John Hinderaker on taking over the Center of the American Experiment: ‘I want to be communicating to millions of Minnesotans’

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
John Hinderaker: "Some on the left are holding up Minnesota [as evidence] that the blue state model can still work, is still viable. One thing we can do and will do … is to inform some basic realities about how the state is really performing."

The focus of the Center of the American Experiment will not change under the direction of its new president, John Hinderaker. 

But the style will. 

Hinderaker succeeds Mitch Pearlstein, who founded the Minneapolis think tank 25 years ago. Hinderaker, who just retired as a law partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, already had a successful sideline as the founder of Power Line, the conservative blog where he and his colleagues launch verbal grenades at such targets as President Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, gun control and global warming, and where he will continue to be a contributor. 

In an interview with MinnPost, Hinderaker explained his plan to make Minnesota, and the world, more aware of the center’s policy initiatives on education, the economy, family, and the environment: 

MinnPost: Does a think tank still have role in the political world today, where the public seems to be less interested in policy and more in venting their anger and frustration? 

John Hinderaker: The center has an absolutely vital role to play here in Minnesota. To start with, politicians in general don’t lead, they follow. And they follow where the voters want to take them. So I think the vital task is much more important than lobbying around the edges. With some laws, the vital task is to communicate with people and to educate people on issues they care about like, for example, the state of Minnesota’s economy, like education. These are things that voters do care about and I think the center as a think tank is really uniquely positioned to communicate substantative facts and ideas to voters. I think ultimately that’s what’s going to change the political philosophical culture in Minnesota.

MP: So you’re confident that voters today are still willing to listen to policy ideas and not simple and simplified solutions?

JH: Sure. I’m not saying every voter is a policy wonk. That’s obviously not true, but as I said before, there are certain issues that people are concerned about, and the economy and education are two. I think one thing that an organization like the center can do, that political organizations are not good at doing, is to disseminate information to Minnesotans. For example, I think people believe that our economy is doing much better than it actually is, relative to other states. Some on the left are holding up Minnesota [as evidence] that the blue state model can still work, is still viable. One thing we can do and will do … is to inform some basic realities about how the state is really performing. 

MP: What is the misinformation you think Minnesotans have about our economy?

JH: For example, over the last 10 years Minnesota has ranked … 30th in the rate of job growth; 32nd in per capita income growth; 36th in disposable income growth — the difference obviously being due to our high taxes. That’s below average performance over the last 10 years and I don’t think most people in Minnesota know that. What we really want to do by disseminating that kind of information is stimulate discussion and debate. I want a lot of Minnesotans to say, ‘Gosh, I thought we were doing better than that.’ A tag line you are going to see repeatedly in our videos and our ads is Minnesota can do better. To be interested in solutions, people first have to perceive there is a problem.

MP: There are statistics and rankings that contradict your premise – studies that show Minnesota ranks high in its work force, high in innovation with sectors like medical technology …

JH: In its time, when they were newer, rising companies, as opposed to mature companies, the medical products companies that we have in Minnesota — which are fantastic companies, no doubt about it — were very high tech. And they still are, in a way, but if you look at the Kauffman Index on innovation, we rank very, very low. We were the original Silicon Valley.

MP: So what do you think happened?

JH: We have taxes that are way to high. We have stultifying regulations. We have a political culture that is way too complacent. Part of the problem is that we Minnesotans have been way too complacent, way too easily persuaded that we’ve got the right solutions, we’re doing things the right way. Everybody else should learn from us. While we have been resting on our laurels, the truth is we have been slipping behind. 

MP: Do you plan to take the center’s policy initiatives in a different direction?

JH: No. We’re not going to go in a different policy direction. What we are going to do is broaden our efforts at communication. Historically, the center, like most think tanks, has really undertaken to communicate with a pretty limited audience: the relatively limited number of people who are interested in things like research papers and programs about public policy issues. That’s a relatively thin slice. It’s an important slice, but I think that to really impact Minnesota’s political culture — and I mean that in the broad sense, not in the partisan sense, but in the broad sense of philosophically of how people feel, how they think about government — to be really influential we’ve just got to talk to a lot more people. I want to be communicating to millions of Minnesotans.  And I know a little bit about doing that. I know a little bit about mass communication.

MP: You mention the need to go beyond partisanship, although your Power Line blog is quite partisan. How do you mesh the two ventures?

JH: They are totally different entities. [But] I am going to use the Power Line to promote the center. And I am going to use the center’s content … as a source of supply for Power Line. But they are operating in different media. They’re different entities. They’ll remain different.

MP: Does Minnesota have a role to play in developing national policies?

JH: Absolutely, the distinction between local issues and national issues is just almost obliterated these days. Any local issue you can talk about is reflected on the national scene.

MP: How are you planning on doing that?

JH: Research papers, which lead to op-eds and which give rise to radio advertising and Internet videos. We are going to record our first radio ads next week, and I think our first Internet video is going to be finished tomorrow and you’ll be seeing some of these things.

MP: Were you always a conservative?

JH: Oh heck, no [laughs]. At one time I was way, way over on the left. I didn’t go to jail, but I was very far on the left and then I made a very gradual transition. I voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976. I voted for John Anderson in 1980. I’d figured out that Carter was disaster, but I thought Reagan was a dangerous radical and it was really observing the successes of the Reagan administration in the 1980s that caused me to become a conservative. And also just the experiences of life. Practicing law, living the real world, observing from that vantage point how things actually work, dispels a lot of left-wing illusions I think.

Comments (50)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/11/2016 - 09:50 am.

    The value of think tanks

    particularly conservative ones, is to do the research on public policy and present the facts during the political season where the left has managed to convince the voters that their view is correct when in fact, it’s not.

    A few examples include the desire of black parents for school vouchers, the public safety benefits of conceal carry laws, the unconstitutionality of progressive tax rates, selling health insurance like we sell car insurance, the conflict of interest that is public employee unions, etc.

    Keep up the good work, John. Power Line is my first stop every morning.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/11/2016 - 10:32 am.

      The Unconstitutionality of Progressive Tax Rates,

      That’s going to take a little explanation. Do you have any authority to back that one up, beyond the fever dreams of someone occupying the visitors’ center at a bird sanctuary?

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/11/2016 - 10:37 am.

      I read Power Line, too

      …but the things that appear there aren’t automatically true or factual just because they’ve made an appearance on a right-wing blog.

      I can’t help but wonder about the “facts” being cited. Do a majority of black parents – in Minnesota or nationally – want school vouchers? According to whom? What are the public safety benefits of concealed carry? According to whom? What makes progressive tax rates unconstitutional? How does selling health insurance like we sell car insurance benefit those who can’t afford either one? What conflict of interest is there regarding public employee unions? And so on. Just because those on the right don’t like a policy doesn’t make that policy automatically against the public interest, or unconstitutional, any more than it does when someone on the left claims a right wing policy is unconstitutional or against the public interest.

      • Submitted by Mike martin on 01/11/2016 - 10:37 pm.

        50% of black children in Mpls. don’t go to Mpls. public schools

        Black parents in Minneapolis send 50% of their children to schools other than Minneapolis public schools. That is one of the reasons Mpls. public schools have had declining enrollment..

        Black children go to suburban schools charter schools, private schools, religious schools etc.

        The more important issue is school choice. The right to send your child to whatever school you want. If its a public school in a different district parents shouldn’t have to pay extra for that.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/11/2016 - 12:04 pm.

      Hmmmm.

      Did you mean mandating health insurance like we mandate car insurance?
      You know, like we have since 1974?

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/11/2016 - 09:58 am.

    Meet the new boss…

    Until someone over at the “Center” decides that integrity is priority we’ll continue to get contrived “facts” and incoherent “policy” initiatives.

  3. Submitted by charles thompson on 01/11/2016 - 10:18 am.

    window dressing

    All the intellectual posturing is just that. Follow the money. Lower taxes. Think tanks come cheap for the 1%.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/11/2016 - 10:43 am.

    Texas

    Minnesota has higher per capita income, and lower unemployment than Texas. Is that caused by our higher taxes?

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/11/2016 - 10:35 am.

    Points for Honesty

    Mr. Hinderaker has the integrity to admit what most of us have known for years: that despite its pretense at being non-partisan, The Center for the the American Experiment (a.k.a. Get Rid Of Slimy liberalS) is just a bunch of right-wing hacks trying to add an intellectual gloss to the same old policy prescriptions.

    It’s nice to clear the air.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 01/11/2016 - 11:02 am.

      …and it is mere gloss that is this outfit’s specialty.

      To call this organization a “think tank” is an insult to those entities that actually DO valid research.

      The CAE is purely a propaganda machine. Their papers are a mix of pseudo-facts, thin logic, and outright deception. Scratch the surface, and you find little of substance.

    • Submitted by Robert Owen on 01/11/2016 - 11:36 am.

      The Center for the American Experiment is a conservative organization. It can still be non-partisan.

      MinnPost says it is a non-partisan enterprise but I don’t think any of its readers would mistake it for anything other than a liberal organization.

  6. Submitted by James Hamilton on 01/11/2016 - 10:41 am.

    If Power Line is his preferred model

    we can forget about “substantive facts” under Mr. Hinderaker’s leadership.

    As for his shift from one end of the political spectrum to another, I’m reminded of Norm Coleman, whose move was fueled by nothing more than opportunity. Hinderaker joined Faegre 41 years ago, in 1974 ,presumably straight out of law school. Faegre was not then and has never been a bastian of liberalism. To the contrary, it’s one of Minnesota’s oldest and most conservative firms, representing many of the state’s and nation’s biggest players. (e.g., Koch)

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/11/2016 - 10:05 pm.

      I beg to differ

      Faegre is probably, on average, flaming liberal compared to many of the larger law firms in the Twin Cities. Certainly, it is far more liberal than another firm I worked at. Hinderaker isn’t representative of the people at Faegre as a whole. Of course, I’m pretty sure almost all law firms, as businesses, run on the conservative side. But there’s conservative and then there’s Hinderaker.

  7. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/11/2016 - 11:14 am.

    Forget that “truth” thing:

    Minnesota is at number 1 for larger state entrepreneurship based on small business density.

    http://www.kauffman.org/microsites/kauffman-index/rankings/state

    It must be Obama’s fault….

  8. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/11/2016 - 11:40 am.

    A few pointers for him on his new job…

    Can be found from one of his fellow travelers: The Heritage Foundation.

    Here are their comments on George Washington’s Farewell address:

    The Danger of Factions. Washington also warned of “the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party”—one of the two most famous recommendations of the Farewell Address (along with a warning about permanent alliances). By party, Washington meant factious groups that sought their own good, to the detriment of the common good and the rights of others. The proliferation of faction or party in this sense was a dominant question of his presidency. He spoke of designing men, who would divide sections of the country as a means to their own political power. The factions of the 1790s foreshadowed those of the Civil War.

    Unfortunately, the sum total of Mr. Hinderaker’s contribution to society to this point is exactly what Washington warned about and he will only go down hill from here.

    Hopefully he will prove otherwise…

  9. Submitted by Sam Beckett on 01/11/2016 - 12:16 pm.

    A Joke

    This guy is a complete fraud and has no credibility.

    Here’s are highlights of his work: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/28/harry-reid-injuries-_n_7160880.html

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/27/the-rise-and-fall-of-right-wing-medias-fake-the/203432

    Google Easton Elliot for more.

    He likes to make things up and spreads them around the internet.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/11/2016 - 02:52 pm.

      A One Man Comedy Revue

      Mr. Hinderaker seems to transcend the mere “joke.” After all, this is the man who once said that President George W. Bush was a “man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius [who] can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.”

      You cannot make that kind of thing up.

  10. Submitted by Sam Beckett on 01/11/2016 - 12:23 pm.

    Does Hinderaker have any Credibility?

    I’d say no; case in point: http://lasvegassun.com/news/2015/apr/26/big-lie-las-vegan-watches-his-reid-tale-takes/

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/11/2016 - 12:51 pm.

    I guess we should cheer eh?

    At a time when republicans need desperately to distance themselves from reactionaries, connect with reality on some level, and promote integrity, they double down on magical thinking and hackery. This will hasten the parties delivery into the dustbin of political relevance.

  12. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 01/11/2016 - 02:07 pm.

    Wow, I always thought he was a frat boy…

    …I’ll admit I only read Powerline a few times at the beginning. I think they were going nuts over Kerning or something, but the writing over there always came across as pretty juvenile and the dude called himself HindRocket, doesn’t that just scream frat boy…okay others may read something else into that name. Does he still use that?

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/11/2016 - 03:51 pm.

      Powerline blog

      My impression of the Powerline blog was that it was excessively lawyerly in that it’s authors were more interested in winning arguments that being right, or exploring ideas. In the above piece, Hinderaker attributes slow growth in Minnesota’s economy to higher tax rates and excessive tax rates. One suspects that if asked he would also blame snow in the winter time, and missed field goals to high taxes and excessive regulation also. This predictable reflexivity to the stimulus of ideas is what tended to make his blog so profoundly uninteresting.

  13. Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 01/11/2016 - 02:55 pm.

    The

    problem with the Powerline Blog is two fold: the writing is amateurish and sophomoric at best, and man, the comments are about one hood shy of a klan meeting, but other than it’s a great site.
    Tried to read it, looking for a principled conservative blogger, who would challenge my progressive views, but all I get is the usual name calling and talking points – but no substance (other than dishing red meat to the base).
    My favorite was last fall when Stewart Mills was running. Hinderaker wrote about how Mills was the like Second Coming, and the savior for the Republicans, and then added how hot Mrs. Mills was. Stay classy there John, nothing signifies maturity than writing about how attractive another man’s wife is, and how that attractiveness helps the candidate (who cares about substance right)..

  14. Submitted by John Appelen on 01/11/2016 - 04:20 pm.

    Case Study

    This seems like a good example of logical conservative thinking.
    http://www.americanexperiment.org/publications/commentaries/a-view-on-public-unions

    “The Friedrichs case is not an assault on public unions, though if Friedrichs wins, public unions like Education Minnesota will have to stop taking their members for granted if they want to keep collecting fees and dues. An organization that can compel its members to fund its mission is bound to grow arrogant.”

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/11/2016 - 08:00 pm.

      Well…

      Let’s see, your local school district has, say, 300 teachers. How should their salaries be set?

      1. An individual negotiation by each teacher with their supervisor.
      2. A set schedule established by the school board.
      3. A collective negotiation between teachers and the administration.

      Hopefully we can agree that #1 is likely not practical. #2 Certainly has Scott Walker supporters fervently nodding their heads; but, probably not practical as we already have a shortage of quality teachers and anything that systematically reduces teacher compensation has problems. That gets us to #3: a fair negotiation between district administration and representation from the teachers. From past personal experience, I know that the district will retain professional counsel to assist in the negotiation. Who is on the other side of the table? Sometimes a team of teachers, selected and compensated to take on this task or, in larger districts, labor professionals, again compensated for the task. Either way, dollars are being expended to negotiate by both sides.

      And now we have the CAE saying it just ain’t right that all those benefiting from this negotiation pay their fair share. If one just wants to gets the benefits and not pay anything: that is just fine and dandy.

      Two thoughts: Since when did the CAE start liking free lunches? And, maybe, just maybe, by diluting funds available to the labor side and not constraining the management side in anyway they get to stick it to those greedy, overpaid teachers. Which is the true intent of this effort.

      • Submitted by Mike martin on 01/11/2016 - 10:57 pm.

        Who elects the school board?

        Follow the money

        In Minneapolis you have to be nominated by the Democrats to get elected. Who is the biggest contributor to the Democratic party? Education MN. So Education MN controls who gets nominated and who gets elected to the Minneapolis school board.

        Do you really think the school board is going to do anything that will really upset the teachers union including negotiations of salary, benefits and pensions?

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/12/2016 - 08:14 am.

          Who elects the school board?

          A majority of the voters. It never ceases to amaze me that those on the right will point to their elected candidates as pillars of virtue, nominated and selected by a wise and considered electorate.

          Oh, those guys on the other side who won their elections? Those frauds just bought it.

          Rationalization is the key to mental health.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/12/2016 - 06:42 am.

        Somehow companies like mine and people like me have been negotiating with individuals for centuries. Not sure why option 1 seems odd to you.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/12/2016 - 09:15 am.

          Well…

          300 Teachers, maybe 25 PE teachers, Should the salary of a PE teacher be decided by their ability to negotiate? Not likely to happen. Instead it would essentially default to number 2: management sets a salary schedule and each person fits into their respective row and column with a little wiggle room at the discretion of management. And, I am not saying this is totally unacceptable: I just think a fair negotiation is a better way to do it.

          Which gets us to those “greedy, overpaid teachers” the Scott Walker’s of the world see as their mission to rein in. I began my post college work career as a teacher almost 40 years ago. I taught long enough to witness 3 negotiation cycles: The civics teacher, the biology teacher and a math teacher against an experienced superintendent with a business background, the school board head, a very successful agri business person and the best labor lawyer in town. The teacher’s got their clocks cleaned every time. I began my career at $8,400 per year (I made $9,000 the year before at a grocery store) and left a few years later at about $10,000. I left because I could not envision even buying a modest house as a single income teacher. After each negotiation our team would tell us: “well we did not get much of a raise; but we were able to get a few more benefits. We should take the deal, it’s the best we could do.” The team would have been much happier with wage increases; but, it never happened.

          Repeat that process over the next 30 years and guess what? The teachers actually won: They gave up short term gains for long term ones and now my colleagues who stayed all retired in their mid fifties at 50-60% of the ending salaries for the rest of their days. Almost all of them could have worked effectively for another 5-10 years. Management would have been much wiser to pay out on the short term and limit long term obligations.

          Sorry, I digress. My point being, in these negotiations, management has all the tools it needs to produce functional negotiations with their employees: there is no need to use the courts to attempt to weaken the labor side. Fair is fair.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/12/2016 - 01:40 pm.

            Teachers Won

            My view is that the poor and average senior Teachers won.

            And the unlucky kids, younger excellent teachers and/or the tax payers lost. The current system of tenure, steps, lanes, etc unfortunately drives expenses in the wrong places and poor staffing placement which leads to one or more of the following:
            – fewer Teachers in the district with the kids for the same amount of funding.
            – the most expensive Teachers in less challenging schools / classrooms. the least expensive Teachers in the most challenging classrooms.
            – young highly effective Teachers are under paid.
            – tax payers are paying too much.

            When one sets compensation and job security/choice based on time served / degrees instead of actual productivity and effectiveness, one knows there will be excessive waste. The reality is that more degrees / experience will not ensure a Teacher is great. And some new Teachers with a BS may be great due to a natural skill.

            It is like having to pay an auto mechanic twice as much to fix your car just because he is more experienced and educated than a younger alternative. Even though the younger mechanic has a better reputation for success… It would make no sense and as consumers we would never choose to do it.

            • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/12/2016 - 03:25 pm.

              Yes you do….

              If you elect to go to your car dealer over your local gas station: The gas station is a hit or miss situation, the mechanic may be the best in a 20 mile radius or not have clue one on how to fix a problem. Your car dealer generally will have experience and educational requirements to get hired and then regular training and testing to ensure competence and growth needed for new model challenges. The dealer will have a higher hourly rate and in many cases use flat rates that enable a doubling of the hourly charge.

              It is your choice: roll the dice and hope the kid at the AMOCO station knows his stuff or pay 2-3 times more to have a qualified professional do it right the first time.

              Do you value your car or your kid higher?

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/12/2016 - 04:40 pm.

                Best Value

                Sometimes I take my vehicles to a dealership for warranty work, however usually they go to a local shop or I do it myself. For me like most others it is about what offers the best value.

                I am not too much into stereotyping service providers or employees based on degrees, experience, etc. I prefer to hire and appropriately compensate an individual based on their personal capability and performance.

                During one of my MBA courses, an instructor noted that in more bureaucratic institutions the employee with the most degrees is often hired even when a lower cost more promising candidate is available. They said that this allowed the hiring manager some protection if it did not work out. They could always point back to that resume to justify their choice… Whereas most successful company’s are focused on what each candidate really offers in capability vs cost. (ie value)

        • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 01/13/2016 - 11:57 pm.

          Yes, the corporate world has discovered that it’s a great

          divide and conquer tactic to have no one know what anyone else is being paid.

          It also potentially rewards pushiness over competence.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/14/2016 - 08:23 pm.

            Price Fixing

            Would you then support allowing private companies to collude in raising prices or in reducing wages? Please remember that law protects us consumers from this.

            Yet you support the reverse? (ie employees colluding to set prices)

            Please remember that anyone like myself who thinks they are under compensated is free at any time to go job hunting for a better opportunity. Whereas a 4 year Teacher who just got tenure is pretty well trapped within the Public School / Union / District near monopoly whether they are happy, unhappy, fulfilled, unfulfilled, etc. No wonder many lose energy when their wages increase and their options for change disappear. (ie I call it the silver handcuffs)

            I have some Teacher friends who are fried, frustrated, etc yet they can not change jobs without losing tenure/ wages… I bet they are fun in class.

  15. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/11/2016 - 04:31 pm.

    Not to be outdone….

    The CAE seems to be simply following the example of the Heritage Foundation which, by selecting Jim DeMint as President, packed it in on promoting workable conservative solutions to just pitching red meat to the base to gin up fund raising. I think Mitch Pearlstein had admirable intentions when he started, too bad it has all come to this.

  16. Submitted by Rich Crose on 01/11/2016 - 06:02 pm.

    Damn Stats

    “For example, over the last 10 years Minnesota has ranked … 30th in the rate of job growth; 32nd in per capita income growth; 36th in disposable income growth — the difference obviously being due to our high taxes.”

    He must have forgotten that Pawlenty was the governor for the first five years. If it wasn’t for his “no new tax” policy, Minnesota would be ranked in the top 10.

  17. Submitted by Carolyn Anderson on 01/11/2016 - 09:29 pm.

    CAE

    What Reagan “successes” is he talking about?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/12/2016 - 09:29 am.

      Reagan Successes

      President Reagan successfully fooled the American public into thinking he was a competent President. He got the people to ignore the fact that they disagreed with many, if not most, of his policy initiatives and managed to get re-elected. During his second term, he successfully hid the early symptoms of dementia and completed his term, instead of letting the process of 25th Amendment work.

      His historic legacy, built as it is on oversimplifications and half-truths, is yet another success.

  18. Submitted by Joe Musich on 01/11/2016 - 10:29 pm.

    In a few few words …

    Inhaling too much Koch. And cured by Dr Alec.

  19. Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 01/12/2016 - 08:58 am.

    Not a think tank

    The Center of the American Experiment has never been a think tank. It’s more like a “scheme tank.” They get their direction from the same sources Fox News does and they promote the required talking points. They don’t do actual research.

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/12/2016 - 09:42 am.

    The thing that’s actually alarming

    The existence of these right wing manufacturers of debate games and misinformation (look at the all garbage the “Center” produced on behalf of the Voter ID debacle for instance) is a problem. But I think the bigger problem is the conservative inability to distinguish be mumbo jumbo and REAL analysis and legitimate intellectual work product. It’s getting to the point where these guys have nothing of legitimate substance to say about anything. The spooky thing is that conservatives look at this mumbo jumbo and think to themselves: “Well, THAT’S a good point!”

    At any rate people should know that these conservative “Think Tanks” were created explicitly for the purpose of obscuring issues and blunting the impact of intellectual discourse. This all began after the Nixon impeachment when conservatives decided that the “liberal” media and intelligentsia were the source of conservative woes. It’s important to note that these think tanks were not conceived as “balance” for liberal media, it was never a case of challenging facts. The conservative complaint about Watergate for instance was that the facts Nixon was impeached on were wrong, the problem was that republicans were not able to keep the facts from emerging in the first place, because of the liberal media etc. etc. When the facts aren’t on your side, attack the facts. By the time Reagan gets elected these think tanks are fully developed machines of obscurantism, if you fail suppress fact, then you can always torture them beyond recognition.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/12/2016 - 04:14 pm.

      C’mon now…

      Let’s try and give them a little credit. If it were not for right wing think tanks we would not have Obamacare and the insurance mandate. The “higher goals” of a think tank are to propose serious solutions to everyday problems through the viewpoint of the organization. Whether it is the left and the likes of The Center for American Progress or the right and the CAE or Heritage, there is some potential for good. That good gets undone when it gets all tangled up with entities like the conservative entertainment complex, Rush, Hannity, Powerline, that really are just looking for ratings over any kind of substance. Selecting Hinderaker means style over substance is CAE’s future.

      • Submitted by Bruce Johnson on 01/12/2016 - 07:38 pm.

        They already had Katherine Kersten to live down.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/13/2016 - 07:58 am.

        Right wing think tanks produce Obamacare?

        Did you mean to say left wing think tanks?

        In theory think tanks could do legitimate intellectual work. But the fact remains that groups like the Center and Heritage Foundation are simply partisan noise machines and were actually created for that role.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/13/2016 - 10:27 am.

          No, right wing think tanks

          Here is the original 1989 Heritage Foundation document introducing the fairness of the insurance mandate:

          http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/assuring-affordable-health-care-for-all-americans

          To their credit, I find it hard to believe they have left it up for all these years. An excerpt:

          “2) Mandate all households to obtain adequate insurance. Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seatbelts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have li a bility insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement. This man d ate is based on two important principles. First, that health care protection is a responsibility of individuals, not businesses. Thus to the extent that anybody should be required to provide coverage to a family, the household mandate assumes that it is t h e family that carries the first responsibility. Second, it assumes that there is an implicit contract between households and society, based on the notion that health insurance is not like other forms of insurance protection. If a young man wrecks his Pors c he and has not had the foresight to obtain insurance, we may commiserate but society feels no obligation to repair his car. But health care is different. If a man is struck down by a heart attack in the street, Americans will care for him whether or not h e has insurance. If we find that he has spent his money on other things rather than insurance, we may be angry but we will not deny him services – even if that means more prudent citizens end up paying the tab. A mandate on individuals recognizes this impl i cit contract. Society does feel a moral obligation to insure that its citizens do not suffer from the unavailability of health care. But on the other hand, each household has the obligation, to the extent it is able, to avoid placing demands on society by protecting itself”.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/12/2016 - 10:07 pm.

      Partisan Bias

      I usually find some truth on the Left and the Right sites… Without studying both, I think one gives in to that Partisan Bias Eric is discussing elsewhere.

  21. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 01/15/2016 - 04:42 pm.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised

    that so many people don’t know Obamacare was modeled after the heritage foundation’s response to Hillary Care, but it often does.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/16/2016 - 07:27 am.

      Health care

      One of the ironies of the current Democratic campaign is Hillary Clinton who is often criticized for inauthenticity is currently attacking Sanders for his advocacy of the traditional and longstanding approach of Democrats to health care. Many of us are baffled as to why Clinton is staking out a right wing position on an issue where the voters she is trying to reach are drifting to the left.

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