Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Think Tanks Helping to Write 4th Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Here is more from the Wall Street Journal:

As lawmakers last week completed a record-shattering economic-rescue package estimated at $2 trillion, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) predicted: “This is certainly not the end of our work here in Congress—rather the end of the beginning.”
Legislators from both parties, administration officials, economists, think tanks and lobbyists are already roughing out the contours of yet another emergency-spending package—perhaps larger than the last—to try to keep the coronavirus crisis from turning into a 21st-century Great Depression. Many expect the debate to begin in earnest by late April.
“There’s talk of a multi-trillion-dollar program, given the size of the shutdown,” says Stephen Moore, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “There’s a general recognition that we need something big to get some juice into the economy,” adds Mr. Moore, an outside economic consultant to the Trump administration and some congressional Republicans.

The article notes that Mr. Moore "has discussed with administration officials and congressional Republicans" the idea of suspending the payroll tax through the end of the year.

It also notes that Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has been working with Republican lawmakers on crisis-response measures.

Here are some links to Think Tank Watch's latest pieces on the coronavirus.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#375)

  • Think tank claims hundreds of fishing boats intrude into Chinese waters.
  • Conservative site Gateway Pundit: DC think tanks lobbying for illegal aliens to get checks and healthcare in coronavirus relief package.
  • Robert O'Brien had off-the-record dinner at CSIS hosted by Dan Runde for about 20 current and former officials.
  • Analysts at think tank present disturbing assessment of freedom in US.
  • Nearly all DC think tanks large and small are shut down due to coronavirus.
  • AEI has started a tool @COVID2019tests to track total coronavirus testing capacity.
  • Think tank CSIS continuing to get South China Sea issues wrong? 
  • Ed Lezere, the leader of left-leaning DC think tank DC Fiscal Policy Institute, is running for an at-large seat on the DC Council.
  • Radix: A "think tank for the radical centre." 
  • American Alliance of Museum's Center for the Future of Museums, a DC think tank "that studies trends and challenges likely to affect the museum world."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Will Think Tanks Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic?

The response to the coronavirus pandemic has already caused many job cuts, and it is sure to hurt funding at a number of think tanks.

Can think tanks survive in this environment?  Here is what Hans Gutbrod and Till Bruckner of Transparify said in a new piece entitled: "Avoiding the Asteroid: Being Constructive and Relevant in the Pandemic":
COVID-19 could become to many think tanks what the asteroid was to dinosaurs: an extinction level event. It’s likely that sector funding will decrease sharply, both within countries and from foreign donors in developing-country contexts, while other pressing causes take precedence.

And here is a piece from On Think Tanks founder and director Enrique Mendizabal, entitled "Times of Crisis: What Can Think Tanks and Their Funders Do?"

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece on why no think tanks predicted the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is a selection of various think tank writings on the coronavirus.

Nonprofits, which have been seeking billions of dollars in emergency funding, are already feeling the impact of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, think tanks continue to cancel events left and right.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Why No Think Tanks Predicted the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here is a little tidbit from Neil Pyper in The National Interest:
A number of think tanks and consultancies provide early warning services about low-profile, high-impact events, such as conflict in the South China Sea. However, if they feature events that are considered far fetched, they risk losing credibility among their clients and readers.

Of course, after major events happen, think tanks readily jump on the short-term bandwagon and offer quick analysis that often lacks depth and breadth.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Coronavirus Chaos Rocks Think Tanks

While nearly every Washington think tank large and small has closed their offices and instituted telework policies, they still continue to churn out reports.  Following is a selection of think tank work on the coronavirus:

  • Coronavirus guidance.
  • Brookings' coronavirus homepage.
  • How will the Chinese economy rebound from COVID-19?
  • Why $1 trillion is not enough.
  • The economy and policy in the coronavirus crisis to date.
  • The global macroeconomic impacts of COVID-19: Seven scenarios.

Heritage Foundation

Cato Institute

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Regaining Lost Ground: Defense Support in the Coronavirus Pandemic. 
  • The impact of COVID-19 on humanitarian crises.
  • COVID-19: US economy and supply chains.
  • US-China relations and COVID-19: What can be done now.
  • Coronation, coronavirus, and the economy: The economic backdrop of a fifth Putin term.
  • Use of military forces in COVID-19 emergency.

Atlantic Council
  • A coronavirus message from the president of Atlantic Council. 
  • Atlantic Council's coronavirus homepage.
  • How the US can avoid COVID's geopolitical perils. 
  • Amid COVID-19, Iraq remains US-Iran battleground.
  • How the coronavirus will impact Panama's economy.
  • The global economic policy response to coronavirus takes shape.

RAND Corporation

Urban Institute
  • How we can alleviate economic insecurity during the pandemic.
  • Even before coronavirus outbreak, hourly and self-employed workers were struggling to meet basic needs.
  • How should prisons and jails prepare for COVID-19?
  • Understanding hospital bed capacities nationwide amid COVID-19.
  • Addressing housing insecurity during a pandemic.
  • What a COVID-19 recession looks like.

Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Policy in the time of coronavirus. 
  • The case for a big coronavirus stimulus.
  • Coronavirus, a new jolt to Iran's economy?
  • Coronavirus: From quarantine to trade.
  • Coronavirus and trade restrictions.
  • Coronavirus is no excuse for repeating errors of financial crisis.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • What the coronavirus means for China's foreign policy.
  • The coronavirus pandemic should end Europe's comfort zone.
  • How is Russia coping with the coronavirus?
  • US-China cooperation on coronavirus hampered by propaganda war.
  • Drawing near to God amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Corruption vulnerabilities in the US response to the coronavirus.

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Wilson Center

US Institute of Peace (USIP)

Much more coming soon...

Think Tank Quickies (#374)

  • What happens to think tanks in a recession (or depression)?
  • Hunter Biden was on the board of the Truman Center for National Policy. 
  • Pic: Cato and AEI vandalized with slogans reading "capitalism is the virus." 
  • Atlantic Council launches GeoTech Center and Commission.
  • TRT World: RAND's "controversial" report says more about the think tank than Turkey.
  • Center for Security Policy: Russia planning to invade Ireland.
  • CNN fact checks Bernie Sander's speech and highlights a think tank error.
  • This is how to get hired by an elite think tank created by Google.
  • RAND Corp. has posted a collection of tools to target online disinformation.
  • Javad Zarif goes to Munich and meets with think tankers.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Think Tanks Were Secret Users of Clearview AI's Facial Recognition App

Here is more from BuzzFeed:

Last month, a BuzzFeed News investigation found that people at more than 2,200 organizations have tried Clearview’s facial recognition technology, including federal entities such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, and private companies like Macy’s, the NBA, and Bank of America.Prior to BuzzFeed News’ report, Clearview insisted its tool was strictly for law enforcement.
Clearview, however, has shared its technology with organizations it designated as friends, conservative think tanks, Republican lawmakers, and more than 20 potential investors around the world, according to company documents seen by BuzzFeed News.
Clearview also provided access to two conservative think tanks: the Manhattan Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.
The Manhattan Institute, where cofounders Ton-That and Schwartz reportedly first met, received an account in the fall. A spokesperson for the think tank said Schwartz is a “longtime friend of the Institute” and noted that a former fellow at the organization had served as one of three judges for a supposedly independent report in which Clearview claimed its technology was “100% accurate.”
Although the spokesperson denied that the Manhattan Institute used Clearview, a document reviewed by BuzzFeed News shows that one person associated with the organization ran more than a dozen searches.

Here is a Popular Mechanics article entitled "This App is a Dangerous Invasion of Your Privacy - and the FBI Uses It."

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Hudson Institute President Named US Ambassador to Japan

Here is more from Japanese broadcaster NHK:

US President Donald Trump has nominated the head of a conservative think tank as new ambassador to Japan.
The White House announced the choice of Kenneth Weinstein on Friday. Weinstein is the President and CEO of Hudson Institute and believed to have expertise on foreign policy and security issues.
He has close ties with Japanese political figures and met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he visited Japan in July. He has also frequently met with senior Japanese officials and researchers visiting Washington.
Hudson Institute is known among Washington think tanks for its close ties with the Trump administration. In July, it created the post of Japan Chair, served by H.R. McMaster, former national security adviser to Trump.

Before officially becoming ambassador, Mr. Weinstein must first be confirmed by the full US Senate.  It is unclear who would become the next head of the Hudson Institute should Weinstein be confirmed.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Think Tank President Steps Down Over Coronavirus Tweet

Here is more from Politico:

Berin Szóka, the president of TechFreedom, a libertarian-leaning think tank, will step down “after tweeting that it would be ‘poetic justice’ if President Donald Trump died from the coronavirus,” POLITICO’s Cristiano Lima reports. He plans to write a book on tech policy while taking an indefinite sabbatical. “Shane Tews, a longtime member of the group's board, will lead the organization in his stead. The move deals a blow to one of the tech industry’s staunchest defenders in Washington, where Szóka has served as its combative and outspoken leader for nearly a decade.”

Washington, DC-based TechFreedom, launched in 2011, focuses on issues of Internet freedom and technological progress.

Breitbart notes that the think tank receives "substantial funding" from Google and it also part of the company's "Public Policy Fellowship" program, in which Google places interns at public policy organizations, including TechFreedom.

Breitbart says that Shane Tews, a member of the think tank's board, will take over as president.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#373)

  • Republican-aligned think tanks have joined the push by foreign-funded dark money groups to lobby the IRS to repeal remaining reporting requirements.
  • List: Those spotted at the annual CSIS pre-Alfalfa luncheon.
  • Center-left think tank Third Way urgently calls for Democrats to challenge Bernie Sanders.
  • Fmr. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe named adviser to law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth's global privacy and cybersecurity think tank Centre for Information Policy Leadership. 
  • Pics: Johns Hopkins students do a "Think Tank Career Trek." 
  • Assessing Asia's think tanks.
  • AEI's Charles Murray "sows controversy" with new book.
  • Flashback: London-based New Economic Foundation created the Happy Planet Index (HPI). 
  • Quincy Institute debut a dud
  • Latin American free-market think tanks change strategies.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Former Think Tanker Shaping Foreign Policy for Sanders

Here is more from The Hill:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is taking stronger positions on foreign policy compared to his White House bid four years ago, a shift that is largely credited to a top adviser hired after the 2016 campaign.
Matt Duss is the first person to hold the title of foreign policy adviser to Sanders. He was hired in 2017 in response to criticism that Sanders’s first presidential bid failed to lay out a comprehensive global agenda.
Duss first gained prominence in Washington while working at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive think tank founded in 2003 by John Podesta, a longtime political operative who later became campaign chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 White House bid.
At CAP, Duss wrote prolifically on Middle East issues, advocating for U.S. negotiations with Iran and engaging with political Islam in Egypt and Tunisia. Those stances put him at odds with established foreign policy thinking in Washington, especially since CAP was considered influential with the Obama administration’s Middle East policy.
Duss left the think tank in 2014 and became president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Three years later, he joined Sanders’s staff as foreign policy adviser.

Sen. Sanders has been clashing with the Center for American Progress and its president/CEO Neera Tanden, who was a close adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Think Tank Report on Uighur Labor in China Lists Global Brands

Here is more from Reuters:

Tens of thousands of ethnic Uighurs were moved to work in conditions suggestive of “forced labor” in factories across China supplying 83 global brands, an Australian think tank said in a report released on Sunday.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report, which cited government documents and local media reports, identified a network of at least 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces where more than 80,000 Uighurs from the western region of Xinjiang have been transferred.
“Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor, Uighurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen,” the think-tank said in the introduction to its report. 

The full ASPI report can be read here.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Axios: State-Owned Think Tank Floats China-led WHO Alternative

Here is more from Axios:

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, a Chinese government-owned think tank is soliciting opinions to gauge how the international community might receive a Chinese alternative to the World Health Organization.
Why it matters: Beijing is seeking to turn the coronavirus, initially a disaster for China's public image, into an opportunity to advance its global leadership and bolster its soft power abroad.
In a message viewed by Axios, an employee of CNPC Economics & Technology Research Institute (CNPC ETRI) said they were exploring the possibility of a Beijing-led global health organization that would rival the WHO.
CNPC ETRI is a think tank affiliated with the China National Petroleum Corporation, which is owned by the Chinese government. The president of CNPC ETRI reports to Chinese leadership. (The institute did not respond to a request for comment.)
In China, state-sponsored think tanks can double as diplomatic back channels, allowing leaders a low-risk means to float new ideas and explore how they might be perceived.

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece about the Chinese think tank monitoring US governors.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#372)

  • Did the new think tank Quincy Institute help stop war with Iran? 
  • China's growing trail of think tanks and lobbyist in Europe.
  • CSIS hosted 2020 think tank ranking event on Jan. 30.
  • Hudson Institute President Kenneth Weinstein to be next US ambassador to Japan?
  • The Nation: Will billionaire-funded think tank FDD get its war with Iran? 
  • How do elite think tanks shape public opinion and undermine democracy? 
  • Executives can't find decent executive assistants at think tanks?
  • Pic: Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets with think tankers. 
  • Rolling dice to name your US or UK think tank.
  • 30 heads of think tanks at Raisina Dialogue.
  • The purpose of think tanks.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Think Tank Workers are Unionizing and Bosses Aren't Happy

Here is more from the Washington Post:
The idea to unionize took shape last summer. And it didn’t happen at a big company, school or hospital, but a more unexpected place: a small nonprofit organization.
Employees at an Austin-based think tank, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, started meeting after work to figure out how they could improve their workplace. Some workers felt there was an incongruity between the think tank’s advocacy on issues such as health care, living wages and public benefits, and the way it treated its employees, according to Amanda Posson, one of the union organizers.
On Tuesday, workers at the Center for Public Policy Priorities formally opted to join a union, voting unanimously to be represented by the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union.
While generally union participation has been declining, union efforts at nonprofit entities are a bright spot for the labor movement and are the latest sign of growing momentum. Nonprofit workers, centered in the District but also in states such as California, Maryland, Alabama, and New York, have helped swell the NPEU’s ranks 30 percent over the past year. The staffs of five nonprofits opted to join the NPEU in 2019, bringing the total number of groups it represents to 19 nonprofits, or 350 members.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece about various efforts by think tanks to unionize.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Marie Yovanovitch to Join Foreign Affairs Think Tank

Here is more from Politico:
Marie Yovanovitch is joining the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program. Yovanovitch will primarily be working on her book while there.

Yovanovitch is a recently-retired US diplomat whose abrupt removal by President Trump from her post as ambassador to Ukraine became a focus of impeachment hearings. William Burns, President of Carnegie, has defended her on numerous occasions.

She is also a Senior State Department Fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.