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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Credit Bureaus’ Deal to Improve Accuracy ‘Huge’ for Consumers

(Bloomberg) -- Buying homes, getting jobs and borrowing money will be easier after an agreement by the three biggest U.S. consumer credit reporting services with New York.[...] “It’s a sea change in the way the credit bureaus treat complaints,” said [U.S. PIRG's Ed] Mierzwinski. “The credit bureaus have been run by computers for years now. They’re going to have to hire more people and actually verify that what a creditor said is true.”

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Is Anyone Protecting Your Privacy Or Wallet? Turbotax? Anthem? Apple? The Government? | Ed Mierzwinski

As if recent privacy breaches at the online tax preparer Turbotax and the health insurer Anthem weren't enough, it turns out that low-tech hacks can trick the vaunted Apple Pay system into giving up cash to thieves, too. Meanwhile, while the administration's blueprint for a Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012 was excellent, its new legislative draft from the Department of Commerce could have been written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is some good news on privacy, though.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will present the CFPB's sixth semi-annual report to the House Financial Services Committee, whose majority members have been harsh critics of the successful consumer agency. Americans for Financial Reform, joined by the state PIRGs and a total of 340 national, state and local groups, sent Congress a letter explaining why the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

FCC NET NEUTRALITY ORDER PROTECTS THE OPEN INTERNET

Today the FCC took not one but two critical actions to make sure that the Internet works for everybody. First, it issued a "Net Neutrality" order guaranteeing a free and open Internet. This Internet freedom order will prevent the phone and cable companies from granting fast lanes or other preferences to already powerful firms. The FCC also acted to override state laws that prevented local governments from building out broadband networks to compete with the phone and cable companies.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

USPIRG Commends Department of Labor's Rule On Conflicted Retirement Advice

Today, we joined President Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren, CFPB Director Rich Cordray, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and others at AARP as the President announced his strong support for a proposed Labor Department rule to close loopholes and to require Wall Street and other financial advisors to put consumers first when they give retirement advice. Wall Street has already launched a misleading attack. Read more to see our statement supporting the proposal, which will put billions of dollars back into retirement accounts.

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News Release | RIPIRG | Budget, Food

Small Farmers and Citizens Speak Out Against Agricultural Subsidies in Farm Bill

Small farmers and ordinary citizens across the country are taking a stand against wasteful agricultural subsidies in the federal Farm Bill. With only a few weeks left before they adjourn for the election, reauthorizing or extending the Farm Bill is one of Congress’s top priorities.

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News Release | RIPIRG | Budget, Food

RIPIRG Builds Statewide Support to Stop Congress from Subsidizing Big Agribusinesses and Unhealthy Foods

The Rhode Island Public Interest Research Group (RIPIRG) spent the summer speaking with thousands of Rhode Islanders about the need to end government subsidies that go toward the production of junk food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.  Throughout the state, from Providence to Narragansett and Warwick to Newport, we found support among residents for ending this wasteful use of our tax dollars.

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News Release | RIPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 21 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 21 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to RIPIRG’s new report, Apples to Twinkies 2012. Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy one half of an apple per taxpayer.

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News Release | RIPIRG | Higher Ed

Responding to Students, Congress Extends Low College Loan Rate

Statement of Rich Williams, RIPIRG Higher Education Advocate, on the Congressional passage of bipartisan legislation to prevent subsidized Stafford student loan interest rates from doubling:

Congress listened to students and their families and delivered a bill that stops student loan interest rates from doubling. Students already face unprecedented student loan debt and adding an additional $1,000 more would not only crunch individual borrowers, but would have further weighed down the recovering economy. We applaud Congress for coming together to pass this much-needed legislation.

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News Release | RIPIRG | Transportation

Transportation Bill is a Step Backwards

Statement by Phineas Baxandall, RIPIRG’s Senior Transportation Analyst, regarding the disappointing federal Transportation Bill as released from conference committee today.

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Report | RIPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

The Hidden Costs of Offshore Tax Havens

When U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes to the federal government, it is an abuse of our tax system. Tax haven abusers benefit from our markets, infrastructure, educated workforce, and security, but they pay next to nothing for these benefits. Ultimately, taxpayers must pick up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increased national debt.

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Report | RIPIRG Education Fund | Budget

TRANSPARENCY IN CITY SPENDING

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness, and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility.

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Report | RIPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

What America Could Do with $150 Billion Lost to Offshore Tax Havens

Many corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—to avoid paying $150 billion in U.S. taxes each year. By shielding their income from U.S. taxes, corporations and wealthy individuals shift the tax burden to ordinary Americans, who must pick up the tab in the form of cuts to public services, more debt, or higher taxes. The $150 billion lost annually to offshore tax havens is a lot of money, especially at a time of difficult budget choices. To put this sum in perspective, we present 16 potential ways that income could be used.

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Report | RIPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2012

The 2012 Trouble in Toyland report is the 27th annual RIPIRG survey of toy safety. In this report, RIPIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers 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 | RIPIRG Education Fund and Demos | Democracy

Million-Dollar Megaphones

Although each major party presidential candidate will likely break previous fundraising records, the big story of the 2012 election has been the role of Super PACs, nonprofits and outside spending generally. Demos and RIPIRG Education Fund analyzed Federal Election Commission (FEC) data and secondary sources on outside spending and Super PAC fundraising for the first two quarters of the 2012 election cycle.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The CFPB at Three: A Child Prodigy | Ed Mierzwinski

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turned just three years old Monday, July 21st, but when you look at its massive and compelling body of work, you must wonder: Are watchdog years like plain old dog years? Is the CFPB now a full-sized, 21-year-old adult? The answer is no, not yet. The CFPB is still growing and developing and adding programs and projects. The CFPB is, however, at three years old, certainly a child prodigy. Despite overwhelming public support, however, powerful special interests continue to attack it. Yet, the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Here’s that Rx refill you didn’t order

Is your pharmacy refilling your prescription without your knowledge or approval, and billing your insurance company for the cost?

If so, it’s the latest example of waste we shouldn't tolerate in our health care system.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Private High-Speed Rail: A Dangerous Fantasy | Phineas Baxandall

The politics of high-speed rail can be bizarre. Few people actually oppose connecting our cities with fast intercity trains. Most of the industrialized world has already shown that the idea is popular and works well. The politicians that do the most to prevent high-speed rail generally claim to be fans of bullet trains who just want the task to be left to the private sector.

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Blog Post | Safe Energy

Maine Approves Historic Law To Reduce Oil Use (Really!) | Phineas Baxandall

The politics of Maine's leadership has shifted dramatically in the past few years. The new Tea Party Governor and Republican-dominated legislature have made waves rolling back energy-efficiency rules, making it easier for insurance companies to raise premiums, and making it harder to register to vote. But just in time for Independence Day, Maine has passed legislation putting the state at the cutting-edge for reducing America's unhealthy dependence on oil. This important tool can reduce global-warming pollution and encourage more efficient alternatives to driving.

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The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is threatening these lifesaving medicines. Call on big restaurants to do their part and stop buying meat raised with critical antibiotics.

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