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  • The Dominance of Big Money in the 2014 Congressional Elections | NJPIRG
    two biggest influences on their representatives votes versus groups like lobbyists campaign donors and special interests And they re often right According to new work by Brigham Young University s Michael Barber the gulf in policy views between some senators and the average constituent in their states is so wide it s almost as if they were assigned randomly to represent voters rather than being elected by them A high profile study by Princeton University s Martin Gilens and Northwestern University s Benjamin I Page reveals that economic elites and business interests play an overwhelmingly more significant role in setting policy than average citizens Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions Gilens and Page find they have little or no independent influence on policy at all The obvious response to this stark disparity between the system we have and the democracy we deserve is to take steps to bring the former into closer alignment with the latter The first step we can take is to match small donors contributions with public funds to amplify their voices and provide an incentive for candidates to listen to all voters rather than just elite donors Unfortunately the other natural response directly limiting big money has been largely closed off by a Supreme Court that has narrowed the legally allowable justifications for limiting big contributions or spending to just fighting quid pro quo corruption or bribery That s far too low a bar Democracy means more than just the absence of explicit money for votes schemes It s long past time to demand that a true conception of democracy play a more robust role in our campaign finance policies That means pushing the Supreme Court to recognize that our democracy contains the promise of political equality for all

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njf/dominance-big-money-2014-congressional-elections (2016-04-29)
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  • Prescription For Change | NJPIRG
    a random sample drawn from a panel of family care and internal medicine doctors managed by M3 Global Research The primary objectives of this survey were to 1 gauge doctors concerns about multi drug resistant bacterial infections as a growing problem 2 find out if doctors are taking actions that will help reduce this problem and 3 hear doctors views on administering antibiotics to livestock Most 378 of the surveyed doctors worked in an outpatient setting primarily and 22 108 worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings Another 3 percent 14 of the surveyed doctors worked in an inpatient setting primarily The survey results paint a grim picture of the growing problem of antibiotic resistant infections that doctors encounter in their patients The overwhelming majority 85 of surveyed doctors reported that one or more of their patients had been diagnosed with a presumed or confirmed case of a multi drug resistant bacterial infection in the past twelve months Of those 35 had a patient either die or suffer significant complications as a result of the illness Recognizing the severity and frequency of these illnesses in their patients the vast majority of doctors 97 expressed concern about the growing problem of multi drug resistant infections and were taking a series of measures in their own practices to minimize the problem of antibiotic resistance They are also troubled by antibiotic use in the food animal sector with 93 expressing concern about the use of antibiotics in livestock production facilities on healthy animals in order to promote growth and prevent disease Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/prescription-change (2016-04-29)
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  • Big Money Dominates in Congressional Primaries | NJPIRG
    the primary contributions coming from at least 440 000 donors nationwide For our elections to truly reflect the principle of one person one vote without deep pocketed spenders able to drown out the voices of ordinary Americans we must adopt common sense reforms to set reasonable limits on big money and amplify the impact of small donors Fortunately there is a strong and growing movement to overturn the Citizens United decision and reverse the wrong headed ruling that money is speech and corporations are people Already 16 states and over 550 communities have gone on the record calling for a constitutional amendment to do exactly that There are also successful models already in place to empower small donors to allow their voices to play a more central role in our democracy such as providing tax credits and public matching funds for small donations For example in New York City s 2013 City Council campaigns small donors were responsible for 61 of participating candidates contributions when funds from a matching program are included In 2009 all but two of the 51 winning candidates in the City Council elections participated in the small donor program proving that candidates are able to raise the money they need to win without relying on large dollar contributions Just a few weeks ago Montgomery County Maryland became the latest community to adopt one of these programs If primaries simply select the candidate with the most appeal to big donors our democracy will suffer Reforms are needed to make sure all of our voices count Methodology This analysis was performed in partnership with Demos Our analysis is based on federal campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics which are in turn based on data from the Federal Election Commission We define small donor as those

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njf/big-money-dominates-congressional-primaries (2016-04-29)
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  • We oppose latest effort to weaken CFPB, other bank regulators | NJPIRG
    products or practices and undermine the established notice and comment process in place for financial regulations If adopted the TAILOR Act could allow financial institutions to justify and exploit potentially dangerous loopholes create confusion in the marketplace and cause unnecessary delays in the adoption of important consumer protections Prudential and consumer regulators already have broad discretion in the application of their rulemakings The proposal review and comment process is the appropriate means through which particular accommodations should be considered as they have been throughout the development of regulations under Dodd Frank We urge you to vote no on H R 2896 and any amendments HR 2896 purports to simply require regulators to tailor rules to the specific risks of financial institutions But regulators have already taken extensive actions to adjust and modify their regulations to be appropriate for particular institutions and financial products and are already required to consider such issues through the notice and comment process Since an appropriately tailored approach to regulation is already in place the main effect of H R 2896 would be to add numerous new cost benefit type requirements that would block needed regulatory actions in the future and force banking regulators to conduct a burdensome and time consuming re analysis of every single consumer and financial protection they had passed under the Dodd Frank Act the CARD Act and other recent consumer protection laws When reporters ask me my recommendations about banks my answer is simple Bank at a credit union not at a bank If you absolutely cannot find a credit union to join you d be surprised how easy it is to qualify for membership then bank at a small community bank Most consumer advocates say the same thing Yet for whatever unfathomable reason credit union and small bank lobbyists persist in attacks on the CFPB and indeed all regulation Their enmity goes back way before the CFPB was even proposed In a speech before the Credit Union National Association last week CFPB director Richard Cordray expressed his views on the conundrum It is time for credit unions and CUNA to wake up and smell the coffee the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not your enemy on the contrary it is an important new friend and ally Some of you may have smiled and elbowed your neighbor when you just heard me say that But it is the truth and it is high time we all had the courage to face the truth and adjust our views to accommodate it Also in that speech Director Cordray outlined the innumerable actions that the CFPB has already taken to assist small banks and credit unions and tailor its regulations to help them because the smaller institutions pose less risk and operate differently than the mega banks As I noted earlier we recognize that smaller creditors including most credit unions operate differently from larger financial institutions And we continue to look at learn about and act upon the challenges faced by smaller creditors that

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/we-oppose-latest-effort-weaken-cfpb-other-bank-regulators (2016-04-29)
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  • CFPB Criticizes Banks Re Account Opening and Overdrafts, Offers Consumer Tips | NJPIRG
    savings account Some consumers may have been rejected when they tried to open an account before or they might have lost an account after it became overdrawn and they were unable to recover Others might simply choose not to participate in the banking system perhaps because they are uncomfortable with the costs or risks they believe it poses for them At the Consumer Bureau we believe that people who want the benefits and convenience of some kind of deposit account deserve a fair opportunity to have one We are concerned that some people are being inappropriately sidelined by two things The first is the lack of account options that fit their financial needs and situations The second is inaccurate information used to screen some potential customers In 2010 the pre CFPB regulators issued a rule that prohibited banks from signing you up for standard overdraft protection which allows you to overdraft for a fee of up to 35 per occurrence at point of sale debit card transactions at coffee shops and stores unless you affirmatively opt in to the product The rules do allow you to bounce paper checks However the CFPB has been concerned with aggressive marketing of the opt in product many consumers may have inadvertently opted in you should make sure you are not paying up to 35 an occurrence to cover small debit card overdrafts if you opt out your card will simply be declined in the future It and the FDIC which regulates certain smaller state banks have also been concerned with certain overdraft practices Some banks for example encourage consumers to pay up to 6 or more bounced check fees averaging over 30 each day Some banks re order your transactions from biggest to smallest at the end of the day to increase fee

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/cfpb-criticizes-banks-re-account-opening-and-overdrafts-offers-consumer-tips (2016-04-29)
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  • Debating trade and consumer protection in Brussels today | NJPIRG
    reason to include it in TTIP The European Commission the administrative arm of the EU recognizes some of our concerns and has proposed an alternative called an International Court System But as my colleague Ira Rheingold of the National Association of Consumer Advocates argued forcefully earlier You can put lipstick on a pig but it s still a pig TACD makes our more detailed policy arguments in this new ICS paper http tacd org response to the eu commissions investor state dispute se Regulated corporations already have a phalanx of lawyers and numerous legal and regulatory venues to challenge consumer protection laws and rules They don t need another one especially one that gives them a secretive extra legal tribunal where their rights are essentially elevated to those of sovereign nations Instead of making consumer and corporate rights more balanced TTIP with ISDS or ICS would give corporations yet another weapon against strong state and federal laws Precautionary Principle All consumer and environmental groups believe strongly that we shouldn t allow the use of new chemicals new prescription drugs or new processes until they have been proven safe Industry would prefer the opposite use unless they are demonstrated to be harmful Most European and US laws now operate under a Err on the safety side or precautionary principle For example the US Food and Drug Administration requires extensive testing of new drug safety One glaring flaw in US law is its Toxic Substances Control Act which is about to be upgraded somewhat by Congress but as my USPIRG colleague Carli Jensen points out not upgraded enough http www uspirg org blogs blog usp our take toxics build stronger hous Europe s REACH Act on chemical safety is much better While Cecilia Malmström EU Trade Commissioner argued strongly today on her panel that We are not negotiating REACH in TTIP we at TACD remain concerned that TTIP does contain chemical safety provisions Especially if TTIP includes ISDS ICS all laws including REACH that are based on the precautionary principle are at risk While after a hard slog tobacco control groups succeeded in removing tobacco from the ISDS provisions of the recent Trans Pacific Partnership TPP see the end of this Public Citizen TPP release which explains that the tobacco carveout is the only meaningful new ISDS safeguard http www citizen org documents NAFTA ISDS KeystoneXL Statement pdf Good for tobacco control and we support it but instead why not protect all health and safety laws by keeping them out of the full scope of entire trade agreements It s been a good forum Other keynote speakers include Ignacio Garcia Bercero EU Chief TTIP Negotiator DG Trade European Commission Julie Brill an FTC Commissioner and privacy expert and Michael Punke deputy U S Trade Representative he is perhaps now more well known as the author of the book The Revenant but the US says he cannot talk about it or the new movie In her remarks my fellow TACD Steering Committee co

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/debating-trade-and-consumer-protection-brussels-today (2016-04-29)
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  • Over 7,000 Comments Submitted to Department of Labor | NJPIRG
    advisers to take advantage of hard working Americans like me and line their own pockets with our retirement savings Financial advisers should be working in our best interest and should be held genuinely accountable for helping everyday Americans choose the best retirement investments It s time for the Department of Labor to close this loophole now by finalizing RN 1210 AB32 We also submitted a detailed expert comment of our own in the important conflicted advice rulemaking A strong rule from the Department of Labor would ensure that Americans who work hard and save for their retirements have the peace of mind of knowing their retirement advisors are working for them said Mario Salazar Legislative Director for U S PIRG 30 The PIRGs are founding members of the coalition SaveOurRetirement com which is working to enact a strong retirement savings rule Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Energy Service Corps Our

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/usp/over-7000-comments-submitted-department-labor (2016-04-29)
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  • Top 10 List: How the CFPB Works for Consumers | NJPIRG
    started its operations 4 years ago consumers who had problems with financial companies were at the mercy of those companies Now we have a cop on the beat said Mike Litt Consumer Program Advocate with the USPIRG Education Fund Some key accomplishments and resources highlighted on the list When companies break the rules the CFPB takes action to protect consumers and gets their money back over 10 billion so far The CFPB has taken over 600 000 complaints and publishes them online along with responses by the complained about companies The CFPB protects all financial consumers but also has special offices to fight discrimination and protect servicemembers older Americans and students We re also excited that the CFPB continues to improve its tools based on our recommendations Just last month it began publishing detailed consumer stories in the complaint database And last week it started publishing a monthly report summarizing the number of complaints and the worst companies in the database said Litt Access the webpage Meet the CFPB Just Ten of the Ways It Works for You USPIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government We investigate problems craft solutions educate the public and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation www uspirgedfund org Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Energy Service Corps Our Federation Archives Blog Media Hits News Releases Reports Resources Results Take Action Donate JOIN US Priority Action We re teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/usp/top-10-list-how-cfpb-works-consumers (2016-04-29)
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