Heritage Foundation

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Heritage Foundation
Website http://www.heritage.org
Founded 1973
Headquarters Washington D.C. , United States
Industry Political Interest Group

The Heritage Foundation is a Washington DC based conservative political think-tank. The foundation was founded by two congressional aides Edwin Feulner and Paul Weyrich in 1973. One of its primary purposes is public policy research, it provides information and lobbies to Congress, policymakers, the media, and those within the academic community. It is the defined mission of the Heritage Foundation "To formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." [1]


Founded February 13, 1973, Heritage was founded during a time in which conservatism was beginning to fall out of favor. Many saw the creation of heritage as the shot the arm the conservatist movement needed to get back on its feet.

In 1977, Ed Feulner becomes president and overhauls the organizational structure of the foundation, creating a new senior management staff. Up to this point Heritage was small and not organized well, there was a high level of cognitive disconnect between upper management and those at the bottom level of the organization.

In 1980, the Foundation published "Mandate for Leadership". This was one of Heritages crowning achievements, it essentially outlined the Reagan administrations platform.

In 1981, the Foundation lobbied the Reagan administration for tax cuts across the board, Heritages Norman True, the author of "Mandate for Leadership" was selected as treasury secretary and according to Heritage's website "wiped out America's economic "malaise," producing the biggest economic boom in U.S. history" [2]

1987: Rolled out a policy plan known as "Out of the Poverty Trap" This policy was the source for entitlement reform in the late 1990's. This policy was very influential and helped pave the way to slowing the liberal movement

1992 Proposed a free market alternative to President Clinton's government proposal

1995 Heritage goes online, and begins to have a prescience in the online community. The strategic initiative division felt that this was going to be vital to the success of the foundation. It is clear that Heritage prescience online is felt all around the world.

1996 Welfare reform is passed, based on a plan devised by Heritage experts, and poverty falls for the first time in 25 years, plunging to historic lows. It is important to keep in mind however that other economic stabilization efforts were under way before 1996, so it very well could have been those previous efforts that led to the poverty reduction.

1997 Heritage establishes the Center for Data Analysis to give congressional conservatives better analysis on tax and spending

2000 Established the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

2002 Creates a Homeland Security Task Force, 2/3 of its recommendations are eventually implemented

2007 Heritage takes the lead stressing the importance of enforcing the rule of law and improving border security by thwarting attempts to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.


The day that the Heritage Foundation was founded February 13, 1973 is considered a landmark in the history of modern day conservatism. Edwin Feulner President of Heritage compares this day to other monumental achievements in conservative history, including President Ronald Reagan's inauguration and the fall of the Soviet Union. When Heritage opened its doors in 1973 it faced a plethora of initial challenges, including financing, but more importantly "Conservative leaders and conservative ideas were out of public favor."[3] Both were problems that the foundation would soon overcome.

Current objectives and activities

Health care

An issue that the Heritage Foundation spent considerable time and resources on, is the debate on health care. The Center for Health Policy Studies has been busy turning out numerous policy papers for legislative review. Heritage in these policy papers has continually and strongly denounced any plan that contains a public option; terming many proposals as "Obamacare", and attacking them as being socialist in nature.[4]

Nuclear Crisis in Iran

The Heritage Foundation is pushing for more funding to protect our soldiers and our European allies. It is stated that currently Iran only has access to medium range missiles, and the current administration is only concerned is with protection from those devices. Heritage hopes to see steps taken to insure protection from long range missiles as well, which was the policy of the Bush administration. Heritage has gone on record as saying "All the Obama administration did is cut our missile defenses in half. We are in a desperate race to beat the clock on Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. Why on earth are we stopping now to let the Iranians catch up?"[5]

Education Reform

In an age that values education has a top priority the Heritage Foundation has made a push for school vouchers. It is their opinion that parents should have the option to send their children to the very best school possible, and that in some areas of the country public schools are low-performing and tragically, often dangerous schools. Washington D.C. has in the past had a scholarship program that allowed 216 Washington D.C. Public School students to attend a private school of their choice, and were provided voucher assistance. This program was discontinued by the Obama administration and education secretary Arnie Duncan. Heritage through research, policy papers, and communication with legislators is attempting to get this program reinstated [6]

Organizational structure

The Heritage Foundation's structure at its basic level is broken into 5 different sections. At the top of its organizational structure is the executive section, this level is made up of the President and executive Vice President. The current President is Dr. Edwin J. Feulner. The current executive VP is Phillip N. Truluck. Beneath the executive section is the Senior Management level. This division primarily encompasses 8 vice presidents, each responsible for a different set of issues or functions some of which are listed below.

  • Domestic and Economic Policy Studies
  • Foreign and Defense Policy Studies
  • External Relations
  • Finance and Operations
  • Government Relations
  • Information Technology
  • Communications Strategic Initiatives

Immediately below senior management is the management division, this division encompasses approximately thirty directors, whom are each responsible for a different policy area or administrative function, some examples include:

  • Director, Strategic Operations
  • Director, Government Relations
  • Director, U.S. House Relations, Government Relations
  • Director, Asian Studies Center
  • Director, Center for Health Policy Studies[7]


Since 1980 "Heritage has played a central role in setting not only the broad conservative agenda but also the details of legislation"[8]

During that year (1980) the foundation rolled out its famous 20 volume set of policy recommendations called "Mandate for Leadership". These recommendations served as the foundation for the so-called Reagan Revolution that would lead to the demise of communism.

The Heritage Foundation played a huge role in designing and supporting President Reagan's Contra wars in Latin America and Africa.

The foundation worked closely with leading anti-communist movements, including the Nicaraguan contras and Jonas Savimbis Unita movement in Angola to bring military, economic, and political pressure on Soviet-aligned regimes

More recently Heritage takes broad credit for much of President Bush's policy both abroad, and hear at home.

Public perception and controversies

Heritage has been hit hard in the media for its research and takes on controversial social issues, such as gay marriage among several others. As the population is becoming more and more socially liberal Heritage is often called out as being out of touch, and afraid of change. They are perceived by many as being very traditional in nature, and stuck in the past, refusing to look towards the future. Heritage has also been accused of abusing its tax exempt status, by attempting to influence and lobby legislature, despite the fact that they are expressly forbidden from doing so by their tax code classification.


  1. Heritage Foundation (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  2. Heritage Foundation (n.d.). [http://www.heritage.org/About/35thAnniversary.cfm The Heritage Foundation’s 35th Anniversary: A History of Achievements. Retrieved September 21, 2009 from
  3. Berkowitz, B (2008, July). The Heritage Foundation's 35 years. Z Magazine, 4.
  4. Heritage Foundation (2009, September 17). Fix Health Care Policy. Retrieved September 28, 2009.
  5. Heritage Foundation (2009, September 28). Why are we Letting Iran Catch Up?. Retrieved September 28, 2009 from The Heritage Foundation, The Foundry Web site: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/09/28/why-are-we-letting-iran-catch-up/
  6. The Heritage Foundation (2009, August 24). D.C. School Choice Supporters Protest Education Sec. Duncan. Retrieved September 28, 2009 from The Heritage Foundation, The Foundry Web site: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/08/24/dc-school-choice-supporters-protest-education-secretary-duncan/
  7. Heritage Foundation (n.d.). Staff. Retrieved September 16, 2009 from The Heritage Foundation, Web site: http://www.heritage.org/About/Staff/
  8. Weisberg, J. (1998, January 9). Happy Birthday, Heritage Foundation. Slate.