Center for American Progress
|Founded||October 24, 2003|
|Type||Public policy think tank|
The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a public policy research and advocacy organization which presents a liberal viewpoint on economic and social issues. It has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The president and chief executive officer of CAP is Neera Tanden, who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton's campaigns. The first president and CEO was John Podesta, who has served as White House Chief of Staff to U.S. President Bill Clinton and as the chairman of the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Podesta remained with the organization as chairman of the board until he joined the Obama White House staff in December 2013. Tom Daschle is the current chairman.
The Center for American Progress has a youth-engagement organization, Generation Progress, and a sister advocacy organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF). Citing Podesta's influence in the formation of the Obama Administration, a November 2008 article in Time stated that "not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan's transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway".
History and mission
The Center for American Progress was created in 2003 as a left-leaning alternative to think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. In 2011, the Washington Post's Jason Horowitz described the Center for American Progress as "Washington’s leading liberal think tank," and "an incessant advocate for a broad progressive agenda and as such, a sharp thorn in President Obama’s left side."
Since its inception, the center has assembled a group of high-profile senior fellows, including Lawrence Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan; Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; Ruy Teixeira, political scientist and author of The Emerging Democratic Majority; and, most recently, former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Elizabeth Edwards, late wife of former presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator from North Carolina John Edwards. Sarah Rosen Wartell, a co-founder and executive vice-president of the center, has been named President of the Urban Institute
ThinkProgress, active during the years 2005-2019, was an American progressive news website affiliated with the Center for American Progress but with editorial independence. In September 2019, ThinkProgress was shut down when CAP was unable to find a publisher willing to take it over.
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Formerly known simply as the American Progress Action Fund, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action) is a "sister advocacy organization" and is organizationally and financially separate from CAP, although they share many staff and a physical address. Politico wrote in April 2011 that it "openly runs political advocacy campaigns, and plays a central role in the Democratic Party’s infrastructure, and the new reporting staff down the hall isn’t exactly walled off from that message machine, nor does it necessarily keep its distance from liberal groups organizing advocacy campaigns targeting conservatives". Whereas CAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, CAP Action is a 501(c)(4), allowing it to devote more funds to lobbying. In 2003, George Soros promised to financially support the organization by donating up to $3 million. CAP Action is headed by Neera Tanden.
"The Moscow Project" is one of its initiatives.
Washington Center for Equitable Growth
The Washington Center for Equitable Growth, also known simply as "Equitable Growth", is a research and grantmaking organization founded in 2013 and "housed at the Center for American Progress". Equitable Growth funds academic research in economics and other social sciences, with a particular interest in government's role in the distribution of economic growth and the role of public perceptions of fairness in shaping government policy.
Science Progress was an internet publication about progressive science and technology policy. Science Progress was a project of the Center for American Progress. Its mission was "to improve the understanding of science among policymakers and other thought leaders and to develop exciting, progressive ideas about innovation in science and technology for the United States in the 21st Century." It began publication on 4 October 2007, the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1. Content on the web site included news, in-depth essays, and text- and audio-based interviews. The Science Progress staff included Editor-In-Chief Jonathan D. Moreno.
Disability Justice Initiative
In July 2018, the Center for American Progress recruited former Obama staffer and National Council on Disability executive director Rebecca Cokley to lead its new project focused on disability rights advocacy. Senator Tammy Duckworth spoke at the first event announcing creation of the new project, which is housed within CAP's Poverty to Prosperity Program. The Disability Justice Initiative became the first such project at a mainstream public policy advocacy organization not already focused on disability.
In 2017, the Center opposed Bernie Sanders' single-payer health plan. Critics said that this was because of funding from the health care industry, such as The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the Health Care Service Corporation and America's Health Insurance Plans, who would be eliminated under Sanders' plan. In 2018, the Center proposed an alternative to single payer that would offer patients and employers a choice between government coverage and private insurance.
Pro-UAE, pro-Saudi policy
In October 2016, the Intercept reported that United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba praised "a CAP report released [in October 2016] that advocates for continued cooperation with Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab Emirates]."
In January 2019, two CAP staffers were fired after an investigation concerning the leaking of an internal email exchange involving discussions over the phrasing of CAP’s response to the murder of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. CAP released a statement noting that while they conducted an investigation into the leaks, this was not the cause for the firings.
Lack of transparency for funding sources
Some open government groups, such as the Sunlight Foundation and the Campaign Legal Center, criticized the Center's failure to disclose its contributors, particularly because it was so influential to the Obama administration. CAP's website states that corporate donors are not allowed to remain anonymous. Nathan Robinson, writing in 2018 for Current Affairs wrote that CAP "continues to conceal the identities of many of its largest donors." He also criticized CAP for receiving "shady donations" and for a grant of $200,000 to the American Enterprise Institute in 2018.
CAP was criticized by several Jewish organizations after some employees "publicly used language that could be construed as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic". Bloggers associated with CAP published several posts using phrases such as "apartheid" and "Israel-firsters", causing NGO Monitor, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League to label them anti-Israel and call on CAP to disassociate themselves from these statements. Officials at CAP said the “inappropriate” language came only in personal tweets—not on CAP's website or its ThinkProgress blog. The Tweets were deleted, and the authors apologized.
Other writers, however, criticized CAP for what they saw as censorship of reasonable comments critical of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and other policies. Based on leaked emails, columnist Glenn Greenwald, for example, wrote that CAP had deleted references to Israeli settlement policies in reports by their staffers.
Greenwald and others also criticized CAP for hosting a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while Netanyahu was hostile to the Obama Administration. Greenwald described CAP's positions as "servitude to AIPAC and pandering to Netanyahu." Eighteen organizations and over one hundred academics signed an open letter, circulated by Jewish Voice for Peace and the Arab American Institute, against the meeting. 26,300 people signed a petition opposing the meeting.
WikiLeaks 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign controversy
After the release by WikiLeaks of hacked Podesta emails, the Center for American Progress was criticized for emails sent between John Halpin, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and Jennifer Palmieri, a Hillary Clinton campaign team member. The Washington Post characterized the comments as "joking"; Kellyanne Conway and others called them anti-Catholic attacks.
Handling of sexual harassment accusations
In April 2018, BuzzFeed News reported that female employees of CAP had complained of sexual harassment by CAP employee Benton Strong to human resources and management. In an exit memo, one anonymous employee alleged retaliation for reporting Strong's behavior, but CAP maintains that no retaliation took place and an internal investigation concluded the same. After the publication of the BuzzFeed story, CAP president Neera Tanden unintentionally used the anonymous woman's first name during an all-staff meeting to address their handling of sexual harassment allegations.
In February 2020, the New York Times reported that the center had removed reporting of New York City police surveillance of Muslim communities from a 2015 report, allegedly out of deference to Michael Bloomberg, who had given the center grants worth $1.5 million. Yasmine Taeb, an author of the report, said that they were instructed to remove the chapter or make dramatic revisions, alleging this was "because of how it was going to be perceived by Mayor Bloomberg." CAP officials disputed her account, characterizing the changes as editorial decisions: detailed discussion of NYC policing was off-topic because the report had been "commissioned to examine right-wing groups targeting Muslims with explicit bigotry and conspiracy theories." Bloomberg told New York Times reporters he was unaware of any such dispute at CAP; in 2017, he contributed an additional $400,000.
The Center for American Progress is a 501(c)(3) organization under U.S. Internal Revenue Code. In 2014, CAP received $45 million from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, labor unions, and corporations. From 2003 to 2007, CAP received about $15 million in grants from 58 foundations. Major individual donors include George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herb and Marion Sandler. The Center receives undisclosed sums from corporate donors. In December 2013, the organization released a list of its corporate donors, which include Walmart, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, America's Health Insurance Plans, and Eli Lilly and Company.
In 2015, CAP released a partial list of its donors, which included 28 anonymous donors accounting for at least $5 million in contributions. Named donors included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, which each gave between $500,000 and $999,999. CAP's top donors include Walmart and Citigroup, each of which have given between $100,000 and $499,000. Other large CAP donors include Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Google, Time Warner, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
|*2015 Donors (excluding anonymous)||Level|
|The Hutchins Family Foundation||$1,000,000+|
|TomKat Charitable Trust||$1,000,000+|
|Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation||$500,000 to $999,999|
|Joyce Foundation||$500,000 to $999,999|
|Not on Our Watch||$500,000 to $999,999|
|Open Square Charitable Gift Fund||$500,000 to $999,999|
|Embassy of United Arab Emirates||$500,000 to $999,999|
|Walton Family Foundation||$500,000 to $999,999|
|The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation||$500,000 to $999,999|
- "Center for American Progress". Charity Navigator. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- Eilperin, Juliet (February 24, 2010). "Former White House adviser Van Jones lands new D.C. gig at liberal think tank". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
Jones, who has been consulting for companies and nonprofits on environmental issues, will start teaching at Princeton University in June and is rejoining the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, next month.
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'The liberal Center for American Progress estimates (optimistically) that the effect of the entire package could be to save or create 2.2 million jobs.
- Madhani, Aamer (September 12, 2012). "Obama: Romney's Medicare plan to cost seniors thousands". USA Today. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
Obama made the charge after his campaign cited a new study to reporters by the liberal group Center for American Progress Action Fund, an organization with close ties to his campaign.
- Sullivan, Andy (November 5, 2012). "Sandy's winds of uncertainty blow through presidential race". Chicago Tribune. Reuters. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
If Obama carries the popular vote by a narrow margin, it could have implications on his ability to govern effectively, according to Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress.
- Baker, Peter (November 7, 2012). "Obama Wins a Clear Victory, but Balance of Power Is Unchanged in Washington". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
Neera Tanden, the president of the liberal research group Center for American Progress, called the election 'a decisive mandate for a fair tax system where the wealthy contribute to address our deficit challenges.'
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Liberal news website ThinkProgress is shutting down after its parent organization said it was unable to find a new publisher for the site.
- "About Us". Generation Progress. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
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- Perry, David M. "'Disability Rights Are Civil Rights': Inside the CAP's New Disability Justice Initiative". Pacific Standard. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
- "Why It's Time the Launch the Disability Justice Initiative". Talk Poverty. July 25, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
- Democrats Against Single Payer Single-payer health care has always been a goal of the Left. But Democrats have turned it into a punching bag. Branko Marcetic. Jacobin. 03.29.2017
- Disappointed By the Democratic Party Platform? Follow the Money Several delegates to the platform drafting committee have deep financial ties to conservative industries. By Branko Marcetic. Moyers & Company. July 21, 2016
- Kliff, Sarah (February 23, 2018). "Democrats are shifting toward single-payer. Here's proof". Vox.
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- Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism, Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Nov. 5, 2015
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- Center for American Progress Hosts Netanyahu as Leaked Emails Show Group Censored Staff on Israel, By Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now, November 12, 2015
- Has the Israel Lobby Gone Too Far? Will a recent attack on progressive journalists help spark a sea-change in the debate over Middle East policy? By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, December 16, 2011.
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- Pulliam Bailey, Sarah. "WikiLeaks emails appear to show Clinton spokeswoman joking about Catholics and evangelicals". Washington Post. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
The latest batch of documents published by WikiLeaks appears to show Hillary Clinton's campaign communications director joking with a confidant about Catholics and evangelicals in emails sent to John Podesta, chairman of Clinton’s campaign.
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