Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

In Brief:

The premier progressive think tank working at the federal and state levels on economic and budget issues affecting low- and moderate-income Americans. CBPP develops new ideas, conducts analyses, and provides strategic guidance to policymakers and progressive coalitions working to reorder state and national budget priorities. CBPP equips hundreds of progressive organizations, congressional leaders, and the White House with a path to create broad-based opportunity.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) was founded in 1981 to analyze federal budget priorities, with a particular focus on how budget choices affect low-income Americans. Since then, the Center has broadened its work considerably over the years, responding to new developments and entering new areas of research.

Most notably, CBPP began extensive work on budget priorities and low-income programs at the state level in the 1990s as Washington was shifting responsibility over many areas of low-income policy to the states. In the states, they also collaborate with non-profits — including the more than 40 members of the State Priorities Partnership — to build their capacity to conduct sound budget and policy analysis and participate effectively in policy debates.

CBPP applies extensive understanding of budgets, taxes, low-income programs, and social insurance programs – along with analytical skills and the keen strategic sense for which they are known – to inform and shape debates, influence outcomes, and achieve concrete results.

Federal and state fiscal issues

CBPP analyzes budget proposals, focusing especially on programs for low- and moderate-income families. They also examine long-term budget challenges and promote measures to improve fiscal responsibility in an equitable way. They analyze major tax proposals, examining their likely impact on the economy, on the nation’s fiscal health, and on the government’s ability to address critical national needs, especially over the long term. They also examine the impact of tax proposals on households at different income levels.

Low-Income Programs

CBPP works to ensure that programs that serve low- and moderate-income people are adequately funded, accessible, and effective in helping beneficiaries meet basic needs while moving toward self-sufficiency. The Center works, for instance, on:

  • Health: works to ensure that Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act provide coverage that meets the needs of low-income children and families, seniors, and people with disabilities. They also work to ensure that proposals that would affect these programs do not slash benefits for, or impose costs on, the nation’s most vulnerable people.
  • Low-income tax credits: highlights the benefits of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit and to protect and expand them to further encourage work and reduce poverty. They work closely with members of the State Priorities Partnership to maintain and expand state-level EITCs where they exist, and to bring them to more states.
  • Food assistance: designs and promotes polices to make SNAP stronger, more accessible, and easier to administer; help states design their SNAP programs; help ensure that WIC has the funds to serve all eligible applicants; and design and promote policies that increase school meal participation for low-income kids.
  • Family Income Support: researches and analyzes federal and state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) issues, and provides technical assistance to help states design their TANF programs so they can reach more eligible families and meet families’ particular needs.
  • Low-income housing: works to improve the effectiveness of federal low-income housing programs, and They study how well-designed housing assistance programs can advance such goals as reducing concentrations of poverty.

Economic, poverty and income trends

CBPP examines how changes in the economy affect federal and state budgets, and how federal and state budget and tax proposals would affect economic growth. The Center analyzes employment trends and promote reforms that would strengthen the unemployment insurance system. They support more adequate federal and state minimum wages and policies that would lead to full employment. And, they analyze trends in poverty and income at both the national and state levels, including trends in income disparities. They also examine the effectiveness of safety-net programs in reducing poverty.

Social Security

CBPP examines Social Security’s effects on poverty and on particular demographic groups. They also analyze Social Security reform proposals to determine their likely impact on the program’s long-term solvency and its effectiveness in reducing poverty and hardship.

Climate Change

CBPP analyzes the potential effects of climate change policies on low-income households and on the federal budget. They also design measures to ensure that the higher energy prices resulting from climate change legislation do not drive more households into poverty or make poor households even poorer.Tens of millions of poor and moderate-income individuals and families have benefited from the Center’s efforts. At the national level, CBPP has helped to expand health coverage for millions of parents, children, and low-income adults with disabilities; extend tax credits to millions more working-poor families; and strengthen basic nutrition and housing assistance for low-income families.

The Resistance

Along with its economic and budget policy analysis and advocacy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) launched initiatives related to the current high-stakes policy battles and threats. During the health care repeal, tax cut, and SNAP (food stamp) fights, CBPP produced national and state-by-state analysis used by many in the progressive community, including MoveOn, Indivisible, The Hub Project, and others. CBPP also worked with the Center for Community Change on the Safety Net Defense Fund to support efforts in several dozen states to defeat threats to safety net programs like Medicaid and SNAP. CBPP is also providing budgetary and other analysis to groups that are combating the Administration’s attacks on immigrants.