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Letter: Protecting the FTC from Special Interest Attacks

While much of our work has been in defense of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), we also support the efforts of the over-100 year old Federal Trade Commission.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Delayed CFPB/Other Wall Street Reform Rollbacks Happening Today On House Floor | Ed Mierzwinski

Last month the House canceled floor consideration of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. FSGG is back on the floor today and tomorrow. We urge support of amendments to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) but, since they won't pass, we urge a no vote on the bill. Here's an updated excerpt from my previous blog.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Rejects PIRG-Opposed Swipe Fee Settlement With Visa/Mastercard | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit threw out a preliminary $7.25 billion settlement between Visa and Mastercard and any merchant accepting credit cards (including U.S. PIRG), ruling that despite that seemingly massive payment for past practices that the settlement gave inadequate relief to merchants going forward, as it essentially immunized the networks for any future illegal conduct while providing mostly illusory benefits. Since we accept credit cards from our members, we, joined by Consumer Reports, had formally objected to the settlement as consumer advocates who also happen to be merchant class members (most merchant associations also objected).

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House Launches Frenzy of Attacks on CFPB, Public Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Today and tomorrow the House floor showcases a variety of special-interest backed bills designed to eliminate public protections and weaken financial reform. Action starts soon with an attempt to override the President's veto of legislation to wipe away a new Department of Labor rule designed to protect hard-earned retirement savings from Wall Streeters seeking their "share" of your own share. Then, the House will consider the massive FSGG Appropriations bill, which rolls back the independence and authority of the CFPB and other financial reforms. Finally, they've teed up a bill to eliminate the Supreme Court's long-standing "Chevron doctrine," which says that courts must defer to expert agencies in certain circumstances. Without the doctrine in place, polluters and wrongdoers will have more opportunities to challenge public protections.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Clean Transportation Doesn’t Need To Be A Distant Utopia | John Olivieri

For many, when they think of combating global warming, they think of solar panels on rooftops and eliminating coal fired power plants. But, the truth is, there is not an effective solution to address global warming that does not deal with transportation as well.

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Media Hit | Budget

In latest farm bill, a billion tax dollars per page

The farm bill has long been a target of taxpayer watchdog groups who criticize many provisions as welfare for corporate giants and special interests.

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News Release | MoPIRG | Democracy

MoPIRG Applauds the Introduction of the Government by the People Act

MoPIRG applauded Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Saint Louis) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Kansas City) today for co-sponsoring new legislation aimed at raising the voices of everyday people in the political process.

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Thousands of consumers find errors on their credit reports

MoPIRG Foundation, a consumer advocacy group, analyzed 10,000 consumer complaints the CFPB received since October, 2012, when the federal agency began collecting the complaints.

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News Release | MoPIRG | Food, Tax

New Farm Bill Contains Massive Taxpayer Handouts To Big Ag

At a time of supposed fiscal caution, this bill would put taxpayers on the hook for another five years of billion-dollar handouts to huge, profitable agribusinesses. Even the most modest reforms to trim subsidies for the largest players were stripped out or watered down at the last second

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News Release | MoPIRG Foundation | Higher Ed

Survey Shows Students Opting Out of Buying Textbooks

Today, a survey released by MoPIRG Foundation and the Student PIRGs shows that 65 percent of student consumers have opted out of buying a college textbook due to its high price, and nearly half say that textbook costs can dictate whether they take a course. 

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Report | MoPIRG | Democracy

Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

This report evaluates states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0”—a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility. At least 7 states have become leaders in the drive toward Transparency 2.0, launching easy-to-use, searchable Web sites with a wide range of spending transparency information. Twenty-five additional states have made initial steps toward online spending transparency by launching Web sites with checkbook-level detail on state spending that nonetheless have much room for improvement. 

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Report | MoPIRG | Transportation

The Right Track: Building a 21st Century High-Speed Rail System for America

America’s highways and airports are increasingly congested. Our nation’s transportation system remains dependent on oil. And our existing transportation infrastructure is inadequate to the demands of the 21st century.

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Report | MoPIRG | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland: The 24th Annual Survey of Toy Safety

The 2009 Trouble in Toyland report is the 24th annual Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety. This report provides safety guidelines for parents when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Health Care

Putting America Back to Work

A U.S. Public Interest Research Group Research Brief, entitled Putting America Back to Work, finds that proposals to tame health care costs could allow the creation of 2.5 million jobs over a five year period  without inflationary effects, and yield stronger economic growth over the long term.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Democracy

Saving Dollars, Saving Democracy

While there is much to celebrate in the expanded participation of traditionally underrepresented groups – for example, 3.4 million more young voters than the previous election – it is also important to recognize the enormous obstacles and cost inefficiencies that occur in our current registration system.  

U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s survey of 100 counties showed that over $33,467,910.00 of public money was spent on simple registration implementation and error-correction issues in 2008.  

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Blog Post | Transportation

How Deadly are Your State’s Roads? | Sean Doyle

A new report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows which states have the safest and most dangerous roads.  Here's how the states rank and what we can do about it.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As CFPB Advances Consumer Protection, Attacks on CFPB Escalate | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the CFPB took a major step toward establishing a regulation restricting the use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts, which give companies what the CFPB's director said was a "free pass from being held accountable by their customers." Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, powerful bank interests escalated their campaign to defund and defang the bureau, because it works for consumers, not them.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House holds stacked hearing to attack retirement savings rule proposal | Ed Mierzwinski

The House Financial Services Committee is holding a typically stacked hearing -- one consumer-side witness against four Wall Street-backed lobbyists  -- to attack the important retirement savings rule proposed by the Department of Labor. The rule simply requires retirement advisors to put the customer's needs  -- not their own compensation -- first.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Reinstates Case Against Bank That Aided Senior Citizen Fraud | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that had denied class action status to victims of a scheme targeting senior citizens who were suing Zions Bank and its payment processor affiliates for aiding the fraudsters. U.S. regulators led by the Department of Justice have been fighting this and similar schemes, yet powerful special interests have managed to create a false narrative in Washington, DC that has been picked up by opponents of consumer protection laws. They falsely claim that the government's target is "legitimate" payday lenders and gun dealers. Wrong, the target is financial crimes against consumers, many consumers.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

IRS Admits Data Breach Worse Than Thought, Will Congress Do Wrong Thing Anyway? | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the IRS has admitted that thieves accessed the personal information -- enough to allow them to take your tax refund -- of an additional 220,000 taxpayers, on top of the 114,000 reported in May. Meanwhile, we remain  concerned that Congress will use continued publicity about the Target breach and other breaches as an excuse to pass dangerous data security legislation. Dangerous? Yes, because it would only protect against limited financial identity theft harms, but eliminate stronger state protections against the harms posed by the IRS breach, the health insurance breaches and the OPM breach.

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Defend the CFPB

Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

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