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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Oversight Board Urges Congress to Give the IRS More Cash than the President Requested

No, not that kind of Cash...

According to a Bureau of National Affairs article (subscription) published today, the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Oversight Board publically released its recommendation on the FY 2011 budget this morning. Submitted to the House and Senate appropriations committees last month, the recommendation requests 2.2 percent more funding for the agency than President Obama proposed. The additional resources would go toward taxpayer services and operations support.

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Fatally Flawed Stimulus Report Ignores Subrecipients

The great thing about the Recovery Act is that it provides us with a great deal of data on hundreds of billions of dollars of federal spending. Anyone can go to, the stimulus tracking website, download data for their state or the entire nation, and see each and every report submitted by recipients of the funds -- all 230,000 of them. Sifting through that amount of data can be like drinking from a fire hose, but it's an important feature of any spending transparency system. Anyone can take the data and do their own analysis, greatly expanding the uses of the data.

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Gentlemen, Start Your Reporting!

Today starts the third round of Recovery Act recipient reporting.  Contractors/grantees/loanees (is that a word?), if you have anything you want to tell the Recovery Board, you have just over 9 days left to report in.  The reports from this cycle will be published on April 30.

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Recovery Act Website: $6.8 million. Moving Towards a Transparent Government? Priceless

Here's a little news tidbit from the Recovery Board: in his latest "Chairman's Corner" post, Recovery Board Chairman Earl Devaney disclosed that the website has thus far cost $6.8 million. This is out of a $9.5 million contract with Smartronix, a Maryland IT company, meaning that the Board has about another $2.7 million left in its contract. After that, the Board has the option of extending the contract through 2014, for about another $9 million. Now, $6.8 million isn't exactly cheap, but for creating a website to show a brand new type of reporting in an extremely compressed time frame, it's not too bad.

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CAP's New Tool Will Break It Down for You

The Center for American Progress has put up a neat interactive federal budget chart.

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Recovery Board to Amend Two-Time Loser List

Responding to a smart ProPublica article from a couple weeks ago, the Recovery Board will be removing 79 of 389 awards from the "two-time loser" list, which documents Recovery Act recipients who twice failed to report on their use of Recovery Act funds. Turns out these 79 reports were in fact filed for one or both of the two reporting quarters.

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The Recovery Act is Working

Thirty-eight of fifty-four economists can't be wrong. That's the number of economists who, in a recent survey by the Wall Street Journal ($), said that "the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act boosted growth and mitigated job losses." In other words, 70 percent of economists think that the Recovery Act has helped the nation. Looks like somebody's been reading the many, many official reports which have repeatedly said the exact same thing. But I guess something just isn't true until a majority of randomly selected Ph.Ds say it, right?

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Senate Rejects Arbitrary Budget Caps

Thanks in no small part to the 1,146 emails you sent in the past 48 hours, the Senate just voted down the Sessions-McCaskill amendment, which would have instituted draconian discretionary budget caps for the next three fiscal years. The amendment lost on a 56-40 vote, failing to reach the 60-vote margin it needed by only four votes.

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Keep the Pressure on the Senate

We're hearing that the vote on the Sessions-McCaskill amendment will happen today at 5 (EDT). If you haven't done so yet, send a letter to your Senators and tell them that arbitrary limitations on federal spending is terrible budget-making. Take action now!

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Agency Staffs Burdened by Recovery Act Spending

Ever wonder about the mechanics of how to spend over $800 billion? Well, so did the authors of a new report from the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the group charged with Recovery Act oversight, a report which looks at staffing levels in federal agencies in the wake of the Act's passage. And the results aren't good. The report warns that "Recovery Act funding has substantially increased the workload of most agencies receiving these funds," and that as a result, many agency programs are reporting drastically inadequate staffing levels for their workloads.

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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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