Economic Policy Institute

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Economic Policy Institute
Logo Economic Policy Institute.svg
Formation1986; 35 years ago (1986)
FounderJeff Faux, Lester Thurow, Ray Marshall, Barry Bluestone, Robert Reich, Robert Kuttner
TypePublic policy think tank
Coordinates38°54′06″N 77°01′45″W / 38.901627°N 77.029256°W / 38.901627; -77.029256Coordinates: 38°54′06″N 77°01′45″W / 38.901627°N 77.029256°W / 38.901627; -77.029256
Thea Lee
Revenue (2016)
Expenses (2016)$5,854,099[1]

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit American, left-leaning think tank based in Washington, D.C., that carries out economic research and analyzes the economic impact of policies and proposals. The EPI describes itself as a non-partisan think tank that "seeks to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions".[2] It is affiliated with the labor movement[3][4][5] and is usually described as presenting a left-leaning and pro-union viewpoint on public policy issues.[6][7] The EPI has a sister organization, the EPI Policy Center, which is a 501(c)(4) organization for advocacy and education.


EPI was founded in 1986 by economists Jeff Faux, Lester Thurow, Ray Marshall, Barry Bluestone, Robert Reich, and Robert Kuttner.[2] EPI's president is Thea Lee.[8] Lee succeeded Lawrence Mishel as president in January 2018.

Policy proposals[edit]

EPI supported Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All. In a March 2020 policy paper, they argued that the loss of jobs in the insurance industry and in administering the current system would be small, within the normal job churn, and easily absorbed by the economy. This would be outweighed by the benefits to workers of universal health care, and to small business formation.[9][10]

In July 2012, EPI and the AFL-CIO, Center for Community Change, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Council of La Raza and SEIU proposed a budget plan titled Prosperity Economics, a counter to the Republican Party's Path to Prosperity budget plan. The Prosperity Economics plan suggests that major public investment in areas like infrastructure is needed to jump-start the economy.[11]

In response to the debate over the United States fiscal cliff, EPI economist Josh Bivens advocated taxing the rich, writing "Given this rise in [income] inequality, it makes sense that much of the future burden of reducing budget deficits should be borne by those who have benefited the most from economic trends in recent decades."[12]


Eight labor unions made a five-year funding pledge to EPI at its inception: AFSCME, United Auto Workers, United Steelworkers, United Mine Workers, International Association of Machinists, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, and United Food and Commercial Workers Union.[13] According to EPI, about 29% of its funding between 2005 and 2009 was supplied by labor unions and about 53% came from foundation grants.[2]

In the 1980s, EPI took money from the Tobacco Institute—a now-defunct tobacco industry trade group—to oppose excise taxes on the tobacco industry's behalf. The Tobacco Institute worked with groups like EPI "to support the release of studies, editorials, press briefings, and testimony against regressive excise taxes" that would negatively impact the tobacco industry's bottom line if passed.[14]


  1. ^ a b "Economic Policy Institute" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "About". Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  3. ^ Eckes, Alfred E. (2009). U.S. Trade Issues: A Reference Handbook. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9781598841992.
  4. ^ Sauvant, Karl P. (January 2009). Investing in the United States: Is the US Ready for FDI from China?. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 9781849803502.
  5. ^ Sinclair, Barbara (22 October 2014). Party Wars: Polarization and the Politics of National Policy Making. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 331. ISBN 9780806182162.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Staff". Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  9. ^ Medicare-for-all would be a boon to the American labor market, study finds, By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, March 5, 2020.
  10. ^ Medicare for All would lead to job boom, experts say, Igor Derysh, Salon, March 14, 2020
  11. ^ Izadi, Elahe (2012-07-31). "Liberal Groups Counter GOP's Economic Agenda With New Plan". National Journal. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  12. ^ Milani, Kate (2012-11-20). "Economists React: The Fiscal Cliff 'Can't Be Fully Avoided'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  13. ^ Taylor, Paul (19 February 1987). "Analyzing Alternatives In Labor's Think Tank;Liberal Economists Study Government's Role". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  14. ^ Balbach, Edith D.; Campbell, Richard B. (Aug 2009). "Union Women, the Tobacco Industry, and Excise Taxes". American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 37 (2): S121-5. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.05.011. PMC 2712937. PMID 19591750.