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Report | Florida PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

OFFSHORE SHELL GAMES 2015

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to the tax code. Rather than paying their full share, many multinational corporations use accounting tricks to pretend for tax purposes that a substantial portion of their profits are generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox. Multinational corporations’ use of tax havens allows them to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House holds stacked hearing to attack retirement savings rule proposal | Ed Mierzwinski

The House Financial Services Committee is holding a typically stacked hearing -- one consumer-side witness against four Wall Street-backed lobbyists  -- to attack the important retirement savings rule proposed by the Department of Labor. The rule simply requires retirement advisors to put the customer's needs  -- not their own compensation -- first.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Reinstates Case Against Bank That Aided Senior Citizen Fraud | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that had denied class action status to victims of a scheme targeting senior citizens who were suing Zions Bank and its payment processor affiliates for aiding the fraudsters. U.S. regulators led by the Department of Justice have been fighting this and similar schemes, yet powerful special interests have managed to create a false narrative in Washington, DC that has been picked up by opponents of consumer protection laws. They falsely claim that the government's target is "legitimate" payday lenders and gun dealers. Wrong, the target is financial crimes against consumers, many consumers.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

IRS Admits Data Breach Worse Than Thought, Will Congress Do Wrong Thing Anyway? | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the IRS has admitted that thieves accessed the personal information -- enough to allow them to take your tax refund -- of an additional 220,000 taxpayers, on top of the 114,000 reported in May. Meanwhile, we remain  concerned that Congress will use continued publicity about the Target breach and other breaches as an excuse to pass dangerous data security legislation. Dangerous? Yes, because it would only protect against limited financial identity theft harms, but eliminate stronger state protections against the harms posed by the IRS breach, the health insurance breaches and the OPM breach.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House To Vote On Godzilla-Sized Rule Blocker, As Financial Committee Considers Smaller Rollbacks | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED: REINS Approved, near party line vote. Today, the House Financial Services Committee takes up a package of smaller rollback bills, many of which are opposed by Americans for Financial Reform and the PIRGs. Meanwhile, the House will bring up the Godzilla of all anti-health and safety bills, the REINS Act. Fortunately, the President has promised a veto.

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Budget

Cutting Ag Subsidies Key to Implementing USDA’s Dietary Recommendations

Statement of Elizabeth Hitchcock, Florida PIRG Federal Public Health Advocate on the USDA’s announcement of new Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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News Release | Florida PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland: Florida PIRG Offers Tips and Interactive Tools to Help Consumers Shop Safely

Dangerous and toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, Florida Public Interest Research Group announced today in its 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Transportation

New Report: High-Speed Rail Around the World and Its Promise for Florida

Today Florida PIRG released a major new report, A Track Record of Success: High-Speed Rail Around the World and Its Promise for America.

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Democracy

Foreign Funds in American Elections

This week we learned that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce could be using money from foreign corporations to fund attack ads in our elections. According to reporting released by Think Progress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign owned businesses, including companies owned by foreign governments.

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News Release | Florida PIRG | Democracy

Statement in Response to Event For Opposition Campaign to Fair Districts Amendments 5 & 6

It is no surprise that politicians are leading the charge in the campaign to defeat Amendments 5 and 6. They are twisting the truth just so they can continue making political deals in order to hold on to their power.

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Report | Florida PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

A Public Interest Internet Agenda

Broadband access is crucial to economic, educational and democratic participation in Florida and it’s critical that government make consumer friendly choices that empower communities while bringing access to every corner of the state. Without consumer protective policies to guide them, the handful of corporations that sell broadband have done so at runaway rates, with poor service and have even avoided serving broadband to many of our most vulnerable communities.

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Report | Florida PIRG | Health Care

Healthcare Reform: The $3 Trillion Dollar Question

By aligning incentives within the health care system in favor of quality treatment, by investing in health information technology, and by conducting better research on which treatments work for which kinds of patients, we can make health care both more affordable and higher quality. 

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Report | Florida PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

The Small Business Dilemma

One crucial test of any health reform proposal is whether it offers a better deal to American small businesses. But the key Washington lobbies who claim to represent small businesses have been historically aligned with the political interests most opposed to reform. To more accurately reflect the diversity of views of small businesses on health care, the Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund has let small business owners to speak for themselves.

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Report | Florida PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

The Facts About Comparative Effectiveness Research

As Congressional and public debate over health care reform grows more intense, comparative effectiveness research (CER) has emerged as an unlikely flashpoint of controversy.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Health Care

Putting America Back to Work

The Florida Public Interest Research Group Brief, entitled Health Reform and the Economy, finds that proposals to tame health care costs could allow the creation of 113,660 Florida jobs over a five year period without inflationary effects, and yield stronger economic growth over the long term.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

House Floor Vote on Budget Delayed over Special Interest "Riders" From Wall Street, Other Powerful Interests | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED: Opposition to a controversial provision authored by Citibank forced House leaders to delay consideration of the "CRomnibus" appropriations package just hours before funding for the federal government expired at midnight Thursday. Eventually the bill passed narrowly with the Wall Street provision intact. Action now shifts to the Senate, which has a 48-hour window to pass the bill, but any one Senator can block it under Senate rules. The provision would again allow Wall Street banks to place risky bets with taxpayer-backed funds, and require taxpayers to bail them out if the bets fail, repealing a key protection added in the 2010 Wall Street reform law. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The CFPB at Three: A Child Prodigy | Ed Mierzwinski

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turned just three years old Monday, July 21st, but when you look at its massive and compelling body of work, you must wonder: Are watchdog years like plain old dog years? Is the CFPB now a full-sized, 21-year-old adult? The answer is no, not yet. The CFPB is still growing and developing and adding programs and projects. The CFPB is, however, at three years old, certainly a child prodigy. Despite overwhelming public support, however, powerful special interests continue to attack it. Yet, the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Blog Post | Tax

What Do Jon Stewart, Elizabeth Warren, and Barack Obama Have In Common?

All three of them spoke out this week against corporate tax dodging.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama called for an economy where “everyone plays by the same set of rules” and where companies can’t avoid taxes by shifting profits overseas. That same night, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren went on the Daily Show and called out 30 corporations that a recent Florida PIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice study found paid more to lobby Congress than they did in federal income taxes. When Warren told this to John Stewart on the Daily Show, it made the usually unflappable comedian’s jaw drop. Check out the video!

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Blog Post | Budget

Problems With Privatized Law Enforcement's New Frontier

One in five Americans lives in a jurisdiction that outsources traffic ticketing this way, according to a newly released report from the Florida Public Interest Research Group, titled "Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public." And a report released by the Justice Department suggests this trend may accelerate under the twin pressures of budget pressure and intense lobbying.

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