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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Toward Common Ground

To break through the ideological divide that has dominated Washington this past year and offer

a pathway to address the nation’s fiscal problems, the National Taxpayers Union and U.S. PIRG

joined together to identify mutually acceptable deficit reduction measures. This report

documents our findings.

 

What follows is a general summary of recommendations that fall into four rough categories:

 

1. $214.9 billion in savings from ending wasteful subsidies,

2. $444.8 billion from addressing outdated or ineffective military programs,

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Ten Reasons Why We Need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Now

For years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, federal bank regulators ignored numerous warnings of increasingly predatory mortgage practices, credit card tricks and unfair overdraft policies used by banks. The banks were earning billions from “gotcha” practices. Incredibly, bank regulators actively encouraged this behavior, arguing it was profitable and kept banks safe. No regulator cared about its other (and, to them, secondary) job: enforcing consumer laws. Some regulators rejected the role and even actively worked to prevent states from carrying it out.

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace

Consumers across the state know that the health insurance marketplace is broken.  Insurers don’t compete for their business, instead offering take-it-or-leave-it deals.  Important information about coverage is buried in the fine print, making it hard to know what’s really covered.  Instead of working to lower costs and improve quality, too many insurers focus on covering healthy enrollees and dumping the sick.  And costs are continuing their unsustainable rise.  Nationally, the great majority of individual-market policyholders—77% —saw a premium increase from early 2009 to early 2010, with

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Tax Shell Game

Tax havens are countries with minimal or no taxes, to which U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals transfer their earnings to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Users of tax havens benefit from access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security, but pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system.

Abuse of tax havens inflicts a price on other American taxpayers, who must pay higher taxes—now or in the future—to cover the government’s revenue shortfall, or must deal with cuts in government services. 

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Big Banks, Bigger Fees

Since Congress largely deregulated consumer deposit (checking and savings) accounts beginning in the early 1980s, the PIRGs have tracked bank deposit account fee changes and documented the banks’ long-term strategy to raise fees, invent new fees and make it harder to avoid fees.

Over the last six months, PIRG staff conducted inquiries at 392 bank branches in 21 states and reviewed bank fees online in 12 others. 

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