Washington Monthly - September/October 2016 - 122

BEST #87 SOUTH #5 IN THE IN THE NATION #1 VALUE Top College for in Alabama FOR BEST UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING -U.S. News & World Report employment of graduates -The Economist -Educate to Career 47,977 46 STATES ALUMNI STUDENTS FROM 32 COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE TOP 50 #15 NATIONALLY -Kiplinger's Personal Finance -Christian Universities Online FOR VALUE #2 FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE CAMPUS #4 IN THE Best Christian Colleges and Universities SOUTH -College Choice FOR REGIONAL UNIVERSITIES -U.S. News & World Report 716,902 HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE BY STUDENTS ANNUALLY #30 93% NATIONALLY SAMFORD ATHLETICS #1 IN ALABAMA AND SOUTHERN CONFERENCE NCAA GRADUATION SUCCESS RATE OF MAY UNDERGRADUATE ALUMNI EMPLOYED, IN INTERNSHIPS OR PURSUING CONTINUING EDUCATION WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF GRADUATION FOR PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS STUDYING ABROAD -Institute for International Education SAMFORD U N I V E R S I T SAMFORD.EDU FOR GOD, FOR LEARNING, FOREVER Samford University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Employer. 122 September/October 2016 Y that they are "bipartisan," not that they're right or supported by research. Take, for example, a joint report on poverty produced by those old frenemies, AEI and Brookings, in 2015. The headline was not policy, but a deal: the "liberals" on the panel had conceded that promotion of marriage should be a big part of the solution to poverty-a highly controversial assertion given that we don't know the causal relationship between marriage and economic security; quite likely married-couple families are better off because people marry when they are economically able to. In return, the "conservatives" accepted that contraception, which is already used by 90 percent of American women, could go some way to reducing intergenerational poverty. Duh. One can feel the ratcheting Stahl writes about: one side plays it as a winner-take-all competition, the other mildly seeks consensus, ultimately winning the other side's agreement not to reverse the most uncontroversial bit of the status quo, after which both sides and their funders congratulate themselves on having found common ground. The ideal of nonpartisan, technocratic policy analysis died for many good reasons. Behind any broad research agenda is an often unstated set of assumptions that can be called an ideology, whether it's the neoclassical economist's commitment to a dubious model of economic behavior or the liberal's openness to the idea that government can be part of the response to many social problems. But our ability to make progress on challenges from climate change to the transformations of work brought about by technology and trade will require more daring: we will need a greater willingness to follow the evidence where it leads than can be found in the narrow slice of the political Venn diagram that currently passes for "bipartisan." Our challenge for the future is to reinvigorate the kind of think tank research and policy debate that recognizes that while ideas are never value neutral, we should never let that fact inhibit our quest for those that will work. Mark Schmitt, a frequent contributor to these pages, is director of the program on political reform at New America and a columnist for the New Republic. http://www.SAMFORD.EDU http://www.SAMFORD.EDU

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Monthly - September/October 2016

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