Monthly Archives: September 2017

GOP tax plan would provide major gains for richest 1%, uneven benefits for the middle class, report says

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

The Republican tax plan would deliver a major benefit to the top 1 percent of Americans, according to a new analysis by a leading group of nonpartisan tax experts that challenges the White House’s portrayal of its effects.

The plan would deliver far more modest tax cuts to most other households — an average cut of $1,700 for households in 2027, according to the report. But the results would be unevenly spread, with 1 in 4 households paying more in taxes.

Despite repeated promises from Republican lawmakers that the plan is designed to provide relief to the middle class, nearly 30 percent of taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 would see a tax increase, according to the study by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. The majority of households that made between $150,000 and $300,000 would see a tax increase.

Meanwhile, the study found that 80 percent of the tax benefits would accrue to those in the top 1 percent. Households making more than about $900,000 a year would see their taxes drop by more than $200,000 on average.

The report was dismissed by one of the architects of the GOP plan.

“This analysis is based on guess work and biased assumptions designed to promote the authors’ point of view —rather actual detail from a bill that has not yet been written by the committees,” said Antonia Ferrier, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Ky.). McConnell was one of the group of “Big Six” Republican lawmakers and White House officials who crafted the plan.

But it could also highlight divisions in the Republican Party.

“That does not reflect the hopes and aspirations of Main Street Republicans around the country,” said John Weaver, a veteran Republican strategist to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and …read more

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20 percent of serious food safety violations go ignored, new report finds

By Caitlin Dewey

A kitchen worker sets up the salad bar at the FDA cafeteria. According to a new report, inspectors at the agency have failed to follow up on serious food-safety violations by food manufacturers. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Government inspectors failed to take action on one of every five serious food-safety risks identified in manufacturing facilities, according to a report released by federal auditors Wednesday. In the remaining cases, the agency almost always asked food manufacturers to correct violations voluntarily.

In one incident in 2013, FDA inspectors found listeria in a facility where rain dripped through holes in the ceiling onto food prep areas. While FDA asked the facility to address the problems, samples from the factory still tested positive for listeria two years later.

That same year, FDA inspectors found salmonella in a facility that made ready-to-eat seafood, salads and dips. But they did not send the facility a warning letter or initiate any other corrective actions.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General report, which analyzed Food and Drug Administration inspection data from 2011 to 2015, raises questions about FDA procedures for making sure America’s food is safe. It has also prompted concerns as to whether the agency has the resources to fulfill the objective.

FDA’s mission has broadened considerably since the implementation of a 2011 law called the Food Safety Modernization Act, which made it mandatory for the agency to carry out routine inspections of all domestic food processors.

But the agency’s total funding decreased over that same period, and employment in the Office of Regulatory Affairs — the branch of the FDA that is primarily responsible for conducting field inspections — had increased by only 11 percent as of 2013, the most recent year for which data is available.

Now, some food-safety experts are questioning whether …read more

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