An executive at a for-profit college charged by multiple government agencies for allegedly deceiving students and pushing them into high-cost student loans recently complained that the school hasn’t had its “day in court.”
Cue the irony, because this for-profit college, ITT Technical Institute, has systematically denied its own students their right to a day in court.
Like other corporations seeking to evade accountability, ITT uses the fine print of its college enrollment forms to force its students into secret arbitration (and out of court) to resolve disputes. It also prohibits students from banding together in class actions against it.
Where is the students’ justice?
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate sponsor of the CLASS Act, called out ITT’s CEO for his glaring hypocrisy.
by Luana Wang
Once again, a new kind of shadowy organization is threatening the integrity of our nation’s public and political engagement.
If you’re familiar with campaign finance law, you might be thinking of groups famous for spending on political campaigns, such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads organizations, which have been accused of violating federal election law. Or maybe you’re thinking of the Koch-backed political network of more than a dozen different registered groups. Maybe you’re thinking of Patriot Majority USA, which has poured millions into political advertisements on behalf of Democratic candidates. But those aren’t the groups Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is concerned about.
On April 15, 2015, Sen. Hatch and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, urging the IRS to “clarify” the status of workers’ centers, charitable organizations which provide training and resources to low-wage workers. Because they advocate for workers in disputes, Sen. Hatch and Rep. Ryan have asked the IRS to classify these organizations as labor unions instead of charities for tax purposes, even though they operate very differently from unions.
Meanwhile, two days earlier, Sen. Hatch wrote to Commissioner Koskinen asking that the IRS stop working to clarify the definition of political activity for nonprofits, including politically active nonprofits like Crossroads and the Koch-backed political network. Many of these groups are registered as “social welfare” organizations, which do not have to disclose their donors and yet are able to spend millions of dollars influencing political outcomes due in part to ambiguities and inconsistencies in the IRS rules.
Public Citizen members and supporters like YOU are making a real difference in helping grow the momentum around the call for a tax on Wall Street transactions.
Last month, we joined in the Million Strong petition push as part of a worldwide action to make sure the eleven European nations that are negotiating a collaborative financial transaction tax stay strong and come out with a good proposal.
Here in the states, the campaign to achieve a tax on Wall Street trades captured an important win when the media last week began asking candidates if they will stand with Main Street or Wall Street when it comes to tamping down high-speed trading and market speculation by instituting a tiny fee on stock, bond, and derivative trades.
And, just last week, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) got a ton of much-deserved press for his proposal to fund free public college tuition by instituting a Wall Street speculation fee. At the same time, Sen. Sanders also introduced a Senate companion bill to U.S. Rep. Ellison’s Inclusive Prosperity Act, the first time the bill has been offered in that chamber. It’s clear that Sen. Sanders’ proposal will do a lot to push the public debate leading up to the 2016 elections toward looking at solutions like a Wall Street tax.
In addition to creating hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue, a tiny tax on trades on financial products could make a huge difference in taming Wall Street’s volatility.
By Robert Craycraft
Asbestos was once used as a flame-retardant and for electrical insulation in buildings, ships and homes. Before it was discovered to cause cancer, millions of American workers and veterans handled and were otherwise exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.
An unknown amount of the hazardous material is still present in our communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that roughly 3,000 people continue to die from mesothelioma and asbestosis every year; some experts estimate the death toll is as high as 10,000 annually when other types of asbestos-linked diseases and cancers are included.
In early February, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial, and Antitrust Law held a hearing on H.R. 526, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (or FACT Act). Generally speaking, the more transparency the better. However, in this case, the asbestos industry is using the guise of “transparency” to push the FACT Act as a way to delay compensation to asbestos victims and their families. The bill would require the trusts that manage victim compensation to retroactively compile information on all claims they’ve paid and to require the trusts to answer any and all information requests by asbestos company defendants.
These paperwork requirements could have the effect of slowing or even stopping the important work of the trusts to compensate victims that have developed deadly diseases like mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) called the FACT Act a “Trojan horse” which “guarantees that the insurance companies pay as little as possible.”