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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The Health Care Entitlement That Must Not Be Named

In a post over at inclusionist, Shawn Fremstad makes a crucial point about federal health care spending. In fact, the 2nd biggest health care entitlement isn't Medicaid, it's the $200+ billion tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance. The health insurance tax break costs around $30 billion more than Medicaid and, if my recollection is correct, is increasing at a faster rate than either Medicaid or Medicare. It's also, unlike Medicare or Medicaid, a regressive tax subsidy that provides more benefits for the wealthy.

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Controversial Medicaid Rule Nixed by Court

A federal court has sent back (vacated and remanded, in regulatory-speak) to the Bush administration a rule aimed to limit government reimbursement for Medicaid providers. The rule is one of several the administration is attempting to codify in an effort to undermine the entire Medicaid program. The process by which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized the rule was particularly sneaky, even by Bush administration standards. A New York Times editorial explains:

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Senate Votes to Stop Medicaid Changes

Yesterday, the Senate passed an amendment to the war supplemental bill that will put the brakes on several controversial Medicaid regulations. The Bush administration has finalized, or is preparing to finalize, the regulations in an effort to cut federal funding for a variety of Medicaid programs administered by the states.

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War Supplemental Update: Senate Approves Spending Amendments

...lobbing it back over to the House The Senate has approved an amendment to the war supplemental spending bill (HR 2642) that would fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of Bush's presidency. The $165 billion spending measure was adopted 70-26.

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House, Senate Set to Approve Budget Resolution

The House and Senate are set to vote on the FY 2009 Congressional Budget Resolution today. OMB Watch sent letters of support for the resolution to both the House and Senate Budget Committees yesterday (House letter, Senate letter). The letters highlight the positive (and negative) aspects of the resolution, as well as the recent historical difficulty of enacting a budget resolution during an election year (hasn't happened since 2000).

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GAO: The Nation's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook, April 2008 Update

The Government Accountability Office released an updated report on the nation's long-term fiscal outlook last week. The outlook is still bleak, but the GAO is getting on the same page as the CBO in pointing toward rapidly rising health care costs as the prime cause of the gargantuan fiscal gap.

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GI Bill Surtax Would Affect 0.3% of All Taxpayers

When the House approved the domestic spending amendment to the war supplemental spending bill, it approved not only a $52 billion expansion of the GI Bill, but a 0.5% surtax on income for millionaire couples (individuals earning more than $500,000). According a recent Citizens for Tax Justice report, the tax would affect about 0.3% of all taxpayers.

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Entitlement Panel Legislation Unlikely This Year

CQ reports ($) that Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) has cast serious doubt on the probability that legislation to create a commission to look at Social Security and Medicare reform will make any progress this year. Conrad had hoped to have a committee markup for the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act of 2007 (S. S 2063), but has been convinced there is scant appetite in Congress for any such measures.

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House Moves Bill to Stop Medicaid Changes

Yesterday the House passed a bill that would stop the Bush administration from going forward with several regulations intended to cut Medicaid services. The administration developed the regulations under the guise of "fiscal integrity," arguing state Medicaid programs are using loopholes to inappropriately claim federal funds. Bush has threatened to veto the bill. Fortunately, the bill passed the House in a 349-62 vote which, if the margin holds, would be enough to override a veto. State governments also support the bill. According to the Associated Press, "The governors of all 50 states…oppose the rules." If all this bipartisanship and widespread agreement make you uncomfortable, fear not — the U.S. Senate is on the case.

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OMB Watch Statement on FY 2009 Budget

OMB Watch released a statement on April 22 on the FY 2009 budget resolution negotiations. The statement urges both House and Senate negotiators to uphold the fiscally responsible principles promised by Democrats when they took over the majority in 2006. A key aspect of the ongoing budget negotiations is whether to offset the $70 billion cost of a one-year fix to the creep of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The House version of the resolution offsets the costs while the Senate does not.

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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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