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

Tax Policy Center

Friday, January 24, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM (EST)

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

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 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, 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


Have questions about 50 Years into LBJ’s "War on Poverty": What’s the Role for Tax Policy?? Contact Tax Policy Center

When & Where

Urban Institute
2100 M Street, NW
Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20037

Friday, January 24, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM (EST)

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Tax Policy Center

The Tax Policy Center is a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. The Center is made up of nationally recognized experts in tax, budget, and social policy who have served at the highest levels of government. TPC provides timely, accessible analysis and facts about tax policy to policymakers, journalists, citizens, and researchers.

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