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  • 50 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK, JFK USHERED IN MODERN CONSUMER PROTECTION ERA | PennPIRG
    what is in their credit contract so also do they have the right to know what is in the package they buy The Kennedy message became a blueprint for a series of important consumer protections that were enacted many over the next ten or fifteen years often with the assistance of Consumers Union founded in 1936 and firepower added by the emergence of the late sixties Nader s Raiders the fledgling Consumer Federation of America 1968 and then at the local level the state PIRGs early 1970s The consumer movement whose goals Kennedy s speech helped frame has gone on to win a continued series of achievements But it has never been easy In many ways we are still fighting for the same consumer protections today because powerful special interests have continued to try to tear them down Some federal agencies notably the Federal Trade Commission FTC Food and Drug Administration FDA and the Securities and Exchange Commission SEC have repeatedly had their budgets slashed and powers diminished under pressure from powerful special interests The Consumer Product Safety Commission established under the administration of Richard Nixon was gutted and left for dead under the Reagan administration Only the 2007 tsunami of lead laden toys and other toxic products washing up on our shores from China gave Congress the impetus to reinvigorate the CPSC with 2008 passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act Today the U S Chamber of Commerce seeks legislation creating regulatory mazes designed to prevent the watchdogs from doing their jobs Proposals including the Regulatory Accountability Act and the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny REINS Act have bi partisan support in both the House and the Senate A so called Jobs Act that has overwhelmingly passed the House would make it easy for fraudsters to rip off small or novice investors Yet there have been victories even though some are slow in coming In the 1970s a campaign to establish a federal consumer agency ended in defeat But thirty years later after the Wall Street led collapse of the economy neither the Chamber nor the American Bankers Association could stop establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act The new CFPB in many ways is the first federal agency that fully achieves President Kennedy s vision It is designed to do what he called for 50 years ago stop the serious abuses that have occurred in the credit marketplace make available to consumers the results of pertinent government research and solve the myriad failure s of governmental machinery to assure specific consideration of the consumer s needs and point of view The CFPB is the first federal financial agency with only one job protecting consumers It s the first federal consumer agency with the authority and independence it needs to do that job Of course powerful special interests have the CFPB in their sights But the CFPB has both the public s and President Obama

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/blogs/blog/pap/50-years-ago-week-jfk-ushered-modern-consumer-protection-era (2016-04-27)
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  • Today, CFPB to announce overdraft fee investigation, unveil "penalty box" disclosure, possibly end $39 lattes | PennPIRG
    required you to affirmatively opt in before being charged fees for the over priced standard overdraft protection product U S PIRG and other consumer advocates have contended that standard overdraft protection marketing continues to be unfair and deceptive After all if you are repeatedly asked to choose opt in to the most expensive and least favorable of three choices standard overdraft protection but not really offered either of two better choices the less expensive overdraft line of credit or transfer from savings options did you really ever have a choice While a few big banks notably Bank of America and Citibank either never charged or eliminated standard overdraft protection on debit transactions many others amped up the opt in marketing instead And while several banks have paid big penalties in lawsuits over re ordering practices one judge called Wells Fargo reordering a neat trick as he imposed a 203 million penalty only one of the old regulators the FDIC has really enforced rules that limit unfair overdraft fees and reordering practices But FDIC mostly supervises small institutions The new CFPB took over in July 2011 as primary supervisor and enforcer for the over 100 biggest banks Director Cordray s inquiry into checking account overdraft practices is an important step that will also require greater fee transparency so consumers are more aware of bank practices The rollout today will also propose a penalty box disclosure to appear on bank statements PennPIRG has also encouraged the CFPB to make all bank account fees more transparent and to require that bank fees on the Internet be machine readable smart disclosures so groups such as PIRG and others can easily download fee schedules and create localized comparison shopping guides Will banks simply turn to other newer fees Some might But others may grow more

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/blogs/blog/pap/today-cfpb-announce-overdraft-fee-investigation-unveil-penalty-box-disclosure (2016-04-27)
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  • Senators: Oppose bills that threaten public health | PennPIRG
    would fall victim to unnecessary delays and analysis preventing the public from access to critical information Finally the REINS Act REINS S 299 would block enforcement of existing health and safety laws by creating new hurdles and impossibly short timelines for approval of critical implementation rules Last year 1 million pounds of E Coli contaminated meat was pulled from store shelves in California by food safety inspectors Congress with bipartisan support responded to this episode and numerous food recalls by modernizing food safety practices and reassured Americans of the safety of our food supply Under this bill the updated rules would be blocked and the safety of our food supply would again fall victim to the vagaries of food processors who have time and again put profit above public health All three bills favor special interests over the public interest They threaten some of our nation s most basic safeguards and they will unravel nearly three decades of health and safety The enactment of any one of these bills would put agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC and the Food and Drug Administration FDA on a never ending treadmill of bureaucratic analysis when responding to new public health threats such as food borne illnesses due to unsafe industry practices and inspection of imported meats from countries where safety laws are weak or nonexistent Blocking weakening or delaying critical standards and safeguards will result in more deaths in vulnerable age groups such as children and the elderly We will see a greater prevalence of asthma cancer and respiratory diseases as clean air and clean water standards are threatened Increasing litigation and tying up critical public safety standards helps only the narrow special interests Our nation has made significant progress toward ensuring a safe and healthy marketplace

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/blogs/blog/pap/senators-oppose-bills-threaten-public-health (2016-04-27)
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  • Survey Finds Toxic or Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves | PennPIRG
    of phthalates a chemical that poses development hazards for small children at 40 and 70 times allowable limits Several toys violate current allowable lead limits 300ppm Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards We also found toys that are potentially harmful to children s ears and exceed the hearing standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders While most toys are safe our researchers still found toys on the shelves that pose choking hazards and other toys that contain hazardous levels of toxic chemicals including lead Miller explained This is PennPIRG s 26th year of providing valuable service by researching and educating parents about dangerous products But ideally there shouldn t be a need for a report because safeguards should be in place to protect our children said Representative Babette Josephs When parents go shopping they should be able to trust the products in the toy store It is the role of elected officials to keep dangerous products off of store shelves so they never end up in a child s hand Now is certainly not a time to get rid of safeguards In 2008 Congress placed strict limits on concentrations of lead and phthalates in toys and children articles in a law that also gave greater authority and funding to the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC Miller noted that the CPSC has a new database of both potential hazards and recalled products at saferproducts gov Parents and toy givers need to remember that while the CPSC is doing a good job it doesn t test all toys on the shelves Consumers should also remember

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/survey-finds-toxic-or-dangerous-toys-store-shelves (2016-04-27)
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  • Trouble in Toyland | PennPIRG
    than 1000ppm of each of the six phthalates This year we found two toys that laboratory testing showed to contain 42 000 ppm and 77 000 ppm levels of phthalates These products exceed limits allowed by the CPSIA by 42 and 77 times respectively Choking Hazards Choking on small toy parts on small balls on marbles and balloons continues to be the major cause of toy related deaths and injuries Between 1990 and 2010 over 200 children died from a choking incident This year we found several toys that violated CPSC s small parts for toys standard intended for children less than 3 years old We also found near small part toys that while not in violation of current regulations support our call for the small parts test to be made less permissive Finally we found toys intended for older children that failed to provide choking hazards warnings required for small parts or small balls Noisy Toys Research has shown a third of Americans with hearing loss can attribute it in part to noise The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed one in five U S children will have some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach age 12 this may be in part due to many children using toys and other children s products that emit loud sounds such as music players The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders advises that prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss in any age range We found 1 toy on store shelves that exceeded the recommended continuous exposure to 85 decibel limit and 2 close to the ear toys that exceeded the 65 decibel limit when measured with a digital sound level meter Recommendations for Policy Makers Policy makers must ensure that stepped increases in budget authorizations mandated by the CPSIA for the CPSC which increase to 136 million for FY2014 are fully funded in appropriations Policymakers must also continue vigorous oversight of implementation and enforcement of the new law Manufacturers should be required to provide all hazard and health impact information to the state and federal government so agencies can begin to assess the thousands of chemicals currently on the market for which little or inadequate data are available There is overwhelming evidence showing that that the Toxic Substances Control Act is failing our most vulnerable consumers i e pregnant women babies and children Policymakers should take steps to ensure the American people are better protected from toxins in the environment Policymakers should reject well funded special interest efforts to weaken the ability of regulatory agencies to conduct rulemakings or enforce rules designed to protect public health and safety For The Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC should review and where necessary expand its definition of a small part or small toy to include parts and toys that are larger than the current standard but have been shown to pose a choking hazard to children The CPSC should continue to proceed

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/paf/trouble-toyland (2016-04-27)
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  • FOX 43: Annual Survey Finds Toxic Toys on Store Shelves | PennPIRG
    of lead that is currently allowed While many toys are hazardous Sue Rzucidlo a Pediatric Trauma and Injury Program Manager at Penn State Hershey Children s Hospital said Not only can the product be unsafe but how the toy operates as well Due to the size and easy availability of small batteries toys may need to operate Rzucidlo encourages parents to batteries the size of coin keep them out of harm s way Wright said We must not weaken toy safety standards for American s children Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods 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 Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the hottest political issues of the day from fighting the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms to promoting campaign finance reform and tackling Citizens United improving voter access for students and underrepresented communities and advocating for a 21st century transportation system Job Description Archives

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/pap/fox-43-annual-survey-finds-toxic-toys-store-shelves (2016-04-27)
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  • Trouble in Toyland | PennPIRG
    emergency room in 2009 due to toy related injuries Toy safety should not be a political or partisan issue I have yet to hear any policy maker argue caveat emptor let the buyer beware as it relates to toddlers That is why it is all the more shocking to see new sweeping attacks in Congress on some of the most basic health and safety protections for young children as well as the broader public One bill the REINS Act would not only allow but also require congressional meddling in the implementation of all public health and safety rules A single member of Congress at the behest of some special interest or campaign contributor could block science based lead standards for children s products crib safety rules anti choking guidelines or any number of protections that provide a safer consumer marketplace Another bill called the Regulatory Accountability Act RAA would put the calculations of accountants ahead of the warnings and findings of safety experts and scientists in determining the value of new public health and safety rules This holiday season please take a few moments to let your congressional representatives know that keeping hazardous toys off store shelves is incredibly important Congress should not undermine critical consumer protections rather members should do everything in their power to oppose rollbacks and roadblocks to our most basic public health and safety rules And keep an eye out for PennPIRG s 26th annual Trouble in Toyland report coming out on November 22nd This year s toy survey will include results of laboratory testing for toxic chemicals choking hazards and other threats to child safety We ll also provide tips to help shoppers avoid dangerous toys so that consumers can enjoy a healthy and happy holiday season Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/trouble-toyland (2016-04-27)
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  • Despite toy safety progress, parents need to be aware | PennPIRG
    Trouble In Toyland that highlights a sampling of unsafe toys ones we found in a survey of toy stores across the country Over the past 25 years the findings of our report have paid off leading to more than 100 recalls and millions children s products pulled from store shelves The findings also provided valuable evidence in support of the need for a 2008 law that gave the CPSC more authority to crack down on manufacturers and importers of dangerous toys Despite important progress parents need to be aware of ongoing hazards and be on the lookout for unsafe products More than 250 000 American children made trips to the emergency room in 2009 due to toy related injuries Toy safety should not be a political or partisan issue I have yet to hear any policy maker argue caveat emptor let the buyer beware as it relates to toddlers That is why it is all the more shocking to see new sweeping attacks in Congress on some of the most basic health and safety protections for young children as well as the broader public Consumer Protection Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods 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 Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the hottest political issues of the day from fighting the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms to promoting campaign finance reform and tackling Citizens United improving voter access for students and underrepresented communities and advocating for a 21st century transportation system Job Description Archives

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/blogs/blog/pap/despite-toy-safety-progress-parents-need-be-aware (2016-04-27)
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