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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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Inquirer: Bank elsewhere to avoid fees

With its latest fee, Bank of America has made the decision to balance its books on the backs of its customers, instead of changing its business model to be more consumer-friendly. ("Bank of America to charge $5 debit card fee," Friday). Chase and Wells Fargo are also testing a $3 debit card fee in certain markets.

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Media Hit | Budget, Transportation

Report ranks PA bridges worst in country

(Philadelphia) -- A recent report ranks Pennsylvania number one in the nation for its number of structurally deficient bridges. The Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group published the study saying more than 26 percent of the state's bridges are rated structurally deficient. Group associate Alana Miller says the state should focus on fixing existing bridges, rather than building new ones.

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Media Hit | Budget, Transportation

Keeping turnpike helps

One benefit of publicly held capacity is that it can be redeployed to other public needs in case of emergencies like extreme weather events. If the Pennsylvania Turnpike had been privatized last year, the private operator wouldn't likely have sacrificed their shareholders' interests by lending critical machinery and crews to help municipalities after the storm (Cheers & Jeers: Flood woes; Sept. 17).

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News Release | Budget, Transportation

Data Shows Pennsylvania’s Bridges Are Worst in the Country on Eve of Obama Bridge Speech

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 22 – With President Obama calling for robust investments in repairing America’s crumbling roads and bridges today, PennPIRG released data documenting the number of “structurally deficient” bridges in the state.

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News Release | Budget, Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 19 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only a Quarter of an Apple Apiece

Philadelphia, PA – Federal subsidies for commodity crops are also subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 19 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to Apples to Twinkies, a new report by PennPIRG. Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy less than a quarter of an apple per taxpayer.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Transportation Funding Testimony

In brief, the PennPIRG Education Fund is advocating that the Commission recommend the expansion of existing revenue streams for public transit, such as the real estate transfer tax, the tire tax, and the rental car tax, as well as developing new funding mechanisms, such as a transportation impact fee, a vehicle sales tax based on weight and/or fuel efficiency, as well as several others.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Testimony on Potential Lease of the PA Turnpike

Many of the concerns raised about leasing Pennsylvania highways in general, and the Turnpike in particular, revolve around costs in a monetary sense, especially raising tolls. But there are many less visible costs whose impact will be far greater than toll increases under the proposed contract. These costs need to be brought into the discussion.

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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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