Robert Rector

Robert Rector

Robert Rector
Nationality American
Occupation conservative research fellow

Robert Rector is a senior research fellow at the conservative The Heritage Foundation and has been called an expert on poverty issues. He is considered one of the architects of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, and has also influenced immigration reform and abstinence education policy. Rector has written over 100 articles and research papers, and his writings include the book America's Failed $5.4 Trillion War on Poverty.


  • Background 1
  • Welfare reform 2
  • Immigration reform 3
    • Role in opposing the 2006 immigration reform proposals 3.1
    • Role in opposing the 2013 immigration reform proposals 3.2
  • Abstinence education 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Rector received his undergraduate degree from The College of William & Mary and his masters in political science from Johns Hopkins University.[1]

Rector has worked for The Heritage Foundation since 1984.[2] He is the editor of the 1987 book, Steering the Elephant: How Washington Works, and the co-author of the 1995 book, America's Failed $5.4 Trillion War on Poverty.[3]

Rector has been a management analyst for the United States Office of Personnel Management and a legislative assistant in the Virginia House of Delegates.[3] From 2001 to 2002, he served as a commissioner of the Millennial Housing Commission.[4]

Welfare reform

Rector has been called an expert on poverty issues and it has been claimed that he has influenced policy.[5] He has testified before Congress and written extensively on the subject.[6][3]

Rector is considered one of the key architects of the 1996 federal welfare reform act,[3][5] which marked a significant shift in American welfare policy.[7] The bill attempted to emphasize using government assistance temporarily to recover economic independence, rather than depending on assistance indefinitely.[8]

Rector has written frequently on the subjects of welfare and poverty, including the 1992 The Wall Street Journal article “America's Poverty Myth”, which asserted that the U.S. Census inaccurately measures poverty,[9] and his 1995 book with William Lauber, America's Failed $5.4 Trillion War on Poverty, which criticized welfare laws in the U.S. for allegedly rewarding breakdowns in family values.[10]

In 1995, The Wall Street Journal called Rector the "leading guru" behind the Republicans' position on welfare.[11] In 2006, editor Rich Lowry of the conservative National Review called Rector, "the intellectual godfather" of welfare reform.[12]

Immigration reform

Role in opposing the 2006 immigration reform proposals

Rector has been a researcher on immigration policy[13] and has testified before Congress on the subject.[14] In 2006, Rector published a report on the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act for The Heritage Foundation, stating that passage of the bill would lead to more than 100 million new legal immigrants within 20 years.[15] Based on the report's findings, the Senate amended the bill to include restrictions on the guest worker program and visa caps.[13] Rector has been featured in numerous media outlets as a conservative expert on immigration.[14][16]

Role in opposing the 2013 immigration reform proposals

With statistical assistance from Harvard Ph.D. and then Heritage Research Fellow Jason Richwine, Rector wrote a report on the fiscal cost of proposed amnesty legislation to the United States. The report was published by the Heritage Foundation on May 6, 2013.[17] Rector and Jim DeMint, a former U.S. senator and the newly installed Heritage Foundation president, introduced the report in an op-ed article in the Washington Post.[18]

The methods used in the report met with considerable criticism from a number of think tanks and immigration policy analysts across the political spectrum, including Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute,[19] Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development,[20] and many others.[21][22]

Later, widespread publicity of past research by study co-author Jason Richwine on

  • Rector's Heritage Foundation research papers
  • Heritage Foundation bio

External links

  1. ^ "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" (PDF). Hearing Before The Subcommittee on Immigration. United States House of Representatives. 19 June 2007. p. 11. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Robert Rector". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Robert Rector". Welfare Reform Academy. University of Maryland School of Public Policy. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Commissioners". Millennial Housing Commission. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Allen-Mills, Tony (15 February 2009). "Obama warned over welfare spendathon". The Times. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Debenport, Ellen (10 April 1995). "Money or morals for the poor?". St. Petersburg Times. 
  7. ^ Corley, Cheryl (30 March 2004). "Welfare Reform In America". NPR. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Page, Clarence (13 August 2006). "Welfare reformed, poverty persists". Chicago Tribune. 
  9. ^ Rector, Robert (3 September 1992). "America's Poverty Myth". The Wall Street Journal. 
  10. ^ Reed, Lawrence W. (November 2000). "Incentives and Disincentives". The Freeman. Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Stout, Hilary. "Behind The Scenes". The Wall Street Journal. 
  12. ^ Lowry, Rich (18 August 2006). "The Welfare-Reform Miracle". National Review Online. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Lockhead, Carolyn (20 June 2006). "Senate swayed by analyst's immigrant count". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  14. ^ a b Rector, Robert (6 June 2007). "Equal Time: Amnesty for low-skill workers will add to poverty, dependence". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
  15. ^ Rector, Robert (15 May 2006). "Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 Million New Legal Immigrants over the Next Twenty Years". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  16. ^ Smith, Ron (30 April 2010). "Arizona's Law Is A Rational Reaction To Illegal Immigration". The Baltimore Sun. 
  17. ^ Rector, Robert; Richwine, Jason (2013-05-06). "The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer".  
  18. ^ Rector, Robert (2013-05-06). "What amnesty for illegal immigrants will cost America".  
  19. ^ Nowrasteh, Alex (2013-05-07). "Heritage's Flawed Immigration Analysis".  
  20. ^ Clemens, Michael (2013-05-07). "The Magically Vanishing Slice of Pie".  
  21. ^ Rubin, Jennifer (2013-05-06). "Conservative leaders slam Heritage for shoddy immmigration study". Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  22. ^ Matthews, Dylan (2013-05-08). "Heritage study co-author opposed letting in immigrants with low IQs".  
  23. ^ Parker, Ashley; Preston, Julia (2013-05-09). "Paper on Immigrant I.Q. Dogs Critic of Overhaul".  
  24. ^ Weigel, David (2013-05-10). "Jason Richwine Resigns from the Heritage Foundation". Slate. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  25. ^ "Alex Nowrasteh debates immigration with Robert Rector on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal".  
  26. ^ a b Smith, Lynn (10 August 199). "Chastity Makes A Comeback". Los Angeles Times. 
  27. ^ Rector, Robert (30 March 2004). "Facts about Abstinence Education". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  28. ^ Rabin, Roni Caryn (11 May 2010). "New Spending for a Wider Range of Sex Education". New York Times. 
  29. ^ Rector, Robert (14 February 2011). "Why abstinence education is under attack from the left". Chicago Sun Times. 


Rector is a proponent of abstinence education. His advocacy prompted the inclusion of school-program funding for the teaching of abstinence in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.[27] Rector has published research papers on this subject for The Heritage Foundation,[28] and he has quoted as an expert on abstinence education by numerous media outlets, including The New York Times.[29][30] In 1999, the Los Angeles Times called Rector the “architect of the abstinence-only movement.”[27]

Abstinence education

On June 23, 2013, Rector appeared on C-SPAN debating Alex Nowrasteh on the immigration legislation under consideration at the time in the United States Congress.[26]