American Enterprise Institute

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
AEI's logo
Oh no, they're talking about
Icon politics.svg
As usual
Country sections
United States politics British politics Canadian politics Chinese politics French politics Indian politics Iranian politics Israeli politics Japanese politics South Korean politics

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a think tank in Washington DC, founded in 1938 as a joint project by a number of business executives. It functions as schmooze central for Beltway insiders and something of the more "mature," less "nutty," older brother to other conservative think tanks like CEI or Cato.

You might be executives, but you're not very smart[edit]

The neoconservative godfather Irving Kristol became affiliated with AEI in the late 1960s, after bailing from another organization upon learning that it was CIA-funded. Subsequently, AEI took a harder neocon bent, though it also employed the occasional libertarian like Milton Friedman. They became a hotbed of trickle-down economics during the Reagan years.

In the early 1990s, they were embroiled in some controversy when an affiliate of theirs, Charles Murray, published a study purporting to establish IQ as a determinant of socio-economic status, entitled The Bell Curve.

In 1995, they elected Kenneth Lay, then CEO of Enron, to the board.[1]:87 During his time a trustee, he once gave a talk about renewable energy and natural gas in a 1997 conference.[2] Speaking of, the Enron scandal did not shake their faith in the free market. Whilst the event was still ongoing, they were rather skeptical with regards to new regulations[3][4] and praised how other private businesses shunned the company during its collapse.[5] One of their resident scholars proclaimed that it was "exactly in such ways that markets use Darwinian forces to weed out those who don’t belong" and that he had a "renewed respect for the free market system."[6] Another predicted that the American securities market would rebound, stating that it has a "self-correcting element that is powerful, pervasive and generally underestimated."[7]

Dubya appointed their staff to his cabinet during his administration and AEI churned out a bunch of pro-war propaganda. AEI also caused some Beltway butthurt when they booted David Frum.

They were alleged to have put up a cash offer for scientists to criticize the IPCC report, which never went through.[8] They claim this never happened and the Guardian misrepresented the proposed grant as a bribe.[9] Unlike many conservative think tanks, not all of its members take a hard-line denialist position on global warming — some of its fellows accept the science while others deny it. James Glassman is probably one of their more notorious deniers, having churned out a good deal of material for Tech Central Station, an online magazine known as a denialist platform.[10]

Elephant, meet room[edit]

On the positive side, they, unlike some other conservatives, haven't tried to deny that Obamacare is pretty much the exact plan that they and other conservatives had been pushing for since the '90s.[11]


External Links[edit]


  1. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind (2004) Penguin Books ISBN 1591840538
  2. Annual Conference Features Global Environmental Policy (January 1, 1998) AEI
  3. Shadow Statement No. 177: Pension Reform in the Wake of Enron’s Collapse (February 25, 2002) AEI
  4. Shadow Statement No. 176: Enron and Accounting Issues (February 25, 2002) AEI
  5. More Rules Won’t Help by James K. Glassman (April 2, 2003) Wall Street Journal, via AEI
  6. Frontier Corporate Justice Works by Kevin A. Hassett (July 3, 2002) Australian Financial Review, via AEI
  7. The Significance of Enron by Peter J. Wallison(May 15, 2002) AEI
  8. Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study, The Guardian
  9. "Climate controversy and AEI: Facts and fictions", AEI
  10. Meet the Press, Washington Monthly
  11. J.D. Kleinke. "The Conservative Case for Obamacare." The New York Times, September 29, 2012.