Sunday, November 27, 2016

The think tanks of Donald Trump

Jason Stahl discussing his forthcoming book on conservative think tanks
at the Library of Congress in January 2010

Who is giving President-elect Trump advice is THE question in Washington. Until recently, most would not admit to this and others publicly rejected an association. In April, the LA Times identified eight men who advise candidate Trump, including Japanese American Retired Army Major General Bert Mizusawa.

Heritage's Dr. James Carafano is reportedly overseeing the National Security/Foreign Policy transition.

click to order
Aside from the Heritage Foundation, the other think tanks that are said to have some influence on Mr. Trump's thinking are less well-known, less establishment mainstream. Many are funded by the Koch Brothers who opposed Mr. Trump and are pro-free trade. As Politico observed: "The president-elect, in filling out his transition team and administration, has drawn heavily from the vast network of donors and advocacy groups built by the billionaire industrialist brothers, who have sought to reshape American politics in their libertarian image."

The traditional think tank homes of foreign policy professionals appear to have fallen out of favor.  This interesting phenomenon will test the theory that think tanks are merely lobbying platforms as opposed to sources for original thinking as funders, especially foreign, will reconsider their investments. 

Here are those that are mentioned:

· American Action Forum

· American Civil Rights Union,

· American Crossroads,

· American Enterprise Inst. (AEI),

· American Foreign Policy Council,

· Americans for Prosperity,

· Americans for Tax Reform,

· Atlas Economic Research Foundation,

· Cato Institute,

· Center for Immigration Studies,

· Center for International Private Enterprise, .

· Center for Public Justice,

· Center for Security Policy,

· Center for the National Interest,

· Charles Koch Institute,

· Competitive Enterprise Institute,

· Concerned Veterans for America

· Conservative Action Project,

· Cornwall Alliance,

· Council for National Policy,

· Economic Strategy Institute,

· Employment Policies Institute,

· Family Research Council,

· Federalist Society,

· Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI),

· Freedom Works,

· Frontiers of Freedom,

· Heartland Institute,

· Heritage Foundation,

· Hoover Institution,

· Hudson Institute,

· Institute for Energy Research 

· Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis,

· Institute for the Study of War,

· International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC),

· Jamestown Foundation,

· Manhattan Institute,

· Mercatus Center (George Mason U),

· Project 2049 Institute,

· Tax Foundation,

· The Foreign Policy Initiative,

· The Jamestown Foundation,

· United States Business and Industry Council,

To research see: 

Free Trade Think Tank Directory
How the Tea Party thinks about think tanks
Organization that tracks the Tea Party, Think Progress,
The following two conferences held this year also give insight into who may be have some influence:

Advancing American Security: The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy by the Charles Koch Institute (May 2016)

The best blog on think tanks, Think Tank Watch, however, finds an interesting anomaly in the sources of Trump inspiration.

Meet Trump's New Favorite Think Tank (July 1, 2016)

Presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has a new favorite think tank, and it is not who you think. You may have guessed something like the Heritage Foundation or the Hudson Institute or even the Hoover Institution. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Trump's new favorite think tank is the liberal, union-backed think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI). No folks, we are not making this up. On June 28 Trump gave an economic and trade speech which frequently cited statistics from EPI. In fact, in a footnoted version of the speech, he cited EPI 20 times. There was nary a single citation from a conservative think tank, which he also relies on from time to time.

The only other think tanks mentioned in the citations were the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the conservative Tax Foundation, which each had one citation.

EPI, of course, it not too keen on being linked to Donald Trump, and has called his latest take on trade a "scam." After all, EPI bills itself as the first (and the premier) think tank to focus on the economic conditions of low- and middle-income Americans and their families. Being linked to a billionaire is a huge no-no.

From 2010 to 2014, about 57% of EPI funding came from foundation grants, while another 27% came from labor unions. The remainder came from a mix of organizations, corporations, individuals, and others.

The Wall Street Journal recently called EPI "the AFL-CIO's think tank," referring to the largest federation of unions in the United States.

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