New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Krugman: Unemployed and the Country at Large Need UI Extension

Mr. Paul Krugman

Writing in the New York Times over the long weekend, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman continued to make the case for more government stimulus of the economy. He wasn't advocating for the usual stimulus that funds road and bridge projects or shores up state budgets – though that is still needed. He was promoting unemployment insurance (UI), which is helping to hold the economy together by keeping the jobless in their homes and food on their tables as they slog through "the worst job market since the Great Depression."

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More Hope for the President's Fiscal Commission?

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Yesterday, I happened upon a short post by Berkeley economist Brad DeLong in which he quoted from a recent Daily Caller article taking the temperature of DC insiders prior to the start of President Obama's debt commission. DeLong found Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) comments about eliminating $300 billion worth of waste in Medicaid through the commission discouraging, as "[t]otal Medicaid spending this year is currently pegged at $280 billion." Notwithstanding his obvious mistake, I thought Coburn's comments were encouraging.

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Repubs on Fiscal Commission not Ruling out Tax Increases

Republican Leadership

An article in The Hill on Saturday provided a glimmer of hope for those of us keeping an eye on President Obama’s debt panel. According to the piece, “Republicans aren’t ruling out raising taxes or any other option for dealing with the country’s debt problem as they head into the White House fiscal commission’s first meeting,” which is scheduled for early next week.

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Deficit Commission Line-Up Completed

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) named her picks to sit on the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (or, just "the Deficit Commission" or "the Debt Commission"), she rounded out the 18-member slate.

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CTJ Shows Tax Proposals in Rep. Ryan's 'Roadmap' Lead to Disaster

Luckily, No One was Hurt...

In a report released yesterday, Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) critically examine the tax policies proposed recently in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget alternative, conventionally titled, "A Roadmap for America's Future." Claims of the proposal "balancing the budget" and "reforming entitlements" have already been thoroughly debunked, but CTJ has contributed a valuable analysis of the young Republican's tax policies, which will actually cost the government "$2 trillion over a decade even while requiring 90 percent of taxpayers to pay more" than they already do in taxes.

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Bunning and Co. Jerk American Workers Around

The Puppet Master

At the end of last week, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and the Senate Republican caucus decided to take a stand on government spending by demanding that Congress offset an important tax extenders bill. The bill, which, among other things, sought to extend eligibility for unemployment benefits, COBRA premium assistance, a Medicare doctors' fix, and highway funding, failed to pass because of the GOP's intransigence. While offsetting spending is a sensible policy, this was hardly the appropriate moment to make a point on the issue, as blockage of the extension bill will likely have serious consequences for both jobless Americans and our weak, recovering economy.

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This Week in Deficit Hawks

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT)

On Thursday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), in an attempt to become more "relevant," held a hearing in search of fiscal remedies to the country's growing $12 trillion debt. Rather than provide a platform for exploring different options, though, Lieberman lined up witnesses to trumpet a special congressional commission that could railroad budget "solutions" through Congress. Lieberman, along with several of his hearing witnesses, has joined a small but vocal choir of deficit-hawk-converts that are demanding the government address budget shortfalls immediately, seemingly without regard to current fiscal circumstances.

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Congress Looks to Insert Itself into the Debt *Problem*

He'll save the children, but not the British children

Ugh oh, a recent article in National Journal (subscription required) quotes several members of Congress, including Senate Budget Chair Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), expressing strong interest in the creation of a bi-partisan debt-reduction commission with binding recommendation powers to Congress. It seems Conrad, Wolf, and other budget hawks see the administration's need to raise the debt ceiling as the perfect opportunity to press for the creation of such a body. While there's nothing wrong with a debt commission per se, I find the timing and details of this scheme troubling for a number of reasons.

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Two Conferences on Debt, One Proclaims Debt Good, the Other Declares Debt Bad

The New America Foundation

I should mention that the first conference – sponsored by the New America Foundation on Tuesday – discussed the merits of short-term deficit spending in the midst of a recession, while the second academic panel – held yesterday and sponsored by the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform – discussed the mountainous mid- to long-term debt anticipated with the looming entitlement crisis. The distinction is important, yet often lost in discussions of deficits and debt.

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CBO Jumps to 20-Year Budget Window for Health Care

There is an interesting article ($) in CQ this morning about a possible change in forecasting techniques used by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, announced on Monday that CBO would likely provide cost estimates for the forthcoming Senate health care reform bill beyond the standard 10-year budget window - extending that window to 20 years.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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