The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Class of 2021 First-Year Fellow: Max Mickenberg

Article Type 

As a First-Year Fellow, Max Mickenberg ’21 interned at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget under the mentorship of Cathy Solomon ’81. The following is an excerpt from his final report.

This summer, I interned at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB). CRFB is a nonpartisan and non-profit organization that focuses on educating and communicating with the public and Congress about fiscal policy. The CRFB’s mission is to analyze economic policy to better inform the public as well as promote fiscal responsibility in Congress. To do so, the CRFB regularly publishes blogs, papers, and communicates through social media about recent legislation, decisions in Congress, and updates about major fiscal news. For Congress, the CRFB often analyzes and assesses the economic effects of legislation to encourage responsible voting. For the public, the CRFB breaks down important budgetary and legislative developments as well as offers many interactive tools to explore, create solutions, and learn about the budget, the debt, and more.

A lot of my work was done within the policy and legislative departments of the organization. For the policy department, I worked to write, research, update, create graphs, and fact check blogs and papers about legislation and important news/developments regarding fiscal policy. To do so, I researched and made numerous calculations based on CBO and other data sources and corresponded with other staff members in the organization. Additionally, I helped to create presentations and informational papers that explain and project economic concepts and advocate for fiscal responsibility. For the legislative department, I completed research on behalf of and on members of Congress, such as creating talking points for congressional offices about particular pieces of legislation and the effects of new taxes on their respective constituents. I also often researched voting records and press releases of Congress members to determine their fiscal views. In addition, I had a few other important responsibilities. I gathered news and mentions of our organization in the media to be sent around the office. Further, I researched data on every midterm congressional candidate across the country and helped create an informational packet about fiscal policy to be sent to them to use in their campaigns. Finally, I updated our database regarding board members and potential donors.

The most rewarding part of my fellowship was the substantive and impactful nature of my work. The projects and assignments I was given often consisted of a great deal of research, calculations, and creative problem solving that were not only interesting but lead to real impact on my organization and the public. Being able to see the actual impact of my work is what made the experience so rewarding. Much of the research and writing contributions I made were published online and/or sent to policy makers to be used in their speeches and decision-making processes. I wrote talking points for Senators, created presentations used by the higher-ups in our organization to explain to leaders the state of our debt and fiscal policies, and even contributed to blogs and papers cited by media sources. However, my favorite impactful project allowed me to assist the candidates running in the upcoming midterm elections. I worked on creating an informational packet to be sent out to all midterm congressional candidates across the country that included a breakdown of current and important fiscal matters like the national debt and budgetary process. I also came up with the idea to include, and then created, a glossary of terms and concepts within the packets that candidates can refer to help promote an educated Congress.  Further, another factor that made the nature of my work so rewarding was the amount I learned along the way. The knowledge and insight that I can now bring into conversations regarding fiscal policy continues to surprise me and has changed the way I view policy making, realizing now the true importance of fiscal responsibility.

To all those who made this fellowship and summer experience possible I am truly grateful. This past summer I learned and gained more insight than I ever thought possible for such a short amount of time. The knowledge and experience I gained from this fellowship are invaluable and will be put to good use to create a better future for myself.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences