The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is a non-profit think tank that describes itself as a "policy organization ... working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals."
The Center examines the short- and long-term impacts of proposed budget and tax policies on the economy, on federal and state budgets, and on households in different income groups. It also examines whether federal and state governments are addressing critical priorities, both for low- and moderate-income Americans and for the population as a whole, and whether they have sufficient revenues to do so.
In addition, the Center identifies and promotes effective approaches to reducing poverty. Specifically, it designs measures to make key programs for low- and moderate-income populations more accessible to eligible recipients, more effective in helping them meet their basic needs while moving toward self-sufficiency, and simpler for federal and state governments to administer. Moreover, the Center analyzes trends in poverty and income at the national and state levels, including trends in income inequality. The Center works on issues related to and including:
- Federal budget and tax policies;
- State budget and tax policies;
- Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and selected issues in health reform;
- Social Security and retirement income policies;
- Food Stamps; WIC, and child nutrition programs;
- Low-income tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC);
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and related programs; and
- Low-income housing programs.
The Center runs an outreach campaign that working with thousands of organizations across the country, including community groups, businesses, unions, and government agencies helps eligible families apply for the EITC and the Child Tax Credit.
In 2007, the Center began to examine the impact of climate change policies on the federal budget and on low- and moderate-income households. Policies to address climate change will raise the cost of fossil-fuel energy, and the Center is designing policy options to ensure that these added costs do not increase poverty or hardship among low-income families. The Center is also producing analyses showing that climate-change legislation can generate enough revenue not only to protect low-income families, but also to address other needs related to the fight against global warming without increasing the deficit.
Growth and Influence
The Center, which is based in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1981 by Robert Greenstein, who continues to serve as executive director. In 2006, the Center had a staff of about 80 and an annual budget of about $16 million.
In 1993, the Center helped to create the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative (SFAI), a growing network of independent, state-level think tanks that examine state budget and tax policies and their effect on low- and moderate-income households. SFAI groups produce analyses and conduct public education. As of 2008, SFAI groups existed in 31 states that, together, comprise three-quarters of the U.S. population.
In 1997, the Center established the International Budget Partnership (IBP) to help non-governmental organizations in emerging democracies and developing countries conduct budget analysis to make their budget systems more transparent and responsive. IBP initiatives include the Open Budget Index, the first study to rate countries on how open their budget books and processes are to their citizens.
The Center is supported by a number of foundations, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, as well as individual donors. It accepts no government support.
Criticisms and Response
The Heritage Foundation and the Tax Foundation, two politically conservative groups that oppose the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities's policy positions, accuse the group of producing misleading studies. These critics focus on what they consider to be fallacious assumptions and inaccurate projections made by the group's analysts. Defenders of the group note that the Center's analyses are based on the work of independent, nonpartisan authorities such as the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Government Accountability Office.
- Brookings Institution
- Heritage Foundation
- Tax Foundation
- Urban Institute
- Democracy Alliance