The voices of Urban Institute's researchers and staff
November 9, 2015

Research over rhetoric: What the evidence tells us about plans, promises, and proposals

November 9, 2015

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Today we launched a new blog, dedicated to elevating the 2016 debate. It’s designed as a resource for anyone seeking objective evidence with which to interpret the presidential candidates’ policy promises, claims, arguments, and counter-arguments.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve been diligently working to unlock our library of data and analysis so that it’s more readily accessible—through interactive toolsmapsvideos, and journalistic essays.

This new blog builds on those efforts. The posts will be shorter than what you typically find on Urban Wire. They’re designed to highlight key evidence on policy topics that emerge in the campaign cycle, and point you to the underlying research.

If you’re familiar with the Urban Institute, you’ll know we’re not here to endorse, we’re here to enlighten—with hard evidence and independent analysis.

That means looking at candidates’ policy proposals through the filter of knowledge gained from rigorous research: Will proposals work as intended? Who’s likely to benefit and how? Does the evidence point to unanticipated costs or trade-offs? And if there are gaps in the information campaigns have shared, making it hard to assess their policy proposals, what specifics can and should they provide?  
For some policy proposals, we’ll apply our microsimulation models to answer “what if” questions. Our colleagues in the Tax Policy Center have demonstrated the power of these models to elevate debate and change public discourse, especially in a presidential election cycle. In the months ahead, you can find their work here as well as on their own site.  

Like everything Urban publishes, the posts on our new blog reflect the views of our researchers and staff, who are empowered to reach their own conclusions. Urban does not take positions on issues—we don’t endorse candidates, and we don’t have a political agenda. Instead, we encourage evidence-based debate, both within the Urban community and with other scholars, practitioners, advocates, and policymakers.
You should also know that our scholars will share their evidence-based analyses and policy assessments with anyone who asks. If campaigns call, scholars will provide advice on a non-exclusive basis. And if reporters inquire, they’ll be glad to share and explain the evidence and their views on its implications.

One year from today, we will know our next president. Between now and then, candidates will advance their proposals to address the big challenges facing our country. As millions of Americans consider their choices amid the heat of a presidential campaign, reliable data and analysis are urgently needed. This new blog is a natural extension of our ongoing efforts to elevate the debate and put evidence in the hands of people who seek it.

The White House is seen at sunrise in Washington, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Experts are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research.