Center for American Progress

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Center for American Progress
Center for American Progress logo.svg
MottoProgressive ideas for a strong, just, and free America.
FounderJohn Podesta
TypePublic policy think tank
Revenue$36 million (2010)[1]
RemarksFunding sources not disclosed
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Center for American Progress
Center for American Progress logo.svg
MottoProgressive ideas for a strong, just, and free America.
FounderJohn Podesta
TypePublic policy think tank
Revenue$36 million (2010)[1]
RemarksFunding sources not disclosed

The Center for American Progress is an independent educational, public policy research, and advocacy organization.[2] The Center is a nonpartisan organization "dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action", and as such features many prominent liberals and progressives in the United States.[3] The Center presents a liberal[4] viewpoint on economic issues. It has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.[5]

Its President and chief executive officer is Neera Tanden, who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton’s campaigns.[6] Its first President and chief executive officer was John Podesta, who served as chief of staff to then U.S. President Bill Clinton. Podesta remains with the organization as chairman of the board. The Center for American Progress has a campus outreach group, Campus Progress, and a sister advocacy organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund. 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".[7]

History and mission[edit]

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.[8]

Since its inception, the Center has gathered 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. Sen. 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[9]

The Center was often featured prominently on the Al Franken Show on the now defunct Air America Radio network, where Christy Harvey and Al Franken criticized the Bush administration at length, accusing it of dishonesty and incompetence.

The Center helped Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) develop "strategic redeployment",[10] a comprehensive plan for the Iraq War that includes a timetable and troop withdrawals.

Media outlets[edit]

The Center for American Progress publishes a daily email newsletter entitled The Progress Report, which is a recap and analysis of major political news in the United States, providing a progressive perspective on the day's stories. The authors are Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matthew Corley, Ali Frick, and Benjamin Armbruster.

The newsletter has four main sections:

  1. in-depth item on a major topic of the day, such as the economy or foreign policy;
  2. "Under the Radar," less prominent stories of the day including links to op-eds and news;
  3. "Think Fast," links to new stories; and
  4. the sidebar, entitled the "Daily Grill," which compares major right wing figures' current remarks with their past remarks.

The Center for American Progress began experimenting with video delivered over the internet to complement their policy work in early 2006. This video strategy, currently known as SEEPROGRESS, is distributed through the Center's website as well as YouTube and other video distributors, such as Google video, and Yahoo! video.

Climate Progress[edit]

Main article: Climate Progress

The Center publishes the daily global warming blog Climate Progress.[11] Edited by climate and energy expert Joseph J. Romm, the blog discusses climate science, climate and energy technology solutions and political news related to climate change. It is a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. In 2008, Time magazine named this blog one of the "Top 15 Green Websites", writing that it "counters bad science and inane rhetoric with original analysis delivered sharply.... Romm occupies the intersection of climate science, economics and policy.... On his blog and in his most recent book, Hell and High Water, you can find some of the most cogent, memorable, and deployable arguments for immediate and overwhelming action to confront global warming."[12] In 2009, Thomas L. Friedman, in his column in The New York Times, called the blog "indispensable",[13] and Rolling Stone magazine named Romm to its list of "100 People Who Are Changing America".[14] Time magazine named Romm one of its "Heroes of the Environment (2009)", calling him "The Web's most influential climate-change blogger"[15] and, in 2010, it included Climate Progress in a list of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010"[16] Romm's 2010 book, Straight Up is a compilation of some of his best blog entries from Climate Progress, with introductions and analysis by Romm.


Main article: ThinkProgress

ThinkProgress is a blog edited by Judd Legum that "provide[s] a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies."[17] It is an outlet of the Center for American Progress.

Education Reform and Privatization[edit]

Main article: Education Reform and Privatization

The Center for American Progress has signed on to pro-charter initiatives and created a policy paper in favor of alternative certification programs for teachers. Policy paper on alternative certification for teachers. This puts them at odds with unionized teachers and public school and community activists.

Campus Progress[edit]

Main article: Campus Progress

Campus Progress, now known as Generation Progress, was launched in February 2005 and is the Center for American Progress’s comprehensive effort to help young people make their voices heard on issues and to empower new generations of progressive leaders. Campus Progress is active on over 500 U.S. campuses and in communities across the United States.

Campus Progress has five main components:

  1. a daily web magazine, offering journalism, analysis, opinions, cartoons, video and organizing tools. has attracted millions of readers and has published more than 1000 pieces including interviews with Barack Obama, Helen Thomas, Stephen Colbert, Margaret Cho, Larry David and Seymour Hersh. Print editions of the web magazine are distributed on campuses across the nation. The site also features an active blog with hundreds of contributors.
  2. support for student publications on more than fifty campuses including The Claremont Port Side at Claremont McKenna College, Songhai News: The Black Collegiate Voice at the University of Houston, The Big Green at Michigan State University, The Fine Print at the University of Florida, Vanderbilt Orbis at Vanderbilt University, and The Dartmouth Free Press at Dartmouth College.
  3. an events team that has worked with students and other partners to hold over 500 speaking programs, film screenings, debates and training programs.
  4. national campaigns, as well as action grants that support student issue campaigns on individual campuses. Current Campus Progress campaigns focus on issues including student debt and access to higher education, the Iraq war, global warming and academic freedom. Action grants cover student campaigns on issues from Sudan to living wages, affirmative action to the death penalty.
  5. the National Student Conference. The first annual conference was held on July 13, 2005, in Washington, D.C. and featured President Bill Clinton.
From The Nation: “For the first time ever, campus progressives convened, conversed and organized at their own national conference ― something right-wing groups have done annually since the 1970s.... The conference left students, from Young Democrats to radical activists, energized and teeming with hope. Almost everyone I spoke with left the conference believing that a real, thriving and broad-based progressive student movement was overdue, necessary and most importantly, possible.”
The second annual conference, held on July 12, 2006, in Washington, featured Senator Barack Obama, and was attended by over 1000 students from 48 states. The third annual conference was held in Washington on June 26, 2007, and featured Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Other speakers at these and other Campus Progress events have included Cornel West; Rev. James A. Forbes; Majora Carter; John Passacantando; Adrienne Maree Brown; Ralph Nader; music artists Talib Kweli, M1, Fat Joe, Yo-Yo, and Ted Leo; Members of Congress Russ Feingold, John Lewis, Keith Ellison, and Tammy Baldwin; and journalists Helen Thomas, Samantha Power, Seymour Hersh, E.J. Dionne, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Barbara Ehrenreich. The fourth annual conference was held July 8, 2008.

David Halperin, former speechwriter to President Bill Clinton and to 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean, served as the Director of Campus Progress from its inception in 2004 until January 2012.

Center for American Progress Action Fund[edit]

Formerly known simply as the American Progress Action Fund, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is a "sister advocacy organization" and is organizationally and financially separate from the Center for American Progress, although they share many staff and a physical address. Politico wrote in April 2011 that "The Center for American Progress Action Fund 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.”[18] Whereas the Center for American Progress is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the fund is a 501(c)(4), allowing it to devote more funds to lobbying.[19] In 2003, George Soros promised to financially support the organization by donating up to three million dollars.[20] The action fund is headed by Jennifer Palmieri.[18]


Some open government groups, such as the Sunlight Foundation and the Campaign Legal Center, criticize the Center's failure to disclose its contributors, particularly since it is so influential in appointments to the Obama administration.[21][22]

In March 2008, ThinkProgress, a blog outlet of the Center for American Progress, posted that John McCain had plagiarized from a 1996 speech by Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer. However, it was revealed that McCain had used similar lines in a speech during 1995 and ThinkProgress retracted the error the next day.[23][24][25]

In October 2010, ThinkProgress posted that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was bypassing campaign finance laws by using foreign money to fund campaign attack ads.[26] called it "a claim with little basis in fact",[27] while The New York Times wrote, "[T]here is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents".[28]

CAP was criticized by several Jewish organizations after some center staffers for the CAP "publicly used language that could be construed as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic".[29] Bloggers associated with CAP published several posts using phrases such as "apartheid" and "Israel-firsters", causing NGO Monitor, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and others to label them anti-Israel and call on CAP to disassociate themselves from these statements.[30] Officials at CAP said the “inappropriate” language came only in personal tweets – not on CAP’s Web site or its ThinkProgress blog. The tweets were deleted, and the authors apologized.[29]

Green jobs[edit]

A report from the Center for American Progress concludes that a $100 billion federal investment in clean energy technologies over 2009 and 2010 would yield 2 million new U.S. jobs, cutting the unemployment rate by 1.3% and put the nation on a path toward a low-carbon economy. The report, prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, proposes $50 billion in tax credits for energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy systems; $46 billion in direct government spending for public building retrofits, mass transit, freight rail, smart electrical grid systems, and renewable energy systems; and $4 billion for federal loan guarantees to help finance building retrofits and renewable energy projects. The Center believes that clean energy investments would yield about 300,000 more jobs than if the same funds were distributed among U.S. taxpayers. The clean energy investments would also have the added benefits of lower home energy bills and reduced prices for non-renewable energy sources, due to the reduced consumption of those energy sources.[31]



The Center for American Progress is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization under U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The institute receives approximately $25 million per year in funding from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, and corporations, but it declines to release any information on the sources of its funding. No funders are listed on its website or in its Annual Report. From 2003 to 2007, the Center 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.[33] In December 2013 the organization released a list of its corporate donors.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Center for American Progress". Charity Navigator. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ "About the Center For American Progress". Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "About the Center For American Progress". Center for American Progress. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ E.g.,
    • McManus, Doyle (December 9, 2010). "Obama gets tough – with liberals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-11-13. "'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." 
    • Sullivan, Andy (November 5, 2012). "Sandy's winds of uncertainty blow through presidential race". Chicago Tribune. Reuters. Retrieved 2012-11-13. "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." 
  5. ^ "Contact Us". Center for American Progress. Retrieved December 15, 2009.
  6. ^ Horowitz, Jason (November 3, 2011). "Think-tank post puts spotlight on veteran Democratic operative Neera Tanden". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  7. ^ Scherer, Michael (November 21, 2008). "Inside Obama's Idea Factory in Washington", Time. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  8. ^ Robert Dreyfuss, "An Idea Factory for the Democrats", The Nation March 1, 2004
  9. ^ Sarah Rosen Wartell, Think Tank Executive and Housing Finance Expert, to be the Urban Institute's Third President
  10. ^ CAP article, strategic redeployment. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
  11. ^ "Climate Progress - ThinkProgress". Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  12. ^ Roston, Eric (April 17, 2008). "feature on 'Top 15 Green Websites'". Time. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  13. ^ Friedman, Thomas L. "The Inflection Is Near?", The New York Times, March 7, 2009.
  14. ^ "The 100 People Who Are Changing America", Rolling Stone magazine, March 18, 2009
  15. ^ "Heroes of the Environment 2009". Time magazine feature, September 2009, linking to full article: Walsh, Bryan. "Heroes of the Environment 2009 – Activists: Joe Romm", Time magazine, September 2009.
  16. ^ "Best Blogs of 2010". Time magazine, June 28, 2010.
  17. ^ Somanader, Tanya. "ThinkProgress blog". Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  18. ^ a b "Center for American Progress news team takes aim at GOP". Politico. 
  19. ^ "Add to the Collective Genius." Retrieved December 27, 2006.
  20. ^ "Soros' Deep Pockets vs. Bush". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  21. ^ Ben Smith and Chris Frates (December 9, 2008). "Where's transparency of Podesta group?". Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  22. ^ Krugman, Paul (January 28, 2010). "March of the Peacocks". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  23. ^ Terkel, Amanda. "McCain's Foreign Affairs Speech". ThinkProgress. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  24. ^ Klein, Ezra. "McCain the Plagiarist". American Prospect. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  25. ^ Calderone, Michael. "Think Progress retracts McCain plagiarism charge". Politico. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  26. ^ Frates, Chris. "Chamber of Commerce under fire for foreign cash". Politico. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  27. ^ Jackson, Brooks. "Foreign Money? Really?". Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  28. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (October 8, 2010). "Topic of Foreign Money in U.S. Races Hits Hustings". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  29. ^ a b Wallsten, Peter (January 20, 2012). "Center for American Progress, group tied to Obama, under fire from Israel advocates". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  30. ^ Weinthal, Benjamin. "NGOs slam ‘anti-Semitic’ US think tank comments". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved January 2012. 
  31. ^ "EERE News: EERE Network News". Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  32. ^ "Experts | Center for American Progress". Center for American Progress. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  33. ^ Savage, Charlie (November 7, 2008). "John Podesta, Shepherd of a Government in Exile". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  34. ^

External links[edit]