Former Congressman Paul Ryan who sponsored the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, HR18-4174, is now investing in an evidence-based policy business.  According to today’s Journal Sentinel piece, Ryan “announced the launch of the American Idea Foundation…  He moved more than $7 million from his congressional account into the nonprofit…

Ryan’s American Idea Foundation will be based in Janesville, WI  and was registered January 29, 2019, per Wisconsin Secretary of State records, interestingly, just two weeks after HR18-4174 became law.  The company’s nonprofit status was not found as of this writing,  though the Foundation’s website says the American Idea Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) that aims to reduce poverty by “using evidence and data to inform policy decisions.”

The American Idea Foundation’s website also says this about their approach:

Develop evidence about what works

Across the country, there are thousands of organizations fighting the root causes of poverty and expanding opportunity in their communities. The Foundation will identify successful organizations utilizing innovative approaches and then partner with academic institutions to develop serious, objective evaluations to measure these group’s efforts to identify what’s working and why it’s making a difference.

Educate policymakers on what works

The single most successful domestic policy reform of the last 30 years was welfare reform in 1997. This singular success in getting millions of Americans back into lives of self-sufficiency began with the lessons learned through years of experimentation at the state level. The Foundation will use the evidence base it is developing to prepare policymakers to craft the next generation of policies that promote upward mobility.

Develop broad-based support for a vibrant market-based economy

Too many people are not seeing the benefits of a free, vibrant, market-based system. Because of this, individuals are gravitating towards extreme ideologies with false promises of material benefits and individual meaning. By focusing on the intersection of scaled-up community-based solutions and government policies, the Foundation will work to strengthen communities while improving the material lives of individuals.”  [Emphasis mine]

To recap:

Paul Ryan’s Evidence-Based, nonprofit foundation plans to partner with schools on Community-Based, Evidence-Based innovations, measuring what works, and will educate policy makers and help to craft the next generation of policies.


  • Do citizens get to say no thanks to being measured by this Evidence-Based, policy making American Idea Foundation?
  • Is the American Idea Foundation “nonprofit” a lobbying organization?
  • Is this an avenue for unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to regulate people? 
  • Is this setting up a system of nudging via social credit scores, similar to China, or will it use surveillance data from databases like HART?
  • Is the Foundation going to capitalize on people’s data for social impact bonds?

What do you think? 

Seems an interesting coincidence that Congressman Ryan pushed for HR18-4174 that allows government agencies and businesses to access and link to every citizens’ personal data, including data from school children. Only time and evidence will tell.

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If you are not familiar with HR18-4174 that creates a Federal Data Catalogue of citizens, see below for excerpts. You can also read more on Ryan’s HR18-4174 Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA for short) from the many who opposed it here, here, here, here and watch video of who testified at a hearing in support of the bill here.

HR18-4174 bill text excerpts:


Cheri Kiesecker

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