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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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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

Progress in 2015 and hope for the new year | Anya Vanecek

This was a big year for the fight to save antibiotics. Now we’re looking to the future and looking forward to continuing our efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

All I want for Christmas is responsibly-raised meat. | Anya Vanecek

I don't want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need...

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

It keeps getting better | Steve Blackledge

By next summer, all of the chicken served on Papa John's pizzas and poppers will be raised without antibiotics. The pizza chain's announcement adds them to a growing list of restaurants that are helping to stop the overuse antibiotics on large industrial farms.

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps with bank complaints

Since it started accepting complaints about banks 18 months ago, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has helped thousands of irate customers settle disputes over their accounts, with roughly 1 out of 4 complaints resulting in monetary relief, a just-released analysis by a consumer group shows.

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

New Report Identifies Banks Consumers Complain About Most

Thousands of Americans are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes with their banks, according to a new report from the PennPIRG Education Fund. The report highlights banks that generated the most complaints through their various banking services in each state.

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Shows Pennsylvanians Are Driving Less

Pennsylvanians have cut their per-person driving miles by 10.4 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from PennPIRG. This decline is significantly higher than the national average of 6.87%. Pennsylvania is one of 9 states and the District of Columbia to have a double digit reduction in per-person driving miles.

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News Release | PennPIRG | Public Health

Advocates Call On EPA for Increased Chemical Safety, Security

Activists gathered outside the EPA Region 3 offices in Philadelphia to release “Danger In Our Backyards: The Threat of Chemical Facilities to Millions,” a report that highlights two Philadelphia-area plants as posing significant threats to public safety. More than five million people live near a high-risk Pennsylvania chemical plant.

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News Release | PennPIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rates for 374,328 Student Loan Borrowers in Pennsylvania Set to Double on July 1

According to an issue brief released today by PennPIRG, the upcoming increase in the student loan interest rate would hike the cost of Pennsylvania students’ loans by $358 million. That translates into a $956 increase in debt per student, per loan.

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Report | PennPIRG | Consumer Protection

Big Banks, Bigger Fees

Over the last six months, state PIRG staff conducted inquiries at 250 bank and 116 credit union branches in 17 states and the District of Columbia and reviewed bank fees online in these and 7 other states. This report addresses the following questions: How easy is it for consumers to shop around for financial services? Are banks complying with current fee disclosure requirements? Can consumers still find free or low-cost checking accounts, or has free checking ended?

 

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Report | PennPIRG and Demos | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: The Post-Election Edition

Our new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources shows how big outside spenders drowned out small contributions in the 2012 election cycle: just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving on average $4.7 million each matched the $285.1 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the major party presidential candidates.

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Report | PennPIRG and Demos | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Big Money and Dark Money in the 2012 Elections

The third release in the Million-Dollar Megaphones series of analyses by PennPIRG and Demos on the role of big money in the 2012 elections.

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Report | PennPIRG and Voter ID Coalition

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY: COLLEGES' VOTER PROTECTION ACTIONS PREVENTING STUDENT DISENFRANCHISEMENT BY PA VOTER ID LAW

The survey reveals what colleges have and have not taken student voter protection measures for under the Pennsylvaina voter ID law. PennPIRG recommends various strategies to provide students with valid student IDs and educate them about the laws' disenfranchising effects.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Demos | Democracy

MILLION-DOLLAR MEGAPHONES

Super PACs continue to be tools used by a small number of wealthy individuals and institutions to dominate the political process.

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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House To Vote On Godzilla-Sized Rule Blocker, As Financial Committee Considers Smaller Rollbacks | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED: REINS Approved, near party line vote. Today, the House Financial Services Committee takes up a package of smaller rollback bills, many of which are opposed by Americans for Financial Reform and the PIRGs. Meanwhile, the House will bring up the Godzilla of all anti-health and safety bills, the REINS Act. Fortunately, the President has promised a veto.

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Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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