The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) was founded in 1981 to analyze the impact of federal budgetary and tax-law provisions on America’s poor. In the 1990s, the Center broadened its focus to include also state budgets and their implications “both for low-income populations and for the nation as a whole.”
With regard to the U.S. Federal Budget, CBPP asserts that deficit-reduction proposals must be judged not only by whether they strengthen the economy, but also by whether they “protect low-income Americans” from “poverty and hardship” and “permit adequate investment in core public services.”
The Center's stance on Federal Taxes, meanwhile, is informed by the belief that tax cuts which are implemented today will inevitably decrease government revenues and thereby “put greater pressure on future deficits.” Moreover, CBPP rejects proposals for the repeal of estate taxes, on grounds that they: (a) provide “a large tax break [only] to the estates of the wealthiest 0.3 percent of Americans who die each year,” and (b) result, unfairly, in a “massive windfall” for their heirs.
On the matter of State Budget and Tax issues, CBPP impugns “policymakers in a number of states [who] have promoted deep cuts in personal income taxes as a prescription for economic growth.” Their approach, the Center claims, “has not worked particularly well in the past and is not supported by the preponderance of the relevant academic literature.”
In addition to the aforementoned issues, CBPP's research—which is distributed widely to policymakers, nonprofit organizations, and journalists—encompasses the following major concerns:
* Climate Change: CBPP identifies cap-and-trade and carbon taxes as the two approaches that “most economists favor for reducing greenhouse gas emissions” which allegedly exacerbate global warming. These approaches, says the Center, “creat[e] incentives” for businesses and households to conserve energy and adopt “clean-energy technologies.”
* Food Assistance: In 2013, CBPP denounced the House Republican leadership's “harsh” proposal to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, “by at least $40 billion over ten years.” The Center strives not only to make SNAP “easier for eligible persons to participate in,” but also to help states “design their own food stamp programs for persons ineligible for the federal program.”
* Health: In 2013, CBPP predicted that the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, would “slow the growth rate of health care costs”—thereby saving hundreds of billions of dollars for Medicare and Medicaid—and, contrary to critics' predictions, would not cause “a large drop in employer-sponsored health coverage.”
* Housing: CBPP works with state and local housing agencies and advocates “to ensure that federal housing subsidies are directed to the families most in need.” In 2013 the Center: (a) lamented that federal sequestration budget cuts “could deny rental assistance to 140,000 low-income families,” and (b) complained that mortgage-interest tax deductions disproportionately benefited “higher-income households who generally could afford a home without assistance.”
* Poverty and Income: According to CBPP, “extensive research indicates” that America's multitudinous federal welfare programs “lift millions of [people] out of poverty, help 'make work pay' by supplementing low wages, and enable millions of Americans to receive health care who otherwise could not afford it.” Adds the Center: “[T]he claim that advocates of shrinking government sometimes make—that public efforts to reduce poverty and hardship have failed—is belied by the evidence.” Favoring economic equality, CBPP laments that since the 1970s “the income gap” between America's rich and poor has “widened” immensely.
* Simplifying Programs: Noting that “complex and duplicative paperwork requirements prevent many low-income families … from receiving benefits that can help them meet basic needs such as food, health care, and child care,” CBPP launched this initiative “to make low-income programs easier both for eligible families to participate in and for states to administer.” The primary objective is to maximize each “family’s ability to access multiple benefits.”
* Welfare Reform: Asserting that “cash assistance benefits for the nation’s poorest families with children … are now [after adjusting for inflation] at least 20 percent below their 1996 levels in 37 states,” CBPP in 2013 emphasized the importance of adequately funding federal and state welfare programs that provide many people with “cash income to meet their basic needs.”
For information about CBPP's stance on additional issues, click here.
A steadfast proponent of a higher minimum wage, CBPP in January 2007 issued a report that stated: “Raising the minimum wage would be an important first step and a useful complement to public policies like the EITC, food stamps, and child care subsidies, which provide additional benefits and supports for low-income working families.”
CBPP is a member organization of the Moving Ideas Network, a coalition of more than 250 leftwing activist organizations working to develop and promote progressive policy and advocacy recommendations.