Thursday, November 5, 2015

Speaker Ryan and His Deep Think Tank Connections

For years Think Tank Watch has written about how Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been the darling of conservative think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and to the Heritage Foundation.  In fact, AEI's annual dinner in 2013 was solely meant to honor Rep. Ryan.

He is also close to scholars at the Hudson Institute and has had dinner with the head of American Action Forum.  He has also spoken at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) as well as the center-left think tank Brookings Institution.

Ryan has also spoken at state-level think tanks, including the Center of the American Experiment (in Minnesota).  And he has embraced other think tanks outside of the beltway, such as the Manhattan Institute, which was reportedly advising some of his staff.

His think tanking is so prolific that during the 2012 vice presidential debates, Ryan was described as "Think Tank Ryan."  Even David Hoppe, Ryan's new chief of staff, reportedly has connections with think tanks.

But Ryan's deep relationship with think tanks has not been all friendly.  And his relationship with the Heritage Foundation is actually quite nuanced.  For example, in 2013, Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of Heritage Foundation, came out against Ryan's budget plan.

As you may remember, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was often attacked by Heritage, and the think tank may have even helped destroy his career in Congress.

So the big question going forward is will Heritage play naughty or nice with Ryan.  Heritage Action has recently said that it is time for "moving away from the US Chamber of Commerce's preferred agenda," and it will surely be watching Ryan closely.