Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Is the BPC a Failed "Think Tank"?

CQ Weekly recently had an article titled "Finding a Middle Without Moderates" in which it talks about various centrist groups in Washington, DC.  In terms of think tanks, the article focuses on Third Way and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), which launched in 2007.

The article notes that BPC has yet to see any of its major policy proposals adopted.  If that is the case, is BPC a failed think tank?

Here is more background from CQ:
In 2007 Jason Grumet, a Democrat and environmentalist, teamed with Cameron Lynch, A Republican who was working for former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole of Kansas, to persuade Dole to serve as a co-founder of BPC along with three other past Senate party leaders: Tom Daschle, Howard Baker, and George Mitchell.  Grumet got the idea from his experience running the National Commission on Energy Policy, a project of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, that helped lay the goundwork for Congress's 2005 energy law.
The idea was to replicate, on a broader scale, the success the commission had in bringing a bipartisan group together to tackle difficult issues.
The groups is mostly known for its policy work, such as its bipartisan proposal for revamping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and its strategy for strengthening the country's mix of energy options.  But while it has had success in persuading former members of Congress to work together on policy ideas, it's had far less getting current members to take them up.
In an effort to overcome that reluctance, the center last year launched Citizens for Political Reform with the idea of engaging the grass roots.  This spring, it released a series of videos poling fun at the political stereotypes liberals and conservatives hold about each other, while touting its June 24 release of recommendations aimed at breaking gridlock.

Think Tank Watch thinks, however, that a think tank should not be judged solely on its political "wins."  After all, think tanks often play an important role outside of the legislative realm.

In related news, BPC, along with the Annenberg Public Policy Center, reconvened the 9/11 Commission members to develop updated recommendations.  That report, which says that terrorism has entered a new and dangerous phase, can be found here.

Last year, BPC was criticized for the funding it receives for its "manufactured reports and white papers."  Ken Silverstein of Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics called BPC the "Bipartisan Lobbying Center."  One can see how politically involved BPC is here.