Heritage Foundation

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The Heritage Foundation is one of the most prominent conservative think tanks in the United States.[1] Founded in 1973, it is based in Washington, D.C., in the United States.

Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."[2]

The Heritage Foundation's initial funding came from political conservative Joseph Coors, co-owner of the Coors Brewing Company.[3] Funding from Coors was later augmented by financial support from billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. Conservative activist Paul Weyrich was its first head. Since 1977, Heritage's president has been Edwin Feulner, Jr., previously the staff director of the House Republican Study Committee and a former staff assistant to U.S. Congressman Phil Crane.

Until 2001, the Heritage Foundation published Policy Review, a public policy journal, which was then acquired by the Hoover Institution. From 1995 to 2005, the Heritage Foundation ran Townhall.com, a conservative website.[4]

History and major initiatives

Mandate for Leadership

After many years of consumer rights activism against corporate responsibility advocates like Ralph Nader, Heritage's 1981 book of policy analysis, Mandate for Leadership was a landmark in advocacy for corporate rights and limited government. At 1,000-plus pages, Mandate for Leadership offered specific recommendations on policy, budget and administrative action for all Cabinet departments, as well as agencies to be staffed by political appointees in the incoming conservative administration of President Ronald Reagan.

Cold War and foreign policy involvement

In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Heritage Foundation was a key architect and advocate of the "Reagan Doctrine", under which the United States government supported anti-Communist resistance movements in such places as Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Nicaragua and generally supported global anti-communism during the Cold War. Heritage foreign policy analysts also provided policy guidance to these rebel forces and to dissidents in Eastern bloc nations and Soviet republics.

The foundation was instrumental in advancing President Ronald Reagan's belief that the former Soviet Union was an "evil empire" and that its defeat, not its mere containment, was a realistic foreign policy objective. Heritage also played a key role in building support for Reagan's plans to build an orbital ballistic missile shield, known as the "Strategic Defense Initiative".

Internationally, and in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, Heritage publishes the annual Index of Economic Freedom, which measures a country's freedom in terms of property rights and freedom from government regulation. The factors used to calculate the Index score are corruption in government, barriers to international trade, income tax and corporate tax rates, government expenditures, rule of law and the ability to enforce contracts, regulatory burdens, banking restrictions, labor regulations, and black market activities. Deficiencies lower the score on Heritage's Index.

Since the end of the Cold War, Heritage has continued to be an active voice in foreign affairs and has been generally supportive of President George W. Bush's foreign policies.

Free market domestic policies

In domestic policy, Heritage is a proponent of supply-side economics, which holds that reductions in the marginal rate of taxation can spur economic growth.

In 1994, Heritage advised Newt Gingrich and other conservatives on the development of the "Contract with America", which was credited with helping to produce a Republican majority in Congress. The "Contract" was a pact of principles that directly challenged both the political status-quo in Washington and many of the ideas at the heart of the Clinton administration. As such, Heritage is often credited with supplying many of the ideas that ultimately proved influential in ending the Democrats' control of Congress in 1992. Heritage has also worked with Democrats on policy matters over the years, including former U.S. Senator John Breaux and other "blue dog" Democrats.


Barred from Republican Study Committee meetings

In August 2013 it was announced that the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of 172 conservative House members, barred Heritage Foundation employees from attending its weekly meeting in the Capitol. The conservative think tank has been a presence at RSC meetings for decades and enjoys a close working relationship with the committee and its members. That relationship is now stretched thin, sources say, due to a series of policy disputes that culminated with a blowup over a July 2013 vote on the the farm bill.[5]

RSC Chairman Steve Scalise, (R-La.), told Heritage officials of his decision in July 2013.[5]

“Not a whole lot has changed,” said Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action. “We’ll continue working with folks as we head into the fiscal fight drama stuff this year, the farm bill stuff. The big takeaway of it is really that it’s symbolic. Nothing’s really changed.”[6]

Heritage Foundation spokesman Mike Gonzalez said the decision to keep Heritage out of the meeting happened about two months ago, but that Heritage and the RSC still work well together. “By the time it happened, it was considered a non event by those involved,” Heritage Foundation spokesman Mike Gonzalez said. “Heritage Action along with the Heritage Foundation continues to have a deep and productive relationship with lawmakers both on the Republican Study Committee and off the Republican Study Committee,” he said.[6]

"The Heritage Foundation and the RSC have a longstanding relationship in developing and promoting conservative solutions to the problems facing our nation, and we are proud to continue that tradition to this day through regular joint events and briefings," said Stephen Bell, spokesman for Scalise and the RSC.[5]

Policy influence

Heritage has hosted many influential foreign and domestic political leaders since its founding, including Congressmen, U.S. Senators, foreign heads of state, and U.S. Presidents. On November 1, 2007, President George W. Bush visited Heritage to defend his appointment of Michael Mukasey to succeed Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States; Mukasey's nomination is facing opposition in the U.S. Senate]] over the nominee's refusal to label the interrogation tactic of waterboarding as illegal.[7]

Heritage's influence also is due in part to its decision to publish shorter policy papers that are designed to convey usually complex topics in an executive summary format more likely to be read by governmental officials. Other Washington think tanks historically have produced lengthier publications or book-length works, which Heritage also publishes, but only rarely.

Several Heritage Foundation personnel have served, or gone on to serve, in senior governmental roles, including: Richard V. Allen, L. Paul Bremer, Elaine Chao, Lawrence Di Rita, Michael Johns, John F. Lehman, Edwin Meese, Steve Ritchie, and others.[8]

Financial support and lobbying

In 2005 Heritage raised $29.7 million in corporate and individual donations.Core funding comes from conservative foundations and individual donors: In 1995, 31 checks accounted for $8.5 million; another 123 donors supplied $2.6 million.

In 2006, Heritage retained the law firm of Foley & Lardner to lobby and to prepare foundation officials on how to deal with Congress on the issue of banning private funding of congressional travel, meals and lodging. Although Heritage does not take the Section H allowance of Internal Revenue Service 501(c)(3) provisions that would allow it to spend approximately 20% of its tax-exempt funding on lobbying, it and other 501(c)(3) educational organizations are nevertheless allowed to lobby on legislation that directly affects the foundation.[9]

Campaign donors

In 1973, businessman Joseph Coors contributed a quarter-million dollars to start The Heritage Foundation. Since then, money has come from the founders of Amway Corp. and the conservative Bradley, Olin and Scaife foundations. Billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife and other wealthy individuals also have been Heritage Foundation donors.

Corporate support

Heritage has received support from nearly 100 major corporations, including Chase Manhattan Bank, Dow Chemical Company, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Mobil, and Procter & Gamble.[10]

Foreign support and relations

Heritage's 1995 annual report acknowledges a $400,000 grant from the Korean conglomerate Samsung. Another donor, the Korea Foundation, which receives money from the South Korean government, has given Heritage almost $1 million.

The Hong Kong consulting firm Belle Haven Consultants, which has paid millions of dollars to Washington lobbying firms such as Alexander Strategy Group on behalf of Malaysian interests, was founded in 1997 by Edwin Feulner and Heritage's Asian specialist Ken Sheffer. Belle Haven employed Feulner's wife, Linda, and is based in the same office as Heritage's Hong Kong office.[11]

In 2006, the Foundation established the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom,[12] based on a grant from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, to promote United States/United Kingdom cooperation and to advance the transatlantic alliance between the two countries. Lady Thatcher has since been named Patron of the Heritage Foundation, her only official association with any U.S.-based group. In addition, Heritage has a Moscow office staffed by Yevgeny Volk.

Think tank competitors

Similar think tanks include the American Enterprise Institute and the libertarian Cato Institute. Heritage's liberal counterparts include the Center for American Progress, and the Urban Institute.

See also

External links

Portions of this article were taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia