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Heritage Foundation

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Persons of interest
—The Heritage Foundation[1]
You can't call yourself a think tank if all your ideas are stupid.
Bill Maher on the Heritage Foundation[2]

The Heritage Foundation is a neoconservative "think tank" founded by Joseph Coors (of Coors Brewery), Paul WeyrichWikipedia, Edwin FeulnerWikipedia, and Richard Mellon Scaife. As such, it advocates economic deregulation and an overtly interventionist foreign policy. It publishes the quarterly Policy Review, for many years considered the preeminent conservative publication in Washington, D.C.. Like many conservative think tanks, it is full of unbelievable amounts of hot air, as evidenced in this quote, which also serves as a window into the corrupt quixotic soul of the organization:

Liberation is at hand.... A paradigm-shattering revolution has just taken place... This revolution has been so sudden and sweeping that few in Washington have yet grasped its full meaning... the entire human outlook... will change... Once this shift takes place... we will be able to advance a true Hayekian agenda, including... radical spending cuts,[3] the end of the public school monopoly, a free market health-care system, and the elimination of the family-destroying welfare dole. Unlike 1944, history is now on the side of freedom.

—former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey, in a 1994 issue of Policy Review

Amazing! And is Jesus rising from the dead (again), too?


The Heritage Foundation was founded with donations from the Coors and Mellon fortunes. It cut its teeth during the Reagan administration in the 1980s, when it lobbied Reagan to take a hard-line stance against the Soviet Union (they were responsible for getting Reagan to famously call the Soviet Union an "evil empire"), jeopardizing international relations in the process. It also contributed heavily to the ideals embodied in the Republicans' 1994 Contract With America. Later, the foundation became a major proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Its reputation has been only slightly tarnished by the fact that all of their predictions proved wrong.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Heritage Foundation sought to turn the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans into a test bed for all its harebrained conservative ideas: suspension of all government welfare, distribution of school vouchers, and the repealing of environmental and land use regulations in the New Orleans area.[4]

In 2022 it used the Ukraine crisis to bizarrely claim that Vladimir Putin planned to annexe Belarus as part of a scheme to restore the old Soviet Union/Russian Empire.[5]

Unthink tank[edit]

As a think tank, Heritage Foundation conducts studies on socioeconomic issues. Suspiciously, their results always support whatever they are already lobbying for. In one classic example, a study they conducted found that poor people aren't actually poor.[6] They then lobbied to end welfare for the poor.

The foundation also pushed lackadaisical policies about Iraq, stating that only 40,000 troops would be needed to take over and maintain order in Iraq, that the war would be over in a couple of years at most,[7] and that the Iraqis would greet Americans with open arms (which proved true, but not in quite the way it was intended), and that the Iraqis wanted democracy.

Yes, they do pull these studies out of their ass.

Climate denial[edit]

A number of their studies on global warming also come from the PIDOOMA department. One study they cite supposedly demonstrates that global warming will have no effect on the US economy.[8] They also enjoy quote mining statements on climate research,[9] parroting denialist PRATTs,[10] and hosting other members of the denialist echo chamber, such as E. Calvin Beisner's Cornwall Alliance.[11]

They're also unrepentant treekillers; if you wind up on their mailing list, expect to be swamped by bizarre and paranoid mailings featuring names of various conservative figureheads like Ed Meese, push polls, probably-illegal fundraising letters from out of state candidates, and weird, pro-war criminal propaganda allegedly written by the parents of misbehaving members of the US military. It's... not pretty.


The Heritage Foundation also promotes intelligent design. They have on several occations hosted lectures by people from the Discovery Institute such as Stephen Meyer[12][13] and John West.[14] They also hosted a press conference by the makers of the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed announcing their intention to use the film as a platform to pass "academic freedom" model legislation.[15]

Homophobia and transphobia[edit]

One thing all "conservative" groups have in common is an absolute hatred towards LGBTQ+ persons, and especially trans people (and in that subset, especially trans women). The Heritage Foundation is no exception to this rule. Through its subsidiary "The Daily Signal", it has published articles spouting out misinformation concerning transgender athletes, dubbing the fight for trans rights the "transgender agenda".[16]


It has a long history of ties to Big Tobacco, arguing against tobacco taxes and regulations, including tax proposals in 2007 and 2009. It received donations from tobacco company Philip Morris in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.[17]

Friends across the sea[edit]

The organization has links to various other right-wing parties and organizations around the world. Leading figures in the UK Conservative Party have spoken at its events, including Priti Patel in 2021 and chairman Oliver Dowden in 2022.[18][19]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  3. It's amazing how they advocate to boost military spending while saying this.
  4. How power profits from disaster, Naomi Klein, The Guardian, July 6, 2017
  5. Russia’s Real Goal Might Not Be Ukraine: A Takeover of Belarus?, Heritage Foundation, Feb 11, 2022
  6. Understanding Poverty in America, January 5, 2004, by Kirk Johnson & Robert Rector
  7. In reality the initial invasion was about 90,000 troops, and the troop numbers were mostly between 100-150,000 peaking at about 170,000 in mid 2007 Also keep in mind, there were combat troops in Iraq for the better part of 7 years, with continued presence for another year and a half
  8. Unequivocal faith from the climate change quibblers, DeSmog Blog
  9. Heritage Gate, NRDC
  10. Heritage Foundation vs. Reality: Global Warming Edition, Political Correction
  11. Evangelicals Push Back Against Global Warming Doom, Christian Post
  16. NBC News
  17. Free-market groups and the tobacco industry - full database, The Guardian, 23 Jan 2019
  18. Priti Patel's speech to Heritage Foundation, UK Government website, 22 November 2021 (speech delivered 19 November 2021)
  19. Decadent ‘woke’ ideology putting west in danger, claims Tory party chair, The Independent, Feb 15, 2022