A pocket guide to conservative think tanks


Richard Mark Kirkner
Contributing Editor

Here’s a list, by no means exhaustive, of think tanks that have developed conservative and libertarian policies and principles in health care:

American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Advances ideas rooted in free enterprise, American strength, and global leadership. Ranks third on ProPublica’s list of think tanks with appointees to the Trump administration, with 14 in all.

Americans for Prosperity.* On Public Citizen’s list of Koch-created groups, its vaguely worded mission says it exists to support goals of a free society.

Capital Research Center. Says it is a watchdog of not-for-profit organizations that get involved in politics, including unions and environmental groups.

Cato Institute.* Calls itself nonpartisan and promotes libertarian and conservative ideals of limited government, individual liberty, and peace. Public Citizen notes Cato receives Koch funding and has close Koch ties.

The Claremont Institute. Draws on principles of the founding fathers to advance its message of limited government. Based in Upland, Calif.

Competitive Enterprise Institute. Dedicated to the principles of free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty.

Concerned Veterans for America.* Advocates conservative economic and national security policies.

Concerned Women for America. Says it is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization that draws on biblical principles.

Conservative Reform Network. Supports conservative economic policies aimed at the middle class.

Ethics and Public Policy Center. Founded in 1976 to apply Judeo-Christian moral tradition to public policy.

Federalist Society. Advocates application of conservative and libertarian principles in the judiciary and legal profession. Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have had the society’s blessings.

Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.* Although none of its former employees or scholars work in health policy, according to ProPublica, it has contributed 19 appointees to the Trump administration, a number surpassed only by the Heritage Foundation. Mark Holden, senior vice president of Koch Industries, is the chairman. Advocates short-term insurance and Medicaid reform.

Galen Institute. Focuses on individual responsibility and control over health care and health insurance.

Heritage Foundation. Says its mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” Has contributed 34 appointees to the Trump administration, according to ProPublica.

Hudson Institute. Penned “An Alternative to Obamacare,” one of the early templates for repeal and replace. Founded in 1961 by Herman Kahn, it gets some praise from conservative Democrats like former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Independent Women’s Forum.* Public Citizen describes this organization as having Koch funding and close Koch ties.

Mercatus Center at George Mason University.* Calls itself the “world’s premier university source of market-oriented ideas.” Another organization with close Koch ties.

National Center for Policy Analysis. SourceWatch describes this as a free-market think tank primarily funded by, among others, the Koch brothers.

State-oriented think tanks and organizations

American Legislative Exchange Council. Membership organization of state legislators devoted to limited government, free markets, and federalism.

Goldwater Institute. Arizona-based policy organization that advances conservative doctrine in state capitols and local communities.

Texas Public Policy Foundation.* Says its mission is to defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.

*Groups that Public Citizen describes as receiving Koch funding and having close Koch ties.

Note: Some of the descriptions come from a list of conservative think tanks on the website for the library shared by the Notre Dame of Maryland University and Loyola University of Maryland.

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