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May 10, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Government CapacityIndependent AgenciesIRS

The IRS Has Finally Been Given The Power to Rebuild. It’s Not Enough.

In March, six months after the start of Fiscal Year 2022, Congress finally passed an omnibus funding agreement that brought agencies out from under the shadow of Trump-era austerity (although still fell far short of enacting the funding levels that most agencies require to meet their responsibilities to the public). Critically, in the case of at least one agency, the omnibus did not just grant the money to hire new staff, but the means to do so much more quickly. At the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Congress greenlit the use of direct hiring authorities to empower the agency to temporarily forgo some of the more onerous aspects of the federal hiring process as well as to facilitate a quick rebuilding of the IRS’ notoriously depleted ranks. With this designation, Congress acknowledged that staff shortages at the IRS had reached a state of emergency and thus acted accordingly. 

May 09, 2022

Max Moran

Newsletter

Corporate Crackdown

CORPORATE CRACKDOWN UPDATES: 5/9/22

Closing in on toxins, the EPA is ramping up its enforcement by banning the use of weedkiller diuron and increasing its detection of PFAS chemicals in public water. Plus, the SEC’s new ‘Cyber Unit’ and DOL officials are keeping a close eye on the inclusion of cryptocurrency in Fidelity’s 401k plan.

April 28, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Independent AgenciesIRS

Who Is The IRS’ Chief Counsel? Under Biden, No One.

enforcing the U.S. tax code. Much has been written regarding the IRS’ gutting over the years. The agency has been systematically defunded, deresourced, and attacked by political operatives for decades, at a grave cost to the basic functionality of our government, and to the benefit of only the richest Americans. These trends were only exacerbated under the Trump administration, which was hyper-focused on dismantling the tax system to benefit its corporate and billionaire cronies. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s destructive influence remains pervasive throughout the IRS, with Trump’s Commissioner, Charles Rettig, still installed as the governing head of the agency while finishing a 5-year term (at the pleasure of the president) set to expire in 2022.

April 25, 2022

Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionClimateEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchRevolving Door

What You Need To Know About The Contenders For Biden’s Next Chief Of Staff

Nearly halfway through President Biden’s second year in office, with midterms on the horizon and senior staff either burning out or eager to sell out, “Transition 2.0” — the rapid departure of said senior staff with an influx of new personnel — is growing closer. One position we’re keeping a close eye on is Biden’s next Chief of Staff. Currently filled by Ron Klain, this is Biden’s de facto power broker. He helps the president make decisions and acts as a gatekeeper for the many, MANY forces, good and bad, who’d like to influence the president.

April 25, 2022 | The New Republic

Mekedas Belayneh

Op-Ed

ClimateExecutive BranchIndependent AgenciesUSPS

How Biden Can Halt the U.S. Postal Service’s Gas-Guzzling Plan

Just days after his inauguration, President Biden promised to use the federal government’s procurement authority to achieve a zero-emission fleet of government vehicles. This spring, however, that’s led to a standoff with the United States Postal Service—an independent agency overseen by a Trump-aligned postmaster general who wants to replace 225,000 out-of-date mail delivery trucks with fresh gas-guzzlers, to the tune of $11.3 billion.

April 25, 2022 | The American Prospect

Max Moran Fatou Ndiaye

Op-Ed

Congressional OversightPharma

Where's The Congressional Champion On Pharma Patent Abuses?

But for all of this, neither party’s congressional leaders have directly challenged the main legal mechanism that accounts for those high costs—namely, intellectual property. You’d think members of Congress would recognize the political salience of picking a fight with one of the most hated industries in America. So why isn’t anyone on Capitol Hill even talking about intellectual property’s role in driving high drug prices, and taking the PTO to task to do something about it?

April 19, 2022

Aidan Smith

Blog Post

Congressional OversightCorporate CrackdownExecutive Branch

How The Department Of Commerce Can Combat Economic Malaise

Responsible for creating “conditions for economic growth and opportunity,” the full powers of the DOC must be leveraged to combat economic malaise. Since the modern department was established in 1913, the DOC’s powers have generally been neglected and poorly understood. That’s in part reflective of the DOC’s byzantine structure: it’s a seeming grab-bag of agencies that either don’t fit in neatly with any other department, or are located within the DOC as a result of 20th century political knife-fights.