Posts Tagged ‘Consumer Protection’

The House financial reform battle has been nothing if not brutal. Can you join the fight for the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 4173)? The bill goes to a vote on the House floor tomorrow, and we need you to turn up the pressure on your representatives.

Here is an update on amendments that your representative needs to know you support, and those that need to be defeated.

  • SUPPORT the Stupak/DeLauro/Larson/Van Hollen amendment on derivatives. Regulators must have the authority to ban abusive derivatives instruments rather than simply reporting them to Congress, and transactions which violate the law should be considered invalid.
  • OPPOSE the Minnick amendment to eliminate a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) from the bill. It would leave enforcement of consumer protection and civil rights laws in the hands of the same existing regulatory bodies that resoundingly failed to use them.
  • OPPOSE the Marshall amendment, which would deny financial whistleblowers the right to hold their employer accountable in court when they are retaliated against.

Call or email your representative today. You can also show your support by signing the petition at Change.org . With enough signatures, the message about the need for a Consumer Financial Protection agency will be blasted to thousands more activists. We need to stand firm against predatory banking practices and prevent financial crises from crippling our economy ever again.

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This week the stakes are high. As the House prepares to vote on the financial reform we’ve been fighting for all year, Wall Street and the big banks are making every attempt to kill it.

We urgently need calls and emails to reps in the House with the message: Vote YES on the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 4173), YES on strengthening amendments, and NO on any amendments that would weaken consumer protections or oversight of the financial industry.

The House Financial Services Committee spent months deliberating, debating, and voting on the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. While some improvements to the bill are needed, Public Citizen and our coalition of more than 200 pro-consumer groups – Americans for Financial Reform – strongly support it.

The House bill will put an end to the unchecked greed and recklessness that has wreaked havoc in our economy and brought hardship to so many hardworking Americans. In particular, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency is critical to fill the regulatory hole that allowed unsafe financial products to put our economy at risk.

But in spite of the strong support for the new watchdog agency, the financial industry had little trouble finding someone in Congress to help kill it.

An amendment by Walter Minnick (D.-Idaho) would strike the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) from the bill altogether. And just how much money has this Wall Street Democrat taken from the financial industry? According to our recent report, Minnick has taken more than $170,453 in this year alone from the very banks and firms he is supposed to oversee as a member of the Financial Services Committee.


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We’re close to winning the new rules of the road for the big banks and Wall Street that will stop them from driving our economy off another cliff. But first we have to beat back the attempts to kill the hard-fought commonsense reforms we’ve brought this far.

We’re going to war with the big banks and their lobbyists next week. The financial reform package passed by Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) committee during the past several months of consideration, debate and votes will finally be voted on by the entire House of Representatives. This bill contains much of what we’ve advocated to rein in greed and risk-taking on Wall Street and put the safety and security of Main Street first.

But you can be sure that the big banks and Wall Street are pulling every trick in the book to try to prevent the passage of these significant reforms. (more…)

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Okay, it’s not exactly a line from John Lennon’s utopian activist anthem “Imagine,” but it’s a common-sense priority of President Obama’s proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency that’s certainly worth getting behind. And even if the line isn’t all that musical, the likelihood that the agency could make it so you don’t need a law degree to understand your mortgage – and stamp out predatory lending and forced arbitration in home contracts (read Public Citizen’s report) in the process – should be enough to inspire a song (that is, if you’re anywhere near as musically inclined as the various buskers who ply their trade near our Q St. office).

Watch the above video by Americans for Financial Reform (a coalition including Public Citizen and several other groups) and circulate it widely. We need all the support we can get to make sure the proposed agency regulates home-mortgage lenders so the needs of the home-buying public remain priority number one.

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A few days ago, we told you about Public Citizen’s annual ranking of state medical boards – including a list of the six states with the worst-performing boards: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

When doctors make mistakes, they must be held accountable, which is why we’re urging you to take action and contact the six worst-performing boards.

Simply visit our Web page with a list of the six states, and click on a state to submit a letter to that state’s medical board.

Nothing is more valuable than your health, and state medical boards must serve the public by consistently doling out and enforcing serious disciplinary actions for doctors’ serious violations.

Demand these boards do a better job today!

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Like many folks, I often feel a twinge of guilt for not reading all the fine print when signing  contracts for credit cards and other services. I feel like there’s something there I should know (and worry) about, and if I could figure out exactly what it is, then I might be able to fight back if it turned out I signed a bad deal. But, of course, I start to read, my eyes glaze over, and … well, I never figure out what that worrisome item is.

Today, we need Congress to overturn one of the most unfair items in contracts like these: binding arbitration agreements. Sign one, and you sign away your right to take the company to court. They’re tucked into many contracts for numerous services and employment, and there’s little a consumer can do to combat them directly.

Sound too boring to bother with? Ask Debbie Dantz, a former Applebee’s employee. Ian Millhiser writes of her plight in the Huffington Post. Dantz endured appallingly cruel sexual harrassment at work. Her complaints to management were ignored, and she eventually was presented with a binding arbitration agreement to sign. (more…)

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 By David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division

The confusion and misunderstanding circulating among small businesses regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) recently culminated in an attempt by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint to undermine this critical product safety law with an amendment to the economic stimulus bill. Fortunately, his effort was unsuccessful. Further attempts to change the law – bills have been filed in both the House and Senate – should also be defeated.

Weakening the law would mean putting children at risk from dangerous products. We should always be cautious about that type of proposal, but it’s a particularly bad idea here because it’s not even necessary to address the concerns that small businesses have raised. The Consumer Product Safety Commission can resolve those concerns with some simple, commonsense rules. It already has begun to do so. For example, the agency’s Web site includes guidelines on lead and phthalates, and information for secondhand and consignment stores. (more…)

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