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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Financial Reform

Report: Mistaken Identity Tops Debt Collection Complaints

Debt collectors trying to collect debt from the wrong person were the top source of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to a report released by the WISPIRG Foundation. The report also found that Wisconsin consumers are 40th most likely to file complaints to the CFPB about debt collection, and that debt collection is a top source of complaints.  The report is the final in a series of reports by the WISPIRG Foundation that analyze the complaints in the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaints Database. The CFPB began accepting complaints in July 2011 and now accepts complaints about most financial products and services. Although the CFPB only opened its doors to complaints about debt collection last July, complaints about debt collection have already outpaced those for common products such as credit cards and bank accounts, accounting for the second largest portion of complaints after mortgages between July and January.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

Citizens United Resolution Introduced in State Senate

State leaders in the Senate have introduced Senate Joint Resolution 68 (SJR68) that, if passed, would bring a statewide referendum to voters in November 2014 asking whether Wisconsin elected leaders should support a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.

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Report | WISPIRG | Tax

Closing the Billion Dollar Loophole

Every year, corporations use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars. Tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars. But they use tax havens to escape supporting these public structures and benefits.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Tax

Wisconsin could save $27.6 million with simple, proven method to curb offshore tax dodging, new study finds

Wisconsin taxpayers could save $27.6 million from a simple reform to crack down on offshore tax dodging, according to “Closing The Billion-Dollar Loophole: How States Are Reclaiming Revenue Lost to Offshore Tax Havens,” a new report released by WISPIRG. The reform, which has already been proven effective in Montana and passed in Oregon, would require companies to treat profits booked to notorious tax havens as domestic taxable income.  The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that this simple reform would increase state corporate income and franchise tax revenues by $28.8 million.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Course

Across America, colleges and universities are showing that efforts aimed at reducing driving deliver powerful benefits for students, staff and surrounding communities. Policymakers at all levels of government should be looking to the innovative examples of these campuses. Universities and college towns also provide useful models for expanding the range of transportation options available to Americans while addressing the transportation challenges facing our communities.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

In a first-of-its-kind study, WISPIRG compiled nation-wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs, like Madison Metro’s Bus Radar, Community Car and B-Cycle, and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. Real-time apps and on-board wi-fi for public transit, as well as carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing have spread rapidly in recent years. The report examines new evidence on how these practices are changing travel behavior.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Financial Reform

New Report Identifies Banks Consumers Complain About Most

Thousands of Americans are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes with their banks, according to a new report from the WISPIRG Foundation. The report highlights banks that generated the most complaints through their various banking services in each state.

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Media Hit | Democracy

We don’t need more money in politics

Outside the Capitol, citizens of every political stripe believe money is playing far too great a role in elections, is having a poisonous effect on governing and needs to be reined in.  But a bill already passed by the state Assembly and headed to the state Senate this fall takes the position that there is not enough big money in politics and even larger campaign contributions are needed.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

Coalition Urges Senate to Reject AB225, ‘More Big Money in Politics’ Bill

A broad statewide coalition of citizen and public interest organizations are calling on the state Senate to reject AB225, a bill that would double contributions limits to Wisconsin political campaigns and allow big money to further drown out the voices of Wisconsin voters. 
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 20 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, at a rate that would buy 20 Twinkies for each taxpayer every year, according to WISPIRG’s new report, “Apples to Twinkies 2013.” Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy one half of an apple per taxpayer.
 

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Report | WISPIRG | Health Care

Top 20 Pay for Delay Drugs

Too often, consumers are forced to shoulder a heavy financial burden, or even go without needed medicine, due to the high cost of brand-name drugs. Our research indicates that one significant cause is the practice called “pay for delay,” which inflates the drug prices paid by tens of millions of Americans.
 

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Report | WISPIRG | Higher Ed

Issue Brief: Student Loan Debt in Wisconsin

If Congress fails to act, on July 1 the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans will double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. A 2007 college affordability plan lowered the rate, but expired in 2012. Last year, President Obama and Congress extended the low rate for one year.
 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Road Overkill

A new report from the WISPIRG Foundation finds that usage of seven recently completed highways has not developed as projected, and questions whether building massive and costly new highways is the best way to spend Wisconsin’s scarce transportation resources. The report, Road Overkill: Wisconsin Spends Big on Questionable Highways Even as Driving Declines, also finds that Wisconsinites are driving less per capita today than we did in 1997, further raising doubts as to whether expensive new highways are the best investments for Wisconsin’s transportation future. 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Direction

The Driving Boom—a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States—is over.  Americans drive fewer total miles today than we did eight years ago, and fewer per person than we did at the end of Bill Clinton’s first term. The unique combina­tion of conditions that fueled the Driving Boom—from cheap gas prices to the rapid expansion of the workforce during the Baby Boom generation—no longer exists.

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Report | WISPIRG | Consumer Protection

The Rent-to-Own Rip-off

The 2013-2015 biennial executive budget, proposed by Governor Walker, includes an exemption for the rent-to-own industry from Wisconsin’s consumer protection laws. Rent-to-own businesses are appliance and furniture retailers that arrange “lease agreements,” rather than typical installment or credit sales contracts. These leases are regulated as a form of credit because the consumer is buying a product over time and paying a very high premium over the product’s sale price.

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Priority Action

The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is threatening the effectiveness of lifesaving antibiotics. Call on the Food and Drug Administration to put an end to the worst practices.

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