Subsidizing the Idle Rich While Poor Kids Go Hungry

To hear some politicians tell it, America’s welfare system is facing a grave crisis: Millions of poor people, they say, are idling away their time eating lobster and relaxing on cruises.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, for example, recently signed welfare reform rules banning people receiving public assistance from using their $100 a week in benefits to buy steak or seafood, go to swimming pools, or take cruises.

Meanwhile, some members of Congress are taking aim at food aid for hungry Americans. They want us to associate “hungry” with “too lazy to work.”

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UPDATE: Putting Profits Before People is the Real Tragedy

UPDATE (5/15/2015): Amtrak announced yesterday that it would have Positive Train Control up and operating on its heavily traveled Northeast Corridor routes before the end of the year. Amtrak officials also told members of Congress that Positive Train Control has been installed in the area of Tuesday's crash, but it was still undergoing testing and had not yet been activated. 


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UPDATE: A Seedy Deal for Americans? Monsanto in Deal Talks with Chemical Giant Syngenta

"Monsanto announced that it has resumed possible merger talks with Syngenta, a Swiss-based agricultural chemical giant. The pair explored a merger in early 2014 before deciding against it.

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Public Service Recognition Week

For the last 30 years, the Public Service Roundtable has sponsored Public Service Recognition Week as a way for citizens to learn more about the work of public servants and to create opportunities to honor the work of the federal, state, and local government employees. The Roundtable is made up of nearly two dozen public sector unions and associations representing current and retired government workers.

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If You Thought Corporate Personhood Was Bad, Wait Until You See Corporate Nationhood in the New Trade Treaty

The government of El Salvador was so concerned that its water was so fouled by mining companies that it passed a moratorium on new mines in 2008. Oceana Gold, an Australian corporation, didn’t like the law, so it sued El Salvador for $301 million, the amount the company said the policy cost it in lost profits.

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House Gives $334 Billion Tax Break to 25 Richest Americans

The House of Representatives gave 25 of the nation’s billionaires a $334 billion tax break on April 16 when it voted 240-179 to repeal the estate tax. The nearly 100-year old tax raises $27 billion a year for the U.S. government. Of the 2,662,000 Americans who died in 2013, just 3,700 of their estates paid any estate tax – one out of every 700 estates.

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Thousands of New Yorkers Take a Direct Role in City’s Budget Process

Last week, thousands of New York City residents completed an eight month-long participatory budget process in which they voted on how to allocate $25 million of their taxes in their communities. The city first experimented with participatory budgeting in 2011 when four City Council members allowed their constituents to decide how to use $1 million in discretionary funds provided by the city on community projects in their wards. This time around, 24 of New York City’s 51 Council members joined in the effort.

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General Electric Restructuring Surprise: Company to Pay 20 Times More in Taxes Than It Paid in the Last Decade

In a dramatic move, General Electric (GE) announced on Friday that it would be selling off its financial service businesses. GE expects to shed $200 billion of assets in the restructuring, returning $90 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends, stock buybacks, and new shares in a company to be spun-off.

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Budget Cuts at the IRS Leave Phones Ringing and Hurt the Middle Class

As Tax Day approaches, the news is filled with stories of unanswered phone calls at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The stories will spark an eye-roll or a sarcastic mumble about our “unresponsive government.” But most will fail to mention that the IRS is an agency dealing with a 17 percent cut to its budget since 2010. These cuts have meant there are 26 percent fewer IRS workers answering questions than there were five years ago, even though the number of people filing returns has grown by seven million.

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It's Baa-aack: What to Expect from the Budget Season this Year

The budget season starts in the U.S. Congress this week. The Republican majority in the House will go first – releasing its budget late this afternoon. The Senate Republican majority will unveil its budget on Wednesday. Each chamber’s budget committee will review and approve their respective budgets in a mark-up session the day after each is released.

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