Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump Presidency Means Tectonic Shift in Think Tank Landscape

Hello Heritage Foundation.  Goodbye Center for American Progress (CAP), Brookings Institution, and Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

The Donald Trump presidency will usher in a completely new think tank landscape that will shape think tank influence, funding, and policy for years to come.

The Trump win means that much of the traditional think tank establishment as we know it will be severely weakened - on both the Democratic and Republican sides - as the handful of think tanks that Mr. Trump and his allies have cozied up to will begin to accrue an outsized amount of power and influence.

The biggest think tank winner for the incoming Trump presidency in clearly the Heritage Foundation.  The conservative think tank, which will have a huge say on who Mr. Trump chooses as his next Supreme Court nominee, is playing a very significant role in the Trump transition and has been recruiting via email for the Trump Administration.  A number of think tankers are already on Mr. Trump's transition team, including dozens of Heritage staffers and alumni.

An acknowledgement of the Heritage Foundation's newfound influence was on display at an event at Heritage on November 10, where John Yoo, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, apparently received a warm reception from the audience after making a joke about the closeness of Heritage and Trump. "I'm surprised there are so many people here because I though everyone at Heritage was working over at transition headquarters.  I asked the taxi cab driver to take me to Trump transition headquarters and he dropped me off here, instead."

As Bloomberg's Nick Wadham points out, dozens of Republican national security experts who declared during the campaign that Donald Trump was unfit to lead the country may be automatically disqualified from jobs in the Trump Administration.

During the campaign season, as Bloomberg reminds us, more than 120 former Republican national security officials signed a letter saying they opposed the Trump presidency, and another anti-Trump statement with 40 signatories was also circulated.

Those who signed letters speaking out against Trump include think tankers from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), among others.

The biggest losers in a Trump presidency?  That would be the think tanks with deep Obama and Clinton ties who put all their efforts into a Clinton win.  That includes Center for American Progress, Brookings, and Center for a New American Security.  It was a huge blow to those think tanks as many had already been measuring the drapes of a Clinton White House.

The thousands of pages of policy papers that those think tanks wrote instantly go up in smoke as a Trump Administration will instantly dismiss them.

However, those think tanks will still act as Democratic "governments-in-waiting" and will start to hire the flood of Obama officials who will soon be leaving their jobs.

Here is an article from the Washington Examiner saying that Heritage took and risk and won big with Trump.

It should be noted that not all think tankers on Trump's transition team are from Heritage.  For example, there are people from other think tanks such as Manhattan Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the Hoover Institution, among others.

Moreover, even though Mr. Trump has many allies at those think tanks, it does not necessarily mean they will agree with him 100% of the time.  For example, Heritage Action and CEI are already speaking out against Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

Think Tank Watch will soon be publishing a list of all the think tankers in the Trump transition and Trump presidency.