Friday, March 10, 2023

Niskanen Center the Most Interesting US Think Tank?

Following are some of Think Tank Watch's favorite lines from the Molly Ball piece in Time entitled "Niskanen Center, the Most Interesting Think Tank in American Politics."

In the piece, she notes that Niskanen is a "little-known" think tank that "may be the most interesting institution" in Washington, DC.

  • At Niskanen’s headquarters near Capitol Hill, a small team of wonks is busy cooking up unconventional proposals to address intractable problems. Want to solve climate change? Forget the Green New Deal and focus on building more electric transmission lines. Want to reduce incarceration? Don’t defund the police—give them funding to solve crimes. Want to improve access to health care? Slash outdated regulations to increase the supply of doctors.
  • In the wake of the Trump presidency, old ideological lines have melted away, and new space has opened for strange-bedfellows alliances. The Niskanen Center, a quirky eight-year-old policy shop with roots on the libertarian right, is both vanguard and driver of this underreported trend. Working outside, or between, the partisan silos in which most D.C. advocates are enmeshed, it’s gained a reputation on Capitol Hill for unorthodox policy ideas that can bridge left-right divides.
  • At a time of polarization, Niskanen has become a home for heterodox thinkers from left and right alike. In its D.C. office suite, a former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer is working on proposals to increase access to health-care and disability benefits by simplifying regulations; at the same time, a former staffer at the libertarian Cato Institute is mapping out new ideas for copyright reform. Niskanen’s head of immigration policy is a Republican former national-security lawyer; its head of climate previously worked for an environmental group that was accused of racism for supporting a revenue-neutral Washington state climate initiative. The influential center-left writer Matt Yglesias is a Niskanen fellow; the Times columnist Ezra Klein’s embrace of “supply-side progressivism” echoes many Niskanen ideas.
  • But on Capitol Hill, the Niskanen Center is widely seen as a breath of fresh air. The center’s lobbyists often cold-call congressional offices to explore potential collaboration. They seek to provide objective analysis and high-quality information, not spin.

Here is a 2015 piece from Think Tank Watch about the launch of the Niskanen Center.