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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Budget Process Stuck at Square One and In Danger of Irrelevance

From the outside, a great deal seems to be happening with the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget process. The House debated a "clean" bill to raise the debt ceiling and is starting to vote on its yearly appropriations bills, and the Senate just voted on four budget proposals. But looks can be deceiving: despite these recent actions, the nation's budget process is teetering on the edge of irrelevance.

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FY 2011 Wrapped Up, Still More Bumps on the Budget Road Ahead

Even though the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget battles are over, Congress is still deeply mired in fiscal work. News about "the budget" continues to flood the airwaves, along with breathless reporting about the impending debt ceiling crisis as federal debt levels reach their statutory limits. Incredibly large numbers are part of each new report, leaving many to wonder what's in the offing for fiscal policy in the coming months.

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GOP Shields Rich Friends from IRS

I'll take my campaign contributions now, please.

For those that followed the fiscal year (FY) 2011 spending debate, you know that compromise pulled most of the more obnoxious riders, like those aimed at Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), out of the continuing resolution (CR). But House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) succeeded in slipping a few riders into the final budget agreement, including one that bans funding for President Obama's initiative to hire additional Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents to crack down on high income tax cheats.

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The Long, Downhill Road to a 2011 Budget

Appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2011 are now six months late. The fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2010, but the nation is not much closer to having a budget than it was back then. As Congress comes face-to-face with the expiration of the current stop-gap spending bill, the budget's downward march may have stopped, but the possibility of a government shutdown still lingers.

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Transparency at Risk in Budget Debate

Penny-pinching fever has engulfed Washington, with both parties eager to root out perceived wasteful spending. Several proposals look for savings in the government's information dissemination programs. While some of the proposals are carefully targeted reductions, others would slash funding indiscriminately with damaging consequences to some innovative transparency projects and programs.

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President Obama Calls for More IRS Funding in 2012 Budget

Following the freeze-but-invest theme of his fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget, President Obama is calling for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to receive a boost compared to the agency's FY 2010 budget. Increased investments in tax enforcement and information technology (IT) could help make the currently complex tax code fairer while streamlining bureaucracy. Additionally, these improvements would likely raise more revenue for the government and make the agency more user-friendly. The Republican-controlled House, however, will likely stand in the way of the budget request, putting the IRS's future funding in question and potentially jeopardizing these reforms.

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What Does the President's Budget Mean for Transparency?

The president's budget request for fiscal year 2012, released on Feb. 14, is the opening bid in a months-long process to decide how much the federal government will spend on everything from the Navy to open government efforts. The administration's budget proposal is difficult to analyze in terms of open government commitments because it doesn’t include line-item categories for transparency activities. However, it does provide some clues about increases and cuts.

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GOP Not Cutting Defense Spending ... but It Should Be

How about cutting that second engine, Boehner?

Over the weekend, House Republicans began a coordinated campaign to defend the caucus' "$100 billion" worth of proposed cuts to the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget. Since the proposal's release, Republicans have been taking flak for targeting non-security discretionary programs, which only make up about one-sixth of federal spending. When asked about this on the various Sunday talk shows, Republican leaders demurred, claiming defense spending is also on the chopping block. They're not telling the truth.

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The Budget That Won't Be (But Still Matters)

This morning, President Obama officially proposed to Congress his FY 2012 budget. Marking the start of a year-long poker game, this is just an opening bid. Republicans will soon follow up within the next month or so their counter offer when the House votes on its FY 2012 budget resolution. Then the Senate will throw in its two cents (so to speak) and make its suggestion. Months later, actual spending bills will be offered, debated, negotiated, and adopted (though probably not on time) at the end of the year.

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Why Baselines Matter

If you were diligently reading the news yesterday about the new House budget proposal, you might have been a little confused. It seemed like news outlets couldn’t agree on how much the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan for the FY 2011 budget actually cut:

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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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