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Oppose AB225 - More Big Money in WI Elections Bill | Bruce Speight

Testimony by WISPIRG's Bruce Speight regarding AB225, a bill that, if passed, would double campaign contribution limits in WIsconsin.  Political power in Wisconsin and across the country is already concentrated in the hands of an elite fraction of the population.  Increasing contribution limits will give an even bigger megaphone to this miniscule fraction of people who can write the biggest checks. 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Many consumers who buy their own health insurance face a big decision right now. Should you renew your existing plan, or switch to a new one?  Here are our tips for consumers, and a checklist to help you make the decision that’s right for you:

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation in Transition

Americans’ transportation habits have changed. The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004. A review of data from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and Census Bureau for America’s 100 most populous urbanized areas – which are home to over half of the nation’s population – shows that the decline in per-capita driving has taken place in a wide variety of regions.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Milwaukee, Madison Top List of 100 American Cities Where People are Driving Less

A first-of-its-kind report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and released today by WISPIRG Foundation shows reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in Wisconsin’s urbanized areas—including Madison and Milwaukee —and greater use of public transit and biking.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland

The 2013 Trouble in Toyland report is the 28th annual Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) survey of toy safety. In this report, WISPIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Higher Ed

Student Loan Interest Rate Deal Will Make Things Worse

This deal locks in $184 billion of revenue from the federal loan program over the next ten years, in the form of high interest and fees that adds to student debt and makes education more expensive.  Then, it goes further by generating an additional $715 million in revenue off the backs of borrowers, to be steered toward deficit reduction. 
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Financial Reform

SENATE CONFIRMS CFPB DIRECTOR CORDRAY, “GOOD NEWS FOR CONSUMERS AND FIRMS THAT WANT TO PLAY FAIR”

The July 16, 2013 confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB for a full term is good news for consumers, and for firms that want to play fair in the financial marketplace. The CFPB was created to rein in the reckless Wall Street practices that blew up our economy almost five years ago. Big banks that rely on consumer tricks and schemes to make money have wanted to kill the CFPB ever since, and for good reason: The CFPB has been enforcing critical consumer protection laws, and already forced Capital One to return $140 million in unfair credit card fees to consumers.
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Health Care

Twenty Top Generic Drugs Delayed By Industry Payoffs

Wisconsinites with cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and other conditions have been forced to pay an average of 10 times more than necessary for at least 20 blockbuster drugs, according to a report released by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) and Community Catalyst. The report, “Top Twenty Pay-for-Delay Drugs: How Drug Industry Payoffs Delay Generics, Inflate Prices and Hurt Consumers,” reveals that these drugs were subject to an industry practice called “pay for delay,” in which brand name pharmaceutical companies pay off generic drug manufacturers to keep lower cost equivalents off the market, forcing consumers to pay higher brand-name drug prices.
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Financial Reform

WISCONSINITES TELL SENATOR JOHNSON TO STOP CODDLING PREDATORY LENDERS AND BLOCKING CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION

The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) and Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) delivered to the office of Sen. Ron Johnson the signatures of 5,180 citizens of Wisconsin, who call on the Senate to confirm Richard Cordray to a full term as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under current Senate rules, 60 votes would be required to confirm the nomination but that favorable outcome for consumers is blocked by Senator Johnson and 42 other Senators who have pledged to oppose Cordray unless the CFPB is first weakened.
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rates for 159,147 Student Loan Borrowers in Wisconsin Set to Double on July 1

Unless Congress acts, on July 1, the interest rate for 159,147 student loan borrowers in Wisconsin will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. According to an issue brief released today by WISPIRG, the rate increase would hike the cost of Wisconsin students’ loans by $145 million. That translates into a $915 increase in debt per student, per loan.
 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Highway Boom, Budget Bust

This report questions whether the state of Wisconsin might be wasting huge sums of taxpayer money on unnecessary projects by planning to invest heavily in new roads and highway expansions that are out of sync with population and travel behavior trends in the state.  On the one hand, Wisconsin’s population and its volume of driving grow at a relatively slow pace that has slowed over time.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation, People for the American Way Foundation | Democracy

Outside Spending, Outsized Influence

Super PACs dominated the 2012 Senate election between Tammy Baldwin and Tommy Thompson, providing an avenue for floods of out-of-state money to fill WIsconsin's airwaves with negative ads. Outside groups (not the candidates or party committees) spent almost $32 million and virtually all of that money (99.2%) came from out of state groups. Super PACs allowed big money special interests to flood the Wisconsin elections, blocking regular WI voter out of the political discourse.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Center for Media and Democracy | Democracy

Elections Confidential

Elections Confidential reveals, to the extent possible, the dark side of the post-Citizens United election landscape. Secret donors used "dark money" groups that don't have to disclose their donors, because before Citizens United they weren't allowed to spend on elections in order to hide their identity.

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Report | WISPIRG FOundation and Demos | Democracy

Billion Dollar Democracy

Billion Dollar Democracy is the final edition in our series of reports analyzing the role of money in the 2012 elections. The first presidential election since Citizens United lived up to the hype, with outside groups blowing away previous records for spending. Our discourse got more negative than ever before, with secret organizations allowing anonymous donors to bankroll nasty attack ads. Regular people's voices were drowned out of the process, with big time mega-donors spending millions in their attempt to buy our democracy.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

What America could do with $150 billion lost to offshore tax havens

Many corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—to avoid paying $150 billion in U.S. taxes each year. By shielding their income from U.S. taxes, corporations and wealthy individuals shift the tax burden to ordinary Americans, who must pick up the tab in the form of cuts to public services, more debt, or higher taxes. The $150 billion lost annually to offshore tax havens is a lot of money, especially at a time of difficult budget choices. To put this sum in perspective, we present 16 potential ways that income could be used.

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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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