That Was Quick…..

Heritage Foundation analyst Jason Richwine, the co-author of a study claiming the immigration reform bill pending in the Senate would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion, has decided to spend more time with his family. Or something. His departure from Heritage was hasty, to say the least.

Among other things, Richwine’s “study,” which was widely panned (even Paul Ryan has criticized its methodology) came to conclusions that were diametrically opposed to a previous study issued by Heritage just a couple of years ago. But that earlier effort was issued before Jim DeMint became Heritage’s new chief.

The study’s conclusions were based in large part upon Richwine’s assertion that today’s immigrants have low IQ’s that they will pass on to their children–a racist assumption for which there is no credible evidence. In the wake of the report, Richwine’s dissertation–in which he espoused similar theories–became public, as did the fact that he had written articles in 2010 for a website founded by Richard Spencer, a self-described “nationalist” who writes frequently about race and against “the abstract notion of human equality.”

Heritage could hardly have been unaware of Richwine’s history; evidently, they saw his beliefs as a feature, not a bug.

The think tank has always had an ideological agenda, but the organization has previously made a show, at least, of actual scholarship. This episode has badly damaged whatever credibility Heritage retained. Richwine’s abrupt departure only underscores the damage.

Ironically, had they issued a less “over the top” report, opponents of immigration reform would undoubtedly have accepted it unquestioningly and used it as ammunition to derail reform. This product was so flawed, however, that it has been left to Rush Limbaugh to defend it. As a Maddow Blog post put it “The irony is, Heritage produced this report for exactly one reason: to provide some semblance of political cover to Republicans who needed a credible excuse to reject a bipartisan reform plan. The goal was to help the GOP and the far-right cause. The extent to which this backfired is extraordinary.”

It’s hard not to wonder how long Jim DeMint–an anti-science zealot who wouldn’t know real scholarship if he fell over it–will last.


  1. Prof K Writes:
    “Jim DeMint–an anti-science zealot who wouldn’t know real scholarship if he fell over it..”
    Solunds like a perfect fit for Heritage.

  2. It’s one thing when a group of ideologues claims the existence or nonexistence of some phenomenon (like climate change), based on some general claim they call “science”, but when you can go to the actual study and see how it was done, and see the problems in front of you, it’s hard to ignore that smoking gun. Once someone mentioned Richwine’s dissertation, that left it open for inspection, and he was done. Now THAT’s what science is about.

  3. I wonder what his golden parachute amount was? He could spend lots of time with family if he was given a severance worth a few hundred thousand. That’s what bothers me most about these entities. They have so much money that no one leaves it “to spend time with family.” That’s a crock.

  4. Unfortunately, now most think tanks are associated with some ideological position. You read the affiliation of the authors of an article or study and you know what position they are going to take. The data they cite will be interpreted to support their institutions position. If you contribute enough money, the chances are the staff will support your political philosophy. There is a great need for unbiased analysis of issues confronting the government. This is especially true in the public health and environmental protection areas.

  5. There are many think tanks and foundations which are neutral and that seriously look at evidence, but their databased conclusions don’t always agree with the preconceived ideas of the demagogues. Furthermore, they don’t occupy the news stories, probably because truth is not always as exciting as preconceived hype and because the demagogues don’t always feature objective analysis. (Mark Twain’s opinions about politicians are still valid.) Just in the area of journalistic excellence, a quick Wiki search will reveal many of them. Heritage Foundation, Enterprise and a few others are always in the news, but as you say they tend to identify with some ideological position, so that not only drives people away from their stuff, but leads us to expect the worst of others. Not in the best interests of democracy.

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