—Nikki Haley, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and Governor of South Carolina
“Building a humane social order is not a task for one generation merely. It is a journey of a thousand years. For democratic capitalism, barely two hundred have been traversed. To know its ideals is to be restless under the status quo and to wish to do better in the future.”
The late, great AEI scholar, philosopher, and theologian Michael Novak wrote these words in one of his best known economic writings, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, published in 1982. His words bear repeating, particularly today, as we face serious challenges to the market system and liberal democracy, both at home and abroad.
Over the past year, AEI has vigorously promoted our Institute’s—and our nation’s—founding values: free people, free markets, limited government, opportunity for all, and America’s role in promoting freedom around the world. We have engaged in this work by building an energetic intellectual community that is never dogmatic, challenges false ideals, and tests bold ideas.
AEI scholars have led the way in articulating the vital importance of competition and innovation to America’s free-market economy; in crafting the public policy solutions at the federal, state, and local levels to increase economic prosperity; and in explaining how best to combat and defeat terrorism and confront rogue regimes and revisionist powers.
We also launched a new research division, Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies, and brought the leading conservative policy journal National Affairs to AEI. AEI is now even more strongly positioned to advance the case for capitalism, liberal democracy, and the rule of law and improve our understanding of the breakdown of core social institutions.
Throughout the year, policymakers continued to rely on AEI scholars, who briefed leaders and testified more than 30 times before the 116th Congress. As a result, our scholars contributed to major policy initiatives, advanced specific policy improvements, and offered entirely new strategic frameworks for US policy.
Building on former AEI President Arthur Brooks’ tremendous efforts over the past decade in raising the profile of our work among new audiences, we injected our work into the public debate in innovative ways. We produced new podcast series, bringing our total offerings to seven different series with almost 700,000 combined downloads in 2019, and created new video series for our YouTube channel, which has attracted more than 27,000,000 views to date. We also created interactive infographics and launched a new AEI website with a number of improved features.
AEI scholars appeared on television and radio more than 730 times, including on the Sunday morning news shows, and penned thousands of articles and op-eds that appeared in the most popular print and online outlets, reaching millions of people.
Our leadership development and educational offerings continue to serve as a way to develop in rising generations an appreciation for the competition of ideas and democratic values. Our broad-based coalition of state and local leaders through our Leadership Network now numbers more than 800 business, nonprofit, and community leaders who have attended an intensive two-day policy and communications training seminar with AEI scholars. And in the past year, we hosted 230 college students for our intensive Summer Honors Program, created new partnerships with universities and other organizations across the country, and traveled to more than 200 college campuses, reaching tens of thousands of students with AEI scholars’ work.
Although AEI’s leadership changed in 2019, our commitment to defending, promoting, and fortifying our nation’s founding ideals remains steadfast. We are honored to lead this great Institute at such a critical time for our country, and we are thankful for our community of scholars and supporters for standing with us.
Daniel A. D’Aniello
Competition and innovation are central to the free enterprise system and to maximizing prosperity for the greatest number of people. Over the past year, AEI scholars engaged in a number of projects across various policy areas with the goal of advancing sound policy ideas that ultimately disrupt industry, increase competition, and bolster economic prosperity and human flourishing. From supporting labor market and financial market deregulation to advancing pro-market health, tax, and monetary policy to championing creative destruction in the technology sector, AEI scholars have led the way in articulating the vital importance of competition and innovation to America’s free-market economy.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, called on AEI scholars for a plan to reduce health care costs; the majority of AEI scholars’ recommendations were incorporated into the Lower Health Care Costs Act.
Benedic Ippolito’s work on surprise medical billing helped defeat problematic legislation. He briefed the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the US House Energy and Commerce Committee; the National Economic Council; and the US Office of Management and Budget on his work.
Michael Strain’s analysis of a $15 minimum wage was used during congressional debate on the Raise the Wage Act. He worked with the Congressional Budget Office on the analysis, finding the increase would destroy 1.3 million existing jobs, and this analysis was the main argument used against the bill during the congressional debate.
America has made enormous progress against poverty since the 1960s. Poverty today, however, expresses itself not mainly as a problem of consumption, but in nonmaterial forms: declining workforce participation, ineffective and wasteful government programs, a lack of affordable housing, rising opioid addiction, a growing opportunity gap in early learning and development among children, and recidivism among the formerly incarcerated, to name a few. A major focus for AEI scholars over the past year was identifying and driving the public policy innovations—including federal, state, local, community, and civic—needed to increase economic and social prosperity for still-struggling individuals, families, and communities.
The film, produced in collaboration with Emergent Order, is the culmination of research, conversations, and travel around the world, from the streets of New York City to the Dalai Lama’s monastery in Dharamsala, seeking to answer the question: How can we lift up the world, starting with those at the margins of society? Variety listed it as among the best documentaries on Netflix.
In July, AEI released a three-part documentary miniseries highlighting Sally Satel’s research from several months she spent conducting field research on the opioid crisis in Ohio. YouTube promoted the series through its Social Impact Channel, and each installment has been viewed nearly 16,500 times.
More than 375 AEI community members participated in the summit, including members of AEI’s Leadership Network, state and local policymakers, social entrepreneurs, AEI coalition partners, and business leaders. It was a first-of-its-kind event for AEI and exposed hundreds of leaders to AEI scholars’ work on key policy issues, including economic mobility, early childhood education, the opioid crisis, criminal justice reform, and social capital.
“As a left-leaning moderate, I loved that I felt right at home here—the orientation of all the sessions was to evidence and good practice, not to partisanship.”
“The Summit was incredibly well run. I can’t say thank you enough for the thought and care that went into every small detail that made folks feel cared for and welcome in the space.”
“The networking was incredible—people were so open and willing to share among themselves. Sessions without exception were invigorating.”
“Incredibly articulate, knowledgeable, and REAL presenters. I especially appreciate the chance to hear from practitioners (like Mauricio Miller) who have lived and are living poverty alleviation and capacity-building on the margins.”
“Other than the great execution and programming, I was really impressed with the overall diversity of the attendees and the speakers.”
We are living through a resurgence of both illiberalism and socialism in our politics that threatens the foundations of liberal democracy, the rule of law, and the market economy. Americans are increasingly distrusting of our nation’s most crucial institutions—along with capitalism itself—and we are witnessing atrophying civic engagement. It is essential in the debates roiling our nation today that the principles of the American founding, the wisdom of the Western tradition, the ideals of classical liberalism, the frameworks of American constitutionalism, and the commitment to democratic capitalism are not lost or abandoned. In 2019, AEI launched a new Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies research division to help articulate, defend, and apply these ideals.
The journal remains editorially independent under Yuval Levin’s leadership and has no party line. But its writers are united by a confidence and pride in America, the belief that we must build on America’s strengths to address our weaknesses, and the conviction that chief among those strengths are our democratic capitalism, our grounded constitutionalism, and our ideals of liberty and equality under the law.
Adam White’s writing regularly appears in leading publications, and he serves as the executive director of the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State. White is widely considered a leading voice on the Supreme Court, regulatory policy, and administrative law, and he has testified before Congress on judicial nominations and the roles of Congress and the courts.
Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse (Harper-Collins, February) identifies the factors behind the decline of the American dream — namely, the collapse of the institutions that made communities thrive, including marriage, the church, and civic life. Carney published several related pieces in the popular press and made multiple media appearances, including on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and CNN’s Reliable Sources.
America’s foremost foreign and defense policy challenge is a multigenerational fight to create a new peaceful and stable international order conducive to our values. Together with our allies, we face the continued rise of threats to security, sovereignty, and democracy from revisionist powers, terrorist organizations, and state sponsors. AEI is dedicated to the principle that American global leadership is vital to a peaceful, prosperous, and free world. Through their work, AEI scholars are wholly devoted to protecting the people, interests, and allies of the United States and tackling core issues such as defense spending and modernization, counterterrorism strategy, transnational threats, and economic statecraft across regions and countries such as the Middle East, China and East Asia, India, Europe, Latin America, and Russia.
Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen’s podcast features AEI scholars and outside experts alike. Past episodes featured interviews with retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane, US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, former National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.
His work explores the effects of China’s oncoming rapid surge of population aging and the shrinking of its working-age population on its economy. He also examines the sustainability of continued migration into China’s urban areas over the coming decades, as well as the demographic dimensions of the changes in family structure in China already underway, those on the horizon, and the implications these dramatic changes may hold for China’s and role in the world.
In January, Oxford University Press published Kenneth Pollack’s book, Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness. It is the culmination of 25 years of research on why Arab armies have been ineffective over the past half century. Col. Brad Gandy (Chief US Military Training Mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has made the book required reading for his officers.
The economic advantages of free enterprise are demonstrable; they are matters of fact more than of ideology or politics. And its moral benefits—its capacity to improve lives—are just as obvious. But the free enterprise system is not guaranteed to us, and it cannot be taken for granted. Its survival requires the understanding and assent of the public and of leaders in education, government, business, and media. Its survival also requires that successive generations know and understand the fundamental principles so that they are not easily swayed by false ideals. Over the past year, AEI played a leading role in identifying, educating, and developing our nation’s next generation of policymakers, scholars, journalists, and business executives, who will fight every day for America’s first principles.
AEI’s internship program offers talented young people the opportunity to engage with AEI scholars’ work and pursue meaningful projects while learning to practice respectful discourse and intellectual rigor. AEI interns go on to serve as force multipliers for our work and of the principle that a competition of ideas is essential to learning.
Each year, AEI Talent Development staff make more than 100 visits to campuses across the country to recruit interns and entry-level employees. In the past academic year, these recruiting efforts resulted in more than 5,000 applications for AEI’s internship program. From this pipeline, AEI selected 176 interns (54 interns in fall 2018, 59 in spring 2019, and 63 in summer 2019)—an acceptance rate of less than 4 percent. Click here to learn more about the program.
"I cannot imagine a more dynamic internship for a college student interested in the Middle East than the Critical Threats Project. I was engaged as a critical thinker and researcher in a way unmatched by any other internship experience. This program was absolutely formative in how I think about national security and Middle Eastern affairs.”
“AEI does a really good job of fostering a productive environment where interns can come and interact with each other and have the opportunity to grow. I feel like I’ve learned more during my internship here about policy, politics, and the political landscape than I have at any point during any semester of my undergraduate education—just because you’re inundated with it, and everyone here is insanely smart.”
AEI Academic Programs is one of the most substantive and innovative campus outreach efforts in the nation, developing in students an appreciation for the competition of ideas and democratic values.
As in past years, the cohort was ideologically diverse, with more than 40 percent identifying as liberal or moderate. Among the cohort were students who served in Afghanistan, worked as an AmeriCorps member at Chicago Public Schools, won a concerto competition, were presidents of the College Republicans and the College Democrats, and contributed to major media outlets.
Click here to learn more about the program.
“This is an important time for AEI and for our country, and we are honored to have four new board members who share AEI’s commitment to open inquiry, vigorous debate, and the advancement of freedom and opportunity for all. Their advice and guidance are key in this new chapter for the Institute, and I know they will greatly contribute to AEI’s culture of integrity, intellectual rigor, and excellence.”
AEI’s unaudited financial performance for the 2019 fiscal year ending June 30 is provided in accordance with GAAP accounting conventions.
AEI is entirely privately funded. It accepts no funds from any US or foreign government and does no contract research.
The Institute raised $20.3 million in contributions from individuals, $16.5 million from foundations, $5.4 million from corporations, and $3.2 million in capital campaign gifts. These fundraising activities, along with conference revenue and publication royalties of $3.4 million, brought the Institute’s annual operating revenues to $48.8 million.
Consistent with all previous AEI annual reports, investment activity, a gain of $4.0 million in fiscal year 2019, is excluded from the revenues.
Expenses for the year totaled $59.4 million, with 71 percent for programs, 13 percent for management and administration, 8 percent for fundraising, and 8 percent for building operations. Roughly $4 million of those expenses are nonrecurring.
Thank you to our community of generous investors whose support enables us to fight every day for polices that defend human dignity, expand human potential, and build a freer and safer world. AEI is deeply grateful for your investment in our mission and for the trust you have placed in AEI scholars and staff to pursue our shared principles and goals.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, called on AEI scholars for a plan to reduce health care costs; the majority of AEI scholars’ recommended were incorporated into the Lower Health Care Costs Act. In March, Joseph Antos, James Capretta, and Benedic Ippolito collaborated with scholars at the Brookings Institution on a bipartisan recommendation submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on how Congress can reduce health care costs and incentivize patient-centered care. The previous month, Antos testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the cost of rising prescription drug prices. During Antos’ testimony, Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) referred to Antos and Capretta’s AEI Economics Perspectives report “Prescription Drug Pricing: An Overview of the Legal, Regulatory, and Market Environment" as “required reading" for the committee. In September, Kirsten Axelsen participated in a congressional briefing on reforming the prescription drug market to reduce the price of prescriptions, and in the same month, she addressed America’s Health Insurance Plans’ National Conferences on Medicare, Medicaid, and Duel Eligibles on the “Future Environment for Prescription Drugs and Impact on Part D."
Benedic lppolito’s work on surprise medical billing pushed the issue to the forefront of policymakers’ minds and helped defeat problematic legislation. Benedic Ippolito briefed the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the US House Energy and Commerce Committee; the National Economic Council; and the US Office of Management and Budget on his work. He also published pieces in Health Affairs and the Wall Street Journal arguing in favor of the most pro-market option on the table to eliminate most surprise out-of-network medical billing. Ippolito’s work ultimately helped defeat a surprise medical billing policy option circulating in the Senate that would have had significant unintended consequences.
Michael Strain’s analysis on the negative effects of a $15 minimum wage was used during congressional debate on H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act. In July, the US House of Representatives debated raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Michael Strain worked with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on its analysis of the bill that stated the increase would destroy 1.3 million existing jobs. The CBO cited his work to support their conclusion, and this analysis was the main argument used against the bill during the congressional debate.
In just one week in February, three AEI scholars testified before the US House of Representatives. Michael Strain testified before the Committee on Education and Labor arguing against raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour; Thomas Miller testified before the Committee on Energy and Commerce on how a court case in Texas could affect Americans with preexisting conditions; and Andrew Biggs testified before the Ways and Means Committee on the so-called “retirement crisis” and Social Security reform. Biggs testified before congressional committees on retirement saving three times in 2019, in addition to numerous other briefings with federal and state legislators.
AEI scholars widely repudiated Medicare for All plans popular among 2020 presidential candidates. In January, Benedic Ippolito and James Pethokoukis discussed what Medicare for All really means in an episode for Pethokoukis’ Political Economy podcast, and Thomas Miller was invited to join Kaiser Health News’ What the Health? podcast to discuss Medicare for All and countervailing forces preventing real health care reform. James Capretta published pieces in the popular press stressing the need to advance reforms that would make the system work better for patients, and Joseph Antos explained in an academic journal article how Medicare for All fails to address fundamental problems of high cost, overutilization, and inefficiency.
AEI’s Open Source Policy Center (OSPC) incubated six new open-source projects in 2019, while regularly convening the quantitative modeling community in Washington, DC. The new projects support public policy decision makers as they tackle the trade war with China, our evolving tax system, and the opioid crisis. OSPC portfolio projects are relied on by 2020 presidential election campaigns, administration and congressional economic offices, and numerous tax policymakers, researchers, and practitioners at AEI and elsewhere.
Policymakers turned to AEI scholars on technology issues, including digital privacy regulation. Congressional committees requested testimony from Mark Jamison on the impact of broadband investments in rural communities, Daniel Lyons on the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act, Michael Rosen on the state of patent eligibility, and Roslyn Layton on the General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act. Additionally, Layton joined Bret Swanson and Shane Tews to brief congressional staff on how policymakers might craft rules to meaningfully protect consumers’ privacy while providing industry with the flexibility to innovate. Layton, Swanson, and Tews also held an AEI public event with FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson and Department of Justice Acting Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer Peter Winn to discuss their ideas about US leadership on privacy in the digital age.
Through publications in the popular press and television news appearances, AEI scholars contributed to national debates on the top marginal tax rate and the wealth tax. Aparna Mathur authored a piece in Bloomberg Tax, which looked at the potential impacts of a 70 percent marginal tax rate. James Pethokoukis, Michael Strain, and Alan Viard were quoted on the top tax rates in outlets such as the New York Post, New York Magazine, and Los Angeles Times. On wealth taxes, Strain published in Bloomberg Opinion, and Viard published pieces discussing concerns with these proposed higher taxes, including penning a report published in August by the Aspen Economic Strategy Group. Viard was subsequently quoted in the Boston Herald, the Washington Post, Politico’s Morning Money, Associated Press, and the Hill. Meanwhile, Alex Brill was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, and Strain appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box to discuss wealth taxes.
Journalists relied heavily on AEI scholars’ analysis of the US-China trade talks. Claude Barfield appeared on Voice of America and Yahoo Finance to discuss US-China relations, and Derek Scissors was interviewed on television more than 20 times on shows including CNBC’s Squawk Box, The Exchange, and Power Lunch; Fox News’ The Daily Briefing; Fox Business’ Countdown to the Closing Bell and The Evening Edit; and PBS NewsHour.
Benjamin Zycher’s research armed policymakers with compelling arguments against fundamentally reshaping the American economy under the guise of combating climate change. Benjamin Zycher worked with House Republications on the Energy and Commerce Committee to analyze the different versions of the Green New Deal. His analysis of these plans, titled The Green New Deal: Economics and Policy Analytics, was released in April and became the foundational document used by House and Senate critics of the plan. Zycher and other AEI scholars and fellows also published commentary in major outlets criticizing the Green New Deal in an effort to shape public opinion around the plan.
Paul Kupiec uncovered dramatic differences between regulators’ “stress tests” forecasts and actual bank performance. In a series of reports published in the AEI Economics Working Papers Series and the Journal of Financial Stability, Paul Kupiec found that stress test forecasts meant to evaluate banks’ risk management differ dramatically from actual bank performance. Kupiec also argued, in public comments submitted in May to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, against the Fed’s efforts to pay different banks different interest rates on the reserves the Fed holds—essentially allowing the central bank to pick winners and losers in the banking industry.
Journalists interviewed former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner and AEI Resident Fellow Scott Gottlieb a number of times on television news programs for his views on the CBD craze, vaping, e-cigarettes, and opioids. Over the summer, Scott Gottlieb appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box, NBC’s Nightly News, CNBC’s On the Money, and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, and he published pieces in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post on these key health care challenges. Roger Bate, Alex Brill, Benedic Ippolito, Aparna Mathur, and Sally Satel also wrote prolifically on these issues, including publishing peer-reviewed journal articles.
Desmond Lachman hosted several high-profile AEI public events with US and foreign administration officials on the state of global markets. Events featured then–International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde to discuss her current world economic outlook; Ambassador of Ireland to the United States Daniel Mulhall and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America Antony Phillipson, as well as (at a separate event) Vitor Gaspar from the International Monetary Fund, to discuss Brexit’s implications for the global economy; and John H. Makin Visiting Scholar Carmen Reinhart and speakers from the US Department of Treasury and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on the implications of economic developments on the global economic and financial market outlook.
The United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) contacted Vincent Smith to run a cohosted workshop at AEI on cargo preference, food aid, and the efficiency of international agriculture programs. The workshop brought together individuals from UN IFAD, prominent nongovernmental organizations, congressional offices, US executive agencies, and academics to discuss the goals and effectiveness of current agricultural development programs. Vincent Smith was especially active over the past year in highlighting the market-distorting effects of the 1920 Merchant Marine Act and its impacts on industry and consumers.
Aparna Mathur launched a tax symposium blog series that featured high-profile contributors focusing on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. Among the blog’s contributors in its first two weeks were Douglas Holtz-Eakin (American Action Forum), Kyle Pomerleau (Tax Foundation), and Glenn Hubbard (Columbia Business School and AEI). These contributions and more will be compiled into a volume on initial reflections of the TCJA. The blog can be found here. In addition to Aparna Mathur, Michael Strain and Alan Viard continued to comment in the popular press on the TCJA’s impact.
Mark Perry’s Carpe Diem blog is one of the top economics and business blogs in the world, regularly ranking in the top 10 or 20 blogs by traffic volume and other measures. Mark Perry’s blog provides daily online commentary, reports, updates, and analysis on the economy, financial markets, and political events. He focuses on reporting and analyzing current economic and financial data and indicators as they get released and following the longer-term trends in economic, demographic, and financial variables. The landing page for his blog was the second-most-viewed page on AEI’s entire website in 2019; some of his posts garner 40,000–50,000 views. He also counts more than 20,500 Twitter followers.
AEI scholars prominently voiced concerns with Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), a macroeconomic policy prescription gaining attention that would facilitate significant increases in government spending. Stan Veuger authored an AEI Economic Perspectives report, “Modern Monetary Theory and Policy,” taking issue with its premise, and joined James Pethokoukis’ podcast, which was downloaded more than 4,000 times, to discuss economic and political risks associated with MMT. Michael Strain argued in his Bloomberg column that advocates of MMT fail to fully grapple with the inflationary risks that would accompany the implementation of this theory, and he appeared on the influential Macro Musings podcast (hosted by David Beckworth of the Mercatus Center) to discuss it. In the Wall Street Journal, Desmond Lachman laid out why MMT is a recipe for fiscal ruin.
AEI’s documentary film, The Pursuit, was accepted into five prestigious film festivals and is available on Netflix. The film, produced in collaboration with Emergent Order, is the culmination of research, conversations, and travel around the world, from the streets of New York City to the Dalai Lama’s monastery in Dharamsala, seeking to answer the question: How can we lift up the world, starting with those at the margins of society? The documentary premiered in 17 cities across the country the week of April 29, was officially released in May, and was made available for streaming on Netflix in August. In August, Variety listed it as among the best documentaries on Netflix.
AEI “Faces of Policy” documentary miniseries on the opioid crisis was promoted by YouTube through its Social Impact Channel. In July, AEI released a three-part documentary miniseries highlighting Sally Satel’s research from several months she spent conducting field research on the opioid crisis in Ohio. YouTube promoted the series through its Social Impact Channel, and each installment has been viewed nearly 16,500 times.
AEI hosted the Bridging the Divide Summit on June 5–7 in Denver, Colorado. More than 375 AEI community members participated in the summit, including members of AEI’s Leadership Network, state and local policymakers, social entrepreneurs, AEI coalition partners, and business leaders. The summit was an action-oriented, forward-looking gathering designed to address pressing policy issues and showcase AEI scholars’ work on topics related to economic mobility. It was a first-of-its-kind event for AEI and exposed hundreds of leaders to AEI scholars’ work on key policy issues, including economic mobility, early childhood education, the opioid crisis, criminal justice reform, and social capital. In addition to keynote speeches and breakout policy sessions, programming included site visits to nonprofits working on the ground in the Denver area to increase opportunity.
Four prominent scholars with government, private-sector, and nonprofit experience joined AEI’s Poverty Studies team, bolstering AEI as a leading voice in the national discussion on the importance of work, family, and personal responsibility to human flourishing. Matt Weidinger’s work is informed by nearly two decades of experience as a senior staff member for the House Committee on Ways and Means. He released a timely report in September, “The Government’s Official Poverty Data Miss an Increasing Share of Antipoverty Spending,” in response to the Census Bureau’s latest round of official poverty data. Angela Rachidi, with more than a decade of experience researching benefit programs for low-income populations in New York City, returned to AEI to continue her focus on the relationship between poverty and employment. Ian Rowe (founder of Public Prep Charter Schools) joined AEI as a visiting fellow to focus on how nonmarital births affect the stability of the American family. And former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan joined our ranks as a distinguished visiting fellow to focus on opportunity, mobility, the social safety net, and entitlement reform.
The administration is using data and findings from the AEI Housing Center, led by Edward Pinto and Stephen Oliner, to help assess risk and craft policies that promote more stable housing and mortgage markets. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Administration, the US Treasury Department, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have all turned to the AEI Housing Center’s data and analysis. Additionally, a growing number of businesses are using Housing Center data to inform their work, and approximately 35 lenders have offered the center’s Wealth Building Home Loan, enabling more families to build wealth over time by investing in their homes.
Jason Delisle’s scholarly work related to income share agreements, financial aid, and budgetary costs of the loan program has made him a key player in American higher education reform. In late 2018, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) contacted Jason Delisle to discuss reforming the Higher Education Act (HEA). The conversation led to an AEI public event in February 2019, during which Sen. Alexander unveiled the Senate majority’s road map for HEA reform. The road map included capping graduate student lending—an effort that Delisle has championed since the early 2010s. In spring 2019, Delisle published a report that proposed transforming the federal student loan program into a federally backed income share agreement. The proposal gained the attention of many lawmakers, including Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who met with Delisle to discuss the idea in detail. In summer 2019, Delisle was called on twice to testify before the US House of Representatives on student loan debt among medical professionals and student loan servicing, respectively.
Michael Strain explored the idea of economic pessimism on Conversations with Bill Kristol in January, challenging the increasingly widespread notion that America is in decline economically and reflecting on the enduring importance of innovation and dynamism in the American economy. Michael Strain explored in-depth the link between wages and productivity in a chapter for a new volume, Expanding Economic Opportunity for More Americans: Bipartisan Policies to Increase Work, Wages, and Skills (Aspen Institute, February), refuting the common argument that wages are not primarily determined by productivity. Strain finds that workers do enjoy the fruits of their labor, and false narratives to the contrary are a disservice to workers. Strain will release a new book in 2020 (published by Templeton Press) on this theme, titled The American Dream Is Not Dead, making the case for American workers and that the American economy is still largely characterized by upward economic mobility.
AEI scholars were leaders on the right advancing ideas related to many of the back-end reforms that were included in the First Step Act, which was signed into law in December 2018, seeking to reduce recidivism. In February, Education for Liberation: The Politics of Promise and Reform Inside and Beyond America’s Prison System (Rowman & Littlefield), edited by AEI Adjunct Fellow Gerard Robinson and former AEI Program Manager Elizabeth English Smith, was published. The volume includes contributions from the heads of prison education programs, current and former students of these programs, and researchers in the reform space, who cover topics such as the economics of prison reentry, the legal case for education in prison, and reentry program evaluation efforts. Contributors of this volume played an important role in the lead-up to the First Step Act.
During a committee markup meeting, members of the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform turned to evidence found in Stan Veuger’s coauthored paper on the effects of “ban the box” legislation. In March, Stan Veuger released a paper with Case Western Reserve University’s Daniel Shoag indicating that “ban the box” legislation has increased employment in high-crime neighborhoods by as much as 4 percent. That same month, Veuger coauthored a letter to House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) citing the evidence from his working paper with Shoag. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) read the letter out loud during committee markup, and multiple members of Congress debated it. In April, Veuger submitted a public comment to the Office of Personnel Management on the proposed “ban the box” legislation, and Michael Strain published a piece in Bloomberg in support of such legislation. AEI produced an “In 60 Seconds” video highlighting Veuger’s “ban the box” research, which was featured at the top of YouTube’s Best of Social Impact playlist.
Frederick Hess and Nat Malkus brought together influential leaders from the left and right to wade into some of the biggest questions confronting educational improvement. AEI’s education team hosted private working groups throughout the year with senior staff from the Department of Education, House Education and Labor Committee, and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to discuss some of the most polarizing education topics of the day and find ways to forge trust and move the public conversation in a more promising direction. Topics over the past year have included civics and citizenship education, the state of higher education, and the role values should play in K–12 education.
Aparna Mathur drew increased attention to paid family leave proposals in written testimony before Congress, contributions in the popular press, and public events at AEI with policymakers. In testimony submitted to the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support in April, Aparna Mathur emphasized the need for paid leave and affordable childcare. She hosted Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-LA) at an AEI event that same month, during which he announced the first bipartisan proposal on paid leave. She also hosted Sens. Cassidy and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in September for an AEI public event on paid family leave. Mathur appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal in March to discuss paid family leave and published pieces in May in the New York Times, Washington Examiner, and AEIdeas. The multiyear AEI-Brookings Working Group on Paid Family and Medical Leave spearheaded by Mathur and Isabell Sawhill (Brookings) will release its final papers in 2020.
As policymakers continue to push more technical skills training, Brent Orrell convened a working group at AEI that found workers will be limited in their opportunities without the simultaneous development of noncognitive skills. Brent Orrell brought together academics and practitioners for a series of working-group meetings on noncognitive skills, analyzing how we can define such skills, examining whether they can be taught, looking at them through the workforce lens, and debating whether they can or should be assessed. Participants agreed that the development of these skills, especially in the early stages of life, is increasingly related to success in the workforce. Orrell and others will contribute to an edited volume to be released next year that will call on technical and noncognitive experts to propose ways of enhancing the integration of these two kinds of skill sets.
Nat Malkus’ research on career and technical education (CTE) received substantial news coverage in the education press, and he presented his research at an event hosted by the US Department of Education. In May, Nat Malkus published “The Evolution of Career and Technical Education: 1982–2013,” a research report on high school students who take CTE courses, analyzing 30 years of data on student course taking and academic achievement. He demonstrated substantial differences between CTE students focused on traditional vocational occupational areas and those focused on newer areas that disproportionately lead to college. Malkus argued that successful CTE systems can innovate, but they should not do so at the expense of academically disinclined students who need them the most.
Rebecca Burgess’ first-of-its-kind interactive map tracking the location of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals was released just before the June 6 implementation of the Mission Act, which allows qualifying veterans to seek care at non-VA facilities. The Mission Act allows veterans to be eligible for private community care if they live more than 30 minutes driving time from a VA medical facility or face a wait of more than 20 days for most health care appointments. Rebecca Burgess’ map makes it easy for veterans to determine if they qualify based on distance from a facility by tracking the number of VA hospitals and health care facilities for each county in the continental United States. The widely shared map garnered nearly 9,000 views on AEI.org. Burgess also testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity in April to explain how Congress and the VA can empower veterans and reverse the “broken veteran” narrative.
In July, both Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin testified before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee for a hearing titled “Economic Mobility: Is the American Dream in Crisis?” Ramesh Ponnuru suggested that legislation should relax zoning laws, reorient the immigration system to recruit individuals with economically useful skills, and reform the tax code to encourage investment in the United States. Yuval Levin highlighted barriers to economic mobility, including the rise of the cost of living and reduced social capital, especially for working families. Levin recommended resuscitating mediating institutions and getting government out of the business of subsidizing and restricting demand in three key areas: housing, health care, and higher education.
Former policymakers prominently cited Bruce Meyer’s groundbreaking Comprehensive Income Dataset (CID) research in an August Wall Street Journal op-ed. Bruce Meyer’s CID work is gaining traction as a more accurate way of understanding poverty in America. Former Senate Banking Committee Chairman and AEI Visiting Scholar Phil Gramm and former Bureau of Labor Statistics Assistant Commissioner John F. Early prominently cited Meyer’s research in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, concluding that our policy debates are based on measures that are demonstrably wrong and that policymakers are artificially inflating government benefits and cutting taxes based on poor measures of inflation.
Aparna Mathur’s multiyear ethnographic project that seeks to improve our understanding of the nation’s poorest households released a series of commissioned essays from working-group members. Aparna Mathur’s “American Family Diaries” project is focused on the family, changing demographics in the family, and implications of changing family structures on the wider economy. Several commissioned papers were published in December from contributors Nicholas Eberstadt, Sally Satel, W. Bradford Wilcox, Bruce Meyer, Robert Moffitt (Johns Hopkins University), and Jennifer Silva (Bucknell University).
AEI scholars developed an innovative survey and formed regional working groups to better understand the factors affecting employment attitudes and decisions in the STEM workforce. Karlyn Bowman, Daniel Cox, and Brent Orrell partnered with marketing research company Ipsos to develop a survey of current and former STEM workers on questions relating to their career expectations and experiences, as well as their views on how to slow exits from the field. The survey’s findings were released in a report and public event on December 4. Orrell also hosted regional working groups to examine successful workforce training programs in states across the country and discuss challenges associated with funding, alignment, and integration.
Beginning with the 10th anniversary edition in the fall, leading quarterly journal National Affairs is now part of AEI. The journal remains editorially independent under Yuval Levin’s leadership and continues to publish authors from a wide variety of backgrounds, affiliations, and views. The journal has no party line, but its writers are united by a confidence and pride in America, the belief that we must build on America’s strengths to address our weaknesses, and the conviction that chief among those strengths are our democratic capitalism, our grounded constitutionalism, and our ideals of liberty and equality under the law.
Adam White is leading AEI’s effort to revitalize its constitutional and legal studies program, teaching and writing on the separation of powers, the role of courts in American society, and the administrative state. Adam White’s writing regularly appears in the Atlantic, City Journal, Commentary, the Wall Street Journal, and other leading publications, and he serves as the executive director of the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State. White is widely considered a leading voice on the Supreme Court, regulatory policy, and administrative law, and he has testified before Congress on judicial nominations and the roles of Congress and the courts.
Timothy Carney’s latest book, Alienated America, received considerable media attention. Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse (Harper-Collins, February) identifies the factors behind the decline of the American dream—namely, the collapse of the institutions that made communities thrive, including marriage, the church, and civic life. The book release event at AEI featured Timothy Carney moderating a conversation with Charles Murray and the Washington Post’s Megan McArdle. Carney published several major related pieces in the popular press and made multiple media appearances, including on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Daily Briefing, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and CNN’s Reliable Sources.
Peter Wallison’s latest book, Judicial Fortitude: The Last Chance to Rein in the Administrative State (Encounter Books, October 2018), was one of six finalists announced in February for the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize. This prize honors the book published within the past two years that best reflects Friedrich Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty. During the year, Peter Wallison wrote prolifically on the book’s themes for major publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Hill, and Law & Liberty; made a number of broadcast appearances on radio and television; and participated in dozens of conferences.
Arthur Brooks published a bestselling book, Love Your Enemies. Released on March 12, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from Our Culture of Contempt (Broadside Books) argues that the culture of contempt is dividing our country and ruining political debate. Arthur Brooks makes several recommendations that will help Americans disagree better, not less, and unite the country around a shared moral consensus about pushing opportunity to the margins of society. The book’s release event at AEI featured an extended interview between Brooks and Chuck Todd of Meet the Press. Brooks conducted more than 56 promotional interviews and gave more than three dozen speeches on the book’s themes. Love Your Enemies made the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestseller lists. Brooks also released a second season of his podcast, The Arthur Brooks Show, on the theme of love, garnering more than 400,000 total downloads. Additionally, he released a series of instructional videos to AEI’s YouTube channel featuring lessons from Love Your Enemies.
AEI released a survey offering one of the most comprehensive views into community life in America today. In February, AEI released AEI Survey on Community and Society: Social Capital, Civic Health, and Quality of Life in the United States, led by Samuel Abrams, Karlyn Bowman, Eleanor O’Neil, and Ryan Streeter, using data collected by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The survey was designed to assess Americans’ views of their communities and neighbors and their ability to achieve the American dream. In April, Streeter testified before the Joint Economic Committee for a hearing on the importance of social capital for public policymaking, highlighting the survey’s findings. Streeter and Abrams also published pieces in the popular press, and AEI released follow-up reports, including two by Streeter and Daniel Cox, respectively on the importance of neighborhood amenities in creating energetic communities and disputing the popular media narrative that America is experiencing a loneliness epidemic.
AEI cohosted a civics education summit, organized by Rebecca Burgess, highlighting the best practices of organizations focused on constitutional and civic education to help reverse declines in civic knowledge and democratic self-governance.On April 9–10, AEI, the Constitutional Sources Project, and the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools hosted the Civics Education Summit, which gathered 65 civic education funders, practitioners, and researchers. The summit featured a keynote conversation with Lynne Cheney and McCormick Foundation President David Hiller, as well as four panels that included an overview of the civics education landscape, civic education in the K–12 classroom, state policy toward civic education, and opportunities for philanthropists to get more involved.
AEI released an animated video series, “Victims of Cronyism”; the first two videos garnered more than 53,000 views within the first 10 days of their launch. Timothy Carney, in collaboration with video production company Green Buzz Agency, produced four videos explaining how crony capitalism hurts different groups in society. The videos, which have garnered 100,000 views, highlight the negative effects of cronyism on economic growth, individual freedom, and entrepreneurship through government financing, overregulation, protectionism, and subsidies.
In September 2019, Jay Cost completed the final report in his series on the condition of American republicanism. Situating his arguments in historical contexts, Jay Cost’s reports explored issues related to patronage, the early party system, progressive reforms, and Congress as an institution. With lawmakers on both the left and right calling to reassert congressional authority in the wake of executive overreach, Cost’s series is designed to help policymakers and citizens alike better understand the legislative branch and highlight opportunities for reform. Cost will be meeting with congressional staff, journalists, and others throughout the fall and winter to draw their attention to his analysis and proposals.
Jonah Goldberg reached wide audiences through his syndicated column, online activity, and television news show appearances, making the case for the values of free enterprise and individual liberty. Jonah Goldberg’s twice-weekly syndicated column appears regularly in more than 100 newspapers across the United States; his weekly e-newsletter, “The G-File,” is delivered to more than 300,000 subscribers and is now part of his new media venture, The Dispatch. Goldberg’s podcast, The Remnant, is widely listened to on Capitol Hill and by leading journalists, and he appears regularly on news shows on ABC, CBS, and Fox.
In early 2020, Yuval Levin’s latest book, A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream (Basic Books, January 2020) will be released. Yuval Levin argues that a transformation of our expectations of institutions has played a key part in powering our age of acrimony and shaking the foundations of our common culture. In one realm of our lives after another, we have moved from seeing our institutions as formative to thinking of them as performative—from viewing them as molds that shape our character to viewing them as platforms that enable us to be seen. By understanding what our institutions do for us, how they are now failing us, and how we might be failing them too, Levin hopes to chart a path toward an American renewal.
Drawing on more than 50 years of observing and writing about American politics, Michael Barone argues in his latest book that America’s Republican and Democratic parties have retained their basic character over their respective 165 and 187 years in existence. Michael Barone’s How America’s Political Parties Change (And How They Don’t) (Encounter, October) focuses on how American political parties have evolved and persisted and provides a long-term perspective in which recent political developments can be assessed. Book launch event panelists included Sean Trende (AEI and RealClearPolitics), political analyst Amy Walter (Cook Political Report), and Republican Party pollster Patrick Ruffini (Echelon Insights).
Matthew Continetti is working to illuminate the ways in which the intellectual history of American conservatism can serve our country in this era of uncertainty. Matthew Continetti’s writing appears frequently in Commentary, National Review, the New York Times, and elsewhere, and he was the founding editor of the Washington Free Beacon. In recent years, he has become the most reliable guide to the evolution of the American right, and through books, essays, lectures, and teaching, he is working to help draw on the history of ideas to chart a path forward for our troubled political culture.
In June, Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen launched What the Hell Is Going On?—a foreign and defense policy podcast that seeks to make sense of the world, one issue at a time. Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen’s podcast features AEI scholars and outside experts alike. Past episodes featured interviews with retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, former National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.
Nicholas Eberstadt produced three major publications exploring key Chinese domestic issues. China’s Demographic Outlook to 2040 and Its Implications: An Overview, published by Nicholas Eberstadt in January, explores the effects of China’s oncoming rapid surge of population aging and the shrinking of its working-age population on its economy. Eberstadt’s coauthored monograph with Alex Coblin, Urbanization with Chinese Characteristics: Domestic Migration and Urban Growth in Contemporary China, examines the sustainability of continued migration into China’s urban areas over the coming decades. Finally, Eberstadt’s edited volume, China’s Changing Family Structure: Dimensions and Implications, describes the demographic dimensions of the changes in family structure in China already underway, those on the horizon, and some of the implications these dramatic changes may hold for China’s people, economy, and role in the world.
Kenneth Pollack’s latest book gained significant traction with US military leaders in charge of training Arab militaries. In January, Oxford University Press published Kenneth Pollack’s book, Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness. It is the culmination of 25 years of research on why Arab armies have been ineffective over the past half century. The Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq and the US Military Training Mission in Saudi Arabia contacted Pollack with questions about the book’s central thesis to assess if they could improve their training missions. Additionally, Col. Brad Gandy (Chief US Military Training Mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has made the book required reading for his officers.
Oriana Skylar Mastro applied her findings in her latest book, The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime (Cornell University Press, March), to US strategy, policy, and plans when asked for guidance from policymakers and military leaders. Oriana Skylar Mastro’s latest book explores the major factors that influence belligerents’ decisions about whether to talk to their enemy after a war breaks out. During the year, she provided feedback on a number of US-Indo-Pacific Command initiatives, strategies, analyses, and plans in meetings with top officials and senior intelligence officers for the Air Force and Special Forces.
Leon Aron embarked on a multiyear project examining one of the most important questions for US national security: Where is President Vladimir Putin going to take Russia? This work will serve to identify the key and immutable engines of Putin’s policies, thus better positioning US policymakers to predict Putin’s leadership decisions and overall Russian foreign policy. Leon Aron’s April piece in the Los Angeles Times warns that Putin’s depiction of himself as a wartime president makes future conflict more likely.
AEI’s Latin America program dominated discussion on the Americas, thanks to several widely attended events at AEI and leadership of a bipartisan working group of policymakers. Roger Noriega hosted four packed public events, featuring Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez, former Mexican Ambassador to the United States Gerónimo Gutiérrez, and Attorney General of El Salvador Raúl Melara, covering everything from Venezuela to Colombia to the US-Mexico border to transnational organized crime. Noriega also testified twice on Capitol Hill and cohosted the first Bipartisan Working Group on Latin America and the Caribbean with Reps. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Francis Rooney (R-FL), the top members overseeing Latin American policy on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ryan Berg published prolifically in the popular press on key current issues in Latin America.
Just before the UN General Assembly meeting in September, AEI released an “In 60 Seconds” video on YouTube featuring Dalibor Rohac’s new book on sovereignty and international cooperation. Dalibor Rohac’s book, In Defense of Globalism (Rowman & Littlefield, October), argues that even though the ongoing backlash against globalization is driven by justified grievances, it risks destroying institutions that fulfill important roles in the international system.
Key policymakers and their staff on Capitol Hill frequently relied on AEI’s defense policy scholars for their work on the necessary funds, skills, and tools that America’s military needs in today’s security environment. Rick Berger, Giselle Donnelly, Mackenzie Eaglen, and Gary Schmitt met frequently with Senate and House Armed Services Committee staff, Senate Appropriations Committee staff, House and Senate Budget Committee staff, and key defense advisers for various members of Congress. They also penned a number of pieces in the popular press that gained widespread attention on issues including the US defense budget, President Trump’s border wall, and military readiness and modernization efforts.
Dan Blumenthal briefed key administration officials in the Defense Department, National Security Council, and White House on the ideas in his February essay in the Atlantic, “The Unpredictable Rise of China.” Dan Blumenthal took a unique approach to understanding President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party through a masterful analysis of Chinese history, concluding that Washington must reckon with a powerful and wealthy China that also experiences economic stagnation and internal decay.
Former Air Force chief of staff collaborated with AEI scholars on a study to explore the Air Force’s ability to meet the global demands on its assets over the next five years. In March, AEI released Turbulent Skies: An AEI Study on the US Air Force’s Contribution to International Competition, the culmination of a project led by former Chief of Staff of the Air Force T. Michael Moseley and Phillip Lohaus and supported by Giselle Donnelly and Gary Schmitt. The report offers substantive recommendations for how to build an Air Force of 2024 that can compete with and deter adversaries. Donnelly, Lohaus, and Schmitt presented the strategic exercise findings to both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, and they worked with the US Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability to shape thinking about future force capabilities and capacities.
In January and July, Derek Scissors updated AEI’s China Global Investment Tracker, the only fully public record of outbound investment and construction worldwide. Derek Scissors observed that China’s global business footprint is shrinking dramatically and is unlikely to return to its 2016 peak. Additionally, Scissors and Zack Cooper continued to be the the go-to experts for the US-China trade war, discussing the subject on multiple media outlets. Scissors also testified on the subject before the Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness.
Katherine Zimmerman briefed analysts and military planners at geographic and functional combatant commands, a deploying SEAL team, incoming US ambassadors, and US State Department staff on how the Salafi-jihadi movement is outsmarting America’s counter-terrorism strategy. Throughout the year, Katherine Zimmerman engaged in a research project to determine a path toward victory against the Salafi-jihadi movement. She extensively briefed her findings to military leaders and representatives from the US executive branch. The project culminated in a comprehensive report, Beyond Counterterrorism: Defeating the Salafi-Jihadi Movement (AEI, October), which offers a detailed strategy for the government to implement.
AEI scholars remained a go-to source on the conflict in Yemen, engaging with senior leaders in both Yemen and the United States and with the forces leading operations on the ground in Yemen. In March, Katherine Zimmerman testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism, during which she urged America to retake a leadership role in Yemen. Kenneth Pollack offered his analysis on what it would take to end the war in Yemen, coauthoring a May essay in Foreign Affairs.
Jessica Trisko Darden regularly met with policymakers and administration officials to conduct research and discuss her work on counterterrorism and humanitarian aid. In September, Jessica Trisko Darden released a report, Development Assistance and Counterterrorism, which reviews how US development assistance has been used to counter terrorism around the world and lays out how foreign assistance can better support counterterrorism efforts. She briefed staff at the US Treasury Department, State Department, Defense Department, US Agency for International Development, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Development Programme, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and International Organization for Migration, as well as staff in various congressional offices.
Clay Fuller discussed the themes in his report Dismantling the Authoritarian-Corruption Nexus in testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in June. Clay Fuller’s report examined the threats to freedom in the 21st century and identified the domestic and international efforts needed to dismantle them. Fuller also led student discussions on democracy, dictatorship, and corruption at universities across the country.
Colin Dueck’s latest book demonstrates that the globalist and nationalistic strains in the Republican Party and their effects on presidential decision-making have been consistent from Teddy Roosevelt through the Trump administration. Age of Iron: On Conservative Nationalism (Oxford University Press, October) tells the story of Republican foreign policy since the 20th century. AEI held a book event before its release, during which Colin Dueck and Hal Brands discussed how President Trump’s foreign policy fits into American history and, in particular, the conservative tradition in the era of renewed great-power competition. Earlier in the year, Dueck held a public event with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the present and future of conservative foreign policy and the role the Senate should play.
Karen Young briefed US and foreign policymakers and military officials on the ideas in several key publications related to the Gulf’s economic statecraft. Karen Young’s essays included how the moment of late-rentierism is now heightening questions of ownership and of the state’s role as guardian of society’s wealth, how Arab Gulf states are expanding their political and economic ties with China, what the economies of the Middle East and North Africa will look like in 10 years, economic diversification across the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the politics and purpose of United Arab Emirates economic statecraft in the Horn of Africa. Young conducted multiple briefings for US Department of State and National Security Council officials and briefed numerous foreign officials on various aspects of Gulf and Middle East affairs.
Hal Brands’ coedited book, The Last Card: Inside George W. Bush’s Decision to Surge in Iraq (Cornell University Press, September 15), was released. AEI produced a video as part of its “Viewpoint” series with Hal Brands and Stephen Hadley, who played a key role in the Iraq surge of 2007–08 as President George W. Bush’s national security adviser.
Sadanand Dhume spent weeks in India this year, covering the country’s elections and serving as an election analyst and panelist on Times Now, a leading Indian English-language news station. Sadanand Dhume appeared on Indian television dozens of times discussing topics including parliamentary elections, India-Pakistan conflict, and populism. He also wrote bimonthly and monthly columns for the Wall Street Journal and Times of India, respectively, on India, Pakistan, South Asia, and US-Indian relations.
A new AEI volume helped establish a broad, bipartisan community of scholars in which to tackle challenges in the Middle East and fundamentally recalibrate US strategies for the region. In December, Michael Rubin and Brian Katulis (Center for American Progress) released their edited volume, Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East? (AEI Press), which examines the fundamental economic, social, religious, political, and strategic pillars that underpin, and often destabilize, the Middle East region. The volume, which includes a chapter by Danielle Pletka, is the culmination of research from a diverse group of scholars and a series of working-group meetings.
AEI’s Critical Threats Project (CTP), under the direction of Frederick Kagan, closely monitored developments in Iran, publishing 53 articles or briefs over the past year, which drew policymakers’ attention. In particular, US Treasury Department officials showed great interest in CTP’s analysis of how Iranian regime officials continue to profit despite the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the regime.
AEI’s internship program offers talented young people the opportunity to engage with AEI scholars’ work and pursue meaningful projects while learning to practice respectful discourse and intellectual rigor. AEI interns go on to serve as force multipliers for our work and of the principle that a competition of ideas is essential to learning. Each year, AEI Talent Development staff make more than 100 visits to campuses across the country to recruit interns and entry-level employees. In the past academic year, these recruiting efforts resulted in more than 5,000 applications for AEI’s internship program. From this pipeline, AEI selected 176 interns (54 interns in fall 2018, 59 in spring 2019, and 63 in summer 2019)—an acceptance rate of less than 4 percent. Substantive research and projects, not administrative tasks, are a hallmark of the AEI internship experience. In addition to their close work with AEI scholars and staff, interns are offered regular educational, professional development, and social and professional networking opportunities. During the summer, AEI held an AEI-Brookings intern debate, spearheaded by an AEI intern, which featured discussion on two resolutions regarding raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and the importance of international treaties such as NATO, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Before the debate, interns formed preparation teams, using AEI scholars’ work to conduct background research on each of the resolutions, find quantitative and qualitative supporting evidence, create counterarguments to the other side’s talking points, and create questions to cross-examine their debate opponents. To learn more, visit www.aei.org/internships.
AEI Academic Programs is one of the most substantive and innovative campus outreach efforts in the nation, developing in students an appreciation for the competition of ideas and democratic values. As in past years, the cohort was ideologically diverse, with more than 40 percent identifying as liberal or moderate. Among the cohort were students who served in Afghanistan, worked as an AmeriCorps member at Chicago Public Schools, won a concerto competition, were presidents of the College Republicans and the College Democrats, and contributed to major media outlets.
For the second year, AEI also held the Summer Honors Academy, offering 10 exceptional students the opportunity to take multiple courses over a four-week period. Summer Honors Academy students were also matched with a mentor, participated in private lunches with high-profile speakers and AEI scholars, and took part in a public debate and a war game designed by AEI’s foreign policy scholars.
To learn more about AEI’s student programs, visit www.aei.org/academic-programs.
From May 28 to June 21, AEI hosted its 10th annual Summer Honors Program, bringing 230 top students representing 120 schools (out of nearly 1,000 applicants) to AEI for a series of weeklong policy seminars, and networking and career development opportunities.
As in past years, the cohort was ideologically diverse, with more than 40 percent identifying as liberal or moderate. Among the cohort were students who served in Afghanistan, worked as an AmeriCorps member at Chicago Public Schools, won a concerto competition, were presidents of the College Republicans and the College Democrats, and contributed to major media outlets.
For the second year, AEI also held the Summer Honors Academy, offering 10 exceptional students the opportunity to take multiple courses over a four-week period. Summer Honors Academy students were also matched with a mentor, participated in private lunches with high-profile speakers and AEI scholars, and took part in a public debate and a war game designed by AEI’s foreign policy scholars.
From July 29 to August 3, AEI, UNCF, and St. John’s College hosted a special leadership program for 20 competitively selected students to study African American writings about freedom that focused on social, economic, and political life. Discussion was guided and informed by leading professors from top colleges and universities.
Groups of up to six students who coordinate AEI outreach on their campus, Executive Councils are the cornerstone of our campus outreach efforts. At the end of the 2018–19 academic year, AEI had 456 Executive Council members at 109 colleges and universities. We partnered with these students to hold more than 300 large- and small-scale campus events throughout the academic year. AEI also held policy and leadership training events for Executive Council members at AEI’s headquarters in Washington, DC; at the University of California, Berkeley; and at the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, AEI hosted its first-ever capstone program for graduating seniors in the program, which was designed to offer students insights about how to be an effective leader and live a well-rounded life, provide clarity about career paths, and instill confidence about life after graduation.
To continue AEI’s relationship with those who have worked at AEI or participated in our college programs or early- and mid-career opportunities, we launched a more robust AEI Alumni Program that will serve as a social, professional, and educational network. We hosted an alumni reception at AEI in July that attracted more than 200 alumni to our headquarters. We have also started a mentorship program to help cultivate meaningful, professional relationships among our accomplished alumni and a reading series to bring together a small group of alumni for a discussion of important texts; the first reading series will be led by AEI scholars Yuval Levin and Matthew Continetti.
AEI’s Enterprise Club is an international community of 30- to 40-year-old leaders in business, entrepreneurship, finance, law, and public policy who are interested in serious discussion on the most significant challenges facing our country and world. This invitation-only group of professionals is selected based on depth of intellectual interest in policy, exceptional record of achievement, and potential for future impact. They engage with AEI scholars and other friends of the Institute on a broad array of topics and serve as a source for new intellectual insight and fresh perspectives for AEI’s scholars and executives. They also serve as mentors to student leaders in AEI’s network. We currently count nearly 400 Enterprise Club members (in more than 25 cities) and 14 formal chapters in the United States and London.
The Leadership Network celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2019. This effort, which began as a small-scale pilot project in 2014, has grown into a major component of AEI’s outreach. The Leadership Network reaches mid-career professionals interested in advancing free enterprise in their communities. It currently comprises a personally, professionally, and ideologically diverse group of 800 leaders across 43 states, primarily from nonprofits, local government, and community organizations.
In 2019, AEI hosted two major summits at AEI headquarters. The April summit included 80 leaders from 28 states, DC, Canada, and the United Kingdom, who participated in two and a half days of leadership, policy, and communications training. The October summit included 80 leaders from across the country and included keynotes from Robert Doar, Jonah Goldberg, and Scott Gottlieb, as well as policy sessions with a host of other AEI scholars including Karlyn Bowman, Frederick Hess, Yuval Levin, Aparna Mathur, Ramesh Ponnuru, Ian Rowe, and Neena Shenai.
In 2019 AEI Leadership Network members organized a number of regional events around the country and gatherings with AEI scholars and staff. In October, the Leadership Network piloted an Adam Smith seminar-style course with Brent Orrell in Indiana. This course introduced Leadership Network members to the moral underpinnings of the free enterprise system through the social and economic philosophy of Adam Smith.
Thanks to the generosity of the Templeton World Charity Foundation, the Leadership Network also ran a pilot project to encourage and motivate nonprofit leaders to think creatively about solving policy problems in their communities related to free enterprise, work, poverty alleviation, and education. AEI awarded two $25,000 grants (after reviewing more than 150 highly competitive applications) to two organizations: Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute, which supports entrepreneurs through business services, training, and loans; and Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry, which provides a variety of innovative services to help former prisoners and their families reenter society. These winners were announced at AEI’s Bridging the Divide Summit in June before an audience of 377 leaders.
The Enterprise Club has been made possible through the tremendous efforts and leadership of founding member Andrew Klaber, who was honored on October 29 at AEI headquarters with the Harlan Crow Community Building Award. Created in 2018 to honor AEI trustee Harlan Crow, the award is granted annually to an individual who best exemplifies leadership in the AEI community and service to our mission. Award recipients have made significant contributions to the growth and flourishing of AEI as an institution—bringing people together and attracting new people to our community who share our same mission and ideals.
Kimberly O. Dennis has served since 1996 as president and CEO of the Searle Freedom Trust, a grant-making foundation established by the late Daniel Searle to support public policy research. From 2002 to 2006, she also directed the National Research Initiative, a Searle-funded program at AEI. Ms. Dennis’ first job in the grant-making arena was for the John M. Olin Foundation in 1980. She later became the first executive director of the Philanthropy Roundtable. She cofounded and serves as chairman of the board of DonorsTrust and serves as an officer of its sister organization, Donors Capital Fund. She has also served on the boards of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, the W. H. Brady Foundation, the Philanthropy Roundtable, the Property and Environment Research Center, and George Mason University.
Martin C. Eltrich III is a partner at AEA Investors LP, where he leads the consumer and retail investment practice. Before joining AEA in 2001, he was an investment banker at Greenhill & Co. in New York, which he joined at its inception in 1996. Mr. Eltrich started his career at Morgan Stanley. He serves on the boards of directors of At Home, 24 Hour Fitness, Jack’s, Melissa & Doug, Traeger Grills, ThreeSixty, and 1-800 Contacts.
Joanna F. Jonsson is a partner, portfolio manager, and member of the Management Committee of Capital Group, one of the largest mutual fund managers in the United States. She has worked at Capital since 1990. Before that, she was an analyst at Fidelity Management & Research Company and an officer in the public finance division of Irving Trust Company. She is a member of the CFA Institute and serves on the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council and the board of Alpha USA.
Pat Neal is founder and CEO of Neal Communities. For nearly 50 years he has been a homebuilder and community developer on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Mr. Neal is also chair of Florida TaxWatch, Florida’s tax and budget policy research institution. Previously, he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives, the chair of the Florida Senate’s Appropriations and Natural Resources committees, and the chair of the Florida Commission on Ethics. He also served on Gov. Rick Scott’s and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ transition teams, working with Florida’s Department of Management Services.