The Heritage Foundation is a very influential public policy research institute that is located in Washington, DC. It is a conservative “think tank” that has had a significant impact on both domestic and foreign United States government policies.
History of the Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973. The initial funding for the formation of the Heritage Foundation came from Joseph Coors, who is the politically conservative owner of Coors Brewing Company. Paul Weyrich, who is a conservative activist, was the first head of the Heritage Foundation. The president of the Heritage Foundation since 1974 has been Edwin Feulner, Jr., who was the formerly the staff director of the House Republican Study Committee.
Initiatives of the Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation has been long known for its influential and wide-ranging work. Its book Mandate for Leadership was published in 1981. This 1,000 page book forever changed the character of public policy advice giving. It provided recommendations on budget, policy, and administrative action for the incoming administration of President Ronald Regan. These recommendations included action for every Cabinet department, as well as for many other agencies staffed with political appointees.
The Heritage Foundation was also the primary creator and advocate of the Reagan Doctrine in the 1980’s and the early 1990’s. Within the Reagan Doctrine, the United States government provided support, both overt and covert, to anti-communist resistance movements in countries such as Angola, Nicaragua, Cambodia, and Afghanistan. The Heritage Foundation also supported global anti-communism throughout the Cold War. In fact, the Heritage Foundation was active at the time in providing military and political guidance to rebel forces in Angola, Nicaragua, and Cambodia, as well as to dissidents in Soviet republics and Eastern bloc nations.
The Heritage Foundation also played a key role in the advancement of President Reagan’s belief that the Soviet Union was an “evil empire.” It further supported the belief that the former Soviet Union needed to be defeated, not merely contained. The Heritage Foundation was instrumental in helping to build support for Reagan’s plans to build the Strategic Defense Initiative, which was an orbital ballistic missile shield.
The Heritage Foundation is also an advocate of supply side economics, which is an economic policy that maintains reductions in the marginal rate of taxation can lead to economic growth. To assist in spreading this belief, the Heritage Foundation partners with the Wall Street Journal to publish an annual international report called Index of Economic Freedom. This report measures the freedom of the country in relation to its property rights and its freedom from regulation by the government. The Heritage Foundation takes factors such as barriers to international trade, corruption in government, corporate tax rates, income tax, rule of law, government expenditures, the ability to enforce contracts, banking restrictions, regulatory burdens, black market activities, and labor regulations to calculate the index score for this report. Any deficiencies in any of these areas lead to a lower score.
Financing the Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation has a great deal of power on Capitol Hill, but insists that it doesn’t lobby to get its way. This allows the Heritage Foundation to retain a tax exempt status as a charity. Due to its status as a charitable organization, the Heritage Foundation was able to collect $29.7 million in 2004. The majority of these funds are from individual donors and conservative foundations.