A lot of blame has sloshed around for the sub-prime meltdown, from greedy borrowers to greedy mortgage brokers to Alan Greenspan, but if you want the real culprit, it was the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act. On November 12, 1999, the champagne must have been shooting from the walls at Citigroup, which had worked behind the scenes for over 30 years to get the act overturned. After recovering from their hangover, they and their banking buddies went on a sub-prime lending orgy. But what was Glass-Steagall and how did it use to protect us?
The New York Times editorial board called on Congress to make college textbooks more affordable. The measure they endorsed wouldn’t do anything Soviet like directly cap prices, but it would require textbook makers to tell professors exactly how much books would cost impoverished students.
Steve Steinberg refused to pay a parking ticket issued after his car had been stolen, so the Washington, DC Department of Motor Vehicles sent a collections agency after him. Steinberg’s car was stolen in September of 2006. After he reported the theft, Steinberg says, the DC police and DMV ticketed his car, towed it, then released it to the thief.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wants to consolidate the nation’s financial regulators into a tripartite gang that can save the economy from distress and doom. The plan to give the Federal Reserve broad new regulatory powers and streamline the regulatory community has been in the works since last March, before the start of the subprime meltdown. Paulson is worried that the U.S. markets are no longer competitive with maturing world markets, some of which aren’t hampered by nuisances like regulation. After the jump we’ll explain the consumer impact of the plan and introduce you to your three new regulators.
BoltBus offers service between Washington D.C. and New York with fares starting at $1. Each ride comes not just with WiFi, but with power outlets at every seat—a luxury usually confined to Amtrak. The downside? (There are several.)
We recently received our “Economic Stimulus Payment Notice,” and it seems worth far less than the $41.8 million the Treasury spent on printing and mailing. The letter contained no surprises, but did extend the tantalizing possibility that we would receive “a notice and additional information shortly before the payment is made.” Check out the full letter and a handy eligibility chart, after the jump.
Credit Card Victims Muzzled, Ordered To Release Financial Histories Before Sharing Their Experiences
Four credit card victims were ordered to sign waivers allowing their creditors to release their private financial records to the public before they could testify before the House Financial Services Committee. The consumers had flown in from across the country to share their stories at a hearing on the Credit Card Bill of Rights, but credit card companies insisted—and Republicans and Democrats agreed—that it would only be fair to release documents like credit scores and a list of recent purchases in order to rebut the consumer’s claims. “Fair is fair,” Congressman Spencer Bauchus (R-AL) barked, as he defended the absurd request. Ultimately, the consumers didn’t testify, but one invitee, Steven Autrey, released his prepared statement, which slams creditors for their abusive and predatory business practices.
The Senate finally voted last week to send the ailing Consumer Product Safety Commission desperately needed funds, staff, and powers. The overdue reform bill passed with bipartisan support on a 79-13 vote.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson hates the penny because it is a worthless dingleberry of a coin. In an interview sure to have kids thinking they know enough to run the Mint, Paulson simplistically noted: “The penny is worth less than any other currency.” Don’t sing the penny’s swan song just yet.
…he quickly added that he didn’t think it was “politically doable” to eliminate the one-cent coin and it wasn’t something he planned to tackle in the final year of the Bush administration.
Great, add the penny to the slate of issues over which the parties disagree. Put it right next to war spending and social security.
The compassionate conservatives helming our government have an ingeniously simple new plan for homeowners facing foreclosure: take 30 days, pack your bags, and then get the !@#$ out.
Nobody likes the compromise reached by Senators to reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Industry thinks the revised plan goes too far, while consumer groups want more. For now, the compromise would allow the CPSC to operate without a quorum, inject needed cash into the Commission, and provide for several other nifty provisions.
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.
All Presidential candidates should have a plan to wean America off its credit card dependence. We collectively owe almost $1 trillion to credit card companies, but only the Democratic candidates have written plans to reform the credit card industry. Alpha Consumer wrote an excellent summary of their competing plans to strike at some of the industry’s most harmful practices.
Guess it’s time to start making ’em out of plastic. Transcript, inside…
The temporary law powering the CPSC has expired, reducing our supposed watch-dog agency to a neutered shadow that can’t adopt new safety standards, order mandatory recalls, or enforce existing consumer protection laws. The Commission could get back to work with three small tweaks.
The Senate Commerce Committee issued a bold press release aggressively backing FCC Commissioner Michael Copps’ contention that the nation is woefully unprepared for the pending transition to digital television. The release is a stunning rebuke to the FCC and the Commerce Department, which have dickered over responsibility for the ongoing transition. The Committee plans to hold a hearing on February 14 to find out just what content should, under ideal circumstances, go here. Full release, after the jump.
Members Of Congress Implore Mattel To "Do The Right Thing," Recall Lead-Tainted Toy Blood-Pressure Cuff
56 Members of Congress want to know why Mattel CEO Robert Eckert refuses to issue a nationwide recall for a toy blood-pressure cuff that is contaminated with lead. The affected blood-pressure cuff, sold as part of the Fisher-Price Medical Kit, was recalled exclusively in Illinois after Mattel received a complaint from State Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Legislators want Eckert to stand by a pledge made to reassure a jittery public before the holiday buying season that Mattel would ‘earn back our trust with deeds, not just with words.’
The Washington Post reports that the Administration is considering another industry hack to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC). They have in mind is Gail Charnley, a scientist who has testified on behalf of and writes articles supporting the views of tobacco, energy and pesticide companies. She’s not thought of as a consumer advocate per se but as someone hired by industry to represent their point of view,” said Lynn Goldman, a former assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. Awesome. Last time around, the White House tried unsuccessfully to install Michael Baroody, a lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers, as CPSC head. Should Charnley fail, there’s probably some guys from Enron still looking for work.