The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization. According to CAP, the center is "dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action." The Center 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 runs a campus outreach group, 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".
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.
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
The center helped Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) develop "strategic redeployment", a comprehensive plan for the Iraq War that included a timetable and troop withdrawals.
ThinkProgress is a blog edited by Judd Legum that "provide[s] a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies." It is an outlet of the Center for American Progress.
Generation Progress was launched in February 2005 and is CAP's youth outreach arm. According to the organization, Generation Progress partners with over a million millennials.
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.
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.
The Center for American Progress attracted controversy for email chains "attacking two major faith groups--evangelicals and Catholics" during the Wikileaks hack of 2011 emails. The email chains were between Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and John Halpin from the Center for American Progress. Podesta did not respond in the email thread.
In one of these alleged emails, "Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the SC and think tanks to the media and social groups. It's an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy. I imagine they think [Catholicism] is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn't understand if they became evangelicals." Palmieri was reportedly referring to Rupert Murdoch raising his children as Catholics.
A leaked email revealed that Judd Legum, the editor of ThinkProgress, a site that’s part of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, had taken credit for preventing further writings by Roger Pielke Jr. from appearing on fivethirtyeight.com.
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.
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 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.
The Center for American Progress is a 501(c)(3) organization under U.S. Internal Revenue Code. In 2013, CAP received $42 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 Northrup 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.