The Heritage Foundation

News Releases

December 4, 2008

December 4, 2008 | News Releases on

Heritage's 'Memos to Obama' Seek Points of Policy Agreement

WASHINGTON, DEC. 3, 2008-Seeking common ground, The Heritage Foundation today reached out to President-elect Barack Obama with a series of policy memos on subjects where his words line up with the think tank's vision of how to solve critical issues facing America.

Heritage experts examine taxes, health care, missile defense and Iran (in the context of the War on Terror) in the first four entries of this specially prepared series, "Change We Believe In: Memos to President-elect Obama." Future memos, to be released regularly in the run-up to Obama's inauguration Jan. 20, will address energy independence, education reform, border security and relations with such nations as China, Russia and Pakistan.

Heritage, the nation's leading conservative think tank, issued a similar series of policy memos for Bill Clinton shortly after he won the 1992 election. One outlined the architecture of what became the bipartisan welfare reform of 1996.

"We want to engage the new president on his proposals, as well as call him to account on following through," said Stuart M. Butler, Heritage's vice president for domestic and economic policy studies. "Obama appealed to Republican and conservative voters in his campaign. We will say which proposals would be in line with what those Americans believe he meant. But we'll also say, "Let's be clear about what needs to be done to follow through on your words.' "

Heritage's first four "Memos to President-elect Obama" urge him to:

Butler said Heritage intends to lay out a clear set of Obama campaign pledges with which conservatives can agree, while specifying what ought and ought not to be included moving forward -- as well as timelines for action.

"During the campaign, President-elect Obama sometimes said different things on the same issue," said Kim R. Holmes, Heritage's vice president for foreign and defense policy studies."We'll put some of those apparent contradictions on the record and ask for clarification as needed, so the American people will understand where their new president stands."

Heritage took a similar positive approach when President Clinton won his first term, Heritage President Edwin J. Feulner notes. The think tank prepared and issued 15 "Memos to President-elect Clinton" on such subjects as creating jobs, reforming welfare, trimming bureaucracy, preserving military strength and expanding trade to spur growth. As a result, Feulner said, Heritage went on to work successfully with Clinton and Congress to achieve welfare reform and, on the foreign policy front, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

When George W. Bush officially became president-elect after the disputed 2000 election, Heritage produced a 15-chapter booklet, "Priorities for the President," on policy questions ranging from reducing taxes and reforming health insurance to defending the nation from missile attack and setting a new trade agenda.

Among other policy challenges Heritage intends to raise with Obama: federal spending, entitlement reform, trade, religion in the public square, civil and criminal justice reforms, NATO and the European Union, and international organizations.

The Heritage Foundation ( is the nation's most broadly supported public policy research institute, with more than 390,000 individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 244 and an expense budget of $61 million.

About the Author