American Progress, Washington’s leading liberal think tank, has been a big backer of the Energy Department’s $25 billion loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects. CAP has specifically praised First Solar, a firm that received $3.73 billion under the program, and its Antelope Valley project in California.
  •  Though the think tank didn’t disclose it, First Solar belonged to CAP’s Business Alliance, a secret group of corporate donors, according to internal lists obtained by The Nation. 
  • CAP doesn’t publicly disclose the members of its Business Alliance, but I obtained multiple internal lists from 2011 showing that dozens of major corporations had joined. The lists were prepared by Chris Belisle, who at the time served as the alliance’s senior manager after having been recruited from his prior position as manager of corporate relations at the US Chamber of Commerce. According to these lists, CAP’s donors included Comcast, Walmart, General Motors, Pacific Gas and Electric, General Electric, Boeing and Lockheed. Though it doesn’t appear on the lists, the University of Phoenix was also a donor.
  •  Nowadays, many Washington think tanks effectively serve as unregistered lobbyists for corporate donors, and companies strategically contribute to them just as they hire a PR or lobby shop or make campaign donations. And unlike lobbyists and elected officials, think tanks are not subject to financial disclosure requirements, so they reveal their donors only if they choose to.
  • Most think tanks are nonprofit organizations, so a donor can even get a nice tax break for contributing. But it’s their reputation for impartiality and their web of contacts that makes them especially useful as policy advocates.
  •  CAP has emerged as perhaps the most influential of all think tanks during the Obama era, and there’s been a rapidly revolving door between it and the administration. CAP is also among the most secretive of all think tanks concerning its donors. Most major think tanks prepare an annual report containing at least some financial and donor information and make it available on their websites. According to CAP spokeswoman Andrea Purse, the center doesn’t even publish one. 
  • Several CAP insiders, who asked to speak off the record, told me that when Podesta left, there was a fear that contributions would dry up. Raising money had always been important, they said, but Tanden ratcheted up the efforts to openly court donors, which has impacted CAP’s work. Staffers were very clearly instructed to check with the think tank’s development team before writing anything that might upset contributors, I was told.
  • Foreign governments and business entities can also join the Business Alliance, whose membership list includes the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office—which functions as Taiwan’s embassy in Washington and retains many lobbyists, including former Oklahoma Republican Senator Don Nickles and former Missouri Democratic Representative Richard Gephardt—and the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON).

Here is a link to an internal CAP document that The Nation obtained which discusses CAP's Business Alliance, including annual contribution levels for its members.

Center for American Progress (CAP) was recently ranked as the 30th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 2nd best think tank in the world in terms of best use of the Internet or social media.

Monday, May 20, 2013

CAP's Neera Tanden Will Not Work for Clinton 2016

Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Counselor to the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF), said that she will not return for a 2016 presidential campaign to help Hillary Clinton.

Tanden served as Policy Director for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2008.

Here is what the Washington Post article says about Neera Tanden:
In her office at the Center for American Progress, where she is president, Tanden displays two framed photos behind her desk. One, of Clinton with her arm slung around Tanden, reads: “From the White House to the Senate and beyond . . . Thanks for all you do for me. I couldn’t have done it without you. Hillary.” The other shows Clinton’s former policy director laughing alongside Obama.
“On health care, on economic issues, she was the progressive voice in the presidential campaign,” said Tanden. She added, quietly, “We became the status quo campaign.”
Unlike many progressive Clinton alumni who had a hard time moving on after Clinton’s defeat and held a grudge against Obama, Tanden joined the Obama team and played a key role in the passage of health-care reform. During that time she occasionally exchanged e-mails with Clinton. Since leaving the administration, she has become a consistent thorn in the administration’s left side as a leading progressive voice.
She seems to enjoy the freedom of being unshackled from a campaign or candidate. She said that while her think tank would be a resource for progressive candidates, she had made a long-term commitment to her board and did not foresee herself being involved in a Clinton 2016 bid. “I’m not planning on working for her,” she said.

That said, Politico reports that Tanden would most likely play a significant, if informal role in any Clinton campaign.

Center for American Progress (CAP) was recently ranked as the 30th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 2nd best think tank in the world in terms of best use of the Internet or social media.

Cool Think Tank Event of the Week: AEI & "Free Beer"

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will be hosting an event on Tuesday (May 21) titled "Free Beer: Liberating Libations from 'Bootleggers and Baptists.'"

Here is a description of the event, which includes a reception afterwards:
For centuries, the manufacture and sale of beer, wine, and spirits has been a highly profitable and highly regulated enterprise. And where profit and regulation meet, cronyism and rent-seeking frequently follow.
From moonshiners buying off politicians during the Prohibition era to liquor stores trying to ban supermarkets from selling beer today, regulation has been used to keep start-up brewers, winemakers, and distillers from manufacturing alcohol; to preserve inefficient distribution systems; and to restrict choices available to consumers. Frequently, this regulation has been used for “noble social goals” — hence the famous public choice example of "Bootleggers and Baptists."
Can markets and consumers win? Join us for a discussion of the history and future of federal and state alcohol regulation and competition, followed by a reception with beer, wine, and spirits.
The panelists will be:
  • Brandon Arnold, National Taxpayer Union
  • Stephen George, Montesquieu Wines
  • Jacob Grier, Liquidity Preference

Here is more about Montesquieu Winery.  Here are some of the wines that you may try at the reception.

Back in February, AEI held an event on food trucks, which was mentioned in Think Tank Watch.

Think Tank Quickies #60

  • PIIE searching for first-ever C. Fred Bergsten Senior Fellow.
  • Hollywood actor Rainn Wilson advocates at CEIP for release of 7 religious leaders imprisoned in Iran.
  • Brookings study: More poor live in suburbs than in urban areas.
  • National Journal: The political battle over think tanks.
  • Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) praises Cato Institute for work on limited government and pursuit of economic freedom.
  • Heritage Action's advice to Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor.
  • Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan speaks at Brookings.
  • Obama-friendly think tank CNAS ponders a nuclear armed Iran.
  • Brookings new Iran blog: Iran @ Saban.
  • How think tanks cloak lobbying work.
  • Cato video: The IRS abusing Americans is nothing new.

Friday, May 17, 2013

New Book on the Heritage Foundation

Lee Edwards, Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the Heritage Foundation, has just written a new book about the think tank titled "Leading the Way: The Story of Ed Feulner and the Heritage Foundation."

The book was recently reviewed in The Wall Street Journal by Peter Berkowitz, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

On April 8 the Heritage Foundation hosted an event on the book.  A video of that event can be viewed here.

Think Tank Watch will be reviewing the book in the near future.

The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the world's best think tank in terms of use of the Internet and social media.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Did the IRS Target Conservative Think Tanks?

Did the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) target conservative think tanks?

The IRS reportedly started singling out certain 501(c)(4) groups in 2010 and changed their target several times.  Reuters notes that the number of applications sent to the IRS by groups seeking 501(c)(4) status rose to 3,400 in 2012 from 1,500 in 2010.

As Think Tank Watch has previously noted, several prominent think tanks have registered 501(c)(4) entities, also known as "sister organizations," including:
  • Heritage Foundation: Heritage Action for America
  • Center for American Progress: Center for American Progress Action Fund
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute: Freedom Action
  • Open Society Foundations: Open Society Policy Center

At this point, there have been no reports that the IRS targeted any think tanks, but the story is only beginning to unfold. 

There is a bit of history of the US government going after think tanks.  Remember Richard Nixon's plot to break into the Brookings Institution and steal files on Vietnam. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Heritage Foundation Media Frenzy

Fallout from Heritage Foundation's recent immigration study continues at a feverish pace.  Following are some of the latest headlines and reactions.

  • Fox News Latino: "Why Heritage's Rector and Richwine Are Very, Very Wrong."
  • The liberal Center for American Progress's (CAP) ThinkProgress wrote a piece titled "Seven Outlandish Things The Heritage Foundation's Remaining Employees Believe."
  • asks if Heritage will start producing "serious work" again, and notes that Heritage has dropped out of tomorrow's immigration policy debate co-sponsored by Buzzfeed and the Charles Koch Institute.
  • The Deseret News headline: "Lost Respect for Heritage Foundation."
  • Politico says that Heritage is considering hiring a high-profile public relations firm to help deal with the fallout.  Politico says the hiring of an outside consulting firm would be significant because the think tank usually relies on its own communications team.
  • Here is more on Jason Richwine from Slate.
  • The Nation asks why the press still takes the Heritage Foundation seriously.
  • The New York Times talks about how Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) pushed back at the Heritage immigration report.
  • The Daily Beast says that Jim DeMint "botched" his Heritage debut.
  • AEI scholar Charles Murray suggests that the Heritage Foundation lacks "integrity, loyalty, and balls."
  • A satire on the Heritage fallout from Wonkette.
  • Video: Juan Williams breaks down the Heritage controversy.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio's letter to the Heritage Foundation on immigration
  •  Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) slams Heritage study, scholar.
  • Mother Jones: Heritage Foundation "ignites conservative civil war" over dynamic scoring.
  • Former Heritage official says the think tank has betrayed Ronald Reagan.
  • The American Prospect: "Try to Find the Heritage Foundation's immigration study on its Spanish-language Site." 
  • Here is what Foreign Policy has to say. 
  • The Examiner talks with Jason Richwine. 
  • Inside Higher Ed: "Should Richwine's Ph.D. been granted?" 
  • Salon: Heritage Foundation's "Final Straw." 
  • Slate: Jason Richwine's "Excellent Adventure." 
  • Bloomberg: Heritage immigration fight "will strengthen conservatives." 
  • The American Prospect: "Ringside Seat: Bad Heritage." 
  • New York Magazine: "How Jason Richwine Passed Immigration Reform." 
  • WPost's Jennifer Rubin: "Richwine resigns from Heritage, but will others follow?" 
  • Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) comments on Heritage study. 
  • The Atlantic: "Jason Richwine says he is no racist."

The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the world's best think tank in terms of use of the Internet and social media.

Heritage Foundation's Fall From Grace?

The immigration debate has left the venerable Heritage Foundation a bit bruised and battered.  But is the Heritage Foundation in decline?  Here is what The Washington Post reports:
The co-author of a disputed immigration study by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, resigned Friday after questions were raised about racially charged conclusions made in his previous work.
The departure of Jason Richwine, who joined the organization in 2010, came as Heritage sought to move past a barrage of criticism from liberals and conservatives alike over the methodology used in its report that pegged the cost of legalizing 11 million undocumented immigrants at $6.3 trillion.
Heritage spent months preparing for its rollout of the report, which it hoped would reset the immigration debate in Washington and provide a splashy introduction for its new president, Jim DeMint, a former Republican senator from South Carolina.
Instead, the report has landed with a thud this week, placing the venerable institution under fire even from longtime allies on the right. The fall from grace came less than five weeks after DeMint took the helm in a surprise move after leaving Congress.
“What’s so disappointing about the Heritage immigration study is that it is so different from their other work,” said Alex Nowrasteh, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. “They employed a statistical method that no other economist would use to measure things like this, and on such an important policy issue. And they predictably reached terrible results.”
Heritage officials declined to comment on Richwine’s departure. But the self-inflicted wound has reverberated inside Washington’s influence industry and, according to several people familiar with Heritage, has set off a round of internal recriminations.
For DeMint, the missteps have set up a tricky choice over whether to stand by the immigration report or back away from it, considering that the negative publicity has blunted any potential policy impact.
So far, the organization has defended its methodology, which determined that low-skilled immigrants have less education and lower IQs and will earn less money and need more benefits than average Americans.

The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the world's best think tank in terms of use of the Internet and social media.

Update: Molly Ball wrote a piece for The Atlantic titled "The Fall of the Heritage Foundation and the Death of Republican Ideas."

Heritage is not the only think tank under attack.  Ken Silvertein just wrote a piece titled "They Pretend to Think, We Pretend to Listen," in which he bashes the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #59

  • Ranking the worst think tanks in the world.
  • RAND: Cost of dementia tops $157 billion annually in the US.
  • Cato vs. Heritage intern debate: conservatism vs. libertarianism.
  • Lots of think tankers like to say that retweets (RTs) are not equal to endorsements.
  • Atlantic Council's Leadership Awards draws 700 guests from 33 countries.
  • CEIP publishes report saying China likely to mount increasingly formidable challenge to the military supremacy of the US in the waters around China.
  • Cato Institute among most active to file friend-of-the-court briefs with the Supreme Court.
  • Think tank networks as government policy. 
  • Chatham House event: Do US Presidents Matter? 
  • HuffPo article: Women replace men as leaders of progressive think tanks. 
  • Egyptian president to oversee government think tank.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Think Tank That Will Block Immigration?

Politico has just labeled former Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC) and The Heritage Foundation as one of five players who could stop immigration reform.  Says Politico:
This is the kind of policy fight for which Jim DeMint was hired.
The former South Carolina GOP senator and tea party hero took over last month as president of the 40-year-old conservative think tank, and got straight to work. He has blasted the Gang of Eight’s proposal as “amnesty,” criticized negotiators for drafting the bill in secret and is trying to highlight the bill’s potential costs if millions of undocumented immigrants are made eligible for federal benefits.

If DeMint and Heritage — with its policy analyses and feisty advocacy arm — can help keep the right unified on immigration, it could force Democrats and the White House to accept amendments they don’t like in order to get something through — or simply kill the bill.
Heritage has been here before. The group helped sink previous immigration efforts by focusing on costs. Senior research fellow Robert Rector released a study in 2007 saying that immigration legislation could cost taxpayers $2.6 trillion.
Monday, Heritage said immigration reform could cost $6.3 trillion on new spending on entitlements and social programs.
But Heritage is getting pushback from conservatives and economists on both sides who say that adding millions of new taxpayers and streamlining the legal immigration process will spur growth and benefit the economy.

The Cato Institute has been highly critical of the Heritage Foundation report, which says that the Senate immigration overhaul bill would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion over 50 years.  Here is what AEI has to say.

The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the world's best think tank in terms of use of the Internet and social media.

Obama's Former Sudan Envoy Joins USIP

Ambassador Princeton Lyman, President Obama's former Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, has joined the US Institute of Peace (USIP) as a Senior Advisor.

USIP Press published Lyman’s book on South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, Partner to History: The U.S. Role in South Africa's Transition to Democracy, in 2002. He was also a Senior Fellow at USIP from 1999 to 2000.

Lyman has previously worked as the Ralph Bunche Chair for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and as Executive Director of the Global Interdependence Initiative at the Aspen Institute.

USIP was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the US by the University of Pennsylvania annual think tank rankings.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post (which is periodically updated) on Obama Administration officials who have stepped down and entered the think tank world.

Monday, May 6, 2013

New AfPak Envoy Hails From RAND

Secretary of State John Kerry has appointed James Dobbins to be the new Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Dobbins will leave the RAND Corporation, where he is Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND National Defense Research Institute.

Dobbins has had held several State Department and Defense Department positions in both the Clinton Administration and Bush Administration.

Past commentary by Dobbins can be found here.  Past publications by Dobbins can be found here, including a primer on Afghan peace talks.

In other related RAND news, the think tank recently announced several changes to its Board of Trustees.  Karen Elliott House, former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, has been elected Chairman of the Board.  House previously was Vice Chairman of the RAND Board.  Richard Danzig, former US Secretary of the Navy, was elected to succeed House as Vice Chairman of RAND's Board.

Kenneth Feinberg and Ambassador Philip Lader, founder of the Renaissance Weekends, were also elected to RAND's Board.

RAND Corp. was recently ranked as the 9th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 5th best think tank in the US, and the world's 7th best security and international affairs think tank.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post of Obama Administration officials who have left the Administration to join think tanks.  It also mentions those in think tanks who are now entering the Obama Administration.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Brookings Slammed for Qatar Connection

Here is what Jeffrey Goldberg writes:
Here is the genius of Qatar, the peanut-sized Persian Gulf state that provides material support to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and possibly some of Syria’s jihadist rebel groups, in a single image: A two-cheeked kiss, in public, between Qatar’s second-most powerful man, the prime minister (and foreign minister), Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, and Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire who funds, among other things, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
The kiss took place at a Brookings dinner last week in Washington that was convened to pay homage to Al Thani for his support -- because, yes, in addition to pledging $400 million to Hamas, Qatar also supports Brookings, one of Washington’s premier research groups.
I went to the dinner that night embarrassed on behalf of Brookings, which, like many institutions in Washington, shouldn’t be taking money from despotic Middle Eastern regimes, yet does. And the warm-up acts were indeed cringe-worthy. I can’t write about what was said, because these introductory remarks were summarily declared off the record, but suffice to say that various government officials who should have known better ventilated on the subject of Qatar’s magnificence with more than the minimally required sycophancy.
The main event -- a conversation between HBJ, as Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani is known, and Martin Indyk, a vice president and director of foreign policy at Brookings -- was more enlightening. When his turn came, Indyk (who is a friend of mine) asked HBJ a series of direct and uncomfortable questions that prompted answers so incredible they had many of the people in the audience not on Qatar’s payroll rolling their eyes.

Here is how Politico's Dylan Byers reports Goldberg's comments about Brookings.  Mr. Byers says that Goldberg's piece "is almost sure to anger a few folks" at the Brookings Institution.  He also notes that in 2012 Qatar gave between $2,500,000 and $4,999,999 to Brookings, which also has a center in Doha called the Brookings Doha Center.  [Other US-based think tanks, such as RAND Corp.'s RAND-Qatar Policy Center, have a presence in Qatar.  Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post titled "Qatar Buying Influence at US Think Tanks?"]

In response to Mr. Byers' piece, Mr. Goldberg said this: "I would prefer that American think tanks I admire, including Brookings, not take money from authoritarian governments that are known to provide material support to groups designated by the US government as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).  It just smells bad."

The State Department keeps a list of FTOs which can be found here.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post which notes that the Atlantic Council has a variety of foreign government donors, including Qatar.

In 2012, Mr. Goldberg accused another think tank, the Center for American Progress (CAP), of being anti-semetic.

The Brookings Institution was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  The Brookings Doha Center was recently ranked as the 8th best think tank in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by the same rankings.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #58

  • Cato video: Subsidizing the security of wealthy nations.
  • NYTimes: Heritage Foundation "losing" online sales tax fight. 
  • USIP cost-cutting design competition; $1,000 prize.
  • Flashback: Why are think tanks in Brussels so much less influential than Washington think tanks? 
  • Former Brookings fellow Matt Fellowes of HelloWallet named 2013 Tech Titan by Washingtonian.
  • Center for American Progress (CAP) puts heat on Sen. Ayotte for gun control vote.
  • Adrienne Arsht and Fred Kempe talk about the Atlantic Council on Morning Joe; goodie bag from tonight's Distinguished Leadership Awards given away.
  • Immigration splits Marco Rubio and mentor (and new Heritage Foundation head) Jim DeMint.
  • RAND Corp.'s 600-page book "A Million Random Digits With 100,000 Normal Deviates" featured in WSJ article on joke reviews.
  • Mercatus Center: Proposed Reg Czar Howard Shelanski is not a resident expert here.