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Aei Corporation Research Paper

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is an influential right-wing think tank that advocates for lower taxes, fewer protections for consumers and the environment, and cuts to the social safety net.[1] AEI describes itself as "committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity, and strengthening free enterprise."[2]

In 2014 The Washington Post wrote that under CEO Arthur Brooks, AEI had emerged as "the dominant conservative think tank," becoming more influential than the Heritage Foundation.[1]

During the George W. Bush administration, AEI was regarded "as the intellectual command post of the neoconservative campaign for regime change in Iraq," Vanity Fair noted.[3]

AEI had approximately 225 staff and an annual budget of more than $50 million in 2015.[4]

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives

Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.


Mission Statement

The American Enterprise Institute describes itself as a "community of scholars and supporters committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity, and strengthening free enterprise."[2] AEI describes its purpose as "[serving] leaders and the public through research and education on the most important issues of the day."[5] AEI's research areas include economics, foreign and defense policy, politics and public opinion, education, health, energy and the environment, and society and culture.[6]


As of 2016, AEI claims that it was founded in 1938, and that it "arrived in Washington" DC in 1943 as the "American Enterprise Association."[7] Around that time, the AEA shared an address with the Transportation Association of America.[8]

Jane Mayer writes of AEI's early history in Dark Money,

"In 1950, Congress investigated the group that became AEI, denouncing it as a "'big business' pressure organization" that should register as a lobbying shop and get barred from offering its donors tax deductions....The Internal Revenue Service nonetheless threatened the think tank's tax-exempt status. It was this searing experience that prompted AEI and other conservative groups of this period to avoid the appearance of being too partisan or of acting as corporate shills."[9]

The predecessor organization AEA had failed to register as a lobby, despite spending "considerable sums wining and dining members of congress," reported the Evening Independent in 1949.

Originally set up to speak for big business, the AEI came to major national prominence in the 1970s under the leadership of William Baroody, Sr.[10], during which time it grew from a group of twelve resident "thinkers" to a well-funded organization with 145 resident scholars, 80 adjunct scholars, and a large supporting staff. This period of growth was largely funded by the Howard Pew Freedom Trust.

Irving Kristol left the Congress for Cultural Freedom in the late 1960s to work at the AEI after the CIA's funding of CCF was widely revealed in the media following initial reports in Ramparts magazine.[11]

President Ronald Reagan said of AEI in 1988: "The American Enterprise Institute stands at the center of a revolution in ideas of which I, too, have been a part. AEI's remarkably distinguished body of work is testimony to the triumph of the think tank. For today the most important American scholarship comes out of our think tanks--and none has been more influential than the American Enterprise Institute."

In 1986, the Olin and Smith Richardson foundations withdrew their support from AEI because of substantive disagreement with certain of its policies, causing William Baroody, Jr.[12][13][14] to resign in the ensuing financial crisis. Following criticism by conservatives that AEI was too centrist, it moved its program further to the right and became more aggressive in pursuing its public policy goals.[15]

See also Document Index & Timeline.

Intellectual Home of Bush-Era Neoconservatism

AEI was noted for providing the George W Bush administration with the hawkish officials and advisers who promoted the administration’s "war on terror" policies, including John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and John Yoo.[16] The result was the "coalition of the willing" going to war with Iran; it also strongly promotes a right-wing "pro-Israel" position.[16]

The AEI’s influence in the White House during the Bush presidency marked a high-point of its role in influencing public debate on American foreign policy and defense. In a 2007 speech,

"I admire AEI a lot," Bush said. "After all, I have been consistently borrowing some of your best people. More than 20 AEI scholars have worked in my administration."[16]

Continued Support for Hawkish Foreign Policy

However it still actively promotes Middle Eastern military entanglements for both the US and its allies.[citation needed] In recent years it has advocated intervention in Syria’s civil war, and it actively lobbied the Obama administration to take a hard line against Iran while retaining the military presence in Afghanistan.[citation needed] The AEI's "Institute for the Study of War" has recently suggested that the United States should send 25,000 ground troops to Iraq and Syria.[citation needed]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

David H. Koch is on the American Enterprise Institute's National Council, whose members "serve as ambassadors for AEI, providing AEI with advice, insight, and guidance as [it] looks to reach out to new friends across the country."[17]

Between 2002 and 2013, the American Enterprise Institute received a total of $867,289 in funding from the Charles G. Koch Foundation.[18]

Ties to DonorsTrust, a Koch Conduit

DonorsTrust is considered a "donor-advised fund," which means that it divides its funds into separate accounts for individual donors, who then recommend disbursements from the accounts to different non-profits. Funds like DonorsTrust are not uncommon in the non-profit sector, but they do cloak the identity of the original donors because the funds are typically distributed in the name of DonorsTrust rather than the original donors.[19] Very little was known about DonorsTrust until late 2012 and early 2013, when the Guardian and others published extensive reports on what Mother Jones called "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement."[20][21]

DonorsTrust Funding

The American Enterprise Institute received $19,840,954 from DonorsTrust between 2002 and 2011.[22]

A report by the Center for Public Integrity exposes a number of DonorsTrust funders, many of which have ties to the Koch brothers. One of the most prominent funders is the Knowledge and Progress Fund, a Charles Koch-run organization and one of the group's largest known contributors, having donated at least $8 million since 2005. Other contributors known to have donated at least $1 million to DonorsTrust include the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation, Searle Freedom Trust, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation.[23]

Since its inception in 1999, DonorsTrust has been used by conservative foundations and individuals to discretely funnel nearly $400 million to like-minded think tanks and media outlets.[23] According to the organization's tax documents, in 2011 DonorsTrust contributed a total of $86 million to right-wing organizations. Many recipients had ties to the State Policy Network (SPN), a wide collection of conservative state-based think tanks and media organizations that focus on shaping public policy and opinion.

In 2013, the Center for Media and Democracy released a special report on SPN. Those who received DonorsTrust funding included media outlets such as the Franklin Center and the Lucy Burns Institute, as well as think tanks such as SPN itself, the Heartland Institute, Illinois Policy Institute, Independence Institute, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, South Carolina Policy Council, American Legislative Exchange Council, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and the Cascade Policy Institute.[24]

About ALEC

ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

In August 2011, AEI President Arthur C. Brooks spoke at a "Leadership Dinner" sponsored by Reynolds American Tobacco at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[25]

Controversies and Claims

Astroturfing for Comcast in Opposing Net Neutrality

AEI is among the think tanks that have received funding from telecom giant Comcast, which has aimed contributions to make its lobbying more effective, according to The Washington Post:

Contributions to think tanks are also part of the Washington strategy. They are intended to ensure that Comcast is "involved in the public policy discussions that affect the company," said Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokesperson for the cable giant.
"Shoe leather lobbying gets you only so far," said Michael Meehan, president of VennSquared Communications, who helps companies manage their Washington messages. "Then it’s think tanks that write white papers, and white papers are taken by shoe-leather lobbyists into the congressional offices."
Comcast "has worked with most of the major think tanks in town who are interested in communications issues," including the Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, Fitzmaurice said, declining to provide further details.[26]

AEI and other Comcast-funded organizations wrote op-eds favoring Comcast's position on FCC rules governing Net neutrality,[27] which would have allowed broadband providers to charge services for priority access and speeds and which would not have classified broadband as a "common carrier" service regulated like a utility.[28]

Esquire reported,

the American Enterprise Institute's Richard Bennett, wrote a story for leading tech website GigaOm in favor of the FCC's new Net neutrality rules. Bennett did not reveal the Institute's relationship with Comcast at any point within the piece...
When reached by phone, Bennett said that he had been writing about Net neutrality for a decade before joining the American Enterprise Institute.
"AEI's only had a tech policy center for maybe a year," he said. "I think you're trying to connect dots that aren't there.
"The Institute has no official stance on the Net neutrality issue," he added.
But the Institute's most read stories on Net neutrality clearly favor the FCC's new plan for a regulated Internet. One, titled "Time to give up the Net neutrality quest" was reprinted in the Wall Street Journal's Opinion section.
Another, titled "Net neutrality is a bad idea that's run its course," was reprinted on RealClearMarkets.com. Neither Bennett nor the publication discloses his employer's ties to Comcast in either piece, but both identify the American Enterprise Institute next to his byline.[27]

Minimum Wage Hikes "Simply Reckless"

AEI scholars caution against legislation raising the minimum wage “for the sake of low-wage workers,” claiming that mandating a higher wage increases the cost of employment and will therefore leave fewer jobs. In one article, AEI resident scholar Michael R. Strain called Seattle’s initiative to increase the city’s wage requirements “simply reckless.”[29]

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform "Disastrously Wrong Response"

AEI has spoken out against the financial system regulations created under the Dodd-Frank Act. In an article, AEI scholar Peter J. Wallison claimed that the 2008 financial crisis, which led to the legislation, “was not caused by insufficient regulation, let alone by an inherently unstable financial system. It was caused by government housing policies…” Wallison wrote, “The Dodd-Frank Act was a disastrously wrong response,” claiming it created uncertainty and removed the incentive for financial institutions to take risk.[30]

Support for ALEC Voter ID Requirements

In 2008, AEI showed support for photo ID requirements for voting in elections, a "model bill" endorsed and promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2009. AEI resident scholar Norman J. Ornstein wrote, “I do not think, in principle, that requiring a photo ID is evil or onerous. An official photo ID can protect voters against charges that they are ineligible to vote” — as long as the ID is issued at no cost to the recipient.[31]

Casting Doubt on Global Warming

In February 2007, The Guardian (UK) reported that AEI was offering scientists and economists $10,000 each, "to undermine a major climate change report" from the United NationsIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). AEI asked for "articles that emphasise the shortcomings" of the IPCC report, which "is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science." AEI visiting scholar Kenneth Green made the $10,000 offer "to scientists in Britain, the US and elsewhere," in a letter describing the IPCC as "resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent."[32]

The Guardian reported further that AEI "has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil, and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of trustees," added The Guardian.[32]

Since the time of that report, AEI has continued to receive money from Exxon Mobil — a total of at least $1,520,000.[33]

AEI and the head of its energy studies department, Benjamin Zycher, have faced criticism for distorting scientific findings on global warming from Jeffrey Sachs, a leading environmental studies scholar, Columbia University professor, economist, and UN advisor. Zycher had once criticized Sachs for misconstruing the IPCC conclusions on global warming; however, Sachs responded, "It is Zycher who distorts, misrepresents, or simply ignores the IPCC conclusions."[34]

Sachs went on to write:

"It is time for Zycher and, indeed, the American Enterprise Institute, to come clean. The AEI, despite its roster of distinguished academics, has failed to be constructive in the climate debate. It's time that the AEI puts forward a strategy to achieve the globally agreed objective of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."[34]

Support for "Regime Change" in Iraq

AEI emerged as one of the leading architects of the Bush administration's foreign policy. AEI has rented office space to the Project for the New American Century, one of the leading voices that pushed the Bush administration's plan for "regime change" through war in Iraq. AEI reps have also aggressively denied that the war has anything to do with oil.

Paul Wolfowitz, who was Secretary of Defense under former President George W. Bush from the beginning of his presidential term until June 2005, is a scholar at AEI (as of July 2014).[35] During his time in the Bush administration, Wolfowitz was a major architect of the United States’ failed Iraq policy.[36]

Defending Big Tobacco

In 1980, AEI for the sum of $25,000 produced a study in support of the tobacco industry titled, Cost-Benefit Analysis of Regulation: Consumer Products. The study was designed to counteract "social cost" arguments against smoking by broadening the social cost issue to include other consumer products such as alcohol and saccharin. The social cost arguments against smoking hold that smoking burdens society with additional costs from on-the-job absenteeism, medical costs, cleaning costs and fires.[37] The report was part of the global tobacco industry's 1980s Social Costs/Social Values Project, carried out to refute emerging social cost arguments against smoking.

NGO Watch

In June 2003, AEI and another right-wing group, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, launched a new website NGOWatch.org/NGOwatch.org to expose the funding, operations and agendas of international NGOs, and particularly their alleged efforts to constrain U.S. freedom of action in international affairs and influence the behavior of corporations abroad.[38] AEI claimed that "The extraordinary growth of advocacy NGOs in liberal democracies has the potential to undermine the sovereignty of constitutional democracies, as well as the effectiveness of credible NGOs."[39]Ralph Nader responded, "What they are condemning, with vague, ironic regulatory nostrums proposed against dissenting citizen groups, is democracy itself." [40]


AEI has more than 200 employees at their headquarters in Washington, D.C.[41] AEI also has adjunct scholars and fellows at research universities around the United States.[42] It also trains scholars from other parts of the world in how to run neopconservative think-tanks.

Board of Trustees

"AEI is governed by a Board of Trustees, composed of leading business and financial executives."[43]

As of July 2016, they were:

  • Tully M. Friedman, Chairman, Chairman and CEO of Friedman Fleischer & Lowe LLC
  • Daniel A. D'Aniello, Vice Chairman, Chairman and Co-Founder of The Carlyle Group
  • Clifford S. Asness, Managing and Founding Principal of AQR Capital Management
  • Gordon M. Binder, Managing Director of Coastview Capital, LLC
  • Arthur C. Brooks, President and Beth and Ravenel Curry Chair in Free Enterprise for the American Enterprise Institute
  • The Honorable Richard B. Cheney
  • Peter H. Coors, Vice Chairman of the Board of Molson Coors Brewing Company
  • Harlan Crow, Chairman and CEO of Crow Holdings
  • Ravenel B. Curry III, Chief Investment Officer for Eagle Capital Management LLC
  • Elisabeth DeVos, Chairman for The Windquest Group
  • John V. Faraci, Chairman for International Paper
  • Christopher B. Galvin, Chairman for Harrison Street Capital, LLC
  • Raymond V. Gilmartin, Harvard Business School
  • Harvey Golub, Retired Chairman and CEO for American Express Company and Chairman for Miller Buckfire
  • Robert F. Greenhill, Founder and Chairman for Greenhill & Co., Inc.
  • Frank J. Hanna, Hanna Capital, LLC
  • John K. Hurley, Founder and Managing Partner for Cavalry Asset Management
  • Seth A. Klarman, President and CEO for The Baupost Group, LLC
  • Bruce Kovner, Chairman for the Caxton Alternative Management, LP
  • Marc S. Lipschultz, Partner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
  • John A. Luke, Jr., Chairman and CEO for MeadWestvaco Corporation
  • Kevin B. Rollins, Retired CEO for Dell, Inc.
  • Matthew K. Rose, Executive Chairman for BNSF Railway Company
  • Edward B. Rust Jr., Chairman and CEO for State Farm Insurance Companies
  • D. Gideon Searle, Managing Partner for The Serafin Group, LLC
  • Mel Sembler, Founder and Chairman for The Sembler Company
  • Wilson H. Taylor, Chairman Emeritus for the Cigna Corporation
  • William H. Walton, Managing Member for Rockpoint Group LLC
  • Marilyn Ware, Chairman, Ret., American Water Works


As of July 2016,, AEI's officers were:[44].

Former Board of Trustees Members

  • Roger Hertog
  • Robert A. Pritzker, President and CEO, Colson Associates, Inc. (also President and Director of the Pritzker Foundation
  • J. Peter Ricketts, President and Director, Platte Institute for Economic Research, Inc.
  • William L. Walton, Chairman, Allied Capital Corporation
  • James Q. Wilson, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University[45]
  • George L. Priest, Yale Law School
Emeritus Trustees

As of July 2016 the Emeritus Trustees were:[46]

Former Emeritus Trustees

Former Officers

  • Christopher DeMuth - President. Researches government regulation. He became president of AEI in 1986.
  • David Gerson - Executive Vice President
  • Jason Bertsch - Vice President, Marketing
  • Henry Olsen - Vice President, National Research Initiative
  • Danielle Pletka - Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies. Research areas include the Middle East, South Asia, terrorism, and weapons proliferation.


Academic Advisors

"AEI's Council of Academic Advisers ... including distinguished academics from a variety of policy-related fields, advises AEI's president on the Institute's research agenda, publications, and appointments, and each year selects the recipient of the Irving Kristol Award."[48]

As of June 23, 2014, they were:

  • George L. Priest, Edward J. Phelps Professor of Law and Economics, Yale Law School
  • Alan J. Auerbach, Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law, University of California, Berkeley
  • Eliot Cohen, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
  • Eugene F. Fama, Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
  • Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University
  • Aaron L. Freiberg, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Director, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University
  • Eric A. Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hana Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
  • R. Glenn Hubbard, Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School
  • Walter Russell Mead, Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School
  • John L. Palmer, University Professor and Dean Emeritus, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
  • Mark Pauly, Bendheim Professor, Professor of Health Care Management, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Sam Peltzman, Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business University of Chicago
  • Jeremy A. Rabkin, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
  • Harvey S. Rosen, John L. Weinberg Professor of Economics and Business Policy at Princeton University
  • Richard J. Zeckhauser, Frank Plumpton Ramsey Professor of Political Economy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Former Academic Advisors


The following was compiled by RightWeb:[50]


Corporate Donations

In 1997, Philip Morris contributed $100,000 to the Institute.[51] During 2007, ExxonMobil contributed $240,000 (including an addition $30,000 for the joint AEI Brookings "Judicial Education Program").[52]

Foundation Funding

From 1990 to 2014, AEI received more than $111 million in disclosed contributions from the following organizations:[53]

Funding has come from many other sources, such as Amoco, the Kraft Foundation, and the Procter & Gamble Fund. Records are incomplete.

Contact Information

American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-862-5800
Fax: 202-862-7177
E-mail: info@aei.org
Website: http://www.aei.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AEI
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aei/


American Enterprise - a bi-monthly magazine published by AEI.

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. 1.01.1Jennifer Rubin, "Why the American Enterprise Institute chief is so popular," The Washington Post, April 2, 2014.
  2. 2.02.1American Enterprise Institute, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, December 10, 2012.
  3. ↑David Rose, "Why Was the Dalai Lama Hanging Out with the Right-Wing American Enterprise Institute?," Vanity Fair, February 26, 2014.
  4. ↑American Enterprise Institute]," "Annual Report," organizational report, accessed August 2016.
  5. ↑American Enterprise Institute, "[www.aei.org/about About]," organizational website, accessed August 2, 2016.
  6. ↑American Enterprise Institute, "[www.aei.org/about About]," organizational website, accessed August 4, 2015.
  7. ↑Cite error: Invalid tag; no text was provided for refs named
  8. ↑"Truman Foe Folds Up after Committee Probe," Evening Independent, December 21, 1949. Archived by Google News, accessed August 2016.
  9. ↑Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Penguin, 2016.
  10. ↑"AEI's Diamond Jubilee, 1943-2003", an essay from the American Enterprise Institute's 2003 Annual Report.
  11. ↑Saunders, F: The Cultural Cold War, page 419. The New Press, 1999.
  12. ↑William Baroody, Jr., Assistant to the President for Public Liaison: Files, 1974?77, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.
  13. ↑"AEI's Diamond Jubilee, 1943-2003", an essay from the American Enterprise Institute's 2003 Annual Report.
  14. ↑Todd Lencz, "The Baroody bunch - William Baroody Jr,"National Review (FindArticles.com), September 12, 1986.
  15. ↑[1]
  16. Schwin, "AEI: The Root of Bush’s Right-Wing Ideology," ThinkProgress, February 25, 2007.
  17. ↑American Enterprise Institute, National Council, organizational website, accessed June 23, 2014.
  18. ↑American Enterprise Institute, "Conservative Transparency," financial data, accessed July 3, 2014.
  19. ↑Rebekah Wilce, A Reporters' Guide to the "State Policy Network" -- the Right-Wing Think Tanks Spinning Disinformation and Pushing the ALEC Agenda in the States, PRWatch.org, April 4, 2013.
  20. ↑Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, "Mother Jones", February 5, 2013, accessed June 2014.
  21. ↑Suzanne Goldenberg, Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks, The Guardian, February 14, 2013, accessed June 2014.
  22. ↑Greenpeace, Donors Trust: The shadow operation that has laundered $146 million in climate-denial funding, accessed July 1, 2014
  23. 23.023.1Paul Abowd, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, The Center for Public Integrity, February 14, 2013, accessed July 1, 2014 Cite error: Invalid tag; name "Charity_Push" defined multiple times with different content
  24. ↑Donors Trust, GuideStar.org, IRS form 990, 2011, accessed June 2014
  25. ↑American Legislative Exchange Council, "Solutions for the States," 38th Annual Meeting agenda, on file with CMD, August 3-6, 2011
  26. ↑Holly Yeager, "Comcast’s web of influence touches many corners of Washington," The Washington Post, February 28, 2014.
  27. 27.027.1Ben Collins, "This Is How Comcast Is Astroturfing the Net Neutrality Issue," Esquire, July 18, 2014.
  28. ↑Jon Brodkin, "Comcast loves the FCC’s net neutrality rules, wants limits on 'fast lanes'," Ars Technica, July 15, 2014.
  29. ↑Michael R. Strain, Seattle do-gooders just shot themselves in the foot, American Enterprise Institute, June 7, 2014.
  30. ↑Peter J. Wallison, The case for repealing Dodd-Frank, American Enterprise Institute, November 26, 2013.
  31. ↑Norman J. Ornstein, There’s Value In Voter ID Requirement—If It’s Done Properly, American Enterprise Institute, May 7, 2008.
  32. 32.032.1Ian Sample, "Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study," The Guardian, February 1, 2007. Accessed July 30, 2014.
  33. ↑American Bridge, Contributions to American Enterprise Institute, ConservativeTransparency.org, accessed July 8, 2014.
  34. 34.034.1Jeffrey Sachs, How the AEI Distorts the Climate Debate, Huffington Post, February 8, 2014
  35. ↑American Enterprise Institute, AEI Scholar Paul Wolfowitz, AEI.org, accessed July 8, 2014.
  36. ↑Peter J. Boyer, The Believer: Paul Wolfowitz Defends His War, ‘’The New Yorker’’, November 1, 2004.
  37. ↑Legacy Tobacco Document Archive, A. AT ITS LAST MEETING EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AUTHORIZED PROGRESS ON SOCIAL COST PROGRAM THROUGH FEBRUARY., University of California-San Francisco, accessed July 30, 2014.
  38. ↑[2]
  39. ↑American Enterprise Institute, statement, organizational website.
  40. ↑[3]
  41. ↑American Enterprise Institute, "[www.aei.org/about About]," organizational website, accessed August 4, 2015.
  42. ↑American Enterprise Institute, "[www.aei.org/about About]," organizational website, accessed August 4, 2015.
  43. ↑American Enterprise Institute, Board of Trustees, organizational website, accessed July 11, 2016.
  44. ↑American Enterprise Institute, Officers, organizational website, accessed July 11, 2016.
  45. ↑BusinessWeek, "Robert Pritzker: Executive Profile," December 31, 2009.
  46. ↑American Enterprise Institute, Board of Trustees, organizational website, accessed July 11, 2016.
  47. ↑Officers of AEI, organizational website, accessed June 2007.
  48. ↑American Enterprise Institute, Council of Academic Advisors, organizational website, accessed June 23, 2014.
  49. ↑AEI - Council of Academic Advisers. AEI. Retrieved on 2009-12-31.
  50. ↑Profile: American Enterprise Institute, RightWeb.
  51. ↑Matt Winokur, "Public Policy Groups", Philip Morris memo, April 21, 1997.
  52. ↑ExxonMobil, 2007 "Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments", ExxonMobil website, accessed December 2008, page 1.
  53. ↑American Enterprise Institute, "Conservative Transparency," financial data, accessed July 03, 2014.

External Resources

External Articles


  • Scholars & Fellows -- List of Scholars and Fellows from AEI web site.
  • Archive of Scholars and Fellows pages from web.archive.org.
  • Media Transparency -- For a funding history of AEI.
  • John Saloma III, Ominous Politics, New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1984.
  • John B. Judis, Business and the Rise of K Street, Routledge Press, 2001.
  • Media Transparency, American Enterprise Institute for public policy research (profile), accessed January 2004.
  • RightWeb, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (profile), February 1991.
  • George W. Bush's February 2003 speech to the AEI about the future of Iraq.

General articles

  • "A Think Tank at the Brink," Newsweek, July 7, 1986.
  • Brian Whitaker, "US Think Tanks Give Lessons in Foreign Policy," Guardian (UK), August 19, 2002.
  • Ian Sample, "Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study," The Guardian, February 2, 2007.
  • Juliet Eilperin, "AEI Critiques of Warming Questioned: Think Tank Defends Money Offers to Challenge Climate Report," Washington Post, February 5, 2007.
  • Bill Berkowitz, "American Enterprise Institute takes lead in agitating against Iran", Media Transparency, February 26, 2007.
  • Jim Lobe, "Likudnik Hawks Work to Undermine Annapolis," Inter Press Service (Antiwar.com), November 22, 2007.

Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, known simply as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), is a conservativethink tank based in Washington, D.C.[2][3] Its research is dedicated to issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare.

Founded in 1938, AEI's stated mission is "to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism—limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate".[4] AEI is an independent nonprofit organization supported primarily by grants and contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals.

Arthur C. Brooks has served as president of AEI since January 2009.


Some AEI staff members are considered to be among the leading architects of the Bush administration's public and foreign policy.[5] More than twenty staff members served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions. Among the prominent former government officials now affiliated with AEI are: Dick Cheney, vice president of the United States under George W. Bush, is a member of AEI's Board of Trustees;[6]John R. Bolton, former Ambassador to the United Nations; Lynne Cheney, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense. AEI current scholars include Kevin Hassett, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Michael Barone, Nicholas Eberstadt, Jonah Goldberg, Phil Gramm, Glenn Hubbard, Frederick Kagan, Leon Kass, Jon Kyl, Charles Murray, Norman Ornstein, Mark J. Perry, Danielle Pletka, Michael Rubin, Gary Schmitt, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jim Talent, Peter J. Wallison, Michael R. Strain, Bill Lenner, and W. Bradford Wilcox.[7]

Former AEI scholars or affiliates notably include President Gerald Ford, William J. Baroody Jr., William J. Baroody Sr., Robert Bork, Arthur F. Burns, Ronald Coase, Dinesh D'Souza, Alfred de Grazia, Christopher DeMuth, Martin Feldstein, Milton Friedman, David Frum, Reuel Marc Gerecht, David Gergen, Newt Gingrich, James K. Glassman, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Irving Kristol, Michael Ledeen, Seymour Martin Lipset, John Lott, James C. Miller III, Joshua Muravchik, Michael Novak, Richard Perle, Roscoe Pound, Laurence Silberman, Antonin Scalia, Ben Wattenberg, and James Q. Wilson.

Political stance and impact[edit]

AEI describes itself as nonpartisan and its website includes a statement on political advocacy: "Legal requirements aside, AEI has important reasons of its own for abstaining from any form of policy advocacy as an institution... AEI takes no institutional positions on policy issues (whether or not they are currently before legislative, executive, or judicial bodies) or on any other issues."[4] This distinguishes AEI from other think tanks, such as The Heritage Foundation and the Center for American Progress.[8] Although the institute is often cited as a right-leaning counterpart to the left-leaningBrookings Institution,[10] the two entities have often collaborated. From 1998 to 2008, they co-sponsored the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, and in 2006 they launched the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project.[11] In 2015, a working group consisting of members from both institutions coauthored a report entitled Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream.[12]

AEI is the most prominent think tank associated with American neoconservatism, in both the domestic and international policy arenas.[13]Irving Kristol, widely considered a father of neoconservatism, was a senior fellow at AEI (arriving from the Congress for Cultural Freedom following the revelation of that group's CIA funding)[14] and many prominent neoconservatives—including Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ben Wattenberg, and Joshua Muravchik—spent the bulk of their careers at AEI.[7] However, AEI is not officially neoconservative. AEI staff member Norman J. Ornstein, a self-identified centrist, criticizes commentators who label him a "neocon" and says that "the intellectual openness and lack of orthodoxy at AEI exceeds what I have seen on any college campus... [E]ven though my writings have frequently ticked off conservative ideologues and business interests—especially my deep involvement in campaign finance reform—I have never once been told, 'You can't say that' or 'You better be careful'".[15]

AEI staff have taken strong stances against the farm bill and agricultural subsidies. A 2007 document authored by Bruce Gardner claimed that "There is no need for farm subsidies, and it would not really hurt anyone if we eliminated them".[16]

According to the 2011 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), AEI is number 17 in the "Top Thirty Worldwide Think Tanks" and number 10 in the "Top Fifty United States Think Tanks".[17]


Beginnings (1938–1954)[edit]

AEI grew out of the American Enterprise Association (AEA), which was founded in 1938 by a group of New York businessmen led by Lewis H. Brown. AEA's original mission was to promote a "greater public knowledge and understanding of the social and economic advantages accruing to the American people through the maintenance of the system of free, competitive enterprise".[18] AEI's founders included executives from Eli Lilly, General Mills, Bristol-Myers, Chemical Bank, Chrysler, and Paine Webber. To this day, AEA's board is composed of top leaders from major business and financial firms.[19]

In 1943, AEA's main offices were moved from New York City to Washington in order to capitalize on Congress's need for help in making sense of its vastly increased wartime portfolio and more effectively oppose the New Deal. AEA's leaders aimed not merely to assess policy but to propound classical liberal arguments for a free society and limited government, thus setting it apart from think tanks founded around the same time, like the RAND Corporation.[20] In 1944, AEA convened an Economic Advisory Board to set a high standard for research; this eventually became the Council of Academic Advisers, which, over the decades, included notable economists and social scientists like Ronald Coase, Martin Feldstein, Milton Friedman, Roscoe Pound, and James Q. Wilson.

AEA's early work in Washington involved commissioning and distributing legislative analyses to Congress, which developed AEA's relationships with Melvin Laird and Gerald Ford.[21] Brown eventually shifted AEA's focus to commissioning studies of government policies. These subjects ranged from fiscal to monetary policy and from health care to energy, and authors included Earl Butz, John Lintner, former New Dealer Raymond Moley, and Felix Morley. Brown died in 1951, and AEA languished. In 1952, a group of young policymakers and public intellectuals—including Laird, William J. Baroody Sr., Paul McCracken, and Murray Weidenbaum—met to discuss resurrecting AEI.[21] In 1954, Baroody became executive vice president of the association.

Growing influence (1954–1980)[edit]

Under Baroody's leadership (as executive vice president from 1954 to 1962 and as president from 1962 to 1978), AEA developed as a prototypical Washington think tank, took the institutional shape it has today, and expanded its influence and intellectual heft. Baroody began to publicize and distribute AEA's publications effectively. He also raised money for AEA, expanding its financial base beyond the business leaders on the board.[22] During the 1950s and 1960s, AEA's work became described as more pointed and focused, including monographs by James M. Buchanan, Gottfried Haberler, Edward Banfield, Rose Friedman, P. T. Bauer and Alfred de Grazia.[23][24]

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—which had been renamed in 1962—remained a marginal operation with little practical influence in the national politics until the 1970s. Baroody recruited a resident research faculty; Harvard economist Haberler was the first to join in 1972.[18] In 1977, former president Gerald Ford joined AEI as its "distinguished fellow." Ford brought several of his administration's officials with him, including Arthur Burns, Robert Bork, David Gergen, James C. Miller III, Laurence Silberman, and Antonin Scalia. Ford also founded the AEI World Forum, which he hosted until 2005. Other staff hired around this time included Herbert Stein and Walter Berns. Baroody's son, William J. Baroody Jr., had been an official in the Ford White House and now also joined AEI, taking over the presidency from his father in 1978.[18]

The elder Baroody made a concerted effort to recruit neoconservatives (Democrats and urban liberals who had supported the New Deal and Great Society but had become disaffected by what they perceived as the failure of the welfare state, as articulated in the pages of journals like The Public Interest, and Cold Warhawks who rejected George McGovern's peace agenda). He brought Irving Kristol, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Michael Novak, and Ben Wattenberg to AEI.[25] While at AEI, Kirkpatrick authored "Dictatorships and Double Standards"; it brought her to the attention of Ronald Reagan, and she was later named U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations.[26] AEI also became a home for supply-side economists during the late 1970s and early 1980s.[27] By 1980, AEI had grown from a budget of $1 million and a staff of ten to a budget of $8 million and a staff of 125.[18]

Conservative ascendancy (1980–2008)[edit]

The Reagan years illustrated the successes of the conservative and classical liberal intellectual community, but they were troubled years for AEI. Several AEI staff members decamped for the administration. That, combined with prodigious growth, diffusion of research activities,[28] and managerial problems, proved costly.[22] Moreover, some foundations then supporting AEI perceived a drift toward the center politically. Centrists like Ford, Burns, and Stein clashed with rising movement conservatives. In 1986, the John M. Olin Foundation and the Smith Richardson Foundation withdrew funding for the institute, pushing AEI to the brink of bankruptcy. The board of trustees fired Baroody Jr. and, after an interregnum under interim president Paul McCracken, hired Christopher DeMuth as president in December 1986.[22] DeMuth stayed on for twenty-two years.

DeMuth cut AEI's programs and faculty dramatically, reorganizing the institute into three primary research areas: economic policy, foreign policy, and social and political studies. He also began fundraising prodigiously, successfully regaining the confidence of conservative foundations. In 1990, AEI hired Charles Murray (and received his Bradley Foundation support for The Bell Curve) after the Manhattan Institute dropped him.[29] Murray's work on welfare in Losing Ground was very influential in debates over welfare reform in the 1990s.[30] Others brought to AEI by DeMuth included John Bolton, Dinesh D'Souza, Richard Cheney, Lynne Cheney, Michael Barone, James K. Glassman, Newt Gingrich, John Lott, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations were good years for AEI. From 1988 to 2000, AEI's revenues grew from $10 million to $18.9 million.[31] The institute's publications achieved a higher profile. Public Opinion and The AEI Economist were merged into The American Enterprise, edited by Karlyn Bowman from 1990 to 1995 and by Karl Zinsmeister from 1995 to 2006, when Glassman created The American. DeMuth presided over AEI as it moved into the digital age.

AEI enjoyed close ties to the George W. Bush administration.[32] More than twenty AEI staff members served in the Bush administration, and Bush addressed the institute on three occasions. "I admire AEI a lot—I'm sure you know that," Bush said. "After all, I have been consistently borrowing some of your best people."[33] Cabinet officials also frequented AEI. In 2002, Danielle Pletka joined AEI to raise the profile of the foreign policy department, especially its Middle East studies program. AEI and several of its staff—including Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle—became associated with the origins of the Iraq war.[34] In 2006–2007, AEI staff, including Frederick W. Kagan, provided a strategic framework for the "surge" in Iraq.[35][36] The Bush administration also drew on AEI work in other areas, such as Leon Kass's appointment as the first chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics and Norman J. Ornstein's work drafting the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that Bush signed in 2002. However, some AEI staff have been critical of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq War and the economy.[37]

When DeMuth retired as president at the end of 2008, AEI's staff numbered 185, with 70 scholars and several dozen adjuncts,[18] and revenues of $31.3 million.[38]Arthur C. Brooks succeeded him as president and soon faced harsh financial headwinds associated with the recession that began in 2008.[39] With a 2009 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Brooks positioned AEI to be much more aggressive in responding to the policies of the Barack Obama administration.[40]

Officers and trustees[edit]

AEI's officers are Arthur C. Brooks, president; David Gerson, executive vice president; Jason Bertsch, senior vice president for development; and Danielle Pletka, senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies.[19]

Its board is chaired by Tully Friedman. Current notable trustees include Arthur C. Brooks, Gordon Binder, former managing director and CEO of Amgen; former vice president Dick Cheney; Daniel A. D'Aniello, cofounder of The Carlyle Group; John V. Faraci, chairman and CEO of International Paper; Harlan Crow, chairman and CEO of Crow Holdings, the Trammell Crow family's investment company; Christopher Galvin, former CEO and chairman of Motorola; Raymond Gilmartin, retired chairman and CEO of Merck & Co.; Harvey Golub, retired chairman and CEO of the American Express Company; Bruce Kovner, chairman of Caxton Alternative Associates (and a former chairman of AEI); and Edward B. Rust Jr., chairman and CEO of State Farm (and also a former AEI chairman).[19]

AEI has a Council of Academic Advisers, chaired by George L. Priest, which includes Eliot A. Cohen, Martin Feldstein, R. Glenn Hubbard, Sam Peltzman, John L. Palmer, Jeremy A. Rabkin, and Richard J. Zeckhauser.[19] The Council of Academic Advisers selects the annual winner of the Irving Kristol Award.

Research programs[edit]

AEI's research is divided into seven broad categories: economic policy studies, foreign and defense policy studies, health policy studies, political and public opinion studies, social and cultural studies, education, and energy and environmental studies. Until 2008, AEI's work was divided into economics, foreign policy, and politics and social policy. AEI research is presented at conferences and meetings, in peer-reviewed journals and publications on the institute's website, and through testimony before and consultations with government panels.

Economic policy studies[edit]

Economic policy was the original focus of the American Enterprise Association, and "the Institute still keeps economic policy studies at its core".[38] According to AEI's annual report, "The principal goal is to better understand free economies—how they function, how to capitalize on their strengths, how to keep private enterprise robust, and how to address problems when they arise". Michael R. Strain directs economic policy studies at AEI.

Throughout the beginning of the twenty-first century, AEI staff have pushed for a more conservative approach to aiding the recession that includes major tax-cuts. AEI supported President Bush's tax cuts in 2002 and claimed that the cuts "played a large role in helping to save the economy from a recession". AEI also suggested that further taxes were necessary in order to attain recovery of the economy. An AEI staff member said that the Democrats in congress who opposed the Bush stimulus plan were foolish for doing so as he saw the plan as a major success for the administration.[4]

2008 financial crisis[edit]

As the 2008 economic crisis unfolded, the Wall Street Journal stated that predictions by AEI staff about the involvement of housing GSEs had come true.[41] In the late 1990s, Fannie Mae eased credit requirements on the mortgages it purchased and exposed itself to more risk. Peter J. Wallison warned that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's public-private status put taxpayers on the line for increased risk.[42] "Because of the agencies' dual public and private form, various efforts to force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to fulfill their public mission at the cost of their profitability have failed—and will likely continue to fail", he wrote in 2001. "The only viable solution would seem to be full privatization or the adoption of policies that would force the agencies to adopt this course themselves."[43] Wallison ramped up his criticism of the GSEs throughout the 2000s. In 2006 and 2007, he moderated conferences featuring James B. Lockhart III, the chief regulator of Fannie and Freddie[44] In August 2008, after Fannie and Freddie had been backstopped by the US Treasury Department, Wallison outlined several ways of dealing with the GSEs, including "nationalization through a receivership", outright "privatization", and "privatization through a receivership".[45] The following month, Lockhart and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson took the former path by putting Fannie and Freddie into federal "conservatorship".

As the housing crisis unfolded, AEI sponsored a series of conferences featuring bearish commentators, including Lachman, Makin, and Nouriel Roubini.[46] Makin had been warning about the effects of a housing downturn on the broader economy for months.[47] Amid charges that many homebuyers did not understand their complex mortgages, Alex J. Pollock gained recognition for crafting a prototype of a one-page mortgage disclosure form.[48][49]

Research in AEI's Financial Markets Program also includes banking, insurance and securities regulation, accounting reform, corporate governance, and consumer finance.[50]

Tax and fiscal policy[edit]

Kevin Hassett and Alan D. Viard are AEI's principal tax policy experts, although Alex Brill, R. Glenn Hubbard, and Aparna Mathur also work on the subject. Specific subjects include "income distribution, transition costs, marginal tax rates, and international taxation of corporate income... the Pension Protection Act of 2006; dynamic scoring and the effects of taxation on investment, savings, and entrepreneurial activity; and options to fix the alternative minimum tax".[50] Hassett has coedited several volumes on tax reform.[51] Viard has edited a book on tax policy lessons from the Bush administration.[52] AEI's working paper series includes developing academic works on economic issues. One paper by Hassett and Mathur on the responsiveness of wages to corporate taxation[53] was cited by The Economist;[54] figures from another paper by Hassett and Brill on maximizing corporate income tax revenue[55] was cited by the Wall Street Journal.[56]

Center for Regulatory and Market Studies[edit]

From 1998 to 2008, the Reg-Markets Center was the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, directed by Robert W. Hahn. The Center, which no longer exists, sponsored conferences, papers, and books on regulatory decision-making and the impact of federal regulation on consumers, businesses, and governments. It covered a range of disciplines. It also sponsored an annual Distinguished Lecture series. Past lecturers in the series have included William Baumol, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Alfred Kahn, Sam Peltzman, Richard Posner, and Cass Sunstein.[57]

Energy and environmental policy[edit]

AEI's work on climate change has been subject to controversy (see below). According to AEI, it "emphasizes the need to design environmental policies that protect not only nature but also democratic institutions and human liberty".[50] When the Kyoto Protocol was approaching, AEI was hesitant to encourage the U.S. to join. In an essay from the AEI outlook series of 2007, the authors discuss the Kyoto Protocol and state that the United States "should be wary of joining an international emissions-trading regime". To back this statement, they point out that committing to the Kyoto emissions goal would be a significant and unrealistic obligation for the United States. In addition, they state that the Kyoto regulations would have an impact not only on governmental policies, but also the private sector through expanding government control over investment decisions. AEI staff said that "dilution of sovereignty" would be the result if the U.S. signed the treaty.[58] AEI has promoted carbon taxation as an alternative to cap-and-trade regimes. "Most economists believe a carbon tax (a tax on the quantity of CO2 emitted when using energy) would be a superior policy alternative to an emissions-trading regime," wrote Kenneth P. Green, Kevin Hassett, and Steven F. Hayward. "In fact, the irony is that there is a broad consensus in favor of a carbon tax everywhere except on Capitol Hill, where the 'T word' is anathema."[59] Other AEI staff have argued for similar policies.[60][61] Thernstrom and Lane are codirecting a project on whether geoengineering would be a feasible way to "buy us time to make [the] transition [from fossil fuels] while protecting us from the worst potential effects of warming".[62]

Green, who departed AEI in 2013, expanded its work on energy policy. He has hosted conferences on nuclear power[63] and ethanol[64] With Aparna Mathur, he has also evaluated Americans' indirect energy use to discover unexpected areas in which energy efficiencies can be achieved.[65][66]

Foreign and defense policy studies[edit]

AEI's foreign and defense policy studies researchers focus on "how political and economic freedom—as well as American interests—are best promoted around the world".[38] AEI staff have tended to be advocates of a hard U.S. line on threats or potential threats to the United States, including the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Russia, and terrorist or militant groups like al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Likewise, AEI staff have promoted closer U.S. ties with countries whose interests or values they view as aligned with America's, such as Israel, the Republic of China, India, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and emerging post-Communist states such as Poland and Georgia.

AEI's foreign and defense policy studies department, directed by Danielle Pletka, is the part of the institute most commonly associated with neoconservatism,[13] especially by its critics.[67][68] Prominent foreign-policy neoconservatives at AEI include Richard Perle, Gary Schmitt, and Paul Wolfowitz. John Bolton, often said to be a neoconservative,[69][70] has said that he is not one, as his primary focus is on American interests, not democracy promotion.[71][72]Joshua Muravchik and Michael Ledeen spent many years at AEI, although they departed at around the same time as Reuel Marc Gerecht in 2008 in what was rumored to be a "purge" of neoconservatives at the institute, possibly "signal[ing] the end of [neoconservatism's] domination over the think tank over the past several decades",[73] although Muravchik later said it was the result of personality and management conflicts.[74]

U.S. national security strategy, defense policy, and the "surge"[edit]

In late 2006, the security situation in Iraq continued to deteriorate, and the Iraq Study Group proposed a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops and further engagement of Iraq's neighbors. Consulting with AEI's Iraq Planning Group, Frederick W. Kagan published an AEI report entitled Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq calling for "phase one" of a change in strategy to focus on "clearing and holding" neighborhoods and securing the population; a troop escalation of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments; and a renewed emphasis on reconstruction, economic development, and jobs.[36] As the report was being drafted, Kagan and Keane were briefing President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other senior Bush administration officials behind the scenes. According to Bob Woodward, "[Peter J.] Schoomaker was outraged when he saw news coverage that retired Gen. Jack Keane, the former Army vice chief of staff, had briefed the president on December 11 about a new Iraq strategy being proposed by the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank. 'When does AEI start trumping the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this stuff?' Schoomaker asked at the next chiefs' meeting."[75]

Kagan, Keane, and Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman presented the plan at a January 5, 2007, event at AEI. Bush announced the change of strategy on January 10 the idea having "won additional support among some officials as a result of a detailed study by Gen. Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff at the Army, and Frederick W. Kagan, a military specialist, that was published by the American Enterprise Institute".[35] Kagan authored three subsequent reports monitoring the progress of the surge.[76]

AEI's defense policy researchers, who also include Schmitt and Thomas Donnelly, also work on issues related to the U.S. military forces' size and structure and military partnerships with allies (both bilaterally and through institutions such as NATO). Schmitt directs AEI's Program on Advanced Strategic Studies, which "analyzes the long-term issues that will impact America's security and its ability to lead internationally".[50]

Area studies[edit]

Asian studies at AEI covers "the rise of China as an economic and political power; Taiwan's security and economic agenda; Japan's military transformation; the threat of a nuclear North Korea; and the impact of regional alliances and rivalries on U.S. military and economic relationships in Asia".[50] AEI has published several reports on Asia.[77] Papers in AEI's Tocqueville on China Project series "elicit the underlying civic culture of post-Mao China, enabling policymakers to better understand the internal forces and pressures that are shaping China's future".[78]

AEI's Europe program was previously housed under the auspices of the New Atlantic Initiative, which was directed by Radek Sikorski before his return to Polish politics in 2005. Leon Aron's work forms the core of the institute's program on Russia. AEI staff tend to view Russia as posing "strategic challenges for the West".[50]

Mark Falcoff, now retired, was previously AEI's resident Latinamericanist, focusing on the Southern Cone, Panama, and Cuba. He has warned that the road for Cuba after Fidel Castro's rule or the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo would be difficult for an island scarred by a half-century of poverty and civil turmoil.[79]Roger Noriega's focuses at AEI are on Venezuela, Brazil, the Mérida Initiative with Mexico and Central America,[80] and hemispheric relations.

AEI has historically devoted significant attention to the Middle East, especially through the work of former resident scholars Ledeen and Muravchik. Pletka's research focus also includes the Middle East, and she coordinated a conference series on empowering democratic dissidents and advocates in the Arab World.[81] In 2009, AEI launched the Critical Threats Project, led by Kagan, to "highlight the complexity of the global challenges the United States faces with a primary focus on Iran and al Qaeda's global influence".[50] The project includes IranTracker.org,[82] with contributions from Ali Alfoneh, Ahmad Majidyar and Michael Rubin, among others.

International organizations and economic development[edit]

For several years, AEI and the Federalist Society cosponsored NGOWatch, which was later subsumed into Global Governance Watch, "a web-based resource that addresses issues of transparency and accountability in the United Nations, NGOs, and related international organizations".[50] NGOWatch returned as a subsite of Global Governance Watch, led by Jon Entine. AEI scholars focusing on international organizations includes John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations,[83] and John Yoo, who researches international law and sovereignty.[50]

AEI's research on economic development dates back to the early days of the institute. P. T. Bauer authored a monograph on development in India in 1959,[84] and Edward Banfield published a booklet on the theory behind foreign aid in 1970.[85] Since 2001, AEI has sponsored the Henry Wendt Lecture in International Development, named after Henry Wendt, an AEI trustee emeritus and former CEO of SmithKline Beckman.[86] Notable lecturers include Angus Maddison and Deepak Lal.

Nicholas Eberstadt holds the Henry Wendt Chair, focusing on demographics, population growth and human capital development; he served on the federal HELP Commission.

Paul Wolfowitz, the former president of the World Bank, researches development policy in Africa.

Roger Bate focuses his research on malaria, HIV/AIDS, counterfeit and substandard drugs,[87] access to water,[88] and other problems endemic in the developing world.

Health policy studies[edit]

AEI scholars have engaged in health policy research since the institute's early days. A Center for Health Policy Research was established in 1974.[89] For many years, Robert B. Helms led the health department. AEI's long-term focuses in health care have included national insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, pharmaceutical innovation, health care competition, and cost control.[50] The Center was replaced in the mid-1980s with the Health Policy Studies Program, which continues to this day. The AEI Press has published dozens of books on health policy since the 1970s. Since 2003, AEI has published the Health Policy Outlook series on new developments in U.S. and international health policy.[90] In addition, AEI also published "A Better Prescription" to outline their ideal plan to healthcare reform. In the report, a great amount of emphasis is placed on placing the money and control in the hands of the consumers and continuing the market-based system of healthcare. They also acknowledge that this form of healthcare "relies on financial incentives rather than central direction and control, and it recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work in a country as diverse as ours".[4]

In 2009, AEI researchers, including Joseph Antos and Thomas P. Miller, were active in assessing the Obama administration's health care proposals.[91][92]Paul Ryan, a minority point man for health care in the House of Representatives, delivered the keynote address at an AEI conference on five key elements of health reform: mandated universal coverage, insurance exchanges, the public plan option, medical practice and treatment, and revenue to cover federal health care costs.[93] AEI scholars have long argued against the tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance, arguing that it distorts insurance markets and limits consumer choices.[94][95][96][97] In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, John McCain advocated this plan while Barack Obama disparaged it; in 2009, however, members of the Obama administration indicated that lifting the exemption was "on the table."[98]Scott Gottlieb has expressed concern about relatively unreliable comparative effectiveness research being used to restrict treatment options under a public plan.[99] AEI also publishes a series of monographs on Medicare reform, edited by Helms and Antos.[100]

Roger Bate's work includes international health policy, especially pharmaceutical quality, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and multilateral health organizations. In 2008, Dora Akunyili, then Nigeria's top drug safety official, spoke at an AEI event coinciding with the launch of Bate's book Making a Killing.[87][101] After undergoing a kidney transplant in 2006,[102]Sally Satel expanded her work from drug addiction treatment and mental health to include studies of compensation systems that she argues would increase the supply of organs for transplant.[103] In addition to their work on pharmaceutical innovation and FDA regulation, Gottlieb and John E. Calfee have examined vaccine and antiviral drug supplies in the wake of the 2009 flu pandemic.[104]

Legal and constitutional studies[edit]

The AEI Legal Center for the Public Interest, formed in 2007 from the merger of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, houses all legal and constitutional research at AEI. Legal studies have a long pedigree at AEI; the institute was in the vanguard of the law and economics movement in the 1970s and 1980s with the publication of Regulation magazine and AEI Press books. Robert Bork published The Antitrust Paradox with AEI support.[105] Other jurists, legal scholars, and constitutional scholars who have conducted research at AEI include Walter Berns, Richard Epstein, Bruce Fein, Robert Goldwin, Antonin Scalia, Laurence Silberman, and Daniel Troy. Goldwin, assisted by Art Kaufman, William Schambra, and Robert A. Licht, edited the ten-volume "A Decade of Study of the Constitution" series from 1980 to 1990.

The AEI Legal Center sponsors the annual Gauer Distinguished Lecture in Law and Public Policy. Past lecturers include Stephen Breyer, George H. W. Bush, Christopher Cox, Douglas Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, Colin Powell, Ronald Reagan, William Rehnquist, Condoleezza Rice, Margaret Thatcher, and William H. Webster.[106]

Ted Frank, the director of the AEI Legal Center, focuses on liability law and tort reform.[107]Michael S. Greve focuses on constitutional law and federalism, including federal preemption.[108] Greve is a fixture in the conservative legal movement. According to Jonathan Rauch, in 2005, Greve convened "a handful of free-market activists and litigators met in a windowless 11th-floor conference room at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington" in opposition to the legality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. "By the time the meeting finished, the participants had decided to join forces and file suit. . . . No one paid much attention. But the yawning stopped on May 18, [2009,] when the Supreme Court announced it will hear the case."[109]

Political and public opinion studies[edit]

AEI's "Political Corner"[110] includes a range of political viewpoints, from the center-left[15][111]Norman J. Ornstein to the conservative Michael Barone. The Political Corner sponsors the biannual Election Watch series,[112] the "longest-running election program in Washington," featuring Barone, Ornstein, Karlyn Bowman, and—formerly—Ben Wattenberg, John C. Fortier, and Bill Schneider.[38] Ornstein and Fortier (an expert on absentee and early voting[113]) collaborate on a number of election- and governance-related projects, including the Election Reform Project[114] and the Continuity of Government Commission,[citation needed] also jointly sponsored by AEI and Brookings, with Jimmy Carter and Alan Simpson as honorary co-chairmen. AEI and Brookings are sponsoring a project on election demographics called "The Future of Red, Blue, and Purple America," co-directed by Bowman and Ruy Teixeira.[115]

AEI's work on political processes and institutions has been a central part of the institute's research programs since the 1970s. The AEI Press published a series of several dozen volumes in the 1970s and 1980s called "At the Polls"; in each volume, scholars would assess a country's recent presidential or parliamentary election. AEI scholars have been called upon to observe and assess constitutional conventions and elections worldwide. In the early 1980s, AEI scholars were commissioned by the U.S. government to monitor plebiscites in Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.[116] Another landmark in AEI's political studies is After the People Vote.[117] AEI's work on election reform continued into the 1990s and 2000s; Ornstein led a working group that drafted the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.[118][119]

AEI published Public Opinion magazine from 1978 to 1990 under the editorship of Seymour Martin Lipset and Ben Wattenberg, assisted by Karlyn Bowman. The institute's work on polling continues with public opinion features in The American Enterprise and The American and Bowman's AEI Studies in Public Opinion.[120]

Social and cultural studies[edit]

AEI's social and cultural studies program dates to the 1970s, when William J. Baroody Sr., perceiving the importance of the philosophical and cultural underpinnings of modern economics and politics,[121] invited social and religious thinkers like Irving Kristol and Michael Novak to take up residence at AEI. Since then, AEI has sponsored research on a wide variety of issues, including education, religion, race and gender, and social welfare. AEI's current president, Arthur C. Brooks, rose to prominence with survey analysis on philanthropy and happiness.

Supported by the Bradley Foundation, AEI has hosted since 1989 the Bradley Lecture Series, "which aims to enrich debate in the Washington policy community through exploration of the philosophical and historical underpinnings of current controversies." Notable speakers in the series have included Kristol, Novak, Anne Applebaum, Allan Bloom, Robert Bork, David Brooks, Lynne Cheney, Ron Chernow, Tyler Cowen, Niall Ferguson, Francis Fukuyama, Eugene Genovese, Robert P. George, Dana Gioia, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Samuel P. Huntington (giving the first public presentation of his "clash of civilizations" theory in 1992), Paul Johnson, Leon Kass, Charles Krauthammer, Bernard Lewis, Seymour Martin Lipset, Harvey C. Mansfield, Michael Medved, Allan H. Meltzer, Edmund Morris, Charles Murray, Steven Pinker, Norman Podhoretz, Richard Posner, Jonathan Rauch, Andrew Sullivan, Cass Sunstein, Sam Tanenhaus, James Q. Wilson, John Yoo, and Fareed Zakaria.[122]


Vice President Dick Cheney delivers his remarks on the war on terror, arguing against a withdrawal from Iraq, during a speech on November 21, 2005, at the American Enterprise Institute. Michael Rubin is on the right in the front row.

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