Talk:American Enterprise Institute

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Controversies and Positions

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.”[1]

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…” Accordingly, 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.[2]

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). 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.[3]

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 Nations Intergovernmental 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." [1]

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. [2]

Since the time of that report, AEI has continued to receive money from Exxon Mobil — a total of $1,520,000.[4]

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 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."[5]

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."[5]

Support for "Regime Change" in Iraq

AEI emerged as one of the leading architects of the Bush administration's foreign policy. AEI rents 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.[6] During his time in the Bush administration, Wolfowitz was a major architect of the United States’ Iraq policy.[7]

Defending Big Tobacco

In 1980, the American Enterprise Institute 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.[3] 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 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. [4] AEI states 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."[5] Ralph Nader responds with "What they are condemning, with vague, ironic regulatory nostrums proposed against dissenting citizen groups, is democracy itself." [6]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

David H. Koch is a member if 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."[8]

Between 2004 and 2011, the American Enterprise Institute received a total of $350,000 in funding from the Charles G. Koch Foundation.[9] The money was given in three separate grants, those being:

  • $50,000 in 2004
  • $100,000 in 2006
  • $200,000 in 2011

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.[10] 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."[11][12]

DonorsTrust Funding

The American Enterprise Institute received $19,840,954 from DonorsTrust between 2002 and 2011.[13]

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.[14]

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.[14] According to the organization's tax documents, in 2011, DonorsTrust contributed a total of $86 million to conservative 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.[15]

Trustees, Officers and Advisors and National Council Members

"AEI is governed by a twenty-four member Board of Trustees, composed of leading business and financial executives, and its research agenda and appointments are reviewed by a Council of Academic Advisers, a group of distinguished outside scholars." [16]

Board of Trustees

"AEI is governed by a Board of Trustees, composed of leading business and financial executives."[17]

As of June 23, 2014 they were:

Former Board of Trustees Members

Emeritus Trustees

As of June 23, 2014 the Emeritus Trustees were:[19]

Former Emeritus Trustees

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."[20]

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


As of June 23, 2014, AEI's officers were:[22].

Former Officers

  • Christopher DeMuth - President. Researches government regulation. He has been president of AEI since 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.


National Council

"Members of AEI's National Council are business and community leaders from across the country who have a deep commitment to freedom, opportunity, and enterprise in America and beyond."[24] As of June 23, 2014 AEI's National Council members were:






District of Columbia:









New Jersey:

New Mexico:

New York:


South Carolina:








Lynne Cheney

Elizabeth L. Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs , Department of State not Lynne Cheney, the wife of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, is an AEI senior fellow. Philip Cumming

Au contraire. Lynnne Cheney, the wife of Dick, is described on the White House website as an AEI senior fellow: [7] --Sheldon Rampton 16:37, 6 Oct 2004 (EDT)

AEI and Climate Change

I have relocated the following unsourced defences of AEI from the article. I have interspersed my comments. --Bob Burton 14:22, 14 February 2007 (EST)

The Guardian article was been rebutted by AEI, pointing out that while it was true that they had received funds from ExxonMobil, the funding was spread out over a ten-year period, and totalled less than 1% of AEI's budget.
this needs a source. The ten year clear is worth including but the percentage is really a bit irrelevant.
The Wall Street Journal expanded on claimed innaccuracies in the report with

"Here are the facts as we've been able to collect them. AEI doesn't lobby, didn't offer money to scientists to question global warming, and the money it did pay for climate research didn't come from Exxon."

unsourced. Not clear whether this is the WSJ news pages or the opinion page.
In the conservative journal The Weekly Standard, AEI stated:

"[I]t has never been true that we ignore mainstream science; and anyone who reads AEI publications closely can see that we are not "skeptics" about warming. It is possible to accept the general consensus about the existence of global warming while having valid questions about the extent of warming, the consequences of warming, and the appropriate responses. In particular, one can remain a policy skeptic, which is where we are today, along with nearly all economists."

again, unsourced.
Columnist [Thomas Sowell] has claimed that AEI was assembling a roundtable discussion, wherein this approach is normal and entirely appropriate.
I can't quite see what the relevance of this is.

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