DATA Act Comes to House Floor

During this period of political gridlock, it's rare to find a bipartisan legislative initiative that we can enthusiastically support. But tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on just such a bill, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act). The DATA Act would greatly enhance federal spending transparency, bringing new datasets online and helping standardize reporting across the government.

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Paul Ryan's Revenue Reforms Slash Taxes on the Rich

Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his latest budget proposal, called "The Path to Prosperity," which serves as an update to his plan from last year. The proposal, which is the draft of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 House budget resolution, is supposed to be a fiscal framework for the House for the coming year. However, the congressman's tax plan is not a serious proposal for change.

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State of the Union's Call for Tax Fairness is a Good Start

“The state of the union is getting stronger.” That is how President Obama characterized the current state of the union. But, as we wrote in our State of the Union preview on Tuesday, we still have a long way to go before the economy is back on its feet. In our article, we recommended doing away with the looming budget cuts, increasing taxes on capital gains and financial transactions, and using the additional revenue to pay for more infrastructure projects and public protections. So what fiscal issues did Obama talk about in his speech on Tuesday?

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Farewell to an Outstanding Public Servant

On Dec. 31, 2011, Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board Chairman Earl Devaney stepped down after leading the Board for almost three years. Devaney did more than anyone else to ensure Recovery Act spending was as transparent as it was, and his presence will be sorely missed.

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Congress Strips Out Many Controversial Riders from Funding Bills, but Leaves Public in the Dark

Even though the 2012 fiscal year (FY) began more than two months ago, Congress only recently put the finishing touches on this year’s budget. Over the weekend, the House and the Senate approved a funding package wrapping all of the outstanding annual appropriations bills into one. In doing so they stripped out many, but not all, of the controversial legislative provisions, known as policy riders.

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Congress Passes Year's First Spending Bill With Plenty of Riders, Declares Pizza a Vegetable

Late last week, Congress passed the first spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2012, 48 days after it began. The bill, known as a minibus, is a bundle of three smaller appropriations bills, and collectively, the three bills are about a billion dollars lower than their level last year. Because the remaining nine spending bills required to keep the government running have yet to be approved, the minibus includes another stopgap spending measure, designed to keep the government open until Dec. 16. However, tucked inside the minibus is a litany of restrictions on spending designed to change non-budgetary federal policy.  Even though congressional rules are supposed to prevent the practice of slipping policy initiatives into funding bills, the minibus includes 75 policy riders that affect everything from gun regulations to the weight of planes flying into New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, and even declare that pizza is a vegetable.

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Appropriations Policy Riders: They’re Ba-ack!

Earlier this year, when Congress was finishing the long-overdue budget for fiscal year 2011, the House tried to use the must-pass spending bill to force adoption of dozens of "policy riders." These provisions would have done everything from preventing the regulation of greenhouse gases to prohibiting certain loans to mohair farmers. Fortunately, almost all of them were stripped out of the final bill. However, now, as Congress moves toward finishing the FY 2012 budget, Republicans in the House and Senate are once again attempting to bend the budget process to enact non-budget policies that can't pass on their own merits. Riders have no place in congressional spending bills.

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Obama's New Deficit Reduction Plan Unapologetically Balanced

Earlier today, President Obama released a new plan for reducing the federal deficit, or the shortfall between revenues and spending. The plan is technically a set of recommendations for the Super Committee, which Congress created last month to find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Obama’s plan isn’t ideal, but it is easily one of the best set of deficit reduction recommendations to come out of Washington in a while.

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Senate Committee Proposes Transparency Cuts

There’s a grand tradition in DC: the Friday afternoon news dump. Press secretaries from across the District save up any bad news, and then release it on Friday after the major news deadlines have passed. That way, articles won’t show up until the weekend, when most people aren't paying attention. In yet another example of this, the Senate Appropriations Committee, responsible for the government’s yearly funding bills, released four bills this afternoon, all of which had passed out of committee yesterday. And, sure enough, there, buried in one of the bills, is the Senate effectively slashing funding for transparency projects.

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Frequently Asked Questions on the Debt Ceiling Deal

As you might have heard, last week Congress finally negotiated an end to the debt ceiling crisis. The basics of the deal are well-known: Republicans agreed to raise the debt ceiling through the next election in exchange for significant spending cuts. But how does the deal actually work? Our new FAQ should help you understand the details behind the deal.

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