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Coalition Efforts

Consumer Action is working on these important issues along with other organizations. If you would like to know more about these issues, please see “More Information” at the end of each article.

 

Postings

Millions of struggling families need housing counseling now
In the economic fallout of the current pandemic, more than 20 million Americans are out of work. Black and Latino workers are experiencing disproportionate economic challenges, including an unemployment rate of 16.8 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively. American households are expected to face a wave of evictions and foreclosures even worse than they experienced in the last financial crisis. Coalition advocates wrote to Congress in support of the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act, which expands access to housing counseling so that these individuals and families can get help in finding affordable ways to stay in their homes.

More than 100 non-profit groups support bill that would require corporations to disclose important data to address potential profit shifting
A coalition of more than 100 non-profit groups called on Reps. Waters and McHenry to consider country-by-country reporting in the Disclosure of Tax Havens and Offshoring Act (H.R. 5933). The bill would require large, publicly-traded corporations to disclose key financial information (e.g. profits, revenues, taxes, number of employees, etc.) on a country-by-country basis to better inform taxpayers, investors, policymakers, academics, and other stakeholders and ensure that we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic on the path to sustainable and equitable economy.

FDIC plans to preempt state lending protections is met with ire from advocates
Consumer Action joined with a broad coalition of advocacy organizations in warning the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that its proposed rule for chartering additional underregulated Industrial Loan Companies (ILCs) would expand predatory, high-interest lending. The plan would grant the predominantly online non-bank companies that are approved for an ILC with preemptory powers over state consumer protection laws, including interest rate caps. The FDIC is already turning a blind eye to rent-a-bank schemes where non-bank lenders piggyback off ILC and bank charters to issue loans of around 100% APR and higher.

Labor Department should withdraw policy that lets private equity loot retirement plans
Nineteen organizations and individuals that advocate on behalf of consumers, workers, investors and retirees have called on the Department of Labor (DOL) to withdraw its controversial policy statement opening the door to private equity investments in 401(k) plans. These investments are likely to saddle middle-class retirement savers with high costs and lock them into unnecessarily complex investments that underperform publicly available alternatives. The coalition called on DOL to withdraw the policy statement until it can conduct a more careful and balanced analysis of the potential risks and benefits of including a private equity component in retirement plan investments.

AbbVie—Allergan merger a bad deal for consumers
As the Federal Trade Commission signs off on the $63 billion deal between AbbVie and Allergen, advocates warn that the merger will reduce competition in a number of markets where AbbVie and Allergan directly overlap with each other. The deal will also exacerbate competitive problems that already exist in the pharmaceutical drug industry relating to rebate walls and patent abuses.

DOT’s proposed rules favor airlines over passengers
Consumer groups called the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to modify how it protects passengers from unfair and deceptive acts and practices in the air travel marketplace "fatally flawed” and urged the agency to abandon its rulemaking. Consumer advocates argue that the proposed rules, formulated at the behest of the airline lobby, would not benefit consumers. If adopted, they would give airlines even greater incentives to engage in the kinds of anti-passenger practices—like leaving passengers stuck on the tarmac for hours on end—that Congress intended the DOT to prevent.

Protect consumers from price gouging during a state of emergency
In a letter to the California state legislature, advocates urged support of Senate Bill 1196, which aims to combat price gouging in the state of California during a declared state of emergency. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, California has seen countless examples of unscrupulous individuals using the crisis as an opportunity to turn a profit on essential goods and services. SB 1196 will tighten California law to assist law enforcement officials in prosecuting instances of price gouging that are committed by new sellers during an emergency.

Now is not the time to rush autonomous vehicle legislation through Congress
During this time of national emergency, Congress should be focusing on ensuring the health and financial well-being of Americans, not rushing forward with inadequate driverless vehicle legislation that puts the interests of the auto industry and tech companies ahead of people’s safety. Yet, House Republicans have recently called for the revival of an autonomous vehicle bill (arguing that self-driving vehicles can be part of the Covid-19 response). In a letter to Congress, coalition advocates urged legislative leaders to reject attempts to attach driverless car legislation to a must-pass relief bills, including any packages that address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Any continued efforts to pass driverless vehicle legislation at this critical juncture would be a mistake.

All insurers must make coronavirus tests and treatment free to patients
Americans have been urged to seek medical help if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, but out-of-pocket costs could put insured patients into serious medical debt, or worse, deter them from seeking treatment at all — causing undue suffering and death, and exacerbating the pandemic. A coalition of more than 80 advocacy groups came together to urge all health insurance corporations to waive all patient fees for care associated with COVID-19, including copays and deductibles.

Stop the debt trap by implementing stronger regulations on rent-to-own stores
With limited or no access to credit and savings, low-income consumers often turn to rent-to-own (RTO) stores for big-ticket items like appliances. RTO stores notoriously charge customers two-to-three times more than traditional stores for the same items, leading to more purchase defaults, capturing the consumer in a debt trap. Coalition members joined together in urging the Federal Trade Commission to do more to protect low-income communities from the predatory practices utilized by the $8.2 billion a year RTO industry.

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