Thursday, June 21, 2007

IRS Online Withholding Calculator

Need a quick way to figure out your federal tax withholding for that new Summer job? Then try the IRS's online withholding calculator. According to the Web site, "The purpose of this application is to help employees to ensure that they do not have too much or too little income tax withheld from their pay. It is not a replacement for Form W-4, but most people will find it more accurate and easier to use than the worksheets that accompany Form W-4. You may use the results of this program to help you complete a new Form W-4".

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CongressLine by - Checks on Power

CongressLine by - Checks on Power is an interesting article on an Executive branch that is independent of the Legislative. The U.S., France and Russia are the 3 major democracies that have an independent Executive branch. Most democracies have some parliamentary variant where the executive is the leader of the majority party in Parliament, and senior members of the party hold Cabinet positions.

The article outlines some of the methods Congress may use to check the powers of the U.S. Executive. A good overview of the U.S. system of checks & balances.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Monday, June 18, 2007 is a public database that illuminates the connection between campaign donations and legislative votes. MAPLight is a nonprofit organization helping citizens hold their legislators accountable.

This is how MAPLight makes its connections (from the site's About page): combines three data sets:
* Bill texts and legislative voting records
* Supporting and opposing interests for each bill
* Campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics

Combining this data makes visible key information that could never before be determined easily. For example:
* Contributions given by interests supporting and opposing each bill
* Average donations given to legislators voting “Yes” and “No” on each bill
* Timeline of contributions and votes for each bill, graphically identifying when legislators received large donations before or after their vote.

So far there is only information for the California Legislature and the U.S. Congress. New York will be added very soon, and hopefully other states won't be far behind.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat