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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House GOP Learns Cutting Spending is Hard

Remember back in September of last year, when the House Republicans released the “Pledge to America,” stating their agenda should they win the House in coming election? If not, here was one line which stuck out to us: “we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone....” Now that they are in control of the House, Republicans are quickly working to make good on that promise. Today, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released their new spending plan for fiscal year 2011, which contains cuts of... $35 billion. Looks like it isn’t quite as easy to cut spending as the new House majority thought.

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The Wrong Approach to the Deficit Could Imperil More than Just the Recovery

by Craig Jennings, OMB Watch, Jan. 24, 2011
When President Obama delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday, one topic he will likely devote many words to will be the nation’s finances. For months, we’ve heard calls from all sides to “rein in the deficit” – a deficit so massive that, if some politicians are to be believed, it may plunge the nation into another Dark Ages. If Obama echoes these unceasing cries coming from inside the Beltway and sets forth a budget plan designed to meet the needs of Washington politics and not the nation, he could imperil the nascent economic recovery and future growth while stifling public protections, the effectiveness of the federal workforce, and the economic well being of millions of families.

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Lew Confirmed as OMB Director as Landrieu Releases Hold

Jacob LewLast night Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) released her hold on Jack Lew's nomination to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), allowing his nomination to come to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Landrieu first placed the hold almost two months ago, in an effort to force the Obama administration to end its deepwater drilling moratorium. However, after the administration gave in to her demands and ended the moratorium, Landrieu then said her hold was actually because the administration was not approving enough drilling permits in general. Lew's nomination has been in limbo ever since.

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News Organization Bemoans Public's Lack of Knowledge on Issue It Rarely Mentioned

"What if a president cut Americans' income taxes by $116 billion and nobody noticed?" That's the lede on a recent New York Times article, one talking about a tax cut called Making Work Pay (MWP). President Obama's staff was instrumental in crafting and passing the MWP, which was part of the Recovery Act. The tax cut is stealthy, in that its design spreads the benefits out in small amounts, in each paycheck, as opposed to a single, larger payout at tax time. It was so stealthy that, as the Times article notes, few people know that Obama signed into law a tax cut affecting 95 percent of taxpayers. In fact, the MWP was so stealthy the Times barely mentioned it until this week. So why is the Times surprised no one knows about the tax cut?

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International Comparison Ranks U.S. Well on Budget Transparency

A new international comparison of budget transparency ranks the U.S. among the world's leaders, but highlights some areas for improvement.

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Administration Targets High-Risk IT Projects

I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

The Obama administration released yesterday a list of 26 mission-critical information technology (IT) projects that will receive immediate attention from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) because they "have experienced problems such as significant cost increases or schedule delays." This reassessment process of IT projects, which is part of the administration's reform-minded 2012 budget process and their larger Accountable Government Initiative, seeks to set the programs straight before they waste any more taxpayer funds.

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As Orszag Steps Down, the Next OMB Director Must Be Committed to Transparency

If you're reading this blog, you probably pay at least a little attention to the news, so you likely already know that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag will be stepping down in the next month or so. Since this is the first "high level" Obama official to leave, it is predictably setting off a flurry of media attention about Orszag's potential replacement.

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Obama Begins 2012 Budget Process with Eye toward Doing More with Less

On June 8, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag rolled out details of the administration's FY 2012 budget guidance for federal agencies. The budget request will again attempt to strike a balance between fiscal austerity and adequate funding for government programs. In addition to the continuance of a three-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending, Orszag revealed two new initiatives that the administration hopes will help agencies achieve more with less: a government-wide initiative to improve federal acquisition and information technology (IT) processes and a requirement for agencies to identify programs that are the "least critical to advancing their agency missions."

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A Diamond in the Rough?

There's much to criticize in President Obama's plan to cut non-security discretionary spending by five percent (of FY 2011 levels): That by the administration's own estimate, unemployment will be more than eight percent; that discretionary spending funds many important programs like providing nutrition to vulnerable children, protecting the public from lead-tainted toys and e. coli-tainted spinach, and putting police officers on the street; that there's mountains of unnecessary spending on security programs; and that over $1 trillion in IRS-administered spending will remain under the budget radar.

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Who Says We Need More C-17s...Oh Yeah, Congressional Missourians Do

A C-17 Globemaster III

As Congress gears up for its annual budget process, parochial-minded members are drawing their customary battle lines around administration-targeted programs. One of those is the C-17 transport plane, which the Pentagon has been trying to kill for several years because it deems the military to have ample airlift capacity. Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlighted a press conference held by four congressional Missourians who, claiming to know better than the Pentagon, declared that they were going to fight the plane's proposed cancellation.

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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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