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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An Equal Opportunity Crisis

House Financial Services Committee chair Rep. Barney Frank -- profiled in the New York Times this week -- is the only person in Washington remotely both as bright and as indecipherable as Alan Greenspan. His accent is the aural equivalent of illegible handwriting. A stenographer should follow him around so you don't have to wait 'til the next day for the transcript.

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UI Extension: Does the Unemployment Rate Matter?

Since the beginning of the year, when talk of a recession was first heard, Congress has been debating whether or to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by 13 weeks -- as it has done during every single recession, with one exception, for the past 50 years.

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Fed Chief's Opinions on Foreclosure Remedies Differ from Frank Bill Oponents

Congressional opposition to the Frank housing bill is coalescing around apparently dubious propositions ($). [Antonia Ferrier, spokeswoman for House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO)] also took aim at the [Rep. Barney] Frank proposal. "This bill perversely rewards those who borrowed more than they could afford — their monthly mortgage payments get reduced with the government footing the bill. How is that fair to the millions of Americans who worked hard and paid their mortgages on time? And who ends up holding the bag if all goes south? No surprise, the American taxpayer."

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1Q08 Economic Conditions: the Good, Bad, and Ugly

By and large, the Bureau of Economic Analysts (BEA) at the Department of Commerce announced this morning an estimated GDP figure for the first quarter of 2008 of 0.6 percent -- the exact same figure as the last quarter of 2007 -- which pushes us back from the brink of "official" economic recession, though we are by no means out of the woods. The BEA report includes this summary analysis:

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Median Weekly Earnings Decline

In yesterday's Daily Fiscal Policy Report, we noted that real average weekly earnings in March were up compared to February, while they were down compared to March, 2007. Today, the BLS released data on real median weekly earnings, which, like average weekly earnings, have declined since a year ago.

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Economic Indicators Archive

In case you didn't know (as I didn't 'til I stumbled on it), the Wall Street Journal maintains a number of statistical reports that economists use to gauge and forecast business conditions. These reports, issued by government agencies and business research groups, generally are accessible there for one month. Their Economic Indicators Archive is accessible here. Among the reports:
  • The Consumer Price Index
  • The Employment Situation
  • The Gross Domestic Product
  • Initial Jobless Claims
  • New Homes Sales
Good for what ails us.

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Health Care -- Bipartisan Support for Blocking Bush Medicaid Rule: CQ reports ($) that a House bill that would block the president's Medicaid rule changes is gaining support among Republicans. The proposed rule changes would shift about $17.8 billion (over five years) in Medicaid costs to states. The bill, H.R. 5613, will be marked up today in the Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

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The Employment Situation

While a loss of 80,000 jobs is troubling, an even more disturbing trend in the private job market continues. In March, the private sector shed 98,000 jobs, marking the fourth consecutive month to see private-sector losses. (click on image to enlarge) Dean Baker at Center for Economic and Policy Research has a good write-up of the situation:

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The Executive Casino: Risk-Free Gaming

This Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon is a great illustration of the incentives that motivate executives. (The image below is one panel of the full, four-panel comic.) (Click to see the full comic)

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Economy -- Per Capita Income Up in 2007, Flat in Fourth Quarter: The BEA has released state-by-state per capita personal income data and indicates that U.S. personal income grew 6.2 percent in 2007, down from 6.7 percent in 2006. However, fourth quarter income gains were negated by inflation, a marked change from the third quarter's 0.9 percent real increase.

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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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