A Black Mark For The Brookings Institution

Oct 5, 2015 by

When Liz Warren says “Jump!”, the Brookings Institution says “How high?” How else to explain the think tank’s firing of an economist because of his writing?

First Amendment: When Sen. Liz Warren says “Jump!” the Brookings Institution says “How high?” How else to explain the think tank’s firing of a top economist because his writing was at odds with her leftist agenda?

Confronted by a Massachusetts politician with a history of fast-buck house-flipping, undisclosed clients and a whopper of a claim to American Indian heritage to benefit from affirmative action at Harvard University, the storied center-left Brookings Institution shouldn’t have given Sen. Elizabeth Warren the time of day when she attacked one of its top economists.

But all it took was one letter from the powerful pol complaining of a minor technical rules breach by Robert Litan in a paper presented to the Senate. In it, Litan warned about how proposed Labor Department regulations would force consumers to use automated phone systems instead of live financial advisors.

And boom! His four decades of affiliation with Brookings were over.

Warren had his scalp just hours after sending a letter complaining that a paper he presented to Congress had been financed by the Capital Group mutual fund, which proved that he had been “bought.”

It was a disgusting accusation, given Litan’s sterling reputation for economic expertise and full disclosure. Brookings secured his resignation based on a rule that he hadn’t even been told about — that research paid for by others could not mention the Brookings affiliation.

The de facto firing was a huge insult to someone who helped make Brookings a prestigious think tank since 1974. “He’s a first-class scholar, very productive,” said Johns Hopkins University economics professor Steve Hanke, who has known Litan for 40 years.

The real issue, according to five top Democratic economists who wrote an angry letter to Brookings, was that Warren’s meddling and Brookings’ complicity with it “threatens ad hominem attacks on any author who may be associated with an industry or interest whose views are contrary to hers.”

If Brookings had any self-respect, it would ask Warren to write “a substantive rebuttal to the paper in question,” rather than just attack the man’s sponsorship, the economists added.

The bottom line here is Warren’s using her power to interfere. Brookings’ whimper amounts to what author Jonah Goldberg calls liberal fascism — the stifling of dissent through technicalities, legalisms and Alinskyite personal attacks instead of arguments based on ideas.

“If you like excessive government regulations and don’t like entrepreneurship and innovation, then Litan is not your kind of economist,” Hanke noted.

This was petty, faculty-lounge backbiting politics but with the real teeth of power politics.

And it raises questions about free thought, the First Amendment and academic freedom. Brookings should be at the forefront of all that. Instead, it’s taking orders from a would-be commissar.

Source: A Black Mark For The Brookings Institution – Investors.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.