Congress Prepares To Push Back Digital TV Deadline

Congress Prepares To Push Back Digital TV Deadline

Congress may soon help the 1.76 million consumers anxiously waiting for their $40 digital TV converter coupons. According to Congress Daily, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is drafting legislation to push back the February 17 digital television transition deadline as requested last week by both Consumers Union and the incoming Obama Administration.

Citibank, Senate Agree On "Cramdown" Bill To Prevent Foreclosures

Citibank, Senate Agree On "Cramdown" Bill To Prevent Foreclosures

Ever heard of a cramdown? It’s when a bankrupcty court splits a home loan into two parts: a secured loan that’s equal to the current value of the home, and an unsecured loan that covers the rest of the outstanding debt. The secured loan is paid, and the unsecured isn’t. It can result in lower monthly payments (if the new loan amount is amortized over the course of the loan), but the important part is that it helps guarantee that a significant part of the loan will still be paid off.

Illinois Jeweler Selling Senate Seats

Illinois Jeweler Selling Senate Seats

As Gawker pointed out, a Chicago furniture store is running ads claiming that it “sells more seats than the Governor.” Now a local jewelry store is literally selling Senate seats, as beautiful charms!

Auto Bailout Passes House, But May Get Stuck In The Senate

Auto Bailout Passes House, But May Get Stuck In The Senate

The Auto Bailout Bill passed House yesterday, but is expected to encounter strong Republican resistance in the Senate.

http://consumerist.com/2008/11/13/it-looks-like-the-auto/

It looks like the auto industry bailout doesn’t have the votes. [NYT]

Wireless Carriers Tell Senate: "Text Messaging Rates Have Dropped, And Your Queries Have Led To Lawsuits Against Us!"

Wireless Carriers Tell Senate: "Text Messaging Rates Have Dropped, And Your Queries Have Led To Lawsuits Against Us!"

The national wireless carriers have responded to the Senate’s request for information on why its text-messaging fees have doubled over the past three years. Their collective response: they haven’t gotten more expensive, they’ve gotten cheaper—and your public suspicion of our business practices has led to lots of class action lawsuits!

Congressional Negotiators Strike Bailout Deal

Congressional Negotiators Strike Bailout Deal

Congressional negotiators agreed in principle last night to a $700 billion bailout package. The bill is currently being transformed into draft legislation that can be voted on tonight tomorrow.

BREAKING: Congress Has A Bailout Plan

BREAKING: Congress Has A Bailout Plan

CNN says that a deal has been reached — sort of. A bipartisan counterproposal to Bush’s $700 billion bailout plan has been drafted. The plan calls for caps on executive pay, and provides oversight on the Treasury’s actions.

How To Write To Congress

How To Write To Congress

Writing to Congress is the single best way to express your view on public policy. The average consumer has a surprising ability to influence legislation by crafting a well written missive. Let’s find out what the common mistakes to avoid are, how the process works, and the best ways to ensure your letter has the greatest impact.

Finance Officials Beg Congress To Give Them $700 Billion

Finance Officials Beg Congress To Give Them $700 Billion

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. was not warmly received at today’s bailout hearing when he stared down an angry and disenchanted Senate Banking Committee. Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, who appeared with Mr. Paulson, warned that unless Congress gave Mr. Paulson $700 billion that “inaction could lead to a recession.” Oooh, they said the “R” word….

Did UBS Help Rich Americans Hide Billions Of Dollars In Liechtenstein?

Did UBS Help Rich Americans Hide Billions Of Dollars In Liechtenstein?

Following up on yesterday’s story about a disgruntled computer technician who turned over the bank records from the LGT Bank of Liechtenstein, ABC News says that UBS Bank may have helped set up the secret accounts and been responsible for hiding as much as $20 billion dollars of U.S. money.

Disgruntled Computer Technician Outs Super-Rich Tax Cheaters To The IRS

Disgruntled Computer Technician Outs Super-Rich Tax Cheaters To The IRS

U.S. law allows whistleblowers to collect 30 percent of any taxes recovered as a result of their information, and it seems that one disgruntled computer technician is taking advantage of the program. Meet Heinrich Kieber, a nefarious criminal-type turned “good guy” who will be testifying in front of the “Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Thursday via a video statement from a secret location,” according to ABC News. Mr. Keiber is from Liechtenstein, a tiny country with very secretive banking laws. He stole banking information that showed how the world’s super-rich were skirting their countries tax laws. Keiber then sold the information to tax authorities in 12 countries, including the U.S, hence the whole “secret location” thing.

http://consumerist.com/2008/07/10/the-senate-passed-the-fisa/

The Senate passed the FISA bill today, which effectively puts an end to any chance of legal repercussions for telcos who helped the government spy on citizens. Senator Obama voted for it, Senator McCain didn’t vote, and Senator Clinton, for what it’s worth, voted against it. Find out how your senator voted here. [TechCrunch]

New Spy Law Will Provide Immunity To Wiretapping Telcos

New Spy Law Will Provide Immunity To Wiretapping Telcos

Update: Voted! Passed 293-129.
Today the House votes on a new compromise FISA Bill that will make the NSA’s formerly questionable activities—like spying on Americans—legal, and will grant conditional immunity upon the telephone companies that aided the NSA in spying on their customers. It’s “conditional” because there will still be a court review, but nobody seems to be taking the court review seriously: Senator Russ Feingold, D-WI, calls it a “capitulation” in the ongoing fight over holding the telcos responsible, and Rep. Roy Blunt, R-MO, says the review will be a “formality.” Looks like you’re about to get off free, Verizon and AT&T!

Republicans Have Killed The Passenger's Bill Of Rights. Long Live The Passenger's Bill Of Rights!

Republicans Have Killed The Passenger's Bill Of Rights. Long Live The Passenger's Bill Of Rights!

Get ready to spend nine hours on the tarmac without food or water. Senate Republicans yesterday shoved the Passenger’s Bill of Rights into the chamber’s overhead bin, killing off hope that the bill will pass before the elections. Even worse, the shot-down bill had transformed into a gleaming marvel of consumer protection.

Senate Committee Votes To Rollback FCC's Media Consolidation Plan

Senate Committee Votes To Rollback FCC's Media Consolidation Plan

Poor Kevin Martin. The Senate is well on its way towards killing his proposal to let newspapers get all freaky and consolidate with television and radio stations. Martin shouldn’t be too surprised: this is exactly what happened the last time a FCC Chairman tried to ram media consolidation down our throats.

Telemarketers Weep As President Signs Do Not Call Improvement Act

Telemarketers Weep As President Signs Do Not Call Improvement Act

Never again will you have to worry about renewing your Do Not Call List registration thanks to Public Laws 110-187 and 110-188. Our newest laws provide a permanent stream of funding for the Do Not Call List and guarantee that registrations will never expire. Read the White House’s ebullient press release, after jump.

http://consumerist.com/2008/02/07/that-was-fast-the-senate/

That was fast. The Senate today passed H.R. 5140, a $167 billion economic stimulus plan, by a vote of 81-16. The final bill grants rebates to seniors and disabled veterans, but does not extend unemployment insurance or provide heating assistance to the poor. The bill will now take a quick breather in the House before sprinting down Pennsylvania Avenue for the President’s signature. [AP]