Blame Will Avert a Government Shutdown

Unless Congress comes to an agreement over current fiscal year funding soon-- and one acceptable to President Obama -- many operations of the federal government will shut down after March 4. Although what exactly will be shutdown remains uncertain, it's likely the public will notice and be inconvenienced while hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed. In short, it would be a huge mess and someone will have to take the rap.

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House Budget: More Exemptions and Lower Payments for Big Oil

In the latest issue of The Watcher, OMB Watch discusses (here and here) the recently passed House budget and the many non-budget provisions attached to it, including the anti-environmental riders that prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies from doing this or that.

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A Government Shut Down, One Way or the Other

The 2011 budget has turned into a game of hot potato. With a short-term extension of the current budget increasingly unlikely, it appears as though those holding the decisionmaking authority on March 4 at 11:59 pm, when the current continuing resolution expires, will be forced to make an unpopular decision: passing draconian Republican cuts or forcing the government to shut down.

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PATRIOT Act Provisions Get Three-Month Extension, But Nearly Lose Funding

The House voted yesterday to agree to the Senate's three-month extension of expiring PATRIOT Act provisions. The President is expected to sign the bill before Feb. 28, when the current provisions expire.

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Handicapping the Future

As part of his scheme to cater to business interests, President Obama yesterday appointed Intel CEO Paul Otellini to the President's Council on Jobs and Competiveness. The appointment of a corporate leader to such an advisory panel isn't particularly surprising, given that Obama has been bending over backward to make sure the opinions of Big BusinessTM are heard in the White House (you know, because they're soooo underrepresented). What is surprising is that Otellini has a blind spot for honest appraisals of economic policy.

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House Votes to Stay Uninformed about Greenhouse Gases

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new program tracking the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution spewing from big facilities is among the victims of a long list of environmental programs attacked in the House this week. The House voted to slash funding for the EPA's new greenhouse gas registry, which requires the biggest GHG emitters to disclose how much planet-warming gas they spew every year, starting with 2010. The registry places no regulations on emissions, but it does collect vital information needed to take any meaningful steps toward reducing GHG pollution. The House clearly wants all of us to remain in the dark about where the pollution is coming from.

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Dear Concerned American, You Are Not Alone

It has been a lonely few months for those of us who believe government ought to help protect the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat, and products we buy. Opponents of regulation, especially in Congress, have been accusing regulations of being “job-killers” and creating uncertainty (though they never explain how). It can sometimes feel as though we’re outnumbered, outflanked, and outgunned. While the latter two may remain true, the first is certainly not. Two new polls prove that the vast majority of Americans support common sense health and safety standards.

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House Republicans Take Chainsaw to the Budget

While much of the national attention recently has been on President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal, the House of Representatives is still looking backward to FY 2011. Last Friday, House Republicans unveiled a new and improved budget plan, one containing $60.9 billion in cuts from the FY 2010 budget ($65.5 billion cut from non-security discretionary, $4.7 billion increase for security spending). The new plan is an update to one released just days earlier, one which the party’s conservative faction rejected. These conservatives pushed for a full $100 billion worth of cuts from Obama’s FY 2011 budget (which as I said last week was a terrible baseline), and in a matter of days, the conservatives got them. And the new budget is full of bad news.  

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Is our Country Broke?

Why do I thirst for an Orange Julius when I look at this picture?

At a news conference yesterday morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), shrugged off criticism that his party's proposed spending cuts would cost thousands of federal workers their jobs, saying, "In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. If some of those jobs are lost, so be it. We're broke." Boehner has rightly been criticized for the first and second parts of his comments, but what about the last part?

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The Best of State Tax Expenditure Disclosure

While the federal government offers no insight into where an estimated $1 trillion in tax breaks go every year, some states are beginning to provide information about which corporations benefit from local tax spending programs. None of the state websites are perfect, but their strong suits could be combined to create tools for disclosing federal corporate tax expenditures. 

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