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Coalition Efforts

Consumer Action is working on these important issues along with other organizations. If you would like to know more about these issues, please see “More Information” at the end of each article.

 

Postings

CFPB urged to reverse earned wage actions that could create dangerous FinTech payday loopholes
A coalition of 96 consumer, labor, civil rights, legal services, faith, community and financial organizations and academics is urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to revoke or significantly revise two actions taken in late 2020 regarding earned wage access (EWA) products. The group argued that the CFPB’s EWA advisory opinion and PayActiv approval order, which declared that certain EWA programs are not deemed “credit,” threaten to create loopholes in federal credit and fair lending laws and are being misused to promote FinTech exemptions in state laws that regulate predatory payday lending products.

Free community college is the boost the post-COVID-19 economy needs
Coalition members penned a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer announcing their support for President Biden’s plans for free college tuition. Advocates are urging Congress to act because they recognize that President Biden’s plans for free college tuition are vital to their states’ economic recovery and workforce competitiveness. President Biden’s plans would help nearly 2 million more students go to college, generate $169 billion in additional GDP and strengthen our nation’s recovery from COVID-19.

The FCC should protect Americans from sneaky voicemails from telemarketers and debt collectors
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a request to allow the use of "ringless" voicemail technology by exempting it from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits most unwanted calls and texts. The new technology enables telemarketers and debt collectors to send potentially unwanted, prerecorded messages directly to the subscriber’s cell phone voicemail without ever giving the consumer the opportunity to answer—or to block—the incoming call. Consumer Action joined consumer groups in urging the FCC to deny the request to omit ringless voicemails from the TCPA. Ringless direct-to-voicemail messages are just as invasive, expensive and annoying as calls and texts to cell phones.

Biden’s Build Back Better Act to include historic expansion of funds to address homeownership gap for people of color
A broad group of consumer, housing and financial services advocates wrote the U.S. Senate to express support for the homeownership components in President Biden’s infrastructure bill, including first-generation downpayment assistance, support for Fair Housing enforcement, and investment in the Housing Investment Fund. Advocates noted that Biden’s Build Back Better Act funds important resources needed to address the decline of affordability and accessibility of homeownership in underserved communities. The housing market needs substantial investment to help increase the supply of affordable housing, improve access to homeownership, and address the troubling homeownership gap for Black and Brown people.

Protecting democracy from a lawless president
For decades, as the executive branch has increased its power, Congress has increasingly struggled to fulfil its constitutional duties to protect the rule of law by holding presidents accountable for overreaches and preventing abuses of presidential power. Advocates joined together to support the Protecting Our Democracy Act (HR 8363 and S 4880) in an effort to push for necessary institutional reforms to protect our democracy and restore Congress’s ability to check and balance the executive branch, without infringing on the president’s constitutional powers.

Requiring SSN collection by peer-to-peer payment services puts consumers at risk
Consumer rights groups sent a letter to Senators Ron Wyden and Mike Crapo of the Senate Finance Committee regarding a proposal under consideration in the budget reconciliation bill that would require peer-to-peer payment apps such as Square Cash and Venmo to collect Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) for virtually all payee accounts. Because, unlike businesses, most individuals do not hold a separate TIN from their Social Security number, these companies will be collecting the SSNs of millions of Americans, potentially putting their privacy and financial health at risk.

Congress to protect all Medicare beneficiaries in reconciliation bill
Consumer Action joined 45 leading consumer, disability, minority health and provider organizations in thanking Congress for taking steps to protect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries when adding new benefits to fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare and encouraging lawmakers to maintain this language in the final bill. The letter comes as Congress considers adding vision, hearing and dental benefits to FFS Medicare as part of its emerging reconciliation package.

HUD to tackle systemic racism and housing discrimination
Advocates joined together to support the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) decision to reinstate its Discriminatory Effects Standard, which ensures that housing practices that appear neutral in their design do not create or perpetuate discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion and other characteristics protected under the Fair Housing Act. During the Trump administration, HUD gutted this critical civil rights protection and made it nearly impossible to seek redress for fair housing violations that had discriminatory effects. HUD’s announcement today ensures that strong protections against discriminatory housing practices are clear and remain the law of the land.

A call for President Biden to end Big Pharma monopolies
Coalition members wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra demanding that the White House take on Big Pharma in an effort to curb drugmakers’ monopoly power in the soon-to-be-released HHS drug pricing competition plan. Advocates called on President Biden to end the era of abusive drug pricing and treatment rationing by challenging patents and expanding generic-drug competition. As Americans face a new surge in the ongoing pandemic, there is no better time than now to break up Big Pharma monopolies.

Everyone should have equal opportunities and access to products and services
Both Republicans and Democrats are calling for the continued universal acceptance of U.S. currency as a payment option for all consumers in the United States. The bipartisan Payment Choice Act of 2021 would make it illegal for retail businesses to refuse to accept cash for in-person, consumer transactions at stores nationwide. Consumer advocates support this important legislation, explaining that there are roughly 37 million adults in the United States who lack a bank account or credit card and need to use cash to pay for their necessities. 

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