On today’s episode of American Wonk, Avik Roy talks to FREOPP Visiting Fellow Robert Bryce about juice. No, not apple juice, but the juice that powers our smartphones, our homes, and our cars. Can we keep energy affordable for all Americans while reducing carbon emissions? Listen to find out.

Watch Bryce’s new documentary, “Juice: How Electricity Explains The World,” here. Read Bryce’s new book, “A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations 1st Edition, Kindle Edition,” here.

On today’s episode of COVID in 19, Scott Immergut of Ricochet and Avik Roy of FREOPP talk about Avik’s Saturday Essay in the Wall Street Journal on school reopenings, what can we learn from the European experience.

Also, can the college football season be saved? Will anyone listen to the players?

On today’s episode of COVID in 19, Avik Roy of FREOPP and Scott Immergut of Ricochet ask: why does the media only focus on bad news? You wouldn’t know from the headlines that COVID-19 cases have been declining all over the country. Is it a relentless chase for clicks? Does Trump get a fair shake? Let’s discuss.

Melbourne, Australia has issued new lockdown restrictions for the next six weeks, including: a curfew between 8pm-5am, residents cannot travel further than 5km from their own home, are only permitted to be outside for one hour a day, cannot go to the supermarket in twos, cannot invite visitors to their home, and cannot go to someone else’s home unless they are giving or receiving care.

Are Australia and Europe experiencing a second wave of the virus? And how should we respond here in the U.S.? Avik Roy of FREOPP and Scott Immergut of Ricochet join today’s episode of COVID in 19 to discuss.

The latest COVID-19 data out of Sweden suggests that not only is the country approaching zero deaths on a daily basis, they are also approaching zero new cases. Has Sweden reached herd immunity, and if so, how long until we do so here in the U.S.?

Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and Scott Immergut of Ricochet discuss this topic and more—including new orders on school reopenings in Texas and whether we should delay the presidential election due to COVID—on today’s episode of COVID in 19.

On today’s episode of COVID in 19, Avik Roy and Scott Immergut discuss the “Sweden theory,” which is that one-size-fits-all lockdowns are futile because the moment they are lifted, cases start to come back. But how long will it take for Sweden to reach herd immunity with this strategy?

This past week, baseball made its debut in the U.S., as more than a dozen Miami Marlins players tested positive for the virus. What are best practices the MLB should be taking to keep baseball going and prevent further spread?

Today, Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commissioner under the Trump administration, tweeted that “to safely return kids to in-class learning, schools will need detailed guidance on reducing COVID risk. They may have to look elsewhere, to state documents as well as foreign public health authorities that issued detailed, science driven guidance.”

Yet, this morning, the CDC put out new guidance emphasizing that there are significant harms to keeping schools closed, that young children aren’t vehicles of disease, and that there is evidence from Europe showing the way forward on how to reopen schools.

Today, pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotech firm BioNTech announced that the U.S. government will award the companies nearly $2 billion to produce their COVID-19 vaccine if it proves to be safe and effective. The contract will account for 600 million doses of the vaccine, with the first 100 million promised by the end of 2020.

But how confident should we be that we’ll get a safe and effective vaccine this year? Avik Roy joins Scott Immergut to discuss this and more on the latest episode of COVID in 19 for American Wonk.

Avik Roy and Scott Immergut discuss the latest data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the U.S. and whether or not things are beginning to look up.

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that “science should not stand in the way” of schools reopening. But as a new FREOPP research paper shows, science is actually compelling in favor of reopening schools:  Reopening America’s Schools and Colleges During COVID-19

On today’s episode of COVID in 19, Scott Immergut of Ricochet and Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity discuss the risks and benefits of reopening schools in the fall, address concerns from parents and teachers, and explore what the U.S. can learn from other countries that have successfully reopened their schools.  Listen in for the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic in 19 minutes.


Today, American Wonk premieres COVID in 19, a new series where Scott Immergut of Ricochet and Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity discuss the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic in 19 minutes. On today’s episode, Scott and Avik break down new data on COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, give thoughts on the U.S. withdrawing from the World Health Organization, and talk about how we can safely reopen schools in the fall. New episodes will be released once to twice a week—stay tuned!


The COVID-19 death toll has reached 85,000 and a furious debate is going on around the country about whether, or when, we should reopen the economy. 37,000,000 Americans have filed for unemployment benefits and 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed. Forty percent of those making less than $40,000 have lost their jobs.

And yet, in testimony before the Senate HELP Committee, presidential scientific advisor Anthony Fauci warned that needless suffering and death would ensue if governors reopened the country prematurely. Fauci stated that his advice was based on the best scientific evidence.

The U.S. economy is in freefall, as a month of COVID-19 economic lockdowns has driven tens of millions into the unemployment lines. But how do we begin to restore the economy without sacrificing public health?
In mid-April, the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP) put out a plan to do just that. On this episode of American Wonk, three of the plan’s co-authors—Lanhee Chen of the Hoover Institution, Bob Kocher of Stanford, and Avik Roy of FREOPP—talk about their approach.

The group warns that we may be far away from scaling up testing, or developing effective treatments for COVID-19, and that we therefore have to think about ways to reopen the economy even if the pandemic endures.

You can read the full plan at FREOPP.org, and a summary of the plan at the Wall Street Journal.

In a span of weeks in early 2020, Congress passed over $2 trillion in legislation aimed at rescuing the U.S. economy from the scourge of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus. So is Congress doing a good job of spending our money? What’s next on the COVID-19 policy agenda? How do we best address the economic dislocation that is affecting everyday Americans and vulnerable populations? And are there things we can do to help Congress better navigate complex policy challenges like this one?

To help us think through these questions, we turn to Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin’s 8th District, which encompasses Green Bay and much of northeastern Wisconsin. Rep. Gallagher is one of the youngest members of Congress, a wee 36 years old, and has emerged as one of the most interesting and energetic engines of conservative thinking in that chamber.

Congress is on the verge of passing a landmark criminal justice reform bill called the First Step Act. The bill would take several steps aimed at helping low-risk federal prisoners, like non-violent offenders, move more quickly into halfway houses and home detention, and strive to do better at re-integrating ex-convicts into the private sector.

What’s just as interesting as the bill itself is the unusual alliance that put it together, including civil rights activists, President Trump, and the Koch Brothers. That alliance was critical to brokering an agreement between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

It’s worth mentioning that not everyone is happy about the First Step Act. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton says that the bill “flunks [its authors’] basic test to protect public safety.” Others, such as Sarah Anderson of FreedomWorks, describe Cotton’s objections as quote “misleading and [containing] at many times entirely false statements about the effects of the legislation.”

So who’s right? To help us sort it out, we’re joined today by a key player in the First Step Act, Vikrant Reddy. Vikrant is a Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, and has long been at the core of the effort to reform criminal justice laws, at the federal, state and local levels. Prior to the Koch Institute, Vikrant helped launch the Right on Crime initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Criminal Law Practice Group of the Federalist Society.

In 2014, a group called Students for Fair Admissions filed a 120-page legal complaint against Harvard, alleging that Harvard systematically discriminates against Asian-Americans. On October 15, 2018, the trial began in a federal courthouse in Boston. If the plaintiffs win, the case could have far-reaching consequences for society and for American politics.

To help us get smarter about the issues at play in this case, we’re joined by John Yoo, Director of the Public Law & Policy Program at the University of California Law School. John graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1989, and Yale Law School in 1992, so he’s no stranger to the admissions practices of elite universities. And, as he discusses in the podcast, he’s personal friends with the lawyers who filed the complaint.

One of the most popular theories about Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 is that Trump appealed to an increasing number of Americans—especially white Americans without a college degree—with feelings of alienation and loneliness. In 2015, Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton published a landmark paper documenting a “marked increase” in deaths among middle-aged white Americans in the 21st century, at a time when mortality was decreasing for everyone else. Case and Deaton note that many of these deaths are being caused by substance abuse and suicide—what they call “deaths of despair.”

Are they right? Are we facing an epidemic of alienation and loneliness in America? And if we are, what can we do about it?

To help us answer these questions, today we’re joined by Scott Winship, who is one of the leading researchers on social mobility in America. Scott, a member of FREOPP’s brain trust, runs Senator Mike Lee’s Social Capital Project at the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. In May of 2017, Winship and Lee published an 81-page report entitled What We Do Together: The State of Associational Life in America.

Scott and I discuss the striking correlation between intact marriages and social capital; some of the surprising findings of his research (such as the correlation between Southern Baptism and low social capital); and how all of this relates to the debate in Washington about welfare reform.

One of the most widely-made conservative arguments in favor of voting for Donald Trump in 2016 was his ability to nominate constitutionalist justices to the Supreme Court. This year, President Trump will get his chance to name the replacement for Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring.  From a conservative point of view, it’s an opportunity to replace the Court’s swing vote with a more conservative one.

To talk about this important development, we’re joined by one of America’s foremost constitutional scholars, Randy Barnett. Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center, and Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution.

Senator Marco Rubio (R – FL) joined Avik Roy Thursday morning to kick off the AEI/Ricochet Podcast Summit. Among the topics covered are the future of the economy, the future of the Republican Party, confronting China and the challenges of the 21st Century.

One of the core promises that President Trump made on the campaign trail was to fix the broken veterans’ health care system. In 2017, he nominated David Shulkin, a holdover from the Obama administration, to be his Veterans Affairs Secretary. But Shulkin spent most of his tenure opposing efforts to reform the VA, because reform, in his words, was an effort at “privatization…a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits.”

Shulkin was let go in March of 2018, but Trump’s nominee to replace him—Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson—withdrew from consideration.