Houses Passes Strong Food Safety Reform

Houses Passes Strong Food Safety Reform

The House of Representatives just passed the bipartisan Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. If enacted, the legislation would strengthen the FDA, increase inspections of food facilities, and hopefully ensure that tragedies like the Peanut Corporation of America salmonella outbreak become a thing of the past.

Another Arbitration Firm Pulls Out Of Credit Card Arbitration

Another Arbitration Firm Pulls Out Of Credit Card Arbitration

Just days after the National Arbitration Forum agreed to stop arbitrating consumer credit card disputes, the American Arbitration Association has decided to do the same. This is good, but passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act is still necessary.

Airline Passengers Bill Of Rights Lurches Down Congressional Runway

Airline Passengers Bill Of Rights Lurches Down Congressional Runway

Tomorrow, a Senate committee will hold a hearing on legislation that grants passengers the right to deplane if their plane is delayed on the runway for more than 3 hours. The legislation will also require that airlines provide water, food, and bathroom facilities during delays. If passed, it will be ignored by Delta.

http://consumerist.com/2009/07/15/if-youre-looking-for-a-1/

If you’re looking for a good read tonight, try curling up with a cup of herbal tea, some Nilla Wafers, and the PDF of the House Health Reform bill. (warning: opens extremely large PDF) If 1,018 pages is too much reading for tonight, you can look over this one-page PDF on the public insurance option included in the bill, or read first impressions from Consumers Union and the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. [Consumer Reports Health]

Banks Consider Running TV Spots Against Proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency

Banks Consider Running TV Spots Against Proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency

Remember Harry and Louise? I don’t, but apparently they were a fictional couple in an early-90s TV commercial, produced by the insurance industry to help sway opinion against the Clinton health plan. Now banks and other financial companies may be pooling resources to create a new “Harry and Louise” style ad to convince Americans that Obama’s proposed agency to monitor abusive financial practices will limit choice and ruin lives.

U.S. Balks At Prospect Of Imported Chinese Chickens

U.S. Balks At Prospect Of Imported Chinese Chickens

China is itching to sell their processed chickens directly to the U.S. market, an idea that doesn’t exactly thrill our regulators or representatives. Congress banned the import of processed Chinese chickens in 2007, ruffling Beijing’s feathers to the point where they’re now considering a retaliatory ban on U.S. chickens. Since we’re in a recession and Congress doesn’t want domestic chicken exporters to lose over a half-billion dollars next year, they may let the Chinese chickens come here to roost.

Two-Thirds Of Insurers Share Faulty Database That Lets Them Overcharge Patients

Two-Thirds Of Insurers Share Faulty Database That Lets Them Overcharge Patients

Earlier this week, a Congressional investigation revealed that several insurance companies rely on a database from Ingenix that deliberately underestimates the cost of medical services, reports the Associated Press. The result is that “American consumers have paid billions of dollars for health care services that their insurance companies should have paid.”

Insurance Industry Still Wants To Cancel Sick People's Coverage

Insurance Industry Still Wants To Cancel Sick People's Coverage

As the federal government debates health care reform, the health insurance industry has some news for us. They’re not going to stop canceling people’s policies after they get sick. Nope. No way.

Comprehensive Food Safety Reform Moves Forward In Congress

Comprehensive Food Safety Reform Moves Forward In Congress

The House Energy and Commerce Committee just approved comprehensive food safety reform, setting it up for consideration on the House floor in the coming months. The Food Safety Enhancement Act was approved by voice vote, indicating bipartisan support and suggesting a relatively smooth passage through the entire House.

Obama To Call For Financial Watchdog Agency

Obama To Call For Financial Watchdog Agency

Tomorrow, President Obama is expected to call for the creation of a new watchdog agency that would help protect consumers from abusive credit card, mortgage, banking practices. The banking industry is not happy about the idea, reports CNN. But hey, they’re just looking out for us: “It’s bad for consumers,” a banking industry lobbyist told the network. Oh, well, never mind then, and pass me some more delicious subprime!

Are Cellphone Exclusivity Deals Bad For Consumers?

Are Cellphone Exclusivity Deals Bad For Consumers?

Yesterday, four U.S. Senators sent a letter to FCC acting chairman Michael Copps requesting an investigation into whether exclusivity deals between handset makers and national carriers are ultimately good for consumers, and they plan to hold a hearing on the issue on Wednesday, June 16th. They join a growing number of people and organizations, including the Rural Cellular Association (RCA), who say exclusivity deals benefit no one but the carriers and manufacturers.

National Menu Labeling Law Moves Closer To Reality

National Menu Labeling Law Moves Closer To Reality

As states continue to adopt laws requiring chain restaurants to include nutritional information on menus, Congress has been considering proposals for a national menu-labeling law. This week, members of Congress, the restaurant industry, and consumer groups reached agreement on a proposal that they hope to introduce this summer.

Congress Considers Partially Removing Tax Exemption On Employer Provided Health Benefits

Congress Considers Partially Removing Tax Exemption On Employer Provided Health Benefits

While details of such an approach are still sketchy, it would likely involve employees paying tax on a percentage of their employer-provided health benefits. So if Congress decided that all such premiums in excess of $11,000 for family plans would be taxable income, and your company paid premiums worth $16,000 for your coverage, you’d have to pay taxes on $5,000.

Your Member Of Congress Can Help Renegotiate Your Mortgage

Your Member Of Congress Can Help Renegotiate Your Mortgage

If your bank isn’t willing to renegotiate your mortgage, see if your Member of Congress can’t give them a little push. Maxine Waters (D-CA) rings up the C.E.O.s of Bank of America and Wells Fargo on her constituents’ behalf, while Elijah Cummings (D-MD) hired a staffer who’s helping more than 120 constituents avoid foreclosure.

Are You A Deadbeat? Suddenly You're Attractive To Card Companies Again

Are You A Deadbeat? Suddenly You're Attractive To Card Companies Again

“Revolvers”—customers who keep a revolving balance on their credit cards—used to be the cash crop for credit card companies. But now more and more of them are turning into expensive charge-offs, and the new CARD act is going to make it harder to acquire those riskier customers anyway. As a result, card companies are beginning to look more closely at the customer who was most hated back in the credit-orgy years: the deadbeat.

The FDA Isn't Yet Sure How To Make Our Food Safer But Lots Of Cash Might Help

The FDA Isn't Yet Sure How To Make Our Food Safer But Lots Of Cash Might Help

The FDA is set to receive $3.2 billion next year but they don’t yet have a plan to make our food any safer. That doesn’t sit well with Congressional appropriator Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who at a recent hearing told Acting FDA Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein: “A lot sounds to me like buzzwords from a past administration.”

Here's How The CARD Act Will Actually Change Credit Cards

Here's How The CARD Act Will Actually Change Credit Cards

Bob Sullivan at MSNBC—who coincidentally was one of the speakers at our event last night—has published a list of myths and facts about the new credit card bill. His article dispels some of the misinformation that’s out there right now about just what the act does, and what card companies are going to do in retaliation.

Menu Labeling Controversy Reaches Congress

Menu Labeling Controversy Reaches Congress

California and New York City already require chains to display calorie counts alongside menu items, but if two Members of Congress have their way, menu labeling legislation will soon apply to chains and fast food restaurants throughout the nation. The Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) would go even farther than existing state and local regulations by requiring chains to disclose fat, carbohydrate and salt content on their printed menus. The food industry, of course, is supporting a more palatable bill with an equally snappy acronym…