|Motto||Turning Intellect into Influence|
|Founder||Antony Fisher and William J. Casey|
|Type||Public policy think tank|
|Headquarters||52 Vanderbilt Avenue|
(FYE September 2015)
|International Center for Economic Policy Studies|
The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (renamed in 1981 from the International Center for Economic Policy Studies) is a conservative 501(c)(3) non-profit American think tank focused on domestic policy and urban affairs, established in New York City in 1977 by Antony Fisher and William J. Casey. The organization describes its mission as to "develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility". Its message is communicated through books, articles, interviews, speeches, op-eds, and through the institute's quarterly publication City Journal.
The International Center for Economic Policy Studies (ICEPS) was founded by Antony Fisher and William J. Casey in 1978. ICEPS changed its name to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in 1981. The Institute's first president was Jeffrey Bell, who was succeeded in 1980 by William H. Hammett, who served until 1995. In 1980, the Institute (then ICEPS) began publishing its Manhattan Report on Economic Policy, a monthly periodical featuring briefs by leading market economists and analysts. David Asman was the first editor of the reports and continued the post until 1982.
The Institute produced a number of highly acclaimed books during the early 1980s that introduced the concepts of supply-side economics and privatization of services to a wider audience. In 1981, Institute program director George Gilder published Wealth and Poverty, a best-selling book often referred to as the "Bible of the Reagan administration". A New York Times reviewer called it "A Guide to Capitalism", arguing that it offered "a creed for capitalism worthy of intelligent people." The book was a New York Times bestseller and eventually sold over a million copies.
Other books on supply-side economics published during this era include The Economy in Mind (1982), by Warren Brookes, and The Supply-Side Solution (1983), edited by Timothy Roth and Bruce Bartlett. The latter declares in its first sentence: "As accepted economic theory, orthodox Keynesian economics is dead". The Institute sponsored a documentary film in 1983 based on the book, The State Against Blacks, by George Mason University professor Walter E. Williams. The film debuted on New York area public TV station WNET on June 27, and presented Williams's thesis that government policies have done more to impede than to encourage black economic progress.
In 1982, the Institute paid $30,000 to a little-known social scientist named Charles Murray to write what became his landmark book, Losing Ground, published in 1984. The book paved the way for federal welfare reform in 1996.
In 1990, the Institute founded its quarterly magazine, City Journal, in response to perceptions that New York City was in a downward spiral, and broader anxieties about the perceived decay of American cities generally. City Journal has been called "arguably America's best magazine" by economist Thomas Sowell, and "the great Fool Killer in the arena of urban policy" by novelist Tom Wolfe, City Journal has articulated and promoted ideas that have been credited with driving the urban renaissance of recent decades. The magazine was edited by Peter Salins and then Fred Siegel in the early 1990s. Fortune editor Myron Magnet was hired by the Institute as editor of the magazine in 1994, where he served until 2007. As of 2018[update], the magazine is edited by Brian C. Anderson.
Lawrence J. Mone was named president of the Institute in 1995, taking over from William H. Hammett. He joined the Institute in 1982, serving as a public policy specialist, program director and vice president before being named the Institute's fourth president.
The Institute established the Center for Education Innovation (CEI) in 1989, an organization devoted to transforming public education by shifting accountability from bureaucracies to schools as a means of creating public school choice. The CEI helped create a number of small, alternative public schools in New York and advised New York Governor George Pataki in crafting the state's landmark charter school law in 1998, which authorized the creation of autonomous public schools. The Institute thereafter continued to work closely with school officials to promote the idea of school choice nationwide.
Senior fellow Peter W. Huber published his first book, Liability: The Legal Revolution and Its Consequences, in 1990. The book described the transformation of modern tort law since the 1960s, and shows how the dramatic increase in liability lawsuits has had an adverse effect on the safety, health, the cost of insurance, and individual rights. Later on, Walter Olson's work at the Institute culminated with the hugely influential book, The Litigation Explosion, in 1992. The book was one of the most widely discussed general-audience books on law of its time, and led the Washington Post to dub him "intellectual guru of tort reform".
The Institute enjoyed close ties to the administration of New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had become a regular at Institute luncheons and lectures after his failed mayoral campaign in 1989. Violent crime in New York City had recently hit a peak of 2,245 homicides in 1990. The Spring 1992 Issue of City Journal was devoted to "The Quality of Urban Life", and featured articles on crime, education, housing, and the serious deterioration of the city's public spaces. The issue caught Giuliani's eye as he prepared to run for mayor again in 1993. The campaign contacted City Journal editor Fred Siegel to develop tutorial sessions for the candidate with experts on education, housing, and crime. Among the policies embraced by his administration was the "broken-windows" theory of policing, which had already begun to be adopted on some levels by leadership in the NYPD.
During the 2000 election, candidate George W. Bush cited Myron Magnet's, The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass (1993), as having a profound impact on how he conducted his approach to public policy. Bush went on to say "The Dream and the Nightmare by Myron Magnet crystallized for me the impact the failed culture of the '60s had on our values and society".
The Institute established the Center for Education Innovation (CEI) in 1990, an organization devoted to advancing meaningful reforms in public education to ensure the school is the center and driving force of public education reform and innovation. The CEI helped create a number of small, alternative public schools in New York and advised New York Governor George Pataki in crafting the state's landmark charter school law in 1998. To this day, the Institute works closely with school officials to promote the idea of school choice nationwide. Senior fellow Peter W. Huber published his first book, Liability: The Legal Revolution and Its Consequences, in 1990. The book described the transformation of modern tort law since the 1960s, and shows how the dramatic increase in liability lawsuits has had an adverse effect on the safety, health, the cost of insurance, and individual rights. Later on, Walter Olson's work at the Institute culminated in the highly influential book, The Litigation Explosion, in 1992. The book was one of the most widely discussed general-audience books on law of its time, and led the Washington Post to dub him "intellectual guru of tort reform".
After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the Institute formed the Center for Tactical Counterterrorism (CTCT), later renamed the Center for Policing Terrorism (CPT). The group was created at the request of the NYPD, to provide research into new policing techniques with the goal of retraining officers to become "first preventers" to future mass-casualty attacks. Led by executive director R.P. Eddy, the CTCT held a conference with highly regarded counterterrorism experts in the world and developed a strategy to transform the NYPD's approach to urban counterterrorism by blending intelligence gathering and analysis with traditional policing. One of the most visible components of this new approach was the overseas liaison program, which placed NYPD officers with police departments in foreign countries for the purposes of intelligence gathering, relationship building, and information sharing. Eddy brought on board Tim Connors, a West Point and Notre Dame Law School graduate, to oversee the day-to-day operations of the CTCT. The CTCT began publishing reports and white papers on intelligence fusion centers, local counterterrorism strategies, and intelligence-led policing. With the research assistance of Institute staffers Mark Riebling and Pete Patton, the center produced rapid-response briefings on major terrorist attacks around the world and presented them at weekly meetings with the Counterterrorism Bureau. The Institute's counterterrorism strategy also built upon Broken Windows and CompStat policing models by training police in problem-solving techniques, data analysis, and order maintenance. In January 2005, the CTCT cautioned against the construction of a new United Nations structure over the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which would have increased the value of the tunnel as a potential terrorist target. CTCT, and later CPT, continued publishing research until 2008 when it was absorbed into National Consortium for Advanced Policing.
In other areas of policy concern, the Institute's director of legal policy James R. Copland in 2003 began a long-running series of surveys on the civil litigation industry called Trial Lawyers, Inc. Building on previous work in civil litigation by fellows Olson and Huber, the series aims to survey civil litigation industry, highlight abuses by attorneys, and provide a readable source of information on current and trending practices. Since the 2000s, the Institute has added a number of experts in infrastructure and municipal financing. Harvard professor Edward Glaeser and New York Post columnist Nicole Gelinas joined the Institute in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
In 2010, Institute senior fellow Steve Malanga (a former Crain Communications executive editor) published Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer, warning that a self-interested coalition of public-sector unions and government-financed community activists would harm taxpayers. In 2013, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush called Malanga "the best thinker on state and local fiscal matters".
After the financial crisis of 2007–2008, senior fellow Nicole Gelinas wrote her first book, After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street — and Washington (Encounter, 2011). In the book, she argues that after over two decades of broken regulation and the federal government's adoption of a "too big to fail" policy for the largest or most complex financial companies eventually posed an untenable risk to the economy. The Institute has also worked closely with other experts in financial policy, including Professor Charles W. Calomiris at Columbia Business School. Calomiris has written critically of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations passed in response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis, arguing that the law doubles down on "too big to fail" and does not prevent the government from subsidizing mortgage risk, which fueled the crisis.
In 2011, Edward Glaeser released Triumph of the City, in which he makes an urgent case for the importance and splendor of cities. Healthcare expert Avik Roy joined the Institute as a senior fellow in 2011. In that year, Roy's highly acclaimed healthcare policy blog "The Apothecary", begun in 2009 in response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was picked up by Forbes and integrated into their website in 2011. Roy's blog went on to become one of the most influential conservative voices on health care policy. In 2014, the Institute published Roy's replacement proposal for the Affordable Care Act, in a report called Transcending Obamacare.
Paul Howard, the Institute's director of health policy, has focused considerable attention on other medical issues including FDA reform and biopharmaceutical innovation. Howard is a member of the Institute's Project FDA, which advocates for regulatory reform to allow private industry to advance innovation in medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
In 2012, conservative social critical and Institute senior fellow Kay Hymowitz released Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, arguing that too many American men in their 20s have started to prolong adolescence. Governing magazine columnist and urban-policy blogger Aaron Renn also joined the Institute in 2012.
The Institute founded its quarterly magazine on urban policy and culture called City Journal in 1990. As of 2018[update], it is edited by Brian C. Anderson, and notable contributors include Heather Mac Donald, Theodore Dalrymple, Nicole Gelinas, Steven Malanga, Edward L. Glaeser, Kay Hymowitz, Victor Davis Hanson, Judith Miller, and John Tierney. It has been described as "one of America's most successful journals of urban affairs".
The Adam Smith Society was founded by the Institute in 2011. The organization is a nationwide chapter-based association of business school students to promote discussion about the moral, social, and economic benefits of capitalism. As of 2018[update], the organization had nine professional chapters, located in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, London, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., and 33 student chapters at most of the top business schools across the country, including the Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Created in 2006, the Institute's Veritas Fund for Higher Education was a donor advised fund that invested in universities and professors who are committed to bringing intellectual pluralism to their institutions. The fund invested in courses related to western civilization, the American founding, and political economy.
The Institute formed its Project FDA in 2006 to focus on ways to improve FDA regulations and create a faster, safer drug and medical-device pipeline. Notable members of the committee include former FDA commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach and former Oklahoma senator (now Institute senior fellow) Tom Coburn.
In 2007, the Institute introduced its Young Leaders Circle, providing New York's young professionals with a forum to discuss policy ideas, cultural issues, and public affairs. The group hosts regular events with prominent speakers which have included Rupert Murdoch, Tom Wolfe, Ken Mehlman, William Bratton, and many others.
Economics21 (E21) joined the Institute in 2013 as the organization's Washington-based research center focused on economic issues and innovative policy solutions, led by the former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor during the Reagan administration, Diana Furchtgott-Roth. E21 has a partnership with the Shadow Open Market Committee, which was established in 2009, prior to its association with the Institute. The independent group of economists meet twice a year to evaluate the policy choices and actions of the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee. E21 partners with the Shadow Open Market Committee (SOMC), an independent group of economists, first organized in 1973 by Professors Karl Brunner, from the University of Rochester, and Allan Meltzer, from Carnegie Mellon University, to provide a monetarist alternative to the views on monetary policy and its inflation effects then prevailing at the Federal Reserve and within the economics profession. Its original objective was to evaluate the policy choices and actions of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), but has since broadened its scope to cover a wide range of macroeconomic policy issues. With members drawn from academic institutions and private organizations, the Committee meets semi-annually and publishes position papers on its website.
In 2015, the Institute launched SchoolGrades.org, claiming that it was the only grading system that uses a rigorous, common standard to compare schools across the U.S.—accounting for differences in academic standards across states and each school's unique economic profile to provide a comprehensive picture of school performance in core subjects. The Institute also launched The Beat in 2015. The Beat is an email that focuses on issues that matter most to New York, drawing on the work of Manhattan Institute scholars: transportation, education, quality of life, and the local goings-on at City Hall.
The Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner was created in 2001 to honor those individuals helping to foster the revitalization of our nation's cities. It is named after Alexander Hamilton because, like the Institute, he was a fervent proponent of commerce and civic life. Throughout the years, the Institute has expanded the scope of the prize to celebrate leaders on local, state, and national levels, working in public policy, culture, and philanthropy. Past honorees include: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, William F. Buckley Jr., Rudolph Giuliani, Tom Wolfe, Rupert Murdoch, Raymond Kelly, Henry Kissinger, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, George Kelling, and Eva Moskowitz.
The Institute's research seeks to develop and promote free-market ideas and is focused generally on urban policy, education, public finance and pensions, energy and the environment, health policy, legal reform, and economics. In all these spheres, the Institute's fellows approach their work from the perspective that economic choice and individual responsibility are critically important to successful public policy. The Institute's research is presented at conferences and in reports, op-eds, and testimony before government committees and panels.
The Institute addresses both national and local issues, with state and local policy research focused on municipal finance, public pensions, infrastructure, welfare, policing, and housing. Helping municipalities and states manage their budgets and public-employee benefits systems have been a key part of the Institute's research work.
The Institute's work has been especially influential in its home city of New York, where ideas promoted by the Institute have driven its urban renaissance in recent years. At the 2006 Alexander Hamilton Award dinner hosted by the Institute, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who oversaw the city's massive crime drop in the late 1990s, said, "If there was a charge of plagiarism for political programs, I'd probably be in a lot of trouble, because I think we plagiarized most of them, if not all of them, from the pages of City Journal and analysis of the Manhattan Institute".
The Institute was one of the key institutions that pressed for reform of the welfare system in the mid-1990s. Charles Murray, while an Institute fellow from 1981 to 1990, wrote his groundbreaking book Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 (1984) argued that the welfare state had fostered a culture and cycle of dependency that was to the detriment of both welfare recipients and the United States as a whole. This launched a debate culminating in President Bill Clinton proposing to "end welfare as we know it" and the passage of landmark federal welfare reform in 1996. More recently, marking the 20th anniversary of federal welfare reform, the Institute published a report by former senior fellow Scott Winship that evaluated the plight of the poor since 1996. He concluded that, contrary to popular opinion, reform was more successful than not, helping move many single mothers off the dole and into the workforce. Furthermore, he reported that children—in particular, those in single-mother families—were significantly less likely to be poor today than they were before welfare reform.
The institute has long focused on the health of American cities, a theme of its 1997 book, the Twenty-First Century City: Resurrecting Urban America, authored by then-Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who later served as Chairman of the Institute's Center for Civic Innovation, More recently, the Institute has begun an annual series of books featuring innovative ideas for urban policymakers. 2015's The Next Urban Renaissance featured proposals to expand affordable housing; improve urban transportation; implement entrepreneurship zones; rethink the economic anxiety around "brain drain"; and improve pre-k education. 2016's Retooling Metropolis featured proposals to use technology to improve the enforcement of public health regulations; to implement pricing mechanisms that could address urban parking shortages; to use microunits as a tool to promote affordable housing; and to improve procurement policies for municipal governments.
Howard Husock joined the Manhattan Institute in 2006 as vice president of policy research and director of the institute's Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, which focuses on recognizing the best of America's new generation of nonprofit leaders. Husock has also written widely on housing and urban policy, including his book The Trillion-Dollar Housing Mistake: The Failure of American Housing Policy (Ivan R. Dee, 2003). Before joining the Institute, Husock served as director of case studies in public policy and management at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government from 1987 to 2006. A former broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker whose work won three Emmy Awards with WGBH in Boston, Husock was appointed to the board of directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 2013 by President Barack Obama.
Steve Malanga has written for years warning that public-sector unions and poor political leadership have bankrupted once-rich states, like California and New Jersey, with unsustainable pension and benefits systems for their public employees. Malanga has also profiled cities facing budgetary problems, including Stockton, California; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas; and Dallas, Texas. In 2013, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush called Malanga "the best thinker on state and local fiscal matters".
Josh McGee, vice president at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, joined the Manhattan Institute as a senior fellow in 2015. A leading expert in retirement plan design, McGee was appointed as chairman of the Texas State Pension Review Board by Governor Greg Abbott in late 2015. His appointment was vigorously opposed by public union groups and labor organizers in Texas.
Senior fellow Daniel DiSalvo's 2015 book, Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences, argues that the dominance of public sector unions in state and local government allows for costly compensation packages that crowd-out essential government services.
In 2016, the Institute commissioned a report by transportation privatization expert Robert Poole (of the Reason Foundation) on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the bi-state agency that oversees bridges, tunnels, and airports in the New York metropolitan area. The report argues that the bi-state agency is plagued by "politicized decision-making, money-losing facilities and declining financial viability", and recommends a total reinvention of the Port Authority's business model, including divesting from real estate assets and financing new projects with public-private partnerships.
The Institute has pioneered reforms in policing, most notably the use of community policing methods and more specifically quality-of-life policing, also known as "broken windows theory" after the landmark 1982 Atlantic Monthly article "Broken Windows" by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. Broken Windows posits that dealing more effectively and comprehensively with low-level quality of life crime would reduce more high-profile violent crime. Broken Windows policing was put to its first major large-scale test in the mid-1990s after the election of Rudolph Giuliani as mayor of New York City. Giuliani was an outspoken advocate of community policing, frequently citing the influence "Broken Windows" had on his thinking as mayor. Giuliani appointed Kelling's intellectual collaborator William J. Bratton as New York City Police Commissioner in 1994, saying, "I chose Bill Bratton because he agreed with the Broken Windows theory". In 1998, George Kelling and Catherine Coles expanded on this idea in their book, Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities, arguing that control of disorderly behavior in public places generally will lead to a significant drop in serious crime. Police chiefs like William Bratton (in both New York and Los Angeles) have implemented "broken windows" and related policies, and have reported falling crime rates.
Bratton took these methods to Los Angeles on being appointed Los Angeles Police Department chief of police. Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker was lauded for his Broken Windows-based approach to crime after taking office in 2006.
Senior fellow Heather Mac Donald argues that crime prevention statistics from the 2008–2009 recession improved as a result of efficient policing, high incarceration rates, more police officers working, data-driven approaches such as CompStat which helps commanders target high-crime areas, and a policy of holding precinct commanders accountable for results. This research opposes the commonly-held notion that crime inevitably spikes when economic conditions worsen. She contends the decline of American cities, beginning during the 1960s, was a result of crime "spiraling out of control". Most recently, Mac Donald has been notable for her argument that crime rates (or, in some instances, murder rates) have spiked in many urban areas as a result of the "Ferguson Effect": the tendency, in the aftermath of 2014's riots in Ferguson, Missouri, for police officers to engage in less proactive policing for fear of generating backlash from local populations or the media. Mac Donald has argued that the consequences of this trend adversely affect African-American communities, stating that "there is no government agency more dedicated to the idea that black lives matter than the police".
In the 2010s, Institute experts were embedded in the Detroit Police Department, helping the city implement Broken Windows policing in order to reduce a serious crime problem. The Institute funded an outreach team that shared its expertise in criminology and policy implementation with the Detroit Police Department, focusing on the "broken windows" approach. The Institute is closely associated with CompStat, a data-driven police management approach that uses crime analysis, information sharing, and accountability to ensure that police departments focus on preventing crimes. George Kelling, the Institute's loaned executive to the City of Detroit, and Michael Allegretti, the Institute's director of state and local programs, implemented two pilot programs in the Northwest neighborhood of Grandmont-Rosedale and the Northeast neighborhood of East English Village. These programs, implemented in collaboration with the police and community groups, aimed to stem the rise of home invasions by increasing the felt presence of the police, engaging community members in problem solving, and focusing special attention on the neighborhoods' most at risk offenders. One source reported that in the first year following implementation, "home invasions dropped 26 percent".
In the higher education world, Institute senior fellow Beth Akers is a leading advocate for reform of the federal student loan and financial aid system. According to Akers, coauthor of Game of Loans: The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Debt (2016), the system is simply far too complex for the average student or parent borrower to navigate well. She argues that the Department of Education should simplify federal financial aid, adopt a single, income-driven repayment plan for federal student loans, and bring market discipline into student lending in innovative ways.
Former senior fellow Jay P. Greene's research on school choice was cited four times in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, which affirmed the constitutionality of school vouchers.
In March 1989, The Institute employed Seymour "Sy" Fliegel as a senior fellow and launched the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI). A former deputy superintendent of East Harlem's Community School District 4, Fliegel had launched a program in September 1970 to transform failing schools in District 4 into thriving, small, community-based schools. Fliegel and Institute senior fellow James Macguire wrote a book, The Miracle of East Harlem: The Fight for Choice in Public Education, to demonstrate how education reform can be achieved one school at a time. The Manhattan Institute has since launched a website, SchoolGrades.org, that ranks schools nationally based on a normed measure linked to the federal government's NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) exam.
Institute senior fellow Marcus Winters is a nationally recognized expert on charter schools, accountability, and teacher quality. His research in New York and Denver has found that students with special needs were less likely to switch schools if they were attending a charter elementary school than a traditional public school, contrary to accusations from critics that charter schools “cherry-pick” students.
A 2017 study by Institute Senior Fellow Max Eden found that New York City students and teachers reported declining disciplinary environments on campus in the wake of reforms by Mayor Bill de Blasio that made it more difficult to suspend misbehaving students. A New York Post editorial described the findings as "disturbing — not least because trouble is rising disproportionately at schools that mainly serve minority children".
Institute fellows highlight how abundant and affordable power helps fuel growth and prosperity across the globe. The Institute's energy policy research is focused on climate, geopolitics, regulations, and technology.
In 2005, Institute senior fellows Peter Huber and Mark Mills released the book The Bottomless Well, which disputes several popular beliefs about energy. Bill Gates described it as "the only book I’ve seen that really explains energy, its history, and what it will be like going forward". Published amid concern about "peak oil", the book points out that expanding energy supplies mean higher productivity, more jobs, and a growing GDP. Mills has written extensively on the geopolitical opportunities presented by the American energy sector. In a 2016 report, he argued that there has "never been a more opportune time for America to capture the geopolitical 'soft power' benefits from greater oil production and exports". Further, Mills makes the case that the U.S. is poised for a boom in the shale oil industry, driven by technological advancements—specifically big-data analytics.
Institute senior fellow Oren Cass argues that the popular conception of climate change as posing an existential threat to modern civilization is not supported by climate science or economics. Cass states in Foreign Affairs:
The well-established scientific consensus that human activity is causing the climate to change does not extend to judgments about severity. Several factors may help to explain why catastrophists sometimes view extreme climate change as more likely than other worst cases. Catastrophists confuse expected and extreme forecasts and thus view climate catastrophe as something we know will happen". Based on this more measured view, the Institute advocates a common-sense approach to environmental regulation.
In keeping with its commitment to free-market economic principles, the Institute is opposed to high-cost, inefficient government mandates and subsidies. For example, Robert Bryce has written in favor of repealing both the Renewable Fuel Standard and the tax credit for electric vehicles. Bryce has argued at length that, even with exorbitant government subsidies, renewable energy sources are simply inadequate to meet America's energy needs. He has also argued for the expansion of U.S. nuclear energy as a clean fuel source with unsurpassed power density.
The Institute is a proponent of the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) method of extracting natural gas and oil from underground deposits. In response to calls to ban fracking in parts of New York, the Institute released a report in 2011 projecting that allowing fracking could "inject over $11 billion into the state economy".
In a 2016 Institute report, Jonathan Lesser analyzed the cost-benefit analysis undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency of the Clean Power Plan produced by the Obama Administration. Lesser wrote that "the EPA's cost-benefit analysis significantly overestimated the direct benefits of CO2 reductions and co-benefits of accompanying reductions in air-pollutant emissions; its analysis also significantly underestimated the specific costs of meeting future electricity demand". Moreover, Lesser contended that "the CPP will have no physically measurable impact on world climate".
The Institute's health policy team promotes policy reforms asserted to empower patients and consumers by encouraging competition, transparency, accountability, and innovation. The Institute's research in this sphere is focused on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reform, the Affordable Care Act, and Medicare/Medicaid.
Since 2006, the Institute's Project FDA has advocated for FDA reform, asserting that with modern medicine "on the cusp of a radical transformation" due to breakthroughs in precision medicine, the FDA "has struggled to adapt its regulations to new scientific advances". Senior fellows Paul Howard, Peter Huber, and Tom Coburn have all argued that the FDA can be a bridge for innovation, rather than a barrier, getting better medicines to patients, faster, without sacrificing safety. In October 2015, the Institute ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, reading, "Everyone will be a patient someday". The ad included the signatures of over a dozen industry leaders, all in support of the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law by President Obama just over a year later, in December 2016.
The Institute has taken a critical view of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since its inception. In 2013, to enable policymakers, researchers, and everyday Americans to understand more fully the effects of the ACA, the Institute released its Obamacare Impact Map, a joint project of health policy fellows Paul Howard, Avik Roy, and Yevgeniy Feyman. In 2014, the Institute published then senior fellow Avik Roy's proposal for its replacement, titled "Transcending Obamacare". According to Roy, while the ACA delivers on the goal of reducing the number of uninsured Americans, it does so by increasing the cost of U.S. health coverage. More recently, in 2017, the Institute released a report by Yevgeniy Feyman advocating the use of 1332 "state innovation" waivers giving states the flexibility to increase choice, competition, and affordability under the ACA.
The Institute's health care scholars oppose allowing the federal government to negotiate prices in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program and believe that drug price negotiating has adverse effects in the Veterans Administration. Paul Howard argues that the first step in reforming Medicaid is for Congress to enact per-capita spending caps. In 2016, Howard argued that California's Proposition 61–a measure that would have imposed price controls on some prescription drugs in the state – was a flawed proposal that might have actually increased drug prices. Many of Howard's criticisms were echoed by newspaper editorial boards throughout the state and the measure, which had been favored by wide margins just a few months prior, ultimately failed by a 46-54 vote in the November 2016 election.
Institute Senior Fellow Oren Cass goes has argued that the American social safety net's overwhelming emphasis on health care is the unintentional result of skewed incentives. States should therefore be allowed to reroute Medicaid funding to other programs that would more effectively meet the needs of the poor at no extra cost. In a 2017 article for National Review, Cass responded to accusations that repealing the Affordable Care Act would lead to otherwise preventable deaths by writing "In reality, the best statistical estimate of the number of lives saved each year by the ACA is zero".
The Institute's legal scholars author policy papers on various aspects of legal reform. The Center for Legal Policy regularly writes on overcriminalization, corporate governance, and civil litigation reform. Corporate governance reports usually focus on proxy voting records. Overcriminalization issue briefs typically study the growth of the criminal law in state penal codes. Proposed reforms to America's lawsuit practice are published under the center's ongoing publication of Trial Lawyers, Inc. Institute legal policy fellows like James Copland contend that the rule of law in modern America is increasingly being eroded by trial lawyers, prosecutors, and socially oriented shareholder activists, who manipulate the law to achieve objectives outside normal legislative and administrative bounds.
In 2014, the Institute began to study the issue of overcriminalization, the idea that state and federal criminal codes are overly expansive and growing too quickly. At the federal level alone, Institute fellows have identified over 300,000 laws and regulations whose violation can lead to prison time. The Institute asserts that this puts even well-meaning citizens in danger of prosecution for seemingly innocuous conduct. From 2014 to 2016, the Institute produced reports on the status of overcriminalization in five states (North Carolina, Michigan, South Carolina, Minnesota, and Oklahoma) and is continually adding more state-specific research.
In Newark, New Jersey, the Institute partnered with Mayor Cory Booker to implement a new approach to prisoner reentry, based on the principle of connecting ex-offenders with paid work immediately upon release. As the Mayor of Newark, Booker sought to remedy a problem familiar to those in the community: prisoner reentry. A study by William Eimicke, Maggie Gallagher, Stephen Goldsmith for the Institute, Moving Men into the Mainstream: Best Practices in Prisoner Reentry, found that the most successful prisoner-reentry programs were those that employed the work-first model. Booker's staff, and Richard Greenwald, a specialist in the development of workforce, implemented Newark's Prisoner Reentry Initiative (NPRI). As of November 2011, the agencies that contracted with the city through NPRI had enrolled 1,436 program participants, exceeding the benchmark set by the Department of Labor. Provider organizations have placed more than 1,000 people in unsubsidized jobs, with an average hourly wage of $9.32.
Governor Chris Christie thereafter announced his plan to reform the state's prison system, and sought the Institute's analysis of the current system. The final report included a set of recommendations on addressing drug offenses and recidivism, and better aligning New Jersey agencies around a successful reentry strategy.
Given the concern about economic inequality among mainstream academics and commentators, especially since the Great Recession and the release of Thomas Piketty's bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the Institute has produced several pieces of research on this and the related issue of economic mobility in the U.S. In 2014, former senior fellow Scott Winship produced a report, "Inequality Does Not Reduce Prosperity", which examined evidence from across the globe. This report concluded that larger increases in inequality correspond with sharper rises in living standards for the middle class and poor alike, while greater inequality in developed nations tends to accompany stronger economic growth. In a 2015 report, Winship examined the state of economic and residential mobility in the U.S., finding that people who move from their birth states fare better economically than those who stay put. He argues that the U.S. should focus on policies to improve mobility in order to expand opportunities among disadvantaged groups.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow and director of Economics21, has written extensively in support of tax reform. She argues specifically for a reduction in the corporate tax rate and a move to a territorial tax system, in order to make the U.S. more economically competitive on the world stage. In 2015, Roth, together with former fellow Jared Meyer, published the book, Disinherited: How America Is Betraying America's Young, arguing that millennials' plight is the result of government policies that are systematically stacked against young Americans to the benefit of older generations. The book was praised by Elaine Chao: "This is the book you absolutely need to read if you are a millennial or if you care about one! Arm yourself with the numbers Washington would rather you didn't focus on".
The Institute is generally critical of the federal minimum wage. In 2015, it published a report by American Action Forum's Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Ben Gitis, which made the case that an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 would cost 6.6 million jobs. According to a 2016 issue brief by Oren Cass, these deleterious effects are mainly due to the fact that increases in the federal minimum fail to account for differences in local conditions: not all labor markets are the same. Cass has also argued for the introduction of a federal wage subsidy—additional dollars per hour worked delivered via one's paycheck—as a better third way to help low-income workers. In 2015, he wrote that a wage subsidy is superior to both the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) because it incentivizes workforce participation and delivers benefits directly to workers, without distorting the labor market.
Foundations which have contributed over $1 million to the Manhattan Institute include the John M. Olin Foundation, Bradley Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, Searle Freedom Trust, Smith Richardson Foundation, William E. Simon Foundation, the Claude Lambe Foundation, the Gilder Foundation, the Curry Foundation, and the Jaquelin Hume Foundation.
In 2013, hedge fund managers Cliff Asness, Henry Kravis and Thomas McWilliams all cut ties with the Manhattan Institute due to the group's support of the abolition of defined benefit public pensions.
What does the quality of life look like in New York City today? Are New Yorkers thriving or merely surviving? These are questions Manhattan Institute has been asking in its social media-geared publication, “The Beat”—a series of newsletters addressing current urban issues.
Mac Donald: It is extraordinary. And I credit the spread, ultimately, of efficient policing and incarceration. But this is exactly the opposite of what criminologists were hoping for—really gleefully hoping for—that the crime drop began in the '90s nationally would finally reverse itself ...
Many American cities began their decades-long decline in the 1960s, when crime started spiraling out of control.
A report last week from the conservative Manhattan Institute said allowing drilling in New York could inject over $11 billion into the state economy in the years ahead.