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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President Signs FY 2003 Appropriations Omnibus Bill

On February 20, nearly five months after the October 1 start of federal fiscal year 2003, the President signed into law an omnibus bill providing funding for the departments and programs covered by the 11 appropriations bills that were not completed by the October 1 deadline last fall.

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Update: FY 2003 Appropriations Drawing to a Close?

As reported in today’s Washington Post, House and Senate conferees are nearing completion on negotiations over H.R. 2, the omnibus bill for the remaining 11 FY 2003 appropriations bills that were not enacted by last October 1.

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Dynamic Dysfunctions

At the start of this Congress, the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee made the implementation of the controversial practice of “dynamic scoring” for budget decisions one of its first orders of business.

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Program Assessment And Budget Cuts Ahead

This Administration has not made reducing the size and effectiveness of government a stated goal; however, the strides that are being made to devolve responsibilities to the states and to privatize government functions, deregulate and limit government oversight, and defund government by reducing federal (and often state) revenue through huge tax cuts, make the words unnecessary. One new and potentially effective tool in this effort to delimit the role of the federal government is the “Program Assessment Rating Tool,” or “PART.”

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President?s Budget Cuts Vital Programs and Makes Room for Costly Tax Breaks

In looking at this President’s budget, it appears that he is trying to be all things to all people. If we are to believe the President, there can be large increases for defense, smaller increases for homeland security spending, and the creation of new, large tax breaks for the nation’s wealthiest, including the acceleration and making permanent of previously enacted large income tax breaks – as well as a rational restraining of most other federal spending to contain the large deficits predicted for FY 2004 and beyond. However, the reality is that the large tax cuts already passed, coupled with the large tax cuts now proposed and the spending increases in defense and homeland security, will put added pressure to reduce long-term spending on domestic discretionary and entitlement programs – or cause the deficit to balloon.

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FY 2003 Appropriations Coming to a Close -- Finally

On January 23, on a vote of 69-29, the Senate passed H.J. Res. 2, a $390 billion omnibus appropriations bill in an effort to begin bringing the FY 2003 appropriations season to a close. Since Congress was unable to resolve its budgeting differences last fall during its election fervor, this bill combines into one large bill the 11 appropriations bills that were not completed before Congress adjourned in December. (The timeline for this appropriations bill was so rushed, in fact, that Senate and House Republicans agreed to completely bypass the House, which has the authority to originate all spending bills, and allow the Senate to begin action on the omnibus spending bill.)

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Unemployment Assistance Needs to Go Farther

With last week’s round of self-congratulating that followed the President’s signing of an extension of federally-funded unemployment benefits, one might think that the bill’s benefits would reach all unemployed workers in the country. Indeed, the bill’s signing came just in time for those workers whose regular (or state-funded) unemployment benefits ended December 28. Without the extension of the federally-funded “Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation” (TEUC), these workers would have been left with no assistance. Under the renewal of the TEUC, this group of unemployed workers will receive 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits, or up to 26 weeks, if they reside in states with exceptionally high unemployment rates.

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Continuing Resolution, Take 8

Last week the House and Senate Passed, and the President signed the eighth continuing resolution (CR) of the FY 2003 budget season. This CR will keep the federal government and the programs it funds going through January 31, 2003. Without the CR, there would be no funding for these programs and the government would be forced to shut down – an option no one wanted to serve as the opening to the 108th Congress last week. As discussed in previous issues of the Watcher, there are many problems for agencies trying to operate under a stream of CR’s, which only continue last year’s funding levels, with no increase for inflation. There is hope that this will be the last CR necessary for FY 2003, as many in Congress want to complete work on the remaining 11 appropriations bills by combining them into an omnibus appropriations bill – to allow them to move on to the FY 2004 budget.

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Why the Bush Plan is the Wrong Plan for US

This chart compares the Bush plan to the Democratic plans: the Baucus and Pelosi economic stimulus plans. To see what goes into a good economic stimulus plan, see this chart

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Economic Stimulus ? First, Do No Harm

An economic stimulus plan will be on the table early in the next Congress. Following is the tentative schedule. Given the sudden change in Senate leadership with Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-MS) resignation as Senate Majority Leader, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how the budget process will proceed next year, including issues of timing, number of reconciliation bills, and content. The next Watcher may contain a very different timetable.

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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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