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Blog Post | Financial Reform

House Floor Vote on Budget Delayed over Special Interest "Riders" From Wall Street, Other Powerful Interests | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED: Opposition to a controversial provision authored by Citibank forced House leaders to delay consideration of the "CRomnibus" appropriations package just hours before funding for the federal government expired at midnight Thursday. Eventually the bill passed narrowly with the Wall Street provision intact. Action now shifts to the Senate, which has a 48-hour window to pass the bill, but any one Senator can block it under Senate rules. The provision would again allow Wall Street banks to place risky bets with taxpayer-backed funds, and require taxpayers to bail them out if the bets fail, repealing a key protection added in the 2010 Wall Street reform law. 

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

Maryland PIRG opposes proposal to greatly increase contribution limits as part of the omnibus spending bill

"In the midterms a month ago, we all saw yet another reminder of the dominance of big money in our elections. Yet, instead of advancing common-sense solutions to raise the voices of small donors, set reasonable limits on big money, and ensure that the public knows where campaign money comes from, Congress is now poised to approve changes to campaign finance laws that would give megadonors an even louder voice.  Most Americans find it hard to afford giving even one or two hundred dollars to candidates and causes they believe in, but these revisions would allow big donors to give over $200,000 a year to party committees.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Senator Coburn (R-OK) Slams Corporate Deductions of Legal Damages

Yesterday Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) published a guide to unjustified “giveaways” in the tax code. Included in the guide was a discussion and recommendation on the practice of corporations deducting the settlement payments they make in order to resolve accusations of wrongdoing against the public. He notes that the Department of Justice has the ability to render particular settlement payments nondeductible, but calls for legislation to disallow deductions for compensatory legal damages.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Financial Reform

Maryland PIRG Condemns Backdoor, Backroom Appropriations Proposal To Gut Wall Street Reform

"We join others, including Americans for Financial Reform and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (joint statement) and Public Citizen, in condemning this backdoor, backroom budgetary effort to repeal the Wall Street reform law's protections for taxpayers and Main Street from the riskiest derivatives swaps that led directly to the 2008 financial collapse, a taxpayer bailout for banks and a recession for everyone else.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

Supreme Court decision added $24.8 million in additional campaign spending by mega-donors

The Supreme Court’s most recent decision allowing more big money into our elections, April’s McCutcheon case, allowed $24.8 million in additional campaign spending by megadonors, according to new information released today by Maryland PIRG

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Senator Coburn (R-OK) Slams Corporate Deductions of Legal Damages

Yesterday Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) published a guide to unjustified “giveaways” in the tax code. Included in the guide was a discussion and recommendation on the practice of corporations deducting the settlement payments they make in order to resolve accusations of wrongdoing against the public. He notes that the Department of Justice has the ability to render particular settlement payments nondeductible, but calls for legislation to disallow deductions for compensatory legal damages.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Financial Reform

Maryland PIRG Condemns Backdoor, Backroom Appropriations Proposal To Gut Wall Street Reform

"We join others, including Americans for Financial Reform and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (joint statement) and Public Citizen, in condemning this backdoor, backroom budgetary effort to repeal the Wall Street reform law's protections for taxpayers and Main Street from the riskiest derivatives swaps that led directly to the 2008 financial collapse, a taxpayer bailout for banks and a recession for everyone else.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

Supreme Court decision added $24.8 million in additional campaign spending by mega-donors

The Supreme Court’s most recent decision allowing more big money into our elections, April’s McCutcheon case, allowed $24.8 million in additional campaign spending by megadonors, according to new information released today by Maryland PIRG

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous and Toxic Toys on Store Shelves

On Tuesday, December2nd, we're releasing Maryland PIRG’s 29h annual Trouble in Toyland report and list of dangerous toys. The report finds that despite improvements from recent product reforms, there are still dangerous toys on store shelves that pose a safety hazard. This year our report highlights potentially hazardous toys like toxic toys and choking hazards.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG and Demos | Democracy

Congressional Races Dominated by Big Money

In Maryland’s just-concluded congressional elections, bigger wallets gave mega-donors an outsized voice, according to new information released today by Maryland PIRG and Demos (report attached below).  The analysis found that in Maryland, candidates got 85 percent of their contributions from individuals from donors giving $200 or more – and nationally, 84% of individual contributions came from these larger donors.  Larger donors also played a central role in contributions to PACs, Super PACs, and party committees – when their fundraising is included with that of candidates, seven out of every ten dollars in individual contributions came from donors giving $200 or more.

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BPA Ban

In 2010, Maryland became the 4th state in the nation to phase out the toxic chemcial CPA from baby bottles and sippy cups.

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Ending Credit card abuses

Many abusive credit card practices, such as repeated over-the-limit fees and universal default are outlawed thanks to a 2010 federal law backed by Maryland PIRG.

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Voting and Democracy Protections

Money plays far too great a role in American elections, from the municipal level all the way up to the presidency.  Large contributions from a limited number of wealthy interests unduly influence who wins elections and reduce the role of citizen voters in our democracy. Maryland PIRG worked to protect voting rights and increase transparency.

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More and Better Public Transportation

In 2010, Maryland PIRG helped ensure that Maryalnd's transportation projects are in line with existing transportation goals

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Eliminating Toxic Mercury

In 2009, we played a role in addressing the largest manufacturing source of mercury in the state.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Transportation

Millennials in Motion

This report shows mounting evidence that the Millennial generation’s dramatic shift away from driving is more than temporary.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We Urge CFPB To Provide Mobile Financial Protections

Along with the Center for Digital Democracy, our co-investigator on a series of projects related to "big data" and financial opportunity, we've filed detailed comments to the CFPB regarding the need for strong consumer protections as more and more consumers use mobile financial services. We argue that "mobile technologies and services pose both opportunities and risks to consumers, their privacy, and to the kinds and price of services they are offered."

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health

Weak Medicine

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people per year in the United States, causing more than 23,000 deaths. State governments, the FDA and other branches of the federal government should take steps to protect human health from the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can develop on factory farms.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity. 

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Report | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Picking up the tab 2014

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars. Tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars – but they avoid paying for these benefits.

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Blog Post | Tax

Bipartisan Bill to Expose Tax Write-Offs for Corporate Wrongdoing Clears Committee | Phineas Baxandall

U.S. PIRG applauds the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee for approving the bipartisan Truth in Settlements Act. Thanks to a loophole in the law, companies paying out-of-court settlements to federal agencies can often deduct part of the cost from their tax bill as an ordinary business expense. This important bipartisan legislation would take the critical step of requiring the terms of these deals to be made public.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The CFPB at Three: A Child Prodigy | Ed Mierzwinski

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turned just three years old Monday, July 21st, but when you look at its massive and compelling body of work, you must wonder: Are watchdog years like plain old dog years? Is the CFPB now a full-sized, 21-year-old adult?

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Faces A "Death of a Thousand Cuts" Today | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, at 10 AM, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee considers a package of over a dozen anti-consumer, anti-investor, anti-taxpayer bills. U.S. PIRG and other members of Americans for Financial Reform have urged a no vote on all the bills targeted at weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Credit CARD Act Turns 5, A Big Success Story | Ed Mierzwinski

The Credit CARD Act of 2009, which had its 5th birthday on May 22, is a government success story that cleaned up a Wild West credit card marketplace by eliminating unfair tricks and traps without destroying the market. Despite “sky is falling” claims of impending doom from industry apologists at the time, the credit card industry is still strong and consumers can choose from a variety of cards.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The end of net neutrality as we know it? | Ed Mierzwinski

On Thursday, 5/15 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) meets to propose new rules "to protect and promote the open Internet." It has no choice because a U.S. appellate court threw out parts of its current rules in a January decision favoring the telephone company Verizon. The decision did not eliminate FCC authority to regulate the Internet, but it did make it more complicated.

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Priority Action

The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is threatening the effectiveness of lifesaving antibiotics. Call on the FDA to put an end to the worst practices.

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