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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Debating trade and consumer protection in Brussels today | Ed Mierzwinski

I am in Brussels today debating consumer protection and the proposed US-European trade treaty known as the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. Today's public event, and a second public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday with live webstream 9am-noon DC time) comparing the CFPB to its European counterparts, are sponsored by the PIRG-backed TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue.

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Media Hit | Transportation

12 of America's Biggest Highway Boondoggles

Given that expanding highways at great public cost doesn’t improve rush-hour traffic, there are better ways to spend this money, argue report authors Jeff Inglis of Frontier Group and John C. Olivieri of U.S. PIRG. They identify a dozen road projects, costing $24 billion in all, that are “representative” of the problem.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

The foundation is crumbling | Bill Wenzel

What was missing from President Obama's visionary plan for medical progress? 

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News Release | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Portsmouth Bypass Makes National List of Highway Boondoggles, Wastes $429 Million

The new study details how despite America’s massive repair and maintenance backlog, and in defiance of America’s changing transportation needs, state governments across the country, including Ohio, continue to spend billions each year on new and wider highways.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Red Light for Highway Boondoggles | Sean Doyle

Across the country, states are poised to spend billions of dollars on wasteful highway projects -- new construction and expansions -- exhausting limited funds that could be better spent on repair and maintenance or put toward critical investment in transit, biking, and pedestrian options that better meet current and future needs.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Company that would oversee parking meters had trouble in other cities

CINCINNATI - A company on track to assume control of Cincinnati’s parking meters was the subject of a blistering audit in 2007 for its performance managing meters in Washington, D.C.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Parking Meter Company's Past Problems Resurface

The company that would operate Cincinnati’s parking meters if the city passes its controversial parking plan this week was mired with audited problems and complaints in the past. The issues surfaced years before Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) was bought by Xerox in 2010, and Xerox now denies any wrongdoing.

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Media Hit | Democracy

First ever Democracy Day draws wide array of opinions in Brecksville

BRECKSVILLE - The first Democracy Day town hall meeting allowed for the exchange of a wide variety of ideas about the issue of whether or not a 28th amendment to the Constitution is necessary.

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News Release | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Blows a $707M Hole in Ohio Budget

COLUMBUS, February 11 – As advocates and policy makers across the state analyze the voluminous state budget proposed last week, the Ohio Public Interest Research Group (Ohio PIRG) released a new study revealing that Ohio lost $707 million due to offshore tax dodging in 2012. Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, including Kroger, P&G, and Cardinal Health in Ohio, use tax loopholes to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Op-Ed: Council should heed the red flags from Chicago

A bad deal with no way out. This is the parking situation in Chicago, post-privatization. This could be Cincinnati’s future, if we allow City Council to follow in Chicago’s footsteps.

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Report | Ohio PIRG | Transportation

Road Work Ahead

Why are America’s roads and bridges in such terrible shape? And who or what is to blame? 

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Report | Ohio PIRG | Financial Reform

Tax Shell Game

Many corporations operating in the United States funnel money through offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying billions in U.S. taxes. In fact, an independent study found that nearly two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes at all. Goldman Sachs, which received a $10 billion taxpayer bailout, managed to get their effective tax rate down to one percent by utilizing maneuvers they describe as “changes in geographic earnings mix.”

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Foreclosures, Failed Banks and Fees

While the financial crisis is global in scope, Ohio is one of its flashpoints. Ohio lives and families have been shattered and homes and neighborhoods shuttered due to unfair and predatory lending practices. The solution is to enact a strong federal Consumer Financial Protection Agency that reinstates federal law as a floor not a ceiling of protection and has as its primary responsibility the enforcement of consumer protection laws.

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Report | Ohio PIRG | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland: 24th Annual Toy Safety Survey

The 2009 Trouble in Toyland report is the 24th annual Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety.  This report provides safety guidelines for parents 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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Report | Ohio PIRG | Transportation

Private Roads, Public Costs

Road privatization is a growing issue in the United States as politicians and transportation officials grapple with budget shortfalls.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Some Good, Some Bad in Obama Administration Plan to Protect Antibiotics | Sujatha Jahagirdar

Today, the National Task Force for Combatting Resistant Bacteria released a five-year action plan to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.  While the plan will take several important steps necessary to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it will miss the opportunity to call for critical reforms in the agricultural sector that are essential to protect public health.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Adds Consumer Stories to Public Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the CFPB took a step to make its excellent public database of consumer complaints even better, by adding complaint narratives (stories), but only with the consumer's consent. It's a step we've long urged. It will enrich our research into the marketplace, help consumers make choices and help good-actor firms avoid bad practices by others.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

As NY Brings Credit Bureaus To Heel, CFPB Arbitration Study Paves Way Toward New Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Two big consumer stories so far this week offer hope to consumers victimized by credit bureau errors and, more generally, by an inability to take credit bureaus, credit card companies, banks or payday lenders to court when harmed. On Monday, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman signed a groundbreaking agreement with the Big Three credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. Then today, the CFPB released a report finding that consumer legal rights are infringed by small-print forced arbitration clauses in credit card and other contracts.  The CFPB will hold a webcast public hearing at 11am Eastern time today (Tuesday) to discuss the report's findings and next steps.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Is Anyone Protecting Your Privacy Or Wallet? Turbotax? Anthem? Apple? The Government? | Ed Mierzwinski

As if recent privacy breaches at the online tax preparer Turbotax and the health insurer Anthem weren't enough, it turns out that low-tech hacks can trick the vaunted Apple Pay system into giving up cash to thieves, too. Meanwhile, while the administration's blueprint for a Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012 was excellent, its new legislative draft from the Department of Commerce could have been written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is some good news on privacy, though.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will present the CFPB's sixth semi-annual report to the House Financial Services Committee, whose majority members have been harsh critics of the successful consumer agency. Americans for Financial Reform, joined by the state PIRGs and a total of 340 national, state and local groups, sent Congress a letter explaining why the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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DEFEND THE CFPB

Tell your representative to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

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