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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Time To Defend CFPB as Senate Banking Committee Aims Sights at It | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED 12 April: The Senate Banking Committee held a stacked hearing on "Assessing Consumer Regulations" yesterday (5 April), although our one pro-consumer witness and pro-CFPB Senators defended consumer protection ably as three industry-backed witnesses and their supporters on the committee had a great deal of trouble proving their case that the CFPB should be dismantled. Tomorrow morning, (7 April) CFPB Director Richard Cordray will present the statutory "Semi-Annual Report of the CFPB" to the committee. We submitted a statement to be entered into the hearing record, as did other Americans for Financial Reform coalition members.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

The Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule for Investment Advice

U.S. PIRG federal legislative director Jerry Slominski on The Release of the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule for Investment Advice

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

What is payday lending? | Kathryn Lee

We are a leading member of Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition that was instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by Congress in 2010. The CFPB is currently working on a rule to reign in the payday lending industry. We, along with AFR, are working to make sure the rule is a strong one. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Lowering your APR might be easier than you think | Kathryn Lee

Many Americans are walking around with a balance on their credit card because of high interest rates, or annual percentage rate (APR) charges for unpaid balances. It's best to pay off your balance in full but if you don't or can't, a higher APR makes your debit grow faster. What most people don’t realize is this APR can be negotiated to a lower rate.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Owning Fewer Cars Isn’t Just For Millennials | Sean Doyle

New transportation options are making it easier for people to use transit more, own fewer cars, and even save money on transportation.

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Media Hit | Higher Ed

PIRG Makes Another Call to Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Hike

As the clock ticks down to a student loan interest rate hike - Iowa PIRG, students, and financial aid officers from local colleges speak out on the impact to students and recent graduates entering the workforce. If Congress does not find a solution by July, an estimated 255,000 students enrolled in colleges and universities across Iowa will shoulder an additional one-thousand dollards per year in school.

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News Release | Iowa PIRG | Health Care

No More Excuses - Time to Implement Health Care Reform in Iowa

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is good news for consumers in Iowa. Now it's time for Iowa's leaders to move forward on the next steps, and make sure health reform delivers lower costs and better quality coverage.

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News Release | Iowa PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Iowa Receives an "F" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Iowa once again received an “F” 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 Iowa Public Interest Research Group (Iowa PIRG). 

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Media Hit | Safe Energy

MidAmerican gives an expensive sales pitch

Article by opinion columnist, Rekha Basu, with the Des Moines Register discussing the potential pitfalls of forceing ratepayers to front the bill for new nuclear power plants in Iowa. This article provides the "sales pitch" by MidAmerican Energy, but questions whether or not the "pitch" will or should hold the confidence of Iowa's consumers.

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News Release | Iowa PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Tracking Down Secrect Campaign Funds Spent in Super PACs

Today Iowa PIRG Education Fund and Demos released a new analysis of the funding sources for the campaign finance behemoths, Super PACs. The findings confirmed what many have predicted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging Citizens United decision: since their inception in 2010, Super PACs have been primarily funded by a small segment of very wealthy individuals and business interests, with a small but significant amount of funds coming from secret sources.

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Report | Iowa PIRG Education Fund | Safe Energy

Unacceptable Risk: Two Decades of "Close Calls," Leaks and Other Problems at U.S. Nuclear Reactors

As the eyes of the world have focused on the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, Americans have begun to raise questions about the safety of nuclear power plants in the United States.

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Report | Iowa PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Consumer Protection, Democracy, Tax

Following the Money 2011

This report is U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s second annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

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Report | Iowa PIRG | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace: Spotlight on Small Business

While many Americans struggle with the rising costs and eroding quality of health care, the plight of small businesses stands out – lacking the advantages possessed by larger businesses, they face unique challenges. Without the bargaining power to negotiate with insurers for better rates, they often get less value for their health care dollars.

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Report | Iowa PIRG | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace: Negotiating for a Better Deal

A well-made state exchange can help deliver lower costs for individuals and small businesses.  Just as big businesses negotiate with insurers, using the bargaining power of their employees to push for lower premiums, so too can exchange enrollees benefit from a muscular exchange that negotiates on their behalf for better choices and lower costs.

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Report | Iowa PIRG | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace: Ensuring Accountability

The opportunity to create a state exchange will allow Iowa to increase competition and improve choices in our insurance market. However, to fully realize this opportunity, the exchange must be accountable to the public, and the individual and small business consumers who will buy their coverage through it.

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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The CFPB is 4 years old and has a lot to show for it! | Ed Mierzwinski

Tuesday, July 21, marks four years to the day since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors to protect consumers and make financial markets work. We've summarized some of the ways CFPB works for you on a new web page.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

How the CFPB’s Data Keeps Getting Better and Better | Mike Litt

As the CFPB turns 4 years old on July 21, here is some information on how it works for you and how we at PIRG use its data to produce reports, such as our new report on mortgage complaints to the CFPB. We've also got some photos from the Americans for Financial Reform "CFPB at 4" event.

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