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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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Media Hit | Transportation

12 of America's Biggest Highway Boondoggles

Given that expanding highways at great public cost doesn’t improve rush-hour traffic, there are better ways to spend this money, argue report authors Jeff Inglis of Frontier Group and John C. Olivieri of U.S. PIRG. They identify a dozen road projects, costing $24 billion in all, that are “representative” of the problem.

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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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News Release | FCAN Foundation | Transportation

Tampa Bay Express Lanes Project Makes National List of Highway Boondoggles, Wastes $3.3 Billion

The new study details how despite America’s massive repair and maintenance backlog, and in defiance of America’s changing transportation needs, state governments across the country continue to spend billions each year on new and wider highways.

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Budget

Representative Jeff Flake Introduces REAPS Act

Statement of Florida PIRG Federal Legislative Office Director Gary Kalman on the introduction of the Reducing the Deficit through Eliminating Agriculture Direct Payment Subsidies Act

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Tax

Senator Carl Levin Introduces Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act

Statement of Florida PIRG Federal Legislative Office Director Gary Kalman on the introduction of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act.

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Budget

House Committee Approves Cut to Agriculture Subsidies

Statement of Florida PIRG Public Health Advocate Elizabeth Hitchcock on the House Appropriations Committee’s vote to approve an amendment to the 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill  to limit agriculture subsidies called direct payments to farmers with adjusted gross incomes lower than $250,000.

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Tax

Off-Shore Tax Havens Cost FL Taxpayers Over $4 Billion a Year

Major corporations and some individuals avoid a total of as much as $100 billion a year in federal taxes by “off-shoring” the profits they make here in the U.S. or by setting up sham headquarters in tax haven countries. As a result, Florida taxpayers are left footing the bill.

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Consumer Protection

New Survey Shows Banks Still Hiding Fees from Consumers

A survey of more than 350 bank branches released today by the Florida Public Interest Research Group revealed that fewer than half of branches obeyed their legal duty to fully disclose fees to prospective customers, while one in four provided no fee information at all.

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Report | Florida PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Economic Stimulus or Simply More Misguided Spending?

President-elect Obama has declared that the next recovery plan must do more than just pump money into the economy. It will also create the infrastructure that America needs for the 21st century.

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Report | Florida PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland, 23rd Annual Toy Safety Report

The 2008 Trouble in Toyland report is the 23rd 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. We visited numerous toy stores and other retailers to find potentially dangerous toys and identify trends in toy safety. This year, we focused specifically on toys that contain lead and phthalates in our research. 

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Report | Florida PIRG | Consumer Protection

Total Recall: The Need for CPCS Reform Now

The year 2007 was called the year of the recall. But in 2008, recalls are up, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data. Already, as these data show, more toys and children’s products have been recalled in the first half of this year than in the first half of last year, a supposed “100-year-flood” period. Yet the remedial CPSC reform legislation passed overwhelmingly by both the House and Senate in response to that 2007 recall wave has yet to become law.

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Report | Florida PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Squandering the Stimulus

We can reduce our crippling dependence on oil through long-term solutions that will make it easier for Americans to drive less. Modern buses, light rail, commuter rail and other forms of transit more efficiently move passengers with less fuel. Transit also reduces traffic congestion and encourages more compact development patterns which, in turn, further reduce the amount Americans must drive.

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Report | Florida PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A Better Way to Go

This report shows why rail, rapid buses and other forms of public transit must play a more prominent role in America’s future transportation system. America has grown more dependent on car travel with each passing year. America has more cars per capita than any other nation in the world. The number of miles driven on America’s highways has doubled in the last quarter-century, and our reliance on cars for transportation is at the root of many of America’s most intractable problems.

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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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We're calling on big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Tell KFC to stop serving meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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