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  • Moving Off the Road | NJPIRG
    miles per person since the end of the national Driving Boom North Dakota Nevada Louisiana and Alabama are the only states in the nation where driving miles per capita in 2011 were above their 2004 or 2005 peaks Meanwhile since 2005 double digit percent reductions occurred in a diverse collection of states Alaska Delaware Oregon Georgia Wyoming South Carolina the District of Columbia Pennsylvania Indiana and Florida The fifty states plus the District of Columbia offer a useful natural experiment to examine different factors behind America s reduction in driving since 2004 Examining the commonalities and differences in driving trends among states can provide insight into the potential causes behind the downturn in driving and the direction of future trends This study finds that declining rates of driving do not correspond with how badly states suffered economically in recent years On the contrary Among the 23 states in which driving miles per person declined faster than the national average only six saw unemployment increase faster than the nation as a whole Among the 10 states with the largest declines in driving per person only two rank among the ten with largest increases in unemployment Among the 23 states where driving declined faster than the national average only 11 saw faster than average declines in the employed share of their working age population Among the 10 states with the greatest reductions in the employed share of population only two were also among the ten states with the largest reductions of driving Georgia and the District of Columbia The evidence suggests that the nation s per capita decline in driving cannot be dismissed as a temporary side effect of the recession While certainly a contributing factor and an economic rebound could be expected to have some upward lift on driving the recession

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/moving-road-0 (2016-04-29)
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  • The Danger In Our Backyards | NJPIRG
    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 Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics ADD YOUR VOICE Support Us Your

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/danger-our-backyards (2016-04-29)
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  • Offshore Shell Games | NJPIRG
    on their offshore profits to foreign governments suggesting that most of the money is parked in tax havens levying little to no tax American express maintains 22 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens Oracle The tech giant reports having 20 9 billion booked offshore The company discloses that it would owe 7 3 billion in U S taxes on those profits if they were not offshore That means they pay a tax rate of less than one percent to foreign governments suggesting that most of the money is booked to tax havens Oracle maintains 5 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens Only 21 of the top 100 publicly traded companies disclose what they would expect to pay in taxes if they didn t keep profits offshore All told these companies would collectively owe over 93 billion in additional federal taxes To put this enormous sum in context it represents close to the entire state budget of California and more than the federal government spends on education The average tax rate these companies currently pay to other countries on this income is just 6 9 percent far lower than the 35 percent statutory U S corporate tax rate suggesting that a large portion of this offshore money is booked to tax havens Some companies that report a significant amount of money offshore maintain hundreds of subsidiaries in tax havens The top three companies with the greatest number of tax haven subsidiaries Bank of America reports having 316 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens Kept afloat by taxpayers during the 2008 financial meltdown the bank keeps 17 2 billion offshore on which it would otherwise owe 4 5 billion in U S taxes Morgan Stanley maintains 299 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens The bank which also received a taxpayer bailout in 2008 reports holding more than 7 billion offshore on which it would otherwise owe 1 7 billion in taxes Pfizer the world s largest drug maker operates 174 subsidiaries in tax havens and currently books 73 billion in profits offshore The company made more than 40 percent of its sales in the U S between 2010 and 2012 but managed to report no federal taxable income in the U S for the past five years This is because Pfizer uses accounting gimmicks to shift the location of its taxable profits offshore Corporations that disclose fewer tax haven subsidiaries do not necessarily dodge fewer taxes Since 2008 the last time a study of this scope was done many companies have disclosed fewer tax haven subsidiaries all the while increasing the amount of cash they keep offshore For some companies their actual number of tax haven subsidiaries may be substantially greater than what they disclose in the official documents used for this study For others it suggests that they are booking larger amounts of income to fewer tax haven subsidiaries Consider Citigroup reported operating 427 tax haven subsidiaries in 2008 but disclosed only 20 in 2012 Over that time period Citigroup increased the amount of cash

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/offshore-shell-games-0 (2016-04-29)
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  • Apples to Twinkies 2013 | NJPIRG
    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 Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics ADD YOUR VOICE Support

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/apples-twinkies-2013-1 (2016-04-29)
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  • As CFPB Advances Consumer Protection, Attacks on CFPB Escalate | NJPIRG
    politicized 5 member Commission This of course was not man bites dog news to me But the op ed also revealed that their campaign to kill the CFPB is fueled by misrepresentations and untruths It s clear that the powerful special interests are just tired of having even if it is only 4 years old a regulator that is not under their control In their op ed column they claim that they actually want to strengthen the bureau s independence from the political whims of a different White House Actually they want to make sure that they can manipulate an already politicized nominations process and appoint 5 lapdog commissioners to a weakened bureau Worse their op ed revealed that they are not above misconstruing and misrepresenting the long held positions of the founders of the CFPB Senator Elizabeth Warren MA then an advisor to the President former Representative Barney Frank MA the Frank of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and former Representative Brad Miller NC chief sponsor of the original bill that developed into the CFPB They claim these leaders always wanted a commission not a single director Click the highlighted names to see that Rep Maxine Waters ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee published corrections to that doctored record Our group letter to the committee opposing HR 1266 rebuts the other false claims made in the op ed including that virtually all agencies are commissions some are and some aren t The oldest and most powerful bank regulator the OCC founded in 1864 is run by a single director While consumer protection opponents prevailed in passing HR 1266 out of committee last week they failed in their effort to steamroll more Democrats into jumping on board once it became clear that the

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/cfpb-advances-consumer-protection-attacks-cfpb-escalate (2016-04-29)
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  • House holds stacked hearing to attack retirement savings rule proposal | NJPIRG
    witnesses You can watch the hearing here or its archive Here is an excerpt from Mercer s prepared testimony In summary I do not support H R 1090 As discussed in Part I A Section 2 would prevent the Department from completing its long overdue rulemaking by making that rulemaking contingent on prior unrelated rulemaking by the Securities and Exchange Commission SEC or Commission under Section 913 of the Dodd Frank Act Investors would continue to experience losses resulting from financial advisers incentives to make recommendations that are not in investors best interest with no guarantee that the Commission would ever adopt rules under Section 913 As explained in Part IB it is unreasonable to make any rulemaking contingent on SEC action in view of the SEC s longstanding rulemaking paralysis Section 3 of H R 1090 would require unnecessary redundant and burdensome reports and analysis by the Commission and would be inconsistent with APA principles of notice and comment as I discuss in Part I C I strongly support the Department s proposal and urge Congress to take proactive steps to help the Department finalize its rulemaking The Department s proposal to treat financial advisers who make investment recommendations to investors as fiduciaries will help protect investors from abusive sales practices and conflicted compensation arrangements Fiduciary status will cause broker dealers and financial advisers to violate certain prohibited transaction rules as a result of conflicted compensation arrangements that make the amount of an adviser s compensation depend on the recommendation made by the adviser However the Department has proposed exemptions from the prohibitedtransaction rules that are both workable for the industry and effective in protecting investors Wall Street has ramped up massive mythic arguments against the rule One of its witnesses Mr Paul Schott Stevens CEO of the powerful special interest known as the Investment Company Institute ICI appears in his oral responses to have even brazenly misrepresented the authority of the SEC over retirement accounts It would be very odd if he is not aware that that it has none zero nil That s why the proposed rule was drafted by the Department of Labor which does have authority over retirement savings and investments Wall Street interests led by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association SIFMA and ICI plus a phalanx of their members including the kingpins of the life insurance industry have launched a massive lobbying PR and campaign contribution campaign against the rule ICI is even replying to my tweets so at least we ve got their attention Their efforts even include an astroturf website that looks a lot like but doesn t include the same facts as the pro rule SaveOurRetirement org site again that s the one backed by Americans For Financial Reform AARP Consumer Federation of America Better Markets and other reformers including U S PIRG Here s some info from our site Thanks to loopholes in the rules that govern advice about retirement investing banks brokers mutual fund companies and insurance

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/house-holds-stacked-hearing-attack-retirement-savings-rule-proposal (2016-04-29)
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  • Court Reinstates Case Against Bank That Aided Senior Citizen Fraud | NJPIRG
    banks that DOJ began to take a closer look as did officials at the regulators CFPB FTC and FDIC Officials at the Justice Department say they are taking aim at banks role in giving predatory lenders and fraudulent merchants access to the United States financial system The department is considering civil and criminal actions against a number of banks for allowing tainted money to flow through branches for failing to safeguard against suspicious merchants and for originating transactions on behalf of businesses that they know make unauthorized withdrawals from customer accounts according to people with direct knowledge of the matter You can t close your eyes anymore to the fraud that you are allowing to happen said Michael Blume the director of the consumer protection branch at the Justice Department Banks are in business to make a profit Unfortunately this is a moneymaking operation at consumers expense Because the banks and payment processors were seen as a bottleneck or choke point since the fraudsters needed online bank accounts to conduct their schemes and because banks have a variety of duties under law to protect their customers deposits from fraud and prevent money laundering are a few the strategy made a great deal of sense Yet somehow opponents of consumer protection acting in concert with some conservative web sites have created a false narrative that the true targets of U S DOJ s Operation Choke Point are legitimate gun dealers and payday lenders not thieves Our colleague Lauren Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center has done superhero work to correct the record in guest columns and Congressional hearings As she told the House Judiciary Committee this spring on behalf of NCLC U S PIRG Americans for Financial Reform the Center for Responsible Lending and the Consumer Federation of America Operation Choke Point stops fraud Many fraudsters rely on banks and third party payment processors to enable them to take money from consumers accounts Banks and payment processors can enable fraud and often they can stop it The three cases that DOJ has brought through Operation Choke Point prove that DOJ is focusing only on banks that willfully ignore blatant signs of illegal activity No one has defended the egregious conduct of any of the banks targeted Reports that banks have closed the accounts of legal businesses have little or nothing to do with Operation Choke Point Complaints about account closures go back a decade since passage of the 2001 Patriot Act with its anti money laundering rules Bills such as H R 766 Luetkemeyer the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2015 H R 1413 Schweikert the Firearms Manufacturers and Dealers Protection Act of 2015 and similar bills would make it harder for DOJ and other government agencies to protect the public It is disappointing that many on the hill have bought into the false narrative that somehow the U S DOJ the FDIC the FTC and of course the CFPB which the public supports but Wall Street and payday

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/court-reinstates-case-against-bank-aided-senior-citizen-fraud-0 (2016-04-29)
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  • IRS Admits Data Breach Worse Than Thought, Will Congress Do Wrong Thing Anyway? | NJPIRG
    stalking harms since the information breached included information about you your spouse or partner and even your references friends and co workers and possibly contained information about drug treatment or extra marital affairs or arrest records whether or not charged or convicted In her comments on a recent enforcement action against data brokers selling consumer files to wrongdoers Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection director Jessica Rich told the New York Times There is a debate about whether invasions of privacy harm consumers Jessica Rich the director of the the agency s Bureau of Consumer Protection said in a phone interview This is a clear cut example where the sale of sensitive data caused considerable harm to consumers We agree with Jessica Rich Privacy harms are real As we said in June Instead of narrowing the scope of consumer harms that are actionable in privacy breaches as nearly very breach notice proposal before Congress would any legislation if it is passed nationally must recognize the broader panoply of harms that federal employees their friends partners and co workers taxpayers and health insurance customers are already facing If Congress can t do something that actually benefits the public it should do nothing Our recent data breach testimony to Congress is here Our group letter opposing weak federal data breach and data security proposals that also override stronger state laws is here Our recent blog offering tips to victims of any breach including information on your best protection against financial identity theft the security freeze is here In July after a medical data breach Indiana attorney general Greg Zoeller urged all Hoosiers to place a security freeze In Indiana a security freeze is free by law for anyone at any time in many states it is only free for identity theft

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/irs-admits-data-breach-worse-thought-will-congress-do-wrong-thing-anyway (2016-04-29)
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