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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SCHIP Rules Imposed in 2007 Violated Law

The Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service have concluded that rule changes imposed by the Bush administration on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in 2007 violated federal law: BNA reports: In legal opinions released April 18, the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service said the SCHIP guidance is a rule for purposes of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and so violates statutory requirements for congressional notice and review.

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Bill to Stop Medicaid Regs Moves Forward

A bill to delay seven regulations that would eliminate or severely cut Medicaid health care programs won unanimous approval yesterday in the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 46 - 0. The top Senate Republican on this topic - Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) - opposes the House bill despite overwhelming bipartisan support for it. Grassley prefers to amend the regulations rather than postpone for a year.

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Health Care Spending - It's Not the Aging of the Population

If policy makers are truly interested in fixing the Entitlement Crisis™, they need to look at the factors that are pushing the federal budget along an unsustainable path. As we've noted before, Social Security has minor financing issues, but its full-benefit operation does not pose a threat to long-term fiscal fitness. Medicare, however, does. And while it is tempting to indict the aging of the Baby Boom generation for fueling rapid increases in health care costs, policy makers would be wrong to set out to simply reduce benefits and/or increase Medicare premiums as a fix. Instead, they should focus their efforts on the supply side of health care, rather than increased demand resulting from the aging of the population.

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Health Care -- Bipartisan Support for Blocking Bush Medicaid Rule: CQ reports ($) that a House bill that would block the president's Medicaid rule changes is gaining support among Republicans. The proposed rule changes would shift about $17.8 billion (over five years) in Medicaid costs to states. The bill, H.R. 5613, will be marked up today in the Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

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Wash Post Opines on Future of Entitlements

The Washington Post wrote their lead editorial yesterday on the future of entitlement programs. The editorial once again lumps Social Security, a relatively healthy program, with Medicare and Medicaid, which face more serious funding issues not because they are entitlement programs, but because of the rapidly growing cost of health care in both the public and private sectors.

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Tax Cuts for Top 1% Crisis

A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report shows that a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners would provide sufficient revenues to close the Social Security funding gap.

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The Outlook for Medicare

The Medicare Trustees Report, released on Tuesday, paints a somewhat bleaker picture than the Social Security Trustees Report. Unlike Social Security which is projected to have a nontrivial cash flow problem in 2042, the Medicare report indicates that Medicare has two problems: 1) The exhaustion of the Medicare Part A trust fund and 2) explosive cost growth that presents a larger, longer-term problem for federal fiscal policy.

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Paulson's Hand Waving Underscores Social Security's Financial Fitness

In a statement by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the 2008 Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund Reports, the Secretary reaches deep to find big bad numbers to support his and the president's call for reform of the Social Security program.

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Social Security: It's Long-Term Outlook Is Still Just Peachy

In fact, it's getting better. The Social Security Trustees Report for 2008 was released by the Social Security Administration today (it's quite the page-turner). Here are the key facts:
  • Social Security's "insolvency" date remains the same as last year - 2041. This is the year in which the program's payments will exceed its income.
  • The year in which program's payments will exceed tax revenues remains unchanged - 2017. This is the year that the trust fund will first be used to make payments to beneficiaries

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Democrats Pass Budget in House & Senate

The House and Senate successfully passed their versions of the FY 2009 budget resolution yesterday. The House passed their spending outline on a mostly party-line vote 212 - 207 and the Senate passed their version early this morning 51 - 44 (roll call not available yet). Sixteen Democrats in the House opposed the budget along with all Republicans and in the Senate, Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) supported the budget, while Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) opposed it.

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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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