2013 hasn't exactly been a banner year for the Heritage Foundation, Washington's most well-known and influential conservative think tank.
In its first year under former senator and tea party godfather Jim DeMint, there was a growing consensus -- and concern -- that the foundation once renowned for its intellectual rigor might now be more of a political advocacy outlet than a home for scholarly research, albeit of the conservative variety.
Heritage saw a study on the supposed cost of immigration reform blasted by those within its own ideological sphere as methodologically shoddy. One of its authors was forced to resign after revelations of anti-immigrant views in his earlier work surfaced. Its Obamacare research has come under scrutiny for its inherent bias, as TPM has reported.
Those unforced slip-ups, and its advocacy arm's growing reputation as a bully toward any kind of moderation, have started to call the foundation's reputation into question on Capitol Hill. Conservatives lamented to the New Republic that Heritage had become a political action group "with a research division," burning bridges with the House GOP, something totally foreign to "the gold standard of conservative, forward-looking thought" that it used to be. The foundation's $82 million budget was reportedly being scaled back, with more money flowing to the advocacy efforts that have so chafed Hill Republicans.
That's why Heritage's most recent hire could mark a potential return to normalcy and respectability for the foundation.
The new man is Stephen Moore, most recently of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, who is joining Heritage as its chief economist. He has previously worked at Heritage in the 1980's, the Cato Institute, and Club for Growth before spending the last nine years at the Journal.
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