No surprise that Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon would offer his take on Secretary Gates' analysis of the Pentagon's budget. But what is a surprise--no, odd-- is that he used the Tea Party to talk about it. In his Politico opinion piece today, "On defense, what tea party gets right," O'Hanlon invokes the Tea Party as those who serve as the model for forward and big picture thinking on the defense budget.
Right now, the nation is at war, the economy still needs major stimulus, and there is no consensus on cutting the rest of the federal budget. This is no moment for big reductions.
But in a broader sense, some members of the tea party — as well as some liberal Democrats — understand correctly that bigger questions await. Now is the time to begin using congressional hearings to air ideas about how the nation might, in the future, consider deeper cuts to its defense budget as part of an integrated program of fiscal reform and deficit reduction.
The budget radicals are right — our national debt predicament is dire. As Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has noted, the debt has begun to pose a direct threat to national security.
Rusty Rueff over at the U.S. News & World Report careers blog finds inspiration for career development in think tanks. Indeed, the advice for today is to model your career development path on the structure of a think tank.
And the key to any good think tank is to find top personnel. These are the five strategic people you need:
1. The best boss you ever had. Don’t choose the easiest boss or friendliest boss. Instead, define “best” as the boss who pushed, grew, shaped, and got the most out of you. This is the person who saw your potential and found ways to help you to reach it, who helped you stretch beyond your normal performance. This person believes in you for what you can be, not for what you’ve already done.
2. The peer you most want to be like. We all know someone who’s on top of everything. They’re the rising star of your industry, and they’re sure to make it to the top. You admire this person as a person and as a peer.
3. The best external recruiter in the field you desire. This recruiter places the best people you know in your field and always seems to hear about the best jobs at the best companies.
4. The person who once had your dream job. They’ve flourished at that job and are either at the end of their career or possibly retired. You want this person on your side because they can tell you how they got to where they are and how you can do the same.
5. Your most honest friend. This person tells you the truth; she’s honest with you about who you are and how you can reach your potential. This friend forces you to dream and keeps you grounded at the same time.
HelloWallet, a service that provides financial advice to employees of Fortune 500 companies, announced the appointment of eight individuals to their Academic Advisory Board--half of which are think tankers.
HelloWallet, founded by former Brookings scholar Matt Fellowes, is self-described as an "independent wealth-boosting service that increases savings and reduces debt for its members."
"We are thrilled to include some of the top academic minds in the country on our team," said Fellowes in a released statement. "Since we launched our beta 9 months ago, we have driven take-up rates at our Fortune 500 partners that are up to 5X the industry norms, found the average employee over $800 in savings, and saw large increases in savings and reductions in debt. This team of experts will help HelloWallet boost savings and wealth even further in the years to come."
The four think tank scholars come from RAND and Brookings:
William G. Gale, Ph.D (Brookings Institution), the Arjay and Frances Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, is an expert on tax policy, fiscal issues, pensions, and saving behavior. He is also co-director of the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, and director of the Retirement Security Project.
Aileen Heinberg, Ph.D (RAND) is an Associate Behavioral Scientist at RAND, whose research covers the influence of emotion on decisions and financial decision-making under conditions of uncertainty.
Annamaria Lusardi, Ph.D (George Washington University) is the Director of the Financial Literacy Center, a joint Center of Rand, Dartmouth College, and the Wharton School created with the support of the Social Security Administration. She has taught at Dartmouth College, Princeton University, the University of Chicago Public Policy School, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Columbia Business School.
Joanne Yoong, Ph.D (RAND) is an economist at RAND. She received her Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University as an FSI Starr Foundation Fellow, and her AB in economics and applied and computational mathematics from Princeton.
The RAND Corporation has named career diplomat Charles Ries as the new director of the think tank's Center for Middle East Public Policy. Ries has recently returned to RAND following a leave of absence to act as executive vice president of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
Aside from a short stint in Iraq and a generally impressive career, it is not immediately clear what makes Ries particularly well-positioned to lead a center that focuses on Middle East policy.
From 2007-2008, Ries served as the State Department's minister for economic affairs and coordinator for economic transition in Iraq. However, most of his other posts were in Europe, including: ambassador to Greece from 2004 to 2007 and principal deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, 2000–2004. Other senior positions include the U.S. Embassy in London, the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
"As governments across the Middle East are experiencing challenge and change, we are delighted that Charles Ries will take on the leadership of RAND's Center for Middle East Public Policy," said RAND President and CEO James A. Thomson in a released statement.
"The center has long been a source for insights into the domestic policy and national security challenges that face decisionmakers in the Middle East, and Charles will bring his wisdom, experience and relationships to our efforts to improve policy outcomes throughout the region," said Thompson.
Ries' RAND research has focused on Haiti, national security, intelligence, European politics, and energy/environmental policy and assisting fragile states, according to the RAND website.
UPDATE: A representative from RAND told Think Tanked that Ries had led RAND projects on the Middle East and "his background in civil-military collaboration, economic development, energy, and state-to-state relationships provides a deep base in the issues that our Middle East center addresses."
In their Idea of the Day, the Center for American Progress questions that with all the tough fiscal decisions in front of the Obama administration, how did they come to propose 211 terminations and reductions resulting in more than $33 billion in cuts?
Each proposed termination or reduction in the budget document boasts a brief justification but the process within the government was far from systematic. Agencies proposed programs they thought might be candidates, budget examiners in the Office of Management and Budget had their own list, and a negotiation followed.
We believe that government needs a better process for deciding which budget lines to terminate or trim. It needs a comprehensive system to review the performance and impact of all programs to guide future budget decisions.