Non-profit

Urban Institute

This is the logo of the Urban Institute. (link)
Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

52-0880375

DUNS Number:

83-362-0698

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $107,701,014
Expenses: $87,855,636
Assets: $165,064,431

The Urban Institute is a non-profit that was originally founded by President Lyndon Johnson and group of his handpicked cohorts to provide research supporting his administration’s liberal entitlement programs.[1]

The organization has since expanded its scope beyond its founding mission to become a general public policy research organization that investigates social and economic issues through 11 different specific policy centers and 13 cross-center initiatives.[2]

Urban Institute claims to be a non-partisan organization that doesn’t take positions on hot-button current political issues. [3] However, the organization is known as a liberal[4] or left-leaning think tank[5] as it researchers often come to conclusions that call for policies that advance the progressive agenda.[6] The findings of Urban Institute researchers cover left-of-center issue areas including higher general fund taxes, [7] climate change taxes and environmentalist energy incentive policies, [8] government-run healthcare, [9] expanded immigration, lax criminal punishment policies, [10] and policies that address so-called “white privilege.”[11]

Organizational Overview

The Urban Institute was founded in 1968 in order to strengthen President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society entitlement programs,[12] the largest expansion of government-run social  programs since President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal.”[13]

President Lyndon Johnson selected seven individuals, several of whom had worked in senior roles in the Johnson administration, to create the Urban Institute:[14] Kermit Gordon, McGeorge Bundy, Irwin Miller, Arjay Miller, Richard Neustadt, Cyrus Vance, and Robert McNamara.[15] William Gorham was selected as the organization’s first President.[16] The Urban Institute has “greatly expanded from its original urban focus,” to become a general public policy organization investigating a number of social and economic issues.[17]

Agenda-Driven Research

A number of different sources including the Hill,[18] Huffington Post,[19] Forbes magazine,[20] and the left-wing group Fairness and Accountability in Reporting[21] have labeled the Urban Institute a liberal or left-leaning think-tank.[22]

Political Bias

The Urban Institute partnered with the liberal Brookings Institution to create the Tax Policy Center. [23] On multiple occasions the center’s analysis of Republican tax proposals has been met with criticism. In reference to the party’s 2017 tax reform proposal, the Wall Street Journal called the Urban Institute’s analysis “propaganda” that “trashes GOP reform without evidence.”[24]

The Tax Policy Center is run by former Clinton administration official Leonard Berman.[25]

Data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that between 1990 and late 2017, Urban Institute employees had given nearly $300,000 to Democrats and only $750 to Republicans.[26]

Liberal Research

In keeping with its founding by Democratic politicians, the Urban Institute’s research has consistently supported liberal policies.

Taxes

Urban Institute researchers argue that the United State should impose taxes on corporate income not earned in the United States and also against the income of companies not headquartered in the U.S.[27] In 2017, Urban Institute researcher David Marron testified before a Senate committee against corporate income tax cuts and against taxing certain small businesses at a preferential rate. He also argued that pass-through entities should be taxed in fact at a rate higher than the corporate income tax rate.[28]

Healthcare

The Urban institute is a staunch defender of the healthcare system created under Obamacare. The Urban Institute scholars assert that there needs to be a “clear enforcement of the individual mandate” [29] and created research that supports Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.[30]

Environmentalist Policy

Urban Institute researchers argue in support of a “robust institutional and regulatory environment” concerning environmentalist policy.[31] Their researchers have supported a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions, “regardless of source,”[32] costing taxpayers an estimated $1.2 trillion over its first decade.[33]  Researchers would then use the revenue from the carbon tax to subsidize handouts to environmentalist-supported energy sources.[34]

Social Policy

Urban Institute researchers wrote an article calling for social support programs that confront ethnic inequity in access to economic and social mobility.[35] Urban Institute argues that there is not enough affordable housing in the U.S. and that government handouts such as rental vouchers, and tax credits to builders are essential to help build more affordable housing. [36]

Urban Institute researchers penned an article titled, “To talk about structural racism, we have to talk about white privilege,” which called for white individuals to accept that White privilege and structural racism are interlocking concepts.[37]

Methodological Criticism

Urban Institute has faced numerous challenges to the merits of its research.

In one notable instance, Mark Warshawsky, a Research Fellow at the George Mason Universities Mercatus Center, found that models used by the Urban Institute suffered “from a policy bias.”[38] Warshawsky argued that the Urban Institute’s research materials were “incomplete and sometimes even opaque in key areas and assumptions,” which made them tough if not impossible to replicate.[39]

The Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center released a preliminary estimate on the GOP’s tax plan that is “impossibly specific” [40] given that it excused critical parts of a tax plan, such as the income ranges for the individual brackets. [41]  The Wall Street Journal said that their analysis is “Tax Policy Center Propaganda” that “trashes GOP reform without evidence.”[42]

Finances

Foundations, Government agencies, corporations and individuals give to the Urban Institute via grants used to support the Institute’s Policy Centers.[43]

Since 2010 the Urban Institute has received $ 583,807,946 in contributions and has spent $549,185,482.[44] And [45] [46]

Federal Funding

Initially the Urban Institute was “funded almost entirely by federal grants and contracts.”[47] During the Reagan Administration, the Urban Institute saw a considerable cut in federal funding from $12 million in 1980 to $3 million in 1982. To fill the financial hole liberal groups like the MacArthur, Ford, Carnegie, and Mellon Foundations “stepped in and helped fill the gap” in funding.[48]

However, in recent years, federal funding for the Urban Institute has increased and in 2016, federal government funding was the largest source of revenue for the organization, providing about 43.6% of the Urban Institute’s operating funds whereas funding from private foundations comprised 40% and revenues from nonprofits, corporations and corporate foundations, state and local governments, international organizations and foreign entities, individuals, and Urban’s endowment comprised the rest.[49]

Since 2013 the Urban Institute has received $ 151,026,851[50] [51] [52] https://pp-990-audits.s3.amazonaws.com/7344720161.pdf?X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAI7C6X5GT42DHYZIA%2F20170924%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20170924T140858Z&X-Amz-Expires=1800&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=a213f851d8f3d4a08b98707635bdba803a9ad7e2430a1e084f90df21b5b278cf

[/note] in federal funding, with $23,797,575[53] [54] [55]

[56] coming in 2016.

Liberal Donors:

The Urban Institute has taken millions of dollars from liberal foundations including over $1 million from a number of organizations. Donors in 2015 included a number of liberal foundations:[57]

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Ford Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Rockefeller Foundation

Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Ashurst Foundation

Open Society Foundations

Other left-wing donors who have given to Urban Institute include[58]:

American Civil Liberties Union

Everytown for Gun Safety

People

Sarah Rosen Wartell is the current president of Urban Institute. She previously served as “President Bill Clinton’s deputy assistant for economic policy and the deputy director of his National Economic Council.”

The Urban Institute’s current Board of Trustees is comprised of 25 members, chaired by Clinton administration Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick and vice-chaired by Freeman A. Hrabowski III and Jeremy Travis.[59]

Of the Board’s 25 members, at least seven have worked in either the Clinton or Obama administrations. [60]

 

References

  1. Turner, Margery. “Fifty years after LBJ’s Great Society, Urban Institute looks forward.” The Urban Institute. January, 2015. Accessed October 3, 2017.  https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/fifty-years-after-lbjs-great-society-urban-institute-looks-forward
  2. “Urban Institute Highlights 2012 to 2014.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/wp-content/highlights-2012-2014_flipbook.pdf
  3. “Spotlight: The Urban Institute.” Association For Public Policy Analysis and Management. October, 2014. Accessed October 3, 2017. http://www.appam.org/spotlight-the-urban-institute/
  4. Pecquet, Julian. “Urban Institute touts healthcare reform’s benefits for hospitals and physicians.” The Hill. July, 2010. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/109281-urban-institute-touts-healthcare-reforms-benefits-for-hospitals-and-physicians
  5. Hellmann, Jessie. “GOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace.” The Hill. September, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017.  http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/350935-gop-sees-fresh-opening-with-dems-single-payer-embrace
  6. Jagoda, Naomi. “Trump adviser accuses Tax Policy Center of bias.” The Hill. October 13, 2016. Accessed September 26, 2017. http://thehill.com/policy/finance/300888-trump-adviser-accuses-tax-policy-center-of-biased-analysis
  7. Morran, Donald. “Business Tax Reform.” Urban Institute. United State Senate Committee On Finance. September 19, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/93391/marron_sfc_testimony_0.pdf
  8. Marron, Donald. Toder, Eric. And Austin, Lydia. “Taxing Carbon: What, Why, And How.” The Urban Institute. June, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/56286/2000274-Taxing-Carbon-What-Why-and-How.pdf
  9. Blumberg, Linda and Holahan, John. “Stabilizing and Strengthening ACA Nongroup Markets.” Urban Institute. September, 2107. Accessed October 4, 2017.  https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/93576/2001527_qs_stabilizing_and_strengthening_aca_nongroup_markets_final_3.pdf
  10. “Our national reliance on long-term incarceration as a solution to violence has exacted a steep toll.” The Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017.  http://apps.urban.org/features/long-prison-terms/reform.html
  11. Simms, Margaret. Kijakazo, Kilolo. “Structural racism places the burden of proposed budget cuts on people of color.” The Urban Institute. March, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/structural-racism-places-burden-proposed-budget-cuts-people-color[/npte]
  12. Turner, Margery. “Fifty years after LBJ’s Great Society, Urban Institute looks forward.” The Urban Institute. January, 2015. Accessed October 3, 2017.  https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/fifty-years-after-lbjs-great-society-urban-institute-looks-forward
  13. “Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.” U.S. History Online Textbook. Accessed October 3, 2017. http://www.ushistory.org/us/56e.asp
  14. Rich, Spencer. “Urban Institute, Leading Liberal Think Tank, Marks 20th Birthday.” The Los Angeles Times. June, 1988. Accessed October 3, 2017. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-12/news/mn-7095_1_urban-institute
  15. Lyndon B. Johnson: “Remarks at a Meeting With the Board of Trustees of the Urban Institute.” The American Presidency Project. April 26, 1968.  Accessed October 3, 2017. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=28822
  16. Lyndon B. Johnson: “Remarks at a Meeting With the Board of Trustees of the Urban Institute.” The American Presidency Project. April 26, 1968.  Accessed October 3, 2017. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=28822
  17. “Urban Institute Highlights 2012 to 2014.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/wp-content/highlights-2012-2014_flipbook.pdf
  18. Pecquet, Julian. “Urban Institute touts healthcare reform’s benefits for hospitals and physicians.” The Hill. July, 2010. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/109281-urban-institute-touts-healthcare-reforms-benefits-for-hospitals-and-physicians
  19. Woellert, Lorriane. “Republicans Own Bigger Homes and Other True Cliches.” Huffington Post. July, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lorraine-woellert/republicans-own-bigger-ho_b_11057684.html
  20. Roy, Avik. “Liberal Think Tank Makes Amazing Discovery: Marco Rubio Wants To Cut Your Taxes.” Forbes. February, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2016/02/13/liberal-think-tank-makes-amazing-discovery-marco-rubio-wants-to-cut-your-taxes/#329be16c46bb
  21. Johnson, Adam. “Washington Post Squeezes Four Anti-Sanders Stories Out of One Tax Study Over Seven Hours.” Fair. May, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://fair.org/home/washington-post-squeezes-four-anti-sanders-stories-out-of-one-tax-study-over-seven-hours/
  22. Hellmann, Jessie. “GOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace.” The Hill. September, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017.  http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/350935-gop-sees-fresh-opening-with-dems-single-payer-embrace
  23. “Tax Policy Center.” Tax Policy Center. Accessed October 4, 2017.  http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/
  24. “Tax Policy Center Propaganda.” The Wall Street Journal. October, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-policy-center-propaganda-1506889612
  25. Browning, Lynnley. “Trump’s Tax Plan Seen Turning Employees Into Contractors.” Bloomberg Politics. October, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-11/trump-s-tax-plan-seen-turning-employees-into-contractors
  26. “Total Contributions by Source of Funds.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed October 4, 2017. Https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/totals.php?id=D000030709&cycle=2016
  27. Viard, Alan. And Toder, Eric. “U.S. News & World Report Op-ed: “A Way Forward on Corporate Tax Reform.” The Urban Institute.  August, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/83151/2000882-U.S.-News-and-World-Report-Op-ed-A-Way-Forward-on-Corporate-Tax-Reform.pdf
  28. Morran, Donald. “Business Tax Reform.” Urban Institute. United State Senate Committee On Finance. September 19, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/93391/marron_sfc_testimony_0.pdf
  29. Blumberg, Linda and Holahan, John. “Stabilizing and Strengthening ACA Nongroup Markets.” Urban Institute. September, 2107. Accessed October 4, 2017.  https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/93576/2001527_qs_stabilizing_and_strengthening_aca_nongroup_markets_final_3.pdf
  30. Buettgens, Matthew. Dorn, Stan. And Carrol, Caitlin. “Timely Analysis of Immediate Health Policy Issues.” The Urban Institute. July, 2011. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/27391/412361-ACA-and-State-Governments-Consider-Savings-as-Well-as-Costs.PDF
  31. Obado-Joel, Jennifer. “Local Costs and Global Benefits – Engaging Stakeholders in Climate Change Projects.”  The Urban Institute. June, 2014. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/center-international-development-and-governance/about/idg-highlights/local-costs-and
  32. Marron, Donald. Toder, Eric. And Austin, Lydia. “Taxing Carbon: What, Why, And How.” The Urban Institute. June, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/56286/2000274-Taxing-Carbon-What-Why-and-How.pdf
  33. Marron, Donald. Toder, Eric. And Austin, Lydia. “Taxing Carbon: What, Why, And How.” The Urban Institute. June, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/56286/2000274-Taxing-Carbon-What-Why-and-How.pdf
  34. Marron, Donald. Toder, Eric. And Austin, Lydia. “Taxing Carbon: What, Why, And How.” The Urban Institute. June, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/56286/2000274-Taxing-Carbon-What-Why-and-How.pdf
  35. Simms, Margaret. Kijakazo, Kilolo. “Structural racism places the burden of proposed budget cuts on people of color.” The Urban Institute. March, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/structural-racism-places-burden-proposed-budget-cuts-people-color[/npte]
  36. “The cost of affordable housing: Does it pencil out?.” The Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017. http://apps.urban.org/features/cost-of-affordable-housing/
  37. Simms, Margaret. Waxman, Elaine. “To talk about structural racism, we have to talk about white privilege.” The Urban Institute. Febraury, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017.  https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/talk-about-structural-racism-we-have-talk-about-white-privilege
  38. Warshawsky, Mark. “A Critical Review of the Urban Institute Model of Financing Long-Term Services and Supports.” The Mercatus Center. 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/mercatus-warshawsky-critical-review-urban-institute-v2.pdf
  39. Warshawsky, Mark. “A Critical Review of the Urban Institute Model of Financing Long-Term Services and Supports.” The Mercatus Center. 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/mercatus-warshawsky-critical-review-urban-institute-v2.pdf
  40. “Tax Policy Center Propaganda.” The Wall Street Journal. October, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-policy-center-propaganda-1506889612
  41. “Tax Policy Center Propaganda.” The Wall Street Journal. October, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-policy-center-propaganda-1506889612
  42. “Tax Policy Center Propaganda.” The Wall Street Journal. October, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-policy-center-propaganda-1506889612
  43. “2015 Annual Report.” Urban Institute. 2015. Accessed October 3, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2015-annual-report.pdf
  44. [note] Urban Institute. Return of an Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2010-2013, Part I Line 9.
  45. “2014 Financials.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2014_funders_3.pdf
  46. Urban Institute. Return of an Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990) 2015-2016, Part 1.
  47. Rich, Spencer. “Urban Institute, Leading Liberal Think Tank, Marks 20th Birthday.” The Los Angeles Times. June, 1988. Accessed October 3, 2017. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-12/news/mn-7095_1_urban-institute/2
  48. Rich, Spencer. “Urban Institute, Leading Liberal Think Tank, Marks 20th Birthday.” The Los Angeles Times. June, 1988. Accessed October 3, 2017. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-12/news/mn-7095_1_urban-institute/2
  49. “2015 Annual Report.” Urban Institute. 2015. Accessed October 3, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2015-annual-report.pdf
  50. [note] “2013 Financials.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2013_funders.pdf
  51. “2014 Financials.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2014_funders_3.pdf
  52. “2015 Annual Report.” Urban Institute. 2015. Accessed October 3, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2015-annual-report.pdf
  53. [note] “2013 Financials.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2013_funders.pdf
  54. “2014 Financials.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 4, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2014_funders_3.pdf
  55. “2015 Annual Report.” Urban Institute. 2015. Accessed October 3, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2015-annual-report.pdf
  56. Urban Institute. Return of an Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990) 2015-2016, Part 1.
  57. “2015 Annual Report.” Urban Institute. 2015. Accessed October 3, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2015-annual-report.pdf
  58. “2015 Annual Report.” Urban Institute. 2015. Accessed October 3, 2017. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/2015-annual-report.pdf
  59. “Board of Trustees.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 3, 2017. https://www.urban.org/board-trustees.
  60. “Board of Trustees.” Urban Institute. Accessed October 3, 2017. https://www.urban.org/board-trustees.
  61.   See an error? Let us know!

    Nonprofit Information

  62. Accounting Period: December - November
  63. Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 1968

  64. Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form 990 $107,701,014 $87,855,636 $165,064,431 $23,215,582 Y $91,456,948 $0 $1,699,317 $2,582,104 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $95,144,338 $86,177,167 $163,329,359 $22,917,403 Y $88,254,534 $0 $2,286,241 $2,555,919 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $77,049,113 $77,587,409 $160,210,568 $26,401,055 Y $75,209,396 $0 $1,934,273 $1,989,635 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $85,862,039 $75,477,336 $143,793,426 $23,922,892 Y $81,495,405 $0 $1,843,065 $1,816,527 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $74,761,380 $73,270,106 $128,700,848 $26,466,382 N $71,162,375 $0 $1,515,621 $1,602,665 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Urban Institute

    2100 M STREET NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20037-1207

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