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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Why Federal Budget Rules Matter

As we often try to remember on these pages, the federal budget, which may superficially appear to be merely a convoluted collection of insignificant numbers, is actually the decoder ring to a better understanding of our country’s real priorities -- since not a lot happens to improve a problem without spending money, the federal budget reveals which problems our country’s policy makers are working to improve. Even less understood and farther removed from our daily lives are the intricacies of federal budget rules. These rules, which govern how the House and Senate must work to craft the country’s annual budget, are in place to ensure that sufficient time is given to debating and developing the a course for tackling the nation’s problems.

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About the Senate Budget Process Rules

One reason the nonprofit community was able to stop permanent repeal of the estate tax is that Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) needed 60 votes in the Senate, rather than just a "simple majority" of 51 votes. With the expiration of key Senate budget rules on October 1, however, the Senate may lose this key feature that helped earn it the title of "the world’s greatest deliberative body."

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Appropriations and Supplemental Spending Bill Update

Negotiations between the House and Senate on the FY 2002 supplemental spending bill (H.R. 4775) broke down after the White House threatened to veto the bill if spending was much more than the $28.8 billion requested by the President and consisted primarily of spending for defense and national security and aid to New York City.

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Playing Chicken Over Social Security's Future

By now it should be obvious to everyone, including Congress, that it is not possible to adhere to the budget limits (caps) on discretionary spending and pass realistic spending bills for FY 2000, at least not without resorting to accounting gimmicks and trickery. Sticking to the caps means drastic and politically unfeasible cuts. This should be good news for advocates who have been arguing all along that staying within the budget caps would severely slash important spending needs, including education, health, environmental protection, housing, and a score of other beneficial programs, especially those upon which low to mid-income Americans depend.

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Bumping Our Heads Against the Debt Ceiling

On June 28, the day Congress is planning to leave for the July 4 recess, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has warned that the government will run out of money to pay its bills unless Congress increases the limit on how much the Treasury can borrow. This means parts of government, if not all of it, will no longer properly function, and government will default on its bills. This has been publicly described as a showdown between the Bush administration and Congress, but in fact it is really a showdown between Bush and the Republicans in the House.

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Budget Process, October 1, And Tax Cuts

With the expiration of key Senate budget rules on October 1, tax cuts will get easier to pass.

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House-Passed Superwaiver is Even Worse Than Earlier Versions

The Administration's "superwaiver" proposal that passed the House on May 16 as part of welfare reform (H.R. 4737) would provide cabinet secretaries with new, far-reaching authority to approve state applications to waive federal laws and regulations affecting a number of programs -- even more than earlier versions indicated.

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House Passes $29.6 Billion Supplemental

Before adjourning for its week-long Memorial Day recess, the House passed the President's emergency supplemental appropriations bill on May 24, in a 280-138 vote. Supplemental appropriations bills, such as this one, are common tools to bridge the gap between one fiscal year's appropriations and the next. This $29.6 billion supplemental, $2 billion more than the President's initial $27.1 billion request, will provide added funding for this fiscal year, which ends September 30.

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The Ever Expanding Superwaiver

A superwaiver provision is moving through the House that would bring a huge shift of power to the Executive Branch and states to override congressional authorizations and funding decisions for a variety of low-income programs.

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Nonprofit Organizations Around the Country Oppose Super-Waiver

More than 200 organizations from around the country and representing a variety of concerns and issues joined in sending a strong message to Representatives in Congress to oppose the super-waiver that has been included in the House's TANF reauthorization bills. The full letter, with all 200+ organizations, is provided here. For more information on the super-waiver and why these organizations are concerned, see OMB Watch's Super-Waiver Updates

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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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