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 Bush Administration Still Doesn't Care About Children

Bush is preventing some states from opening up Medicaid to more children. The New York Times: The Bush administration is imposing restrictions on the ability of states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, in an effort to prevent them from offering coverage to families of modest incomes who, the administration argues, may have access to private health insurance. The restrictions mirror those the administration placed on the State Children's Health Insurance Program in August after states tried to broaden eligibility for it as well.

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SCHIP Extended, But Won't Be Expanded For A While

President Bush signed a short-term extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program last Saturday. The bill is supposed to ensure that nobody will be cut from the program as it is now, but it also makes expanding it a non-issue until 2009, since the extension lasts until April 2009. In other words, the 4 million children who would have been covered under the vetoed SCHIP expansion will go without health insurance for at least another year, thanks to the president and the conservative coalition in the House.

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Congress Abandons Fiscal Responsibility

OMB Watch released a statement yesterday afternoon harshly criticizing the Democratically control Congress and the president for abandoning fiscal responsibility in the final hours of 2007 after they entire year was spent adhering to or attempting to adhere to righting our nation's fiscal course. From the statement: Adding insult to a year of fiscal policy injuries, Congress has abandoned fiscal responsibility by waiving pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules in order to pass a one-year patch to the alternative minimum tax (AMT) without offsets. This tax cut adds another $50 billion to an already expanding deficit next year, and will give fewer options for our children and grandchildren to seek solutions to the problems of tomorrow. While I expect as much from President Bush, this is a huge disappointment from the new Democratic majority in Congress whose number one promise was to uphold pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules. So much for promises: This vote is particularly disappointing as Democrats have gone to great lengths this year to comply with PAYGO rules, particularly on spending. From student loan reforms to expansions of the State Children's Health Insurance Program and Food Stamps, Democrats have negotiated the turbulent fiscal waters of the federal budget responsibly, diligently, even courageously. That is why at this point, after all that work and sacrifice, the compromises and the concessions needed to construct balanced solutions to the AMT problem, it is unacceptable for them to abandon their stated principles of fiscal responsibility because they fear Americans will not accept paying up front for the services and benefits the country demands. As the statement makes clear, there is plenty of blame to go around in Washington for this policy failure. What an awful way to end 2007.

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Congress Close to Deal on Extension of SCHIP?

CQ Today reported ($) this afternoon the Senate is close to a deal on extending SCHIP into 2008. According to the article, a bill is being written to delay cuts taking effect Jan. 1 to Medicare physician pay rates that would include an extension of the SCHIP program. From CQ: The package also is expected to include a funding extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, but it's uncertain for how long. There appeared to be agreement earlier on an extension until 2009, but the Republican aide cautioned that the situation was "fluid." House Democrats have been pushing to extend SCHIP funding until September 2008, in order to force another debate on what they see as a winning political issue. A extension until 2009 would certainly make the legislation more palatable to Republicans, however. SCHIP is set to expire this Friday if Congress does not act to extend it further.

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CBO Releases Long-Term Budget Outlook, CBPP Makes Misguided Statement

CBO released its long-term budget outlook yesterday. Here's CBO Director Peter Orszag's testimony and the report itself. Key excerpt:

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Bush Doesn't Care About Uninsured Children

President Bush vetoed the retooled SCHIP expansion yesterday night, all-quiet like, when he thought nobody was looking. Here's the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities take on it.

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OMB has launched their website that will comply with the 2006 Coburn-Obama Federal Funding, Accountability, and Transparency Act (Transparency Act) today. You can visit it at OMB really needs to be commended for this site, for launching it two weeks before required under the legislation, and for their commitment to transparency. For those of you who haven't been to the BudgetBlog before or have, but are still sleepy this morning, you might not notice that the government's website looks an awful lot like, the site we launched in October, 2006. Well, that's because it basically is, with a few design changes. As the Washington Post reported this morning, OMB Watch licensed to OMB for use in compliance with the law (btw, the article is a great insight into the collaboration we've had with OMB over the past year). We will continue to operate and add more advanced features that make the site easier to use and the data easier to understand. And we hope with a solid foundation, OMB will be able to make timely and eventually more accurate data available to the public through Currently, there are difference between the sites. For instance, OMB will have more timely data as they plan to update the site every two weeks with new data (we currently update data twice a year). In addition, the government site does not have features and upgrades added to in our last version release, including a mapping feature on all searches, creation of a streamlined and powerful SuperSearch for all advanced searching needs, and increased flexibility in getting data more quickly through expandable summary views. I have been continually surprised and proud of the success of our endevor to make Federal spending information more available and understandable to the public through For it to now be the model for the government's efforts to do the same is feels even better.

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Bush, Republicans Get Their Dream Budget

The Democrats will in fact meet Bush's spending limit. They say they'll try to fund their priority programs over Bush's, and may add funding in "emergency" spending. The worst possible scenario is if they do an across-the-board cut, meaning human needs programs will get cut pretty bad. We'll probably know by tomorrow what the plan is.

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Orszag In The WSJ

CBO Director Peter Orszag editorializes in the Wall Street Journal today on long-term budget problems. It's a great piece. Key excerpts: The bottom line is that while we need to address the effects of the coming retirement of the baby boomers and the projected imbalance in Social Security, we have to pay even more attention to the health-care costs that exert the dominant influence on our fiscal future. Policy makers will face both challenges and opportunities in trying to reduce these costs...

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The SCHIP Campaign Is Probably Over

It now appears that the SCHIP expansion is sunk. CQ (subscription) is reporting that a one-year extension for SCHIP, with some additional funds to prevent cuts, will be tied to a bill that tweaks Medicare payments. That means a funding increase will have to wait until probably the year after next.

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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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