The budget mavens at the Heritage Foundation are hoping that last week's big win for Republicans will loosen the wallets of conservative donors enough to help the tank avoid a projected $1 million revenue shortfall this year.
"It's been very difficult," said John Von Kannon, Heritage vice president and treasurer. "When $8 trillion comes out of the economy, people not only feel poorer, they are poorer. The good news is that Ted Turner and Jane Fonda took big hits, too," a poke at two prominent funders of liberal causes.
Von Kannon said prospects for making Heritage's $30 million budget improved considerably after the GOP won control of the Senate and House. "We have a better message now. We now have the real opportunity to see conservative reforms enacted," he said.
A check at other tanks around town produced mixed budget news.
"We're budgeting flat, and we're going to struggle to do that, but we haven't lost ground this year," said Nancy Perkins, vice president for external affairs at the center-left Brookings Institution.
David Gerson, executive vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, disagreed that having a GOP Congress will start the money flowing to conservative tanks such as Heritage or AEI.
"We don't expect that to affect fundraising. It's never easy, but we're expecting to meet budget even though we increased our budget this year," he said.
At the Institute for International Economics, director C. Fred Bergsten said he's tightening expenditures and working harder to find new money to balance the books.
"I've had at least one case where I had an oral commitment [from a foundation], a firm pledge. . . . I won't say they had to renege, but they had to defer to the future," he said. "And then we had a few corporations who had to suspend their corporate support for a period. In a few cases they suspended for a year, others they reduced the amount."
GLAM FACTOR I: The New America Foundation hit the trifecta in this month's Esquire magazine, which features three of its young thinkers among its list of "people and ideas that will change our lives."
New America scholars Ray Boshara, Jedediah Purdy and Greg Rodriguez are included in the cover story "The Best and the Brightest" -- the only Washington think tankers to make the list, which included Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), U.S. Genomics chief executive Eugene Chan and architect William Massie, dubbed "the Frank Gehry of prefab housing."
Boshara, a program director at New America, got the nod for his thoughts on wealth creation, including the idea that every American should receive at birth a "start in life deposit" of $2,000.
The profile of Purdy, a fellow, amounted to a full-page, self-penned precis of his forthcoming book "Being America." Senior fellow Rodriguez was honored for his vision of a future in which "ethnic and racial categories will have much less meaning."
We aren't surprised that so many New Americans made Esquire's cut. New America is a haven for smart, edgy scholars who think big and can write for a popular audience.
It also couldn't have hurt that Ted Halstead, the president of New America, just happened to be on the committee that selected the Best and the Brightest.
GLAM FACTOR II: Our favorite thinking rocker -- or is it rocking thinker? -- is back. At least in the virtual sense.
Bono, the leader of Irish rock band U2 who likes to hang with Washington's brainier denizens, has filmed a special video tribute to the D.C.-based Center for Global Development, which the tank will show at a Thursday night gala for 200 in San Jose.
The one-year-old think tank is heading west to receive the first annual "Legacy Award" from San Jose Magazine and Wells Fargo Bank, given to board chairman Ed Scott, a Silicon Valley success story, and center head Nancy Birdsall.
NO VACANCY: Hispanics face more discrimination in the housing market than African Americans but unfavorable treatment of both minority groups appears to be waning, according to a study released last week by the Urban Institute and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Researchers found that black renters received unfavorable treatment in 21.6 percent of their inquiries, down 4.8 percentage points since 1989. But Hispanic renters encountered discrimination 27.5 percent of the time, a slight increase. Hispanic homebuyers were also more likely than black homebuyers to face unfavorable treatment, though discrimination against both groups was down.
Examples of discriminatory treatment included steering, in which minorities were not shown homes in predominantly white areas and instances in which minorities were denied information about financing that was provided to whites. Discrimination was a particular problem in Atlanta, while Chicago and Detroit were among the best cities tested.
The latest discrimination estimates are based on 4,600 paired tests conducted in 23 metropolitan areas during the summer and fall of 2000. Two individuals -- one minority and the other white -- posed as otherwise identical renters or buyers and visited real estate or rental agents to ask about advertised housing units. It marked the third time since 1977 that the tests were conducted.