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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About the Senate Budget Process Rules

One reason the nonprofit community was able to stop permanent repeal of the estate tax is that Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) needed 60 votes in the Senate, rather than just a "simple majority" of 51 votes. With the expiration of key Senate budget rules on October 1, however, the Senate may lose this key feature that helped earn it the title of "the world’s greatest deliberative body."

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Debt "Relief" Passes House

Yesterday evening, the House passed the Debt Relief Lock-Box Reconciliation Act for FY 2001 (HR 5173) almost unanimously, with well more than the required two-thirds majority (381 to 3). As reported earlier, the bill sets aside $42 billion of the FY 2001 non-Social Security surplus in a special account (the "Public Debt Reduction Payment Account") to be used only for debt reduction. That account will be placed "off-budget" (as the Social Security surplus and Postal Service funds are currently treated). The statutory limit on the national debt will likewise be reduced by that amount.

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Playing Chicken Over Social Security's Future

By now it should be obvious to everyone, including Congress, that it is not possible to adhere to the budget limits (caps) on discretionary spending and pass realistic spending bills for FY 2000, at least not without resorting to accounting gimmicks and trickery. Sticking to the caps means drastic and politically unfeasible cuts. This should be good news for advocates who have been arguing all along that staying within the budget caps would severely slash important spending needs, including education, health, environmental protection, housing, and a score of other beneficial programs, especially those upon which low to mid-income Americans depend.

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Bumping Our Heads Against the Debt Ceiling

On June 28, the day Congress is planning to leave for the July 4 recess, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has warned that the government will run out of money to pay its bills unless Congress increases the limit on how much the Treasury can borrow. This means parts of government, if not all of it, will no longer properly function, and government will default on its bills. This has been publicly described as a showdown between the Bush administration and Congress, but in fact it is really a showdown between Bush and the Republicans in the House.

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Budget Process, October 1, And Tax Cuts

With the expiration of key Senate budget rules on October 1, tax cuts will get easier to pass.

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Trustees Issue 2002 Annual Report on the State of Social Security

Last week, the Social Security Board of Trustees issued its 2002 Annual Report on the status of Social Security’s finances, in which it extended its estimates of the number of years before Social Security’s surpluses will reach certain key milemarkers.

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Using Social Security's Surplus for Current Needs

Policy adjustments to Social Security – and not locking these surplus funds away – are the key to "saving" Social Security.

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Social Security's Double Security

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), in commenting on the current federal budget debate, observed that, "the real test for this Congress is whether or not we're going to face up to our long-term challenges." The Chairman is absolutely right in directing the country to examine the long-term impact of its policy makers' budget decisions. Before we can be prepared to deal with our long-term domestic challenges, however, we must correctly identify just what these challenges are.

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House Budget Committee "Balanced" Budget Resolution for FY 2003

The budget resolution that the House Budget Committee marked up and passed by a party line vote (23-18) on March 13, is expected to head to the Floor for debate this week. The budget resolution is not a law, but is a broad outline for spending and tax cuts for FY 2003, which begins on October 1, 2002 and runs through September 31, 2003.

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What's the Social Security "Surplus" Got to Do with It Anyway?

In Congress, "saving the Social Security surplus" has become a veritable mantra during the current appropriations process. What does this mean?

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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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