Washington, DC – This morning at a symposium on the “Next Generation of Evidence,” hosted by the Brookings Institution, former Speaker Paul Ryan shared his thoughts on the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission, recognizing the work of Co-Chairs Ron Haskins and Katherine Abraham and highlighting the work of the American Idea Foundation to expand opportunity.
Excerpts of Speaker Ryan’s remarks follow.
On the Evolution of Data and the Success of the Evidence Based Policymaking Commission:
“A few years back, we were getting frustrated in Congress about the lack of evidence in policymaking. Then, we were kind of getting stuck in ideological arguments on how best to fix problems and fight poverty through programs that were already implemented because we had very little data to prove what was working and what was not working. We saw what happened when we actually had measurements, and we felt that was the future. So, we decided to form a commission and I recached over to a friend of mine, Patty Murray, to work on legislation that ultimately got passed.”
“[The Evidence Based Policymaking Commission] is a commission that actually produced a very good report, and we put much of their recommendations into law and so, all I want to say is that I salute the next generation that is assembled here today to promote evidence-based policymaking. This is the future, the sort of R&D factory for effective policy that we were envisioning. And as a former politician – or as a recovering politician, I should say – this work helps leapfrog partisan, ideological arguments and helps us get to what works: Where is the evidence? How do we make a difference? How do we effectively steward taxpayer dollars? And so, I’m very excited about what you’re all doing. I’m very excited about the next generation of evidence-based policymaking, and I’m very excited that Ron and Catherine Abraham, on behalf of the commission, are going to receive this award.”
How the American Idea Foundation will utilize Data and evidence:
“In my vocational portfolio, there are three things that I am doing: I am working on these issues at AEI, I have my foundation, and I also teach college at Notre Dame. I work with a department there called LEO, the Lab of Economic Opportunity, and we’re doing RCT’s with different charities and it was one of the economists there who gave me the idea of the commission.”
“What I have learned in my travels across the country and learning about this space was that there really wasn’t a good connector of the grassroots poverty fighters on the ground — who are well-meaning and hard-working, but don’t have access to capital or to academics. They want to do RCT’s and help people but don’t really have access to the other side so that is what the American Idea Foundation is basically going to be. It’s going to be a connector to try and connect all these pieces so that we can have poverty solutions that are proven and effective, and that can be scalable and replicated.
A Role for Government and Civil Society in Expanding Opportunity:
“I think there’s a huge space for civil society and philanthropy and the private sector to play. Absolutely. They’re going to try some innovative ideas that may not be right for government at the moment, and that’s where philanthropy can come in and show programs that actually work and are effective. Philanthropy is probably the key piece of all of this because it can finance programs that work.
“But I also think now, with that next generation coming up in evidence-based policymaking, it is going to be so much easier to move the needle on poverty and to scale programs that are effective. I think that’s going to inform public policymakers, so that public policy is not going in the wrong direction but in the same direction.”
“There’s going to be clearly a role for government. [It will be] more of a supply line role, than a frontline role…. What I do not think should be done is one [government] replacing the other [civil society]. I think they should come with each other.”