Here are some of Think Tank Watch's favorite passages:
- AEI is on the rise. Its influence is growing on Capitol Hill, where Brooks, a former musician and college professor, is now a sought-after counsel to Republicans like House Budget Committee chairman and presidential hopeful Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Earlier this year, Brooks delivered the keynote address at both House and Senate GOP retreats.
- On Capitol Hill, that message [of "capitalism for the masses"] sounds very similar to the one preached by [Rep. Paul] Ryan, who plans to roll out a comprehensive antipoverty agenda this year. Ryan's office works closely with AEI and the two men are friends.
- Brooks rattles through the investments AEI has made in the past five years, including hiring over 60 new people. The new headquarters will have TV and radio studios and classrooms, as AEI ramps up its media presence and extends its reach to college campuses, paid for in part by a $20 million donation from billionaire Daniel A. D'Aniello, chairman of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group. "We've grown like crazy," Brooks says, before making the noise of an explosion.
- But in the free marketplace of ideas, as in all markets, it always helps when your competitors stumble. It's no coincidence that AEI's newfound popularity comes at a time of waning influence for another D.C. think tank, the Heritage Foundation.
- [Arthur] Brooks's model is aggressive outreach. AEI has made investments in its communications department and Capitol Hill outreach. The metrics by which you might calculate success-newspaper op-eds, scholars testifying before Congress-have gone up exponentially under Brooks.
- In some ways, [Arthur] Brooks is an unlikely conservative leader. He was raised in a liberal family in Seattle, and dropped out of college to spend his 20s as a professional French hornist, including several years in the Barcelona city orchestra.
Here is what the article says about other conservative think tanks besides AEI and Heritage:
In the conservative ecosystem, heavyweight institutions funded by rich donors (AEI has about 1,200) compete. Among them is the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., where Republican stars like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are fellows.
There's the Manhattan Institute, a conservative outpost in liberal New York City, the Hudson Institute in D.C., mostly focusing on national security and foreign policy, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center that punches above its weight when it comes to influence. And there is the Cato Foundation, a libertarian think tank, which has blossomed since that philosophy became more in vogue among Republicans.
Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece titled "AEI President's Powerful Friends," which focuses on Arthur Brooks's strong relationship with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).
AEI was just ranked as the 24th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings. It was also ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.