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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Rejects PIRG-Opposed Swipe Fee Settlement With Visa/Mastercard | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit threw out a preliminary $7.25 billion settlement between Visa and Mastercard and any merchant accepting credit cards (including U.S. PIRG), ruling that despite that seemingly massive payment for past practices that the settlement gave inadequate relief to merchants going forward, as it essentially immunized the networks for any future illegal conduct while providing mostly illusory benefits. Since we accept credit cards from our members, we, joined by Consumer Reports, had formally objected to the settlement as consumer advocates who also happen to be merchant class members (most merchant associations also objected).

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House Launches Frenzy of Attacks on CFPB, Public Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Today and tomorrow the House floor showcases a variety of special-interest backed bills designed to eliminate public protections and weaken financial reform. Action starts soon with an attempt to override the President's veto of legislation to wipe away a new Department of Labor rule designed to protect hard-earned retirement savings from Wall Streeters seeking their "share" of your own share. Then, the House will consider the massive FSGG Appropriations bill, which rolls back the independence and authority of the CFPB and other financial reforms. Finally, they've teed up a bill to eliminate the Supreme Court's long-standing "Chevron doctrine," which says that courts must defer to expert agencies in certain circumstances. Without the doctrine in place, polluters and wrongdoers will have more opportunities to challenge public protections.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Clean Transportation Doesn’t Need To Be A Distant Utopia | John Olivieri

For many, when they think of combating global warming, they think of solar panels on rooftops and eliminating coal fired power plants. But, the truth is, there is not an effective solution to address global warming that does not deal with transportation as well.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Joint Statement Opposing Exceptions to CFPB Payday Rule

We've joined 10 other leading consumer, community, religious and civil rights organizations to oppose exemptions to a strong CFPB payday and auto title lending rule and to reiterate our opposition to an exception that has already been considered and rejected that would allow lenders to make longer-term installment loans without considering a borrower’s ability to repay so long as the payment did not exceed five percent of a borrowers’ income.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Privacy, Consumer Groups Critical of Facial Recognition Report

We've joined leading privacy and consumer advocates in a news release sharply critical of a supposed "best-practices" report released today by the Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) concerning privacy and facial recognition technology. While the report purports to be the product of a "multi-stakeholder" process, all the leading privacy and consumer stakeholders dropped out of the skewed proceedings many months ago, as the release explains. It concludes: "There is much more lacking in these “best practices,” but there is one good thing: this document helps to make the case for why we need to enact laws and regulations to protect our privacy."

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News Release | Iowa PIRG Ed Fund | Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Blows a $260 Million Hole in Iowa’s Budget

In the midst of debates over Iowa’s budget, Iowa PIRG Ed Fund released a new study revealing that Iowa lost $260 million due to offshore tax dodging in 2012. Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, including 83 of the 100 largest publicly traded companies, use tax loopholes to shift profits made in the United States to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes.

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News Release | Iowa PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Secretive, Out of State Donors Dominate Election in Iowa

Over 96% of campaign donations for Iowa’s Congressional races came from out of state funders, according to a report released today by the Iowa Public Interest Research Group (Iowa PIRG). The report, entitled, “Billion Dollar Democracy: The Unprecedented Role of Money in the 2012 Elections,” examined the deep pocket spending by Super PACs and other non-party entities in the 2012 campaign cycle.

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News Release | Iowa PIRG Education Fund | Tax

First Step to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff: Close Offshore Tax Loopholes

With Congress scrambling to agree on ways to reduce the deficit, U.S. PIRG released a new analysis pointing out a clear first step to avoid the “fiscal cliff”: closing offshore tax loopholes. Many of America’s largest corporations and wealthiest individuals use accounting gimmicks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes. This tax avoidance costs the federal government an estimated $150 billion in tax revenue each year.  U.S. PIRG’s new data illustrates the size of this loss with 16 dramatic ways $150 billion could be spent.

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Group tests 200 top toys, says dozen could be dangerous

A Dora the Explorer guitar, dragster cars with small wheels and finger-fidget desktop magnets are among the toys consumer advocates are warning about as the holiday buying season begins.

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Trouble in Toyland

We are about a month away from Christmas and before you hit those stores to find toys for the little ones there are a few tips you should take with you.

"The holiday season is an especially good time to remember some safety tips," said Anne Garinger of Safe Kids of Greater Des Moines.

The Iowa chapter of The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) spends months scouring the store shelves for toys that can pose a risk to children. This year their list, unfortunately continues to grow. One of the common violations: lead in toys.

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Report | Iowa PIRG | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace: Ensuring Exchange Stability and Protecting Against Adverse Selection

The idea of creating health insurance purchasing pools, like those called for in the Affordable Care Act, is not a new one.  In the past, many states have experimented with creating such pools, and their experience has shown that mechanisms like the exchange can succeed at improving choice and holding down costs.  But experience has also shown that success is not automatic.

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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

30 Years of "Trouble in Toyland," 30 Years of Safety Improvements | Anna Low-Beer

Every year, U.S. PIRG Education Fund releases Trouble in Toyland, a report on toy safety which examines toys bought at major national retailers, looking for safety hazards including toxic toys, choking hazards, labeling violations, powerful magnets, and excessibely loud toys. We continue to find these hazards on store shelves, which indicates the need for continued vigilance and adequate enforcement of safety regulations. But despite lingering dangers, in the last 30 years, we've come a long way in terms of both policy and compliance with standards.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Millennials Want More Public Transportation | Sean Doyle

A new poll shows that access to public transportation is “very important” for Millennials in considering where to live and where to work.  The results support our research over the past few years that found Millennials are driving less than older generations and are more prone to walk, bike, or take transit to get where they need to go.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Privacy, We've Got Tips and Ideas For You, Congress and Regulators, Too | Ed Mierzwinski

Problems with privacy and data security are all over the news these days. We've got you covered, from releasing a new report and consumer tips on the security freeze today to testifying to Congress (last week) on payment card security and speaking on a panel at the FTC tomorrow on Internet lead generation (what's that?). Oh, and we're waiting for answers to our questions to the CFPB about the credit bureau Experian joining the ranks of the breached. We've been busy as we explain in this "roundup" blog entry.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A Sub-stantial Achievement | Steve Blackledge

On October 20, Subway announced its plan to phase out antibiotics from its entire meat supply. This victory is just the next step of our mission to save antibiotics.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Victory: Subway Commits to Help Save Antibiotics | Steve Blackledge

Today, Subway announced a plan to phase out antibiotics from it's entire meat supply in response to mounting consumer demand for stronger action by the chain to help save antibiotics from overuse.

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