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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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It's the States' Turn

In the last year or so, we’ve seen some relatively large federal assistance provided to a few fairly large private industries. Last year, it was the $15 billion grant and loan package to “bailout” the airline industry after the September 11 attacks. At the time, it was seen as the prudent thing to do, since the federal government had grounded all flights for days until it could return some sense of security to the skies. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explained that the assistance was necessary because "a safe, viable and effective commercial air travel system is important to America’s economy and to our way of life."

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Budget Schedule

The incoming Director of Budget and Appropriations Issues for Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), G. William Hoagland, recently gave a briefing to states about the upcoming budget. Included in this piece are some points from that briefing and other reports, as well as a tentative schedule for completing work on the FY 2003 budget and beginning the FY 2004 budget work.

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Tax Cut Fever: What the Budget Future May Hold

With the shake-up in the Administration’s economic team, the recent rise in the unemployment rate to 6% (the highest rate in eight years), and absolutely no evidence that the massive Bush tax cut has done anything but send the federal budget on a rapid spiral into deficit, a reasonable person might think that it was time for the Administration to reevaluate the idea that tax cuts are the solution to everything. The President’s economic stimulus plan, currently in the design phase, however, is expected to consist of tax cuts aimed at corporations and individuals in the higher tax brackets.

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A Dismal Outlook for Domestic Spending

Congress officially adjourned last Friday, after passing its seventh Continuing Resolution (CR) of the year. This CR, H.J. 124, was necessary to provide the funding to keep government running because Congress was unable to pass 11 of the 13 appropriations bills for FY 2003, which began on October 1, 2002. This CR funds departments and programs at their FY 2002 levels through January 11. It appears there will be an effort to pass the FY 2003 appropriations before the President’s State of the Union address, so at least one more CR will be necessary.

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U.S. Treasury Releases FY 2002 Deficit Numbers

On Friday, October 25, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitchell Daniels released the Treasury Department’s summary of the budget results for fiscal year 2002, which ended September 30. According to this report, FY 2002 closed with a $159 billion deficit -- $2 billion larger than the $157 billion the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted in its Monthly Review earlier this month.

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Senate Passes Temporary Extension of 60-Vote Rules

By Unanimous Consent, the Senate passed a 6-month extension of its expiring "supermajority" 60-vote point of order rules late Wednesday, October 16.

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Continuing Resolution, Part III

The House and Senate passed their third Continuing Resolution (CR) last Thursday, providing funding to keep the government operating through October 18. Passage of H.J. Res. 122 was required to prevent a government shutdown since none of the 13 annual appropriations necessary for federal programs to continue to operate has yet been enacted. It is anticipated that the Defense and Military Construction appropriations bills will be passed before a longer term CR is enacted.

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Too Much Spending? Or Not Enough?

Only 9 billion dollars separates the House and the Senate Budget Committee FY 2003 discretionary spending totals, but this small divide has been widened by continuing efforts to limit spending on domestic programs. Each of the budget proposals that has been put forth calls for reductions in this year’s real per capita spending from last year’s levels. Yet a recent analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) argues that we are nowhere near a discretionary “spending explosion,” in either domestic or military spending.

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Appropriations Update

While timeliness has not been a hallmark of appropriations bills in recent years, this year is proving exceptionally slow. According to budget procedures, appropriations bills are supposed to be finished by June 30 to leave plenty of time to reconcile differences between the House and Senate before the new fiscal year, which starts October 1. But this year, not a single appropriations bill has been sent to the president, and neither house has completed action on all 13 appropriations bills.

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Budget Process Rules the Senate

As noted on these pages many times over the last few months, the Senate is unique in its traditions and rules. One feature that helped earn the Senate the title of the “world’s greatest deliberative body” is its rules that allow for, and even necessitate, policy debates, which are a vital part of the legislative process. These rules push the Senate to work out differences between conflicting legislative proposals and help ensure that the voice of the minority is protected. To extend this principle to tax and spending issues, the Senate has special rules.

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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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