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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
“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 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.”
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.