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The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute, popularly known as a "think tank," whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values, and a strong national defense. Founded in 1973, the Heritage Foundation has proven to be effective, gaining national influence during the administrations of Presidents ronald reagan and george h.w. bush. This influence grew in the 1990s, as conservative Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994. Speaker of the House newt gingrich of Georgia declared just after the 1994 election, "Heritage is, without question, the most far-reaching conservative organization in the country in the war of ideas, and one which has had a tremendous impact not just in Washington, but literally across the planet."
The Heritage Foundation is a nonpartisan, tax-exempt institution and is governed by an independent board of trustees. It relies on the private financial support of individuals, foundations, and corporations for its income and accepts no government funds and performs no contract work. Currently, it receives support from more than 200,000 contributors. Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
The staff of the Heritage Foundation includes policy and research analysts who examine issues in a wide variety of fields, including the legislative and executive branches of government, domestic policy, education, corporations, foreign policy, the United Nations, Asian studies, and other areas of public concern. Once the researchers have made their findings, the foundation markets the results to its primary audiences: members of Congress, key congressional staff members, policy makers in the Executive Branch, the news media, and the academic and policy communities.
The Heritage Foundation publicizes its work through weekly, monthly, and quarterly periodicals, including Policy Review. It also provides public speakers to promote its positions and convenes conferences and meetings on policy issues.
The Heritage Foundation has played an important role in advancing conservative ideas, especially after the election of Republican majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in 1994. The Republican "Contract with America" agenda sought major changes in the size and power of the federal government. Heritage Foundation staff played a key role behind the scenes in helping to craft and refine legislative proposals. The overhaul of the system of agricultural subsidies and the first comprehensive rewriting of the Telecommunications law embraced free-market approaches advocated by the foundation. Its research and proposals also shaped the 1996 Welfare reform bill. This was followed by a period of intensive fundraising and recruitment of members in such initiatives as the Leadership for America campaign. This activity led to the Heritage Foundation exceeding its two-year goal of $85 million in donations. In 2001 the Heritage Foundation actively supported a program of sweeping federal tax reforms that were eventually signed into law by President george w. bush.
Heritage Foundation. Available online at <www.heritage.org> (accessed July 27, 2003).