Thursday, August 14, 2014

AEI President Interviewed on Think Tanks

Dick Meyer, Chief Washington Correspondent for Scripps News, has just interviewed American Enterprise Institute (AEI) President Arthur Brooks.  Think Tank Watch has listened to the nearly 15-minute broadcast and has picked out its favorite think tank comments:

Quotes from Dick Meyers:
  • Think tanks are "heaven on Earth" for policy wonks.
  • The influence of think tanks is behind-the-scenes but pervasive.
  • Think tanks are quiet places that carry a big stick.
  • Think tanks mostly try to influence Congress.
  • Think tanks feed the need that news media has for instant access to experts.
  • I always thought the phrase "think tanks" was kind of a science-fiction movie where super-thinking brains were suspended in neuro-ooze.
  • There is a nasty nickname for think tank experts: "rentallectuals."
  • AEI PresidentArthur Brooks has become a superstar in the world of Washington brainiacs in the five years he's been running AEI.
  • At 49, Arthur Brooks has already written six books and edited even more.  He is lean and fit with a well-groomed stubble and an aura of intensity.  He wears power suits but they're cut in a skinny, hip style.  He's not exactly what you'd expect as a booster of AEI's conservative philosophy.

Quotes from Arthur Brooks:
  • AEI has 200 full-time scholars and staff; around 60 are full-time scholars.
  • Most of the think tanks in and around Washington, DC have taken public subsidies, but AEI has never taken a dime from the government.
  • Had it not been for conservative think tanks, welfare reform would not have happened under Bill Clinton in 1996...[Brooks then called Clinton a "courageous president"] and said that the welfare idea came from scholars at AEI.  [Mr. Myers noted that Bill Clinton may disagree with that idea.]
  • AEI has a "firewall" between its funding and research.

Can't get enough of Arthur Brooks?  Check out this recent Bill Moyers interview with Brooks.  And of course, check out the multiple posts that Think Tank Watch has done on AEI and Arthur Brooks.