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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Democracy, Tax

Thirty Fortune 500 Companies Paid More to Lobby Congress than they Did in Federal Income Taxes

With the second anniversary approaching of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case – which opened the floodgates to corporate spending on elections – U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and Citizens for Tax Justice reveal 30 corporations that spent more to lobby Congress than they did in taxes.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Democracy, Tax

Representation Without Taxation

Marking the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case – which opened the floodgates to corporate spending on elections – this report takes a hard look at the lobbying activities of profitable Fortune 500 companies that exploit loopholes and work to distort the tax code to avoid billions of dollars in taxes.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and powerful music, film and publishing titans have gone too far in demanding that the Internet as we know it -- an engine of innovation, freedom, democracy, commerce, idea-sharing and entrepreneurship -- be throttled down so that their legitimate problems with offshore pirates can supposedly be solved. They think every problem is a nail but their only tool is a hammer, a sledgehammer. Their bills won't hammer the nail, but they will hammer you, me and the Internet.

To lessen online banking risks, lessen consumer liability risks

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

In addition to a story on the Zappos' hack, the New York Times also has an editorial "Convenient, but How Secure?" on the growth of online banking and new regulations being implemented that should lessen fraud loss risk.

FTC settles claim with Rx monopolist CVS Caremark

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced (news release) that CVS Caremark Corporation (pdf of the complaint) will "pay $5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misrepresented the prices of certain Medicare Part D prescription drugs – including drugs used to treat breast cancer symptoms and epilepsy – at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies."

WSJ: Bank of America Ponders Retreat

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Today's Wall Street Journal offers the story "Bank of America Ponders Retreat." It discusses a BofA emergency plan for retrenchment that would include further branch shrinkage than currently-expected reductions.

Free tax prep at Walmart? It isn't really free, for some 84% or so of you

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

I've been quoted recently (Reuters via Baltimore Sun)  warning consumers that getting your taxes done for "free" in an HR Block kiosk at Walmart and then getting your tax refund on a Walmart prepaid card comes with pitfalls, including (1) fees and (2) the chance that you'll just dump the money on the card into impulse purchases at Walmart, which "is not your friend."

Yesterday the Supreme Court, Inc. - with only Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting -- took away consumer legal rights in Compucredit vs. Greenwood. The court said disputes needed to be resolved in arbitration proceedings -- not court. The company issues subprime "fee harvester" credit cards with upfront fees that swallow the teeny credit limits. It's previously been sued by both the FDIC and the FTC.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead

Privatized traffic law enforcement systems are spreading rapidly across the United States. As many as 700 local jurisdictions have entered into deals with for-profit companies to install camera systems at intersections and along roadways to encourage drivers to obey traffic signals and follow speed limits. Local contracting for automated traffic enforcement systems may sometimes be a useful tool for keeping drivers and pedestrians safe. But when private firms and municipalities consider revenues first, and safety second, the public interest is threatened.

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