“The Republican Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.” So said Rep. Anthony Weiner of Brooklyn last month in front of Congress. As we move towards a historic vote on health care reform, let’s take a moment to throw some gas on the fire and revisit some of the awesomely incendiary rhetoric of this statesman on revamping our health care system. Now this a healthy health care debate!
According to the Wall Street Journal, Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, has offered to abandon the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) proposal in exchange for Republican support on other legislation. Nobody is saying anything official right now, but the WSJ reports that “the offer is conditional on the creation of a stronger consumer protection division within another federal agency.”
In case you missed it, Senate Democrats managed to succeed at their goal of pushing through some sort of health care reform bill before Christmas Day–the chamber voted this morning 60-39 along party lines and passed the bill. Up next: the Senate and House have to get together and negotiate some final version. If you want to compare what’s in the House and Senate versions, the New York Times has put together an excellent side-by-side comparison tool.
Senate Democrats have just hammered out a new version of their proposed health care reform proposal, and as a compromise they’ve removed the part about requiring a government-run insurance program. The public option is still part of the proposal, but now it will only be triggered if the private sector doesn’t create some new national nonprofit policies as spelled out by the government.
If you live in Chicago, New York City, or Philadelphia, expect to start hearing some noise about Walmart in the coming months. The retailer has announced that it’s going to “step up efforts to mobilize local political support” so that it can finally open stores in those cities, reports the Financial Times.
Yesterday the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced some findings from its study of the problematic Chinese drywall, which 1,900 Florida homeowners have complained stinks and makes people sick. The commission told the Associated Press that “no connections have been made yet,” but that they’re doing more tests—which means there’s still no definitive answer on who should be held financially responsible if the homes have to be gutted and repaired, which the Wall Street Journal says could cost as much as $25 billion dollars.
In the net neutrality debate, there are a surprising number of grassroots organizations (well, surprising to me at any rate) that have filed statements against the FCC’s recent draft of rules. Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica just published an interesting article where he looks at some of these groups and tries to figure out whether AT&T is secretly influencing them, or whether they really do think net neutrality will hurt those they represent–frequently minority groups–in the long run.
Earlier this week, a group of 70 law professors from universities across the country released a 16-page Statement of Support (pdf) detailing why they’re in favor of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Act. You can read the statement yourself via the link above, but we’ve summarized them below.
Memo to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey: when much of your customer base consists of reusable-bag-using, wheatgrass-munching “progressive” types, it’s probably not such a good idea to publish an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing current health care reform proposals. At least if you don’t want said customers organizing boycotts of your stores.
Yesterday, Consumer Reports noted that an anti-health reform politician is trying to convince senior citizens that they’ll be required to take lessons in euthanasia if any reform is passed. Regardless of what side you come down on with health care reform, this is flat out wrong. We care about this lie, which is still bouncing around the media, because it might interfere with the very real and useful tasks of setting up living wills and determining health care proxies—things that matter to both the elderly and the terminally ill.
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.
Ten years ago, Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports and owner of Consumerist) warned us all about the potential danger from bisphenol A (BPA) leeching from plastic containers into our food. It’s only in recent years that municipalities got around to banning the chemical—at least in containers designed for use by infants and small children.
It’s a good week for consumer protection against abusive credit card practices. Yesterday, the House Financial Services Committee approved the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, and this afternoon President Obama is meeting with officials from 14 credit card companies to tell them “that greater consumer protections are coming for their customers, with or without their cooperation.”
We don’t blame the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA)—
a pesticide an agribusiness trade group—for promoting its interests, but we still think it’s funny that they’ve asked the first family to not grow organic vegetables in the White House vegetable garden. MACA’s Executive Director Bonnie McCarvel sent a long letter to Michelle Obama reminding her of the importance of technology in modern farming, then publicized the letter via an email where she noted, “While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder.”