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IRS Admits Data Breach Worse Than Thought, Will Congress Do Wrong Thing Anyway? | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the IRS has admitted that thieves accessed the personal information -- enough to allow them to take your tax refund -- of an additional 220,000 taxpayers, on top of the 114,000 reported in May. Meanwhile, we remain  concerned that Congress will use continued publicity about the Target breach and other breaches as an excuse to pass dangerous data security legislation. Dangerous? Yes, because it would only protect against limited financial identity theft harms, but eliminate stronger state protections against the harms posed by the IRS breach, the health insurance breaches and the OPM breach.

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Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Mortgage and Mortgage Complaints

This is the sixth in a series of reports that review complaints to the CFPB nationally and on a state-by-state level. In this report we explore consumer complaints about mortgages, with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with mortgage originators and servicers.

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News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

New Report: Mortgage Problems Rank #1 at CFPB for Consumer Complaints

Mortgage problems were the top source of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to a report released by the WashPIRG Foundation. The report also found that Bank of America was the most complained about company in Washington for mortgage problems. 

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News Release | WashPIRG | Transportation

Transportation Deal Wasteful, Misguided, Environmentally Irresponsible

WashPIRG is calling on state representatives to reject the transportation deal, as wasteful and full of misplaced priorities.  WashPIRG has opposed previous iterations of the transportation package because they would increase taxes to pay overwhelmingly for highway expansions that are largely unjustified, and would worsen pollution and climate change emissions – all while shortchanging funding for the repair and maintenance of our existing roads and bridges.  The deal crafted by state leaders will worsen the state of repair of Washington’s transportation system – reducing the ratio of funding to bridge repair and maintenance and doubling down on funding for questionable projects such as the Puget Sound Gateway.  

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Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health

Letter to Subway President and CEO Fred De Luca

A letter signed by nearly 60 public interest, medical, public health, environmental and animal welfare organizations was delivered to Subway Founder and CEO Fred DeLuca and Senior VP Suzanne Greco today, asking the restaurant giant to phase out meats produced with routine use of antibiotics (i.e. for growth promotion and disease prevention), on June 23, 2015. As the largest fast-food chains in the world, Subway’s action on this issue would help tackle the growing health crisis of antibiotic resistance. 

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News Release | WashPIRG | Health Care

Twenty Top Generic Drug Delayed by Industry Payoffs

Washingtonians with cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and other conditions have been forced to pay an average of 10 times more than necessary for at least 20 blockbuster drugs, according to a report released today by Washington State Public Interest Research Group (Washington) and Community Catalyst. 

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News Release | WashPIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rates for 104,863 Student Loan Borrowers in Washington Double

Due to Congressional inaction, the interest rates on federally subsidized student loans doubled on July 1 from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The change will affect 104,863 students in Washington, and in total the rate increase will hike the cost of Washington students’ loans by $96.4 million. That translates into a $919 increase in debt per student, per loan.  However, because most new student loans are issued in August and September, Congress can still pass a retroactive fix.  

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News Release | WashPIRG | Health Care

Big Pharma's Pay-for-Delay Deals Take a Hit

Big Pharma’s controversial “pay-for-delay” agreements took a hit today. In FTC v. Actavis, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FTC’s case against AndroGel's anti-competitive practices can move ahead in the lower courts. 

AndroGel offered payments to generic firms for not bringing their products to market. The court chose not to declare all such payoffs unlawful, spurring consumer advocates to call on Congress to finish the job. 

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News Release | WashPIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rates for 104,863 Student Loan Borrowers in Washington Set to Double on July 1

Unless Congress acts, on July 1, the interest rate for 104,863 student loan borrowers in Washington will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. According to an issue brief released today by WashPIRG, the rate increase would hike the cost of Washington students’ loans by $96.4 million. That translates into a $919 increase in debt per student, per loan.

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News Release | WashPIRG | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Washington Taxpayer $1,091 a Year, Washington Small Business $3,616

With Tax Day approaching, it’s a good time to be reminded of where our tax dollars are going. WashPIRG released a new study which reveals that the average Washington taxpayer in 2012 would have to shoulder an extra $1,091 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals. 

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Report | WashPIRG | Transportation

Fix-It-First

One out of every twenty bridges in Washington is likely to be deficient, for a total of 394 deficient bridges. An unacceptable 5.1 percent of bridges statewide are rated structurally deficient. According to 2009 inspection data and costs, Washington would need $2.31 billion to bring all of our bridges into a state of good repair. By comparison, Washington spent $93 million total on bridge repair and replacement in 2008. There’s a clear need for robust investment in repairing and replacing our bridges.

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Report | Food

Apples to Twinkies

America is facing an obesity epidemic – one that’s hitting children especially hard. Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last three decades, with one in five kids aged 6 to 11 now obese.

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Report | U.S. Public Interest Research Group and National Taxpayers Union | 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 WashPIRG joined together to identify mutually acceptable deficit reduction measures. This report documents our findings.

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Report | WashPIRG | Financial Reform

Ten Reasons Why We Need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Now

This report outlines predatory financial practices that hurt consumers and helped collapse the economy, costing us eight million jobs, millions of foreclosed homes and trillions of dollars in lost home and retirement values. It explains these and other emerging problems as “10 Reasons We Need The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Now.”

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Report | WashPIRG | Budget

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.

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Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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