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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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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NPP Releases State of the States Report; ITEP Shows Who Pays

The National Priorities Project recently released two comprehensive reports that provide very useful state-by-state, as well as nation-wide, data. The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy's Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in all Fifty States shows that, on average, state and local tax systems require the poorest taxpayers to pay the highest effective tax rates.

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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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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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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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CBO 10-Year Budget Update Shows $5.6 Trillion Surplus Now Only $1.0 Trillion

The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) annual "Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update," released on August 27, reports federal budget deficits through the end of 2005 and a relatively modest 10-year total surplus and has added more fodder to the debate in Washington over who’s to blame for the $5.4 trillion drop in the 10-year surplus forecast since January 2001.

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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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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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Supplemental vs. The Budget Deficit

The House Appropriations Committee will not be marking up the President's FY 2002 $27.1 billion supplemental spending request, as scheduled for tomorrow – and, in fact, the delay on the supplemental seems to be indefinite at this point, according to many sources.

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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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