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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Saxton: Top 1% Pay Too Much in Taxes

Joint Economic Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) wants us to know what a soul-crushing burden of taxes the richest one percent of income earners shoulder. The share of federal income taxes paid by the top 1 percent of households ranked by income increased from 36.5 percent in 2000 to 38.8 percent in 2005, recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data show. ... "Despite the contention that the tax cuts would unfairly reduce the tax burden of the rich, their share of taxes has in fact gone up," Saxton concluded.

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Private Sector Bleeding Jobs Since December

Friday's job figures - a 63,000 job loss - are further evidence that the economy is taking a downward turn, but the private sector has been cutting jobs since December. The real story, however, is in the private sector, which took a 101,000 job hit in January. (click to enlarge)

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New Medicaid Rules May Cost States Triple Administration Estimate

Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Democrats released a report detailing the effects of the Bush Administration's Medicaid rule changes (one went into effect on Monday while several others are pending). According to the report, the new rules would cost state governments a total of $50 billion over five years - over three times the administration's $15 billion estimate. The report is the product of the House committee's request to states to estimate their expected federal funding losses due to the proposed Medicaid rule changes.

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Worker Earnings Continue Decline

According to yesterday's BLS Real Earnings report, for the fourth month in a row, workers saw a year-over-year decline in their paychecks. In January workers saw their pay drop by 0.5% from Dec. 2007 and 1.4% from Jan. 2007. Although a recession has not been officially declared, for millions of wage earners it certainly feels like one. (click to enlarge)

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Multiple Rules Work in Concert to Undermine Medicaid

The Bush administration is pursuing or has achieved several policy goals that work to cut social support services by reducing federal funding for Medicaid programs. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released all of these policies — three proposed rules, one interim final rule, and two final rules — in the past nine months.

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The Limited Effects of Fiscal Stimulus

Writing in the New York Times, Robert Reich explains how a minor and temporary boost to workers' incomes is tempered by the long-term trend in income inequality.

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House Approves Senate-Revised Stimulus Package, Heads to President's Desk

The House voted (380-34) to approve an economic stimulus package passed by the Senate hours earlier. The measure now awaits the president's signature. Congress has decided that the hungry, the unemployed, and the cold should continue to go without adequate food, adequate income, and adequate heat, because putting money into their hands would do little stimulate the economy as they probably wouldn't spend it.

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Senate Finance Committee Passes Economic Stimulus Package

By a vote of 14-7, the Senate Finance Committee passed its version of a package of a set of measures designed to stave off a possible recession. The bill's $157 billion total is about $10 billion more than a House economic stimulus bill passed last week. The key elements of the Senate bill include:
  • An extension of unemployment insurance benefits; depending on a state's unemployment rate, those benefits could continue for up to 13 weeks beyond the current 26 week limit
  • A flat $500 tax rebate for individuals and $1000 for couples plus $300 per child

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Heritage Foundation Blog Responds to My Posts

Writing on the Heritage Foundation's blog, The Foundry, rbluey calls me out for my bashing (here and here) of Brian Riedl's paper Tax Rebates Will Not Stimulate The Economy and recent statements he made in a BNA article($). The following is my response. Coming back to tenth-grade economics, in which we learn that "economic growth" refers to the change in the value of all goods and services (gross domestic product, or GDP) produced over a given time period in a given set of product and service markets, we can make any number of assertions that activity X will result in an increased value of such production. Riedl's paper relies on this definition economic growth ("By definition, an economy grows when it produces more goods and services than it did the year before."), but then claims that increased consumer expenditure, prompted by an increase in consumer income enabled by government transfers (i.e. tax rebates), do not, in fact cause the economy to produce more stuff in 2008 than it would have without such rebates. This is wrong (see e.g., CBO Director Peter Orszag, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, Harvard Economics professor and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and President Reagan's chief economic adviser Martin Feldstein, and former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers).

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Samuelson Watch: Credit Where Credit Is Due

This week, Bob Samuelson bemoans Wall Street and its ship-wrecking captains who command treasure chests of severance packages. At Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, large losses on subprime securities cost chief executives their jobs -- and they left with multimillion-dollar pay packages. Stanley O'Neal, the ex-head of Merrill, received an estimated $161 million.

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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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