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   50 Years into LBJ’s “War on Poverty”: What’s the Role for Tax Policy?

Friday, January 24, 2014
9:00 – 1:30 p.m., ET



The Tax Code as a Safety Net


Reducing Poverty through Work Incentives and Community Development


50 Years into LBJ's "War on Poverty": Keynote by Jason Furman


In his January, 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty” and initiated a vast package of spending programs. The Urban Institute was formed in 1968 to evaluate these and other programs in LBJ’s “Great Society.”

In the half-century since, federal anti-poverty programs have undergone a transformation Johnson probably never imagined. Today, many are operated through tax code. Some, such as the earned income tax credit provide cash assistance to low-income working families. Others, such as the New Markets Tax Credit, provide incentives for economic development in disadvantaged communities.

Do these tax subsidies reduce poverty? Are they more effective than spending programs? The Tax Policy Center has brought together some of the nation’s leading experts in tax-based anti-poverty programs to answer these and other questions.


8:30 AM – Breakfast

9:00 AM - Introduction by Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute

9:10 AM -10:40 AM – The Tax Code as a Safety Net

  • Rebecca Blank, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin and former Acting Secretary of Commerce
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office
  • Chris Howard, Pamela C. Harriman Professor of Government and Public Policy, College of William & Mary
  • Elaine Maag, Senior Research Associate, Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • David Wessel, Director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution (moderator)

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM – Reducing Poverty through Work Incentives and Community Development

  • Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, NYU ; Co-Director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy
  • Michael Rich, Associate Professor, Department of Politics, Emory University
  • Brett Theodos, Senior Research Associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Nancy Pindus, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Howard Gleckman, Resident Fellow and TaxVox editor, Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute (moderator)

12:00-1:30 PM – Lunch Speaker - Jason Furman, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers



At the Urban Institute
2100 M Street N.W., 5th Floor, Washington, D.C.
A light breakfast will be provided at 8:30 a.m. The forum will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m.