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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

Wisconsin Needs the GAB

State legislators today introduced a bill that would dismantle the Government Accountability Board, the state’s non-partisan elections and ethics watchdog. If passed, it would have devastating results for good government and democracy in Wisconsin. 

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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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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Financial Reform

Top 10 List: How the CFPB Is Working for Consumers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turns four years old on July 21. To celebrate and increase public awareness of the agency, WISPIRG Foundation has created a new webpage, “Meet the CFPB: Just Ten of the Ways It Works for You.”

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget

New Report: Wisconsin Receives "A-" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Wisconsin received a “A-“ when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the WISPIRG Foundation. 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Democracy

Today Supreme Court Ruled for Another Flood of Big Money

On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. FEC to strike down overall, or aggregate, contribution limits to candidates and political committees. U.S. PIRG research found that this ruling could bring $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from fewer than 2,800 elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Food

Madison-Area Consumers Call on Roundy’s Supermarkets to Label GMOs, On Anniversary of Whole Foods Labeling Commitment

Consumers and health advocates launched a campaign calling on Roundy’s Supermarkets to label its store-brand products for ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), on the one year anniversary of Whole Foods’ announcement that it will adopt labeling for all products in its stores. 

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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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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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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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Blog Post | Democracy

Call on the WI Legislature to Put it to the People on Citizens United

Citizens United is undermining the very principals of our democracy.

Click Here to demand a people's referendum so that the people of WI can vote on this issue.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Health Care and Business Leaders Rise Up for a State-Based Health Insurance Exchange | Bruce Speight

We understand that the Affordable Care Act and its core components, including the health insurance exchanges, have become highly polarized and partisan, despite being solutions that have been embraced by both Republicans and Democrats for many years.  But, it is a time for cool heads to prevail and for Governor Walker and state leaders to do what is right for Wisconsin - develop a state-based health insurance exchange.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Voters Reject Big Money in Politics, Now It’s Time for Reform

Voters sent a message last Tuesday, showing resounding support for our leaders to take steps to deal with the outsized influence of big money in our elections, including a resolution passed in Eau Claire County, WI endorsing a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

It happened 4 years ago this weekend, and Congress has already forgotten | Ed Mierzwinski

Four years ago, on September 14-15, 2008, the Lehman Brothers investment bank declared bankruptcy while Bank of America acquired another foundering investment bank, Merrill Lynch -- major events that froze the financial markets and led in a few days to a $700 billion bailout of the financial system. Just four years later, some in the Congress have forgotten that real people and the economy are still suffering from the financial collapse, as it steps up Wall Street-backed efforts to prevent regulators from protecting the public.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

For its own first birthday, CFPB sends gifts to consumers | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, Saturday, July 21, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turns one year old. The CFPB already has achieved a record of significant accomplishments in its first year to protect veterans, students, seniors, military families and all consumers.

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