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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

U.S. DOT Report on Infrastructure Needs Overstates Future Increases in Driving

The US DOT seems to be stuck in a bizarre time warp.  For nine years in a row Americans have decreased their average driving miles. We haven’t seen an annual increase of even one percent in total vehicle miles since 2004. Yet, US DOT forecasts that total vehicle miles will increase between 1.36 percent to 1.85 percent each year through 2030. That doesn’t make sense.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Financial Reform

Debt Collectors, Debt Complaints

This is the fifth in a series of reports that review complaints to the CFPB nationally and on a state-by-state level. In this report we explore consumer complaints about debt collection, with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with debt collectors and documenting the role of the CFPB in helping consumers successfully resolve their complaints.

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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 | Democracy

Money OUT, Voters IN Wisconsin stands with legislative leaders against Citizens United

The Money OUT, Voters IN Wisconsin coalition, comprised of 32 organizations committed to combating the influence of big special interest money in elections, joined State Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) today in Madison to announce the introduction of a resolution (LRB 1457/5) to place a referendum on the November, 2014, statewide ballot allowing the voters of Wisconsin to be heard on the issue of Citizens United. State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) will introduce the resolution in the State Senate.
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

WISPIRG Statement on Introduction of Wisconsin Citizens United Resolution

The first post-Citizens United major election in November 2012 confirmed our fears that the new campaign finance system allows well-heeled special interests and secret spenders to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.  The people of Wisconsin deserve to have our say in whether this is the democracy we want. 
 

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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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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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Report | WISPIRG | Transportation

The 10% Solution

Wisconsin taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be wasted on unnecessary and costly highway expenditures, when local transportation infrastructure is crumbling.  Unfortunately, the transportation budget being considered by state leaders increases spending on highways while neglecting local needs.  It’s time to get our transportation priorities straight and invest taxpayer dollars wisely, maintaining a modern highway system while meeting local road repair and transit needs. The 10% Solution offers a budget alternative that achieves these goals.
 

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Report | WISPIRG | Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2013

Many multinational corporations and wealthy Americans use accounting tricks and offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes on profits and income that they earned in the U.S. Right now these practices are perfectly legal - and that's the problem. Revenues that are earned from sales and work here in the United States are hidden overseas and it costs the U.S. up to $150 billion in lost tax revenue every single year.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget

Following the Money 2013

Wisconsin received an “F” for government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2013: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fourth annual report of its kind by the WISPIRG Foundation. 
 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens

This report reveals how abuse of tax loopholes hurts taxpayers not just once, but twice, as the state of Wisconsin lost an estimated $814 million in revenue in 2012 due to offshore tax dodging

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The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is threatening the effectiveness of lifesaving antibiotics. Call on the Obama administration to put an end to the worst practices.

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