Friday, October 16, 2015

Ezra Klein Interview AEI President Arthur Brooks

Following are some of Think Tank Watch's favorite quotes from the recent interview by Ezra Klein of American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Arthur Brooks.

  • Ezra Klein: "Arthur Brooks is a snappy dresser and his think tank really matters...he is now wearing a huge, cool silver watch and big, colorful cuff links.  You are, I think it is fair to say, the nattiest of the think tank executives I know."
  • Arthur Brooks: "Think tanks are an industry that grew out of academia and academia is the dowdiest possible way of making a living."
  • Arthur Brooks: "AEI reached out to me to become a visiting scholar...before that I was actually a donor to AEI.  I was writing checks to AEI even before joining the think tank."
  • Arthur Brooks: "The reason many think tank presidencies haven't ended so well is because nobody knows what the industry standard is supposed to be."
  • Arthur Brooks: "We don't have any corporate positions at fact, we bring in people who don't share our mission precisely to 'murder board' our ideas."
  •  Arthur Brooks: "Half of economists [at AEI] think a carbon tax is good and half think it is should hear them yelling in the hall."
  • Arthur Brooks: "We do 350 events per year [at AEI.]  We invite people who disagree with our view.  We regularly have people from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and give them the podium."
  • Ezra Klein: "And you [AEI] are known for having the best food." 
  • Ezra Klein: "You can find a think tank to justify anything."
  • Ezra Klein: "The think tank world in DC is a very cheap way of buying credibility."
  • Arthur Brooks: "You often hear 'center-right AEI' but there is no qualifier for liberal think tanks like Brookings.  And there is a tendency [by the media] to stick a finger in stuff by the center-right."

When asked what think tank is the most interesting right now (besides AEI), Brooks said there are a lot of interesting ones at the state and local level, and cited the State Policy Network (SPN) and Goldwater Institute.

And since Think Tank Watch tracks all the world's fantasy/made-up think tanks, we should mention that during the interview, Ezra Klein (purposely) invented his own think tank - The Institute for Competitive Freedom.

Update:  Here is a list that AEI's Michael Strain put together in National Review of his favorite quotes from Think Tank Watch's favorite quotes of the Ezra Klein interview of Arthur Brooks.