Election years beget a compressed Congressional schedule. The House and Senate just got back to work in D.C. after a six-week break, and will be taking another six-week break as soon as we hit October 1 (picking up again after the election), so everything the committees want to do has to get done now. Like bringing in all five FCC commissioners for another episode of everyone’s favorite series, The FCC Explains And Defends Literally Everything It’s Doing. [More]
Only days after a report found that an organization responsible for accrediting a number of for-profit colleges had engaged in a “pattern” of providing approval to schools with bad track records, resulting in these colleges receiving nearly $6 billion in federal funds, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is joining the chorus of voices calling on the Department of Education to take action.
Since taking the helm of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in January, Mark Rosekind has made his intention to hold automakers responsible for safety issues well known. This week, the agency continued tightening the reins by extending oversight requirements imposed on General Motors stemming from its ignition switch defect and invoking its legal authority to speed up the recall process related to millions of vehicles recalled for Takata airbag defects. [More]
While millions of consumers contribute to the $32 billion in overdraft fees collected each year, a new video shows that many checking account holders don’t fully understand the way overdrafts work or how much they spend on the fees each year. [More]
Back in October, the Department of Education finalized a new rule: career colleges — those schools that offer specialized training programs for certain occpuations — would have to do a better job actually preparing students for gainful emplotment, or they’d lose access to federal student aid. As part of those standards, the DoE rule included the creation of an oversight group. Today, two senators introduced legislation to ensure the task force is providing useful information to policymakers, parents and students.
The president and a vice-president for CTIA, a lobbying organization for the wireless industry, spoke recently with CNET about why they think the FCC should leave their members alone. The vice-president, Chris Guttman-McCabe, is a lawyer and as such his answers are useless. President Steve Largent, however, actually has a couple of candid moments during the interview.
One of the implied promises of a brand name, especially when it comes to drugs, is you can expect higher quality, but maybe that doesn’t apply when it comes to McNeil products.The FDA says the plant that produced the recently recalled children’s Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl, was using raw materials that were contaminated with bacteria. The plant also lacked adequate quality-control procedures and was dirty. So far none of the recalled medicine has tested positive for bacterial contamination, but the FDA report suggests that the contaminated material was used to make the recalled lots. The plant has been shut down indefinitely.
“Tobacco products today are really the only human-consumed product that we don’t know what’s in them,” the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products said to the Associated Press. To address that, the agency has told tobacco companies to provide a list of the ingredients in their cigarette brands by June 2010. The FDA says it won’t publicize a lot of the data in order to protect trade secrets, but that by June 2011 it will publish a list of “harmful and potentially harmful” ingredients, at which point tobacco companies will have to start listing the amounts of each one on their products.
The Baseline Scenario has written a pitch-perfect article that pretends financial industry types are now speaking for the airline industry. It’s filled with appeals to the free market, and lots of threats about how the American Way of Life will collapse if we can’t let passengers sit for more than three hours on tarmacs.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just completed a survey of wireless customers and a review of the “tens of thousands” of complaints made to the FCC every year, and they’ve reached a verdict: the FCC needs to step up and provide a better way for consumers to get help.
Back in June we noted that the FDA was about to get a lot more say over the tobacco industry if the Senate approved a new bill. Well they did, and so yesterday the FDA flexed its new muscles by banning fruit, herb, spice, and candy flavorings from cigarettes. That’s right: clove cigarettes were just banned by the FDA, which is bad news for gothy teens and great news for everyone else.
Remember Burr Oak this past summer? That was the Chicago cemetery that dug up bodies and resold the graves to new customers. Well, yesterday a U.S. Representative from Illinois introduced the Bereaved Consumers Protection Act, a bill that would standardize record-keeping, make cemeteries accountable to federal officials as well as state, and protect consumers from shady business practices.
This week, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) postponed a vote on a bill creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) until September when lawmakers return from recess. The delay is partly due to other more pressing issues, but mainly due to unexpected (really?) pushback from the financial industry.
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!
The bailed-out banks have found a new way to annoy the government, according to the Congressional Oversight Panel, the body named by Congress to oversee the federal bailout. Chair of the committee and friend of the blog, Elizabeth Warren, is concerned that the same people who are subsidizing the banks are being targeted by abusive lending practices, says the Wall Street Journal
The House this week voted to empower the FDA to regulate tobacco, just in case people still smoke even after new taxes push the cost of cigarettes to over $9 per pack and the recession bankrupts everyone. Under the measure, which passed 298-112, the FDA would be able to set nicotine levels, control cigarette advertising, and require companies to provide a full list of cigarette ingredients. As usual, the killjoys in the Senate may force the House to smoke a light version of the cigarette bill…
According to Friend-of-the-Blog and now chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel examining the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Elizabeth Warren, our Treasury Department overpaid banks by as much as 30% for their assets.
President Obama has had it up to here with poor FDA oversight, particularly of salmonella-infested peanut factories, and he’s called for a review of the underfunded organization, according to U.S. News & World Report.