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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

100+ Groups Oppose Provisions That Threaten Public Protections | Mike Litt

The White House is expected to release its fiscal year 2017 budget proposal tomorrow. U.S. PIRG and various state PIRGs joined a coalition of more than 100 groups that sent the following letter calling on President Barack Obama and all 535 members of Congress to oppose any federal appropriations bill that contains ideological policy riders. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB Criticizes Banks Re Account Opening and Overdrafts, Offers Consumer Tips | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the CFPB is holding a field hearing in Louisville on problems consumers face when opening bank accounts. It finds that big banks frequently offer consumers expensive accounts where they risk overdraft fees instead of affordable accounts. Further, the CFPB finds that the practices of specialty "bad check" credit bureaus make it harder to open accounts. The CFPB issued warnings to both the banks and credit bureaus while providing consumers with new tips and advice.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Debating trade and consumer protection in Brussels today | Ed Mierzwinski

I am in Brussels today debating consumer protection and the proposed US-European trade treaty known as the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. Today's public event, and a second public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday with live webstream 9am-noon DC time) comparing the CFPB to its European counterparts, are sponsored by the PIRG-backed TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

The foundation is crumbling | Bill Wenzel

What was missing from President Obama's visionary plan for medical progress? 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay

House Tees Up VW Bailout and Other Attacks on Public Protections, Consumer Rights | Ed Mierzwinski

(Updated 8 January to add vote results): You've probably heard that the House is soon planning to again repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That bill will certainly be vetoed. But the House has other anti-consumer, anti-environmental bills scheduled for floor action this week and next. The bills take aim at agency health, financial and safety regulations and also consumer rights to band together as a class to take their grievances against corporate wrongdoers to court. That last bill would immunize Volkswagen from having to compensate VW Diesel owners for being deceptively sold cars designed to "defeat" air pollution requirements.

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News Release | PIRGIM Education Fund | Budget

New Report: Michigan Receives a “B” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Michigan received a “B” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to Following the Money 2012: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, the third annual report of its kind by the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM). This year, PIRGIM also produced a companion report examining local-level transparency in Michigan, entitled Following the Municipal Money: Seven Steps for More Effective Local Transparency in Michigan.

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News Release | PIRGIM | Tax

White House Plan to Close Special Interest Tax Loopholes Is the Right Approach to Reform, But Details Matter

Statement by Meghan Hess, PIRGIM Program Associate, in response to the White House announcement today proposing to eliminate tax loopholes and preferences.

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Lansing State Journal: Health and safety regulations are no joking matter

"Out of context, some government regulations can certainly seem humorous. But the ability of government agencies to create health and safety regulations is a deadly serious matter."

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News Release | PIRGIM | Tax

New Legislation Would Close Corporate Tax Loopholes, Save Taxpayers $155 Billion

“The CUT Loopholes Act, introduced by Senators Carl Levin and Kent Conrad, goes a long way in making sure corporations play by the same rules as ordinary taxpayers."

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

House Transportation Bill is a Step Backwards, Lacks a Serious Funding Mechanism

“America needs serious transportation reform. While the recent Senate transportation bill failed to move the ball forward on needed transportation reform, today’s House bill takes big strides in the wrong direction."

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

The Campus Credit Card Trap

Credit card lending is enormously profitable. According to annual Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ (FRB) Reports to Congress, it is the most profitable form of banking. But the credit card industry is saturated.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Tax

Forgiving Fraud and Failure

Companies with immediate past histories of shoddy work and fraudulent practices are being rewarded with billions of dollars in federal contracts.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Student Debt and Consumer Costs in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Higher education in America continues to be critical for both individual success and the economic and political health of our country. While college attendance has grown over the past two decades, state appropriations and federal aid have failed to keep pace with the rising cost of college. As a result, more students than ever must rely on student loans to pay for a four-year degree and start their post-collegiate lives with significant debt.

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Report | MASSPIRG | Higher Ed

Exposing the Textbook Industry

Today’s college students are under enormous financial pressure. The gap between tuition and fees and financial aid leaves many students working long hours through college, struggling to make ends meet, and graduating with large debts. The high cost of textbooks is yet another financial burden. The cost of textbooks is not just a drop in the bucket of tuition and fees; the average student spends about $900 per year on textbooks, which is nearly 20% of tuition and fees at a four year public institution. Moreover, textbook prices are rising at about four times the rate of inflation.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Higher Ed

Cutting Interest Rates, Lowering Student Debt

In 21st century America, a college education is critical for individual success and the strength of our nation.  Higher education is associated with better health, greater wealth and more vibrant civic participation, as well national economic competitiveness in today’s global environment.  As the need for a college degree has grown, however, so has the cost of obtaining that education.  The result is rising student debt.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Event 5/11 re new book on black box decisionmaking & consumers | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED TO CONFIRM CFPB Speaker. We are hosting an event Monday, 5/11, from 9am-noon ET to discuss a new book, The Black Box Society, with author Frank Pasquale. Click Keep Reading to RSVP to attend in person or to watch the livestream. While credit bureaus have long functioned as black box gatekeepers to opportunity, panelists will discuss the growing use of more and more, even less transparent black boxes to categorize consumers in the digital economy.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

U.S. House Considers Delay To Financial Protections for Servicemembers, Veterans | Ed Mierzwinski

(UPDATED 30 April): Last year the Department of Defense proposed needed improvements to the 2007 Military Lending Act, since high-cost lenders were exploiting loopholes to evade the law's 36% APR cap on loans to servicemembers to make loans at 400% APR or more, harming military families and threatening unit preparedness to defend the nation. Now, days before a committee vote, predatory lenders have succeeded in convincing House Armed Services Committee leaders to insert language into the National Defense Authorization Act that would delay the DoD regulations up to a year while needless, redundant studies are prepared. Only in Washington.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Begins Payday Regulation Push In Richmond | Ed Mierzwinski

We joined the CFPB in Richmond Thursday for a field hearing on a proposed rule to regulate payday lending and similar high-cost short-term loans. The CFPB's draft rule is comprehensive, covering a variety of loans, but it contains potential loopholes that we and other advocates will urge the bureau to close before it finalizes this important effort. Here's a short blog with some photos from Richmond.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Some Good, Some Bad in Obama Administration Plan to Protect Antibiotics | Sujatha Jahagirdar

Today, the National Task Force for Combatting Resistant Bacteria released a five-year action plan to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.  While the plan will take several important steps necessary to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it will miss the opportunity to call for critical reforms in the agricultural sector that are essential to protect public health.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Adds Consumer Stories to Public Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the CFPB took a step to make its excellent public database of consumer complaints even better, by adding complaint narratives (stories), but only with the consumer's consent. It's a step we've long urged. It will enrich our research into the marketplace, help consumers make choices and help good-actor firms avoid bad practices by others.

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