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Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National
Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

CONSERVATIVEBLOG.ORG

Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

When We Said “Free Coal,” We Didn’t Want to Subsidize It

President Ronald Reagan famously said: “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

At a time when the Trump Administration is being praised for “draining the swamp” and ending the Obama Administration’s war on the coal industry, National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper reports in the American Spectator that it is simultaneously flirting with the idea of subsidizing Big Coal rather than allowing the market to correct itself.

After reversing the Clean Power Plan, sidelining or rolling back crippling regulations on the coal industry and pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, a plan that was introduced last fall to stop coal-fired power plant closures would make payments to plant owners to the tune of billions of dollars.

As Horace noted:

Just as these salutary changes have been going into effect, some over at the Department of Energy have engaged in what can only be called an over-reach or as a good Baptist might say, “Went from preachin’ to meddlin’.” Rather than focusing on eliminating the industry-destroying regulations that should never have been imposed to allow a return to market equilibrium, DOE staff pushed DOE Secretary Rick Perry to pursue outright subsidies for the coal industry…

Back in September when the DOE presented the plan they explained that, with the decline in existing coal plants and the rise of solar and wind power, there were heightened concerns about the reliability of U.S. power generation. In other words, because wind and solar can only provide intermittent power which is available only when the wind blows and the sun shines, our grid power capability could be caught flat-footed during an emergency.

Curiously the plan was drafted in a way to ensure that only a few energy producers would benefit — namely a few coal plants located in the Midwest and the Northeast corridor. In addition, the cost of these subsidies has been projected to exceed $10 billion annually. There was no explanation given for why the elimination of the onerous anti-coal regulation wouldn’t allow the marketplace to self-correct.

Instead, the plan was sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] and the agency was given 60 days to either reject or allow it to go into effect.

There’s good news and bad news. The good is that FERC rejected DOE’s request. The bad news is that there are other means that could be used to open the subsidy spigot:

Unfortunately the saga isn’t over. Within a couple months of FERC’s ruling, one company has asked the Department of Energy to issue a temporary order granting it access to subsidies under the DOE’s power to regulate energy markets using the “Federal Power Act.” If this request is granted you can be sure that other companies will follow suit.

The Act allows federal intervention in the energy marketplace for reasons of war, snap increases in the price of power and perilous shortages. And it is up to Secretary Perry, President Donald Trump’s pick to drain the swamp at the DOE, to make the call. Horace warned:

[V]igilance is necessary, because in the swamp, it appears that it’s far too tempting for the feds to control energy regulation rather than leaving it to consumers and the market. Hopefully American consumers will win and the swamp will lose.

To read Horace’s commentary, “Rick Perry is Being Asked to Subsidize Coal at DOE” in its entirety, click here.

Scott Pruitt the Science Guy

Over at the Environmental Protection Agency, the sun is shining.

Under the terms of a new proposal, all regulatory actions will be required to be made in broad daylight. The era of what EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt called “secret science” is over.

The announcement is applauded by the National Center’s environmental fellows as a “bold move” that “spells the end of junk science.”

A new rule proposed by Pruitt late last month prohibits EPA staff from basing regulation on scientific data not made available for public review. Additionally, data derived by EPA-funded studies will also now to be available to the public. Pruitt said:

The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of the rule-making process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.

Until now, this data secrecy has created long-standing and costly problems for American businesses and the consumers they serve. According to Kevin Mooney’s article in the Daily Signal:

[Representative Lamar] Smith and other congressional critics point out, for instance, that over the past two decades, the EPA’s air quality regulations have been based on science produced in a taxpayer-funded study from Harvard and Brigham Young University researchers that the agency kept sealed from public scrutiny. The study is widely known as the Six Cities Study.

In 1994, an EPA external science advisory board known as the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee requested the study data, but the agency denied the request. In 1997, Congress also asked, but the EPA again denied the request.

The following year, Congress passed legislation calling for the EPA’s scientific data to be made public, but an appellate court ruled that the law was not enforceable.

In 2013, House members issued a subpoena to compel the EPA to produce the data, which the agency successfully resisted.

The House also passed several bills to ban the practice of “secret science,” but the measures never made it out of the Senate.

Noting how the EPA abused its reliance on “secret science” in the past, National Center Adjunct Fellow Steve Milloy said:

During the Obama administration, the EPA wantonly destroyed 94 percent of the market value of the coal industry, killed thousands of coal mining jobs, and wreaked havoc on coal mining families and communities, all based on data the EPA and its taxpayer-funded university researchers have been hiding from the public and Congress for more than 20 years.

Administrator Pruitt’s decision to bring science into the sunlight spells the end of junk science, which has fueled overregulation by the EPA for years.

National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen noted that Pruitt is seeking to make this proposal “much more difficult for a future anti-science administration to undo” by going through the formal rule-making process.

Commenting on the potential long-term impact of the Pruitt’s intent to ban “secret science,” Bonner said:

This will send shock waves through the ranks of university researchers, who, for decades, have produced “findings” in the knowledge that they would never have to disclose the underlying data. Those who demand that the American people have a “right to know” how their government functions have now been put on notice that this also applies to taxpayer-funded research.

To read the entire Daily Signal article on the EPA announcement on “secret science,” click here.

“America’s Constable” Discusses Life in Law Enforcement

It took almost five decades before Project 21 Co-Chairman Council Nedd II realized he had a true vocation in law enforcement. Now, in a new Daily Caller commentary published during National Police Week, he discusses the “life-long calling” and the personal duty he feels in wearing a badge and putting his life on the line.

Council – who previously held jobs as a teacher, congressional staffer and who still serves his community and an international congregation as a Anglican archbishop – became a Pennsylvania state constable two years ago at the age of 46. He noted:

It took nearly five decades for me to realize the lifelong calling that law enforcement had on me. At 46 years old, I became the oldest rookie officer anyone could remember.

Known as “America’s constable,” Council wrote in the commentary that he’s “a cop at heart.” He also described the inherent dangers he now faces while on the job:

As a constable, each day is starkly different. When I knock on a door to serve a warrant and make an arrest, I have no idea what’s on the other side. Someone you anticipate being difficult can often be surprisingly docile. Other times, you may let down your guard only to find you have a runner or a fighter on your hands.

Despite these dangers, he wrote that there’s nothing he’d rather be doing right now. To read Council’s commentary in its entirety, click here.

Improving the relationship between law enforcement and black communities is a major part of Project 21’s new “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America.” Among the reforms suggested in the Blueprint to help improve these relations are not requiring officers to enforce regulations so they can focus on criminal issues mattering most to residents, lifting restrictions on citizen gun ownership and having police help with gun training and safety, encouraging religious institutions to have themed “First Responder Sundays” and creating additional resources for officers to be able to identify and handle situations involving people with cognitive disabilities.

In his comments about Project 21’s Blueprint recommendations for improving police-community relations, Council said:

Proposals offered in Project 21’s Blueprint can substantially mend the rift between black Americans and law enforcement. Politicians and bureaucrats have inflicted mission creep on officers that hurts their standing in the black community. Project 21 suggests reining in that overreach, working with communities to highlight the value of good policing and keeping situations from unnecessarily escalating.

 

 

Left “Marginalizing” Illegal Immigrants, But John Kelly is Deemed the Racist

In the ongoing effort to sensationalize and demonize the Trump Administration, a rather mundane comment by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is being called “ignorant” and “racist” by the left-wing media.

Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, in an appearance on the Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” pointed out it is actually the left that is “marginalizing” people who are being encouraged come here illegally without the skills they need to succeed in modern American society.

In an interview with National Public Radio, responding to a question about the prosecution of families illegally crossing the border, Kelly replied more broadly about the false promise facing many people entering the United States without permission:

Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They’re not criminals. They’re not MS-13. Some of them are not. But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from – fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English, obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well, they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence.

In his appearance, Horace rebutted some of the accusations made by civil rights attorney Leo Terrell. Making his case, Terrell repeatedly sought to link the fact that his mother had an 8th grade education with his own ability to become an attorney and be allowed on Laura Ingraham’s show that night. He did not explain how his mother’s education affected his own or his career choices. He did say that, in his America, “it’s not how smart you are, it’s what you do with that opportunity.”

This is where Horace eloquently rebutted Terrell by pointing out that the great wave of organized European immigration happened under different circumstances than today’s illegal immigration from the south:

First of all, we’re talking about a 21st century economic environment. Not a 18th century. Not a 19th century. Not even an early 20th century. You could get off the boat and not know the language, not have any type of marketable skills – and still succeed.

Referring specifically to the statement made by Kelly about current opportunities, Horace continued:

Today, we’re already seeing this. All you’ve got to [do is] look and see is who came in the 1990s. Their children are not doing nearly as well. I’m talking about immigrants – many of them illegal – are not doing nearly as well as what we saw in the 1920, the 1930s – all the way up to the 1960s.

We are marginalizing these people by encouraging them to come when they don’t have the skills necessary to compete.

Surprisingly, Terrell – a civil rights attorney – smeared the Irish immigrants of generations past as “criminals, uneducated and had a allegiance to the Catholic Church.” The first accusation is derided by others of Terrell’s belief when it is said about today’s immigrants, so it’s odd he would use it as well. The education issue was addressed by Horace. The religious conspiracy? From a civil rights lawyer? It seems oddly similar to a recent story in Washington, D.C. in which a member of the city council blamed snow on a Jewish conspiracy.

Illegal immigration and its effects on the black community are an issue addressed by Project 21 in its new “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America.” While the portion of the Blueprint addressing the immigration issue – “Stopping Wealth Transfer From the Poor to Non-Citizens” – is not scheduled to be released until June 25, it is described in the executive summary as recommending “bar[ring] illegal aliens from using public services, except in emergencies.”

#MeToo Culture Likens a Diaper Change to Sexual Abuse

A human sexuality “expert” in Australia suggested babies should be consulted as to whether or not they consent to having a soiled diaper changed.

Project 21  member (and father) Jerome Danner, in a new Daily Caller commentary, asked: “Has she actually interacted with a newborn and/or a toddler on a daily and consistent basis?”

Jerome also wonders what constitutes consent when it comes to a baby. Furthermore, how long must one wait before the subject can be broached once again.

In a recent interview on Australian television, Deanne Carson didn’t dispute babies want their dirty “nappies” changed. She nonetheless suggested that  – in an effort to prevent any potential for sexual abuse – adding a step to the process in which “you leave a space, and wait for body language, and wait to make eye contact.” Doing so, she insisted, is “letting that child know that their response matters.” She said this “empowers children with their rights.”

Putting the ridiculous notion into perspective, Jerome noted in his commentary:

There are times when it is quite possible that a noble idea has no actual logic to it whatsoever. So, as a theory, such an idea may look attractive. However, when a thoughtful individual mulls over the proposition, they may end up finding it harder and harder to implement realistically. The proposed solution to whatever problem ends up having no real pragmatism to its premises.

For example, one of the presenters in the video included in this post pointed out an inherent flaw in Carson’s logic. He said that his 16-month-old daughter, when posed with a choice about changing her dirty diaper, always refuses. It’s not a “no means no” situation, but a sassy child. At her age, she obviously has no concept of the health risks or the detrimental effects on the local environment related to her precociousness. Jerome noted that abiding by Carson’s standard could easily be considered “neglect”:

Honestly, when children are at a very young age, the key word is “trust.”

They trust you to do the right thing by them as they will need time and maturity before they ever gain the slightest understanding of what it means to give consent over their body. Actually, this should easily prompt another inquiry, especially from those parents with a child with a certain intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities (such that comes with having Down syndrome). If a child has a disorder that causes a substantial impact on their speech (or lack thereof) and/or their physical movement (or lack thereof), then what does consent look like in such a child’s case?

In occurrences such as these, waiting for consent may be tantamount to neglecting your child until you are completely sure that they are affirming that it is okay for them to be touched and changed.

To read Jerome’s Daily Caller commentary – “That Statement on Babies’ Consent to Change Diapers by the Australian ‘Sexuality Expert is Absurd” – can he viewed in its entirety by clicking here.

 

 

Ben Carson’s Welfare Reform Defended: “Separate the Needy from the Greedy”

Horace Cooper

Promoting a better deal for those receiving government assistance, Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper showed support for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s proposal for welfare reform in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As part of the Trump Administration’s comprehensive efforts to reform the American welfare system, Secretary Carson suggested increasing the contribution recipients make for their subsidized housing, making that amount based on gross income and streamlining the process for local housing officials to include work requirements in exchange for taxpayer assistance.

In the article, Cooper said:

Part of what we’ve been asking for is that we engage in a new round of welfare reform. We want to separate the needy from the greedy. Able-bodied people ought to be encouraged to become independent, then with the resources we have, we’re able to better help those who can’t help themselves.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Project 21’s support for welfare reform can be found in its new “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America.” It calls for enhanced welfare reform as part of a better deal on employment policy, and specifically calls for work requirements to be attached to assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamps”).

The employment policies of Project 21’s Blueprint were released on May 7. Other policy areas will be released weekly through July 9.

 

Embracing America’s Promise is the Key to Escaping Mental Prison

It didn’t take much for hip hop star Kanye West to get the political left up in arms.

Celebrities simply aren’t supposed to praise conservative politicians or the ideas they espouse. Especially if that celebrity is black. It’s even more maddening when that celebrity is the zeitgeist and cannot be silenced.

Some have tried. Critics have suggested that the always erratic and eccentric West may now actually be mentally ill. Boycotts of his music are underway. What they are avoiding, however, is a real discussion about any deeper context that can be found in West’s comments.

That hasn’t been lost on Project 21 members such as Derrick Hollie and Co-Chairman Stacy Washington, who have both done high-profile interviews related to what was said and how people reacted.

Adding to the discussion is Project 21 member Richard Dimery, the grandson of a South Carolina sharecropper. Picking up on West’s comments in which he likened modern mental slavery to a prison, Richard warns that the current fixation on race and differences could have devastating consequences down the line for America:

When Kanye West said that black Americans who claim that the race has suffered under 400 years of slavery “sounds like a choice,” please understand that it’s all about people thinking rationally and thinking for themselves. That’s how you break the chains these days.

Before it was outlawed by the 13th Amendment over 150 years ago, physical slavery was enforced by whips and chains and dogs and laws. Today, there’s mental slavery – a devotion to the idea that we are permanent victims. In subscribing to that notion, we believe our freedom is something beyond our control. What we focus on – real or imaged – we draw to ourselves.

We are all now equal inheritors of the promise that is America. But it is available to us only if we step up and responsibly claim it. Those who wish to be our oppressors, and whom too many cower from, are now an insignificant minority who lack any law to justify their actions and agenda. Their power over us is mind control – which we allow to control us through their cunning and deceitful words alone. Their labels are “black” and “white,” which we willingly accept.

The current back-and-forth on issues of race is ineffective. If we don’t change the way we talk about race to get away from the notion that we are systematically oppressed, it will probably end in America being destroyed.

America will be stronger and more beautiful if we are Americans first and not disparate tribes of people.

Stop Encouraging the CIA to Go Rogue… Confirm Gina Haspel

Gina Haspel’s confirmation as the next CIA director is in trouble because she did what she was supposed to do: Follow directions of her superiors.

Haspel was in charge of a so-called “black site” in Thailand during George W. Bush’s administration where “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding were used. Senators are now using Haspel’s connection to the black site as an excuse for opposing her nomination.

In so doing, they’re sending a terrible message to CIA employees:  It’s okay to substitute their own judgment for that of their superiors.

That’s called going rogue, and if Haspel had done so, she would be unqualified to serve as director of the U.S.’s premier intelligence agency.  

Whatever one’s view of enhanced interrogation, it was the policy of the Bush Administration deemed lawful by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

I have news for Senators Paul and McCain and for Democrats opposing Haspel’s confirmation: The Senate’s advice-and-consent powers aren’t supposed to be used to relitigate policies of past administrations.  They’re supposed to be used to ensure that a president’s appointees are qualified for the positions for which they’ve been nominated.

Gina Haspel is eminently qualified, having risen from a case officer to deputy director over her 33-year career at the CIA.  President Obama’s CIA Director Leon Panetta praised her as “someone who really knows the CIA inside out” while Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said “she is capable, smart, very experienced, well-respected by the Agency rank and file and a great person.”

We know what happens when government officials feel free to play by their own rules: We get James Comey, we get Andrew McCabe, and we get Peter Strzok.

Don’t turn the CIA into another DOJ.  Confirm Gina Haspel.

 

David A. Ridenour, President
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Hip Hop Abandons Trump When He Can Do the Most for Black America

There’s a radio station in Detroit that now refuses to play music by Kanye West. A DJ at another station recently announced “[t]he Kanye boycott has begun.”

It’s not because of the quality of West’s music. It’s due to the statements he’s made in his support of President Donald Trump.

It made Project 21 member Derrick Hollie wonder. In a new commentary published by Medium, Hollie – who is also the president of the group Reaching America – asked: “At what point did Trump become such a villain, and the blame for everything and everyone’s problem[s]?”

After all, as Derrick pointed out, the hip hop community – and prominent blacks, generally – were supporters of Donald Trump before his run for the White House. Favorable references to the future commander-in-chief can be found in the lyrics of songs probably never performed anymore by Jay Z, Ice Cube, Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj. An analysis of over 25 years of hip hop songs conducted by FiveThirtyEight considered 60 percent of Trump-related lyrics to be positive and only 13 percent negative.

Derrick posited: “So something besides just ideological difference has to be going on here, right?” Maybe, but it still poses a conundrum.

In West’s new song “Ye vs. The People,” in which he and T.I. engage in a political debate/rap battle, West, says “the problem with this damn nation… [is] we ain’t made it off the plantation.” In a recent interview with TMZ, West spoke to the claim that American blacks are suffering from 400 years of slavery [a premise that ignores the 13th Amendment] in which he said “[t]hat sounds like a choice.”

That’s the line that gets repeated. That’s the line being used to justify taking his music off the air. In the same interview, however, West engaged in some rhetorical judo to call any modern allegations of slavery in America to actually being “mentally in prison.” He continued: “I like the word prison because slavery goes direct to the idea of blacks… [P]rison is something that [cross-culturally] unites us… That we’re with the human race.”

It was hardly, as it was portrayed, West callously saying “get over it.” And Derrick pointed out in his commentary that “I do believe many of the policy priorities so strongly supported by the left do more to keep people poor than they do to lift them out of poverty.”

Hence, any willful ignorance of way the world works to prop up a political establishment actually is a kind of mental prison.

TMZ staffer Van Lathan tried to call out West after the interview, saying: “While you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. That is what West seemed to mean in his interview. And demonizing the Trump Administration is not going to change a status quo established by the political left that has caused much of the marginalization Lathan decried. Derrick wrote:

It’s hard to argue against policies that will reduce energy poverty for black and minority communities, or to defend why you dislike Betsy DeVos and K-12 education policy under this Administration promoting school choice when your child attends private school. Opportunities to pursue the American Dream without worrying that an occupational license scheme will keep you from starting your own business have become a cornerstone of [conservative] policy, and the opportunity to receive justice under the law and take mental health into consideration is getting more and more attention every day.

Derrick noted: “These are policy priorities of the Trump Administration and issues I was in favor of long before Trump became a candidate.”

He added:

I’ve also been a small business owner under Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump. These and other experiences have allowed me to see life through a different lens.

…That’s why I believe in opportunity over handouts, and empowerment over entitlements.

When it comes down to it, it’s about opportunity, and that’s something we should all get behind. However, like many other blacks who have spoken out in support of the Trump Administration, I’ve been called names, lost friends, and gotten all sorts of clapback because I see things differently.

I’m a husband and father whose children are taught to respect everyone’s point of view even if you don’t agree, but more and more those who don’t follow the narrow box built for us by the left are written off as crazy.

To read Derrick’s commentary – “Kanye Isn’t the Only Black Supporting Trump: Here’s Why” – in its entirety, click here.

The plantation, mental prison or slavery – following the status quo isn’t the path to salvation. A new course must be charted. New policies considered. New plans formulated.

That’s what West seems to be saying. It’s what Derrick is saying. And it’s what Project 21 is doing with its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America.” New ideas to change longstanding problems.

Why is wanting to try something new a reason for ostracism?

Project 21’s Washington on CNN: Put Aside Trump Hatred, Kanye Controversy to Promote Progress

Generations-long war may be over on the Korean Peninsula, Tom Brokaw is facing #metoo allegations and ABBA reunited – but CNN is still focused on all things potentially scandalous involving President Donald Trump.

On the April 26 edition of “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington was brought on for an in-depth panel discussion to analyze the new “bromance” between the President and rapper Kanye West. West, many will recall, claimed “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” in 2006. Now that he has shown support for President Trump, liberals that include one author at The Root now say that West is the one who doesn’t care about black people anymore.

During the CNN discussion, it was suggested there is a “lack of awareness” on the part of West about the President or the “nuance” of his statements. Lemon also asked Stacy if it “all boil[s] down to the President only liking people of color who flatter him?” Stacy responded:

First of all, we need to acknowledge that most of us like people who like us back… I find it stunning that we can’t take one second – one moment – and say that what Kanye West was trying to convey in his tweets yesterday was that he’s looking for a chance for people to communicate with each other. And there’s a lot of rancor in our discourse… It’s gotten really negative.

For those on the panel who seemed to think that rancor was coming purely from the President, Stacy responded:

Does that mean that everyone has to engage in that?… I’m not talking to President Trump on a daily basis, bit I am talking to other people – and I think there’s room for us to sit down and say: “I know we disagree on all of this, but where do we agree?”

Stacy, who was in Washington this week to represent Project 21 in a meeting with White House officials about the upcoming release of Project 21’s “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America,” added:

I was just at the White House yesterday, talking to a staffer – with other members of Project 21 – about our policy recommendations that are gonna be rolled out here pretty soon for a better black America. That’s a conversation I’m going to have with anyone – White House staffers, the President. I didn’t get to meet him, but I’d love to talk to him about it. And anyone else.

And when Lemon suggested that the average American was held to a higher standard than the President and his supporters may respond as a reaction to him, Stacy responded – reiterating her main point:

My behavior is not dictated by President Trump. I don’t lower my standards based on someone who’s in the White House. Because, if that’s the case, then this would be a bad situation starting back with Bill Clinton… We have to take the time to come together, regardless of how you feel about President Trump.

Despite not coming to an agreement with any of the rest of an otherwise very hostile panel to the President, Stacy did make an impact. In his closing, Lemon did specifically cite Stacy, saying: “I loved having you here. I loved having your perspective.”

 

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The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors.