35. Edwin Feulner (41)
President, Heritage Foundation
Founded by Feulner, Heritage has grown in Washington from a nine-member staff working out of a rented office on Capitol Hill in 1977 to a 242-person organisation occupying two huge office buildings close to the US Capitol. This September, it will open a third building, meaning that its real estate will flank the Capitol to the north and south. Long the most widely supported think tank in the world, Heritage’s membership soared to 580,000 last year, an annual increase of more than 20 per cent.
A powerhouse of conservative ideas, it has had considerable influence during the Bush years when many of its scholars entered government. If anything, its influence has grown in “opposition” with its analyses of the social and economic effects of Democratic healthcare proposals, slowing passage of legislation and forcing Obama’s party to fall back on a party line vote with no Republican support in the Senate. Its econometric analyses of the House of Representatives cap-and-trade proposals have stopped legislation in its tracks. Feulner has defined the Heritage’s mission as formulating and promoting policies based on “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defence”. Heritage research is often cited by Rush Limbaugh. As conservatism rebuilds itself, Heritage will be designing the foundations.