Posts Tagged ‘REINS’

"Public Citizen Lady Liberty"The battle between corporate interests and the public interest is on again this week. We are working to ensure the public interest prevails!

On Tuesday, there will be a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee because some in Congress aren’t pleased with the legislative momentum of the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge” (STOCK) Act, a bill with a Senate counterpart that takes aim at elected officials personally benefiting from insider trading information they are often privy to as members of select committees. As Public Citizen’s lobbying and money/politics expert Craig Holman explains,

The panel is geared toward killing the bill by arguing that congressional insider trading is already illegal, despite the fact it has never been enforced when it comes to Congress.

According to Holman,  “The STOCK Act is a legislative imperative. We know that many members of Congress are active traders in the market, and they enjoy a 6 percent higher rate of return on their investments than the market. Either these members of Congress are geniuses when it comes to stock trading, or they know something the rest of us don’t – and trade on it.” We are sending a letter to lawmakers encouraging them to stop with the committee panel theatrics and go ahead and pass this bill.

On Wednesday, the House votes on the third of three anti-consumer bills designed to eviscerate the process that brings us clean air rules, food safety regulations and other sensible safeguards. This time, lawmakers will vote on  the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011 (H.R. 10/S. 299). This bill is nothing short of an attempt to repeal the 21st century, so expect a statement from the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards!

Also on Wednesday, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, will be holding a seminar during the MIT Knight Journalism Program’s Medical Evidence Boot Camp in Cambridge, Mass.

And on Thursday, we expect a vote in the Senate on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is still not fully functional because it lacks a director! Republicans are threatening to block the nomination because they want to first weaken the agency before it even gets fully off the ground. Have they already forgotten about the 2008 Wall Street crash? Look for a showdown on this one.

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We have lots on our plate This Week in The Halls of Power. From tackling legislation designed to undermine public "Public Citizen Lady Liberty"protections and issuing a new report on medical malpractice, to holding a press conference on the Hill where we will call for swift action to remedy the broken Federal Election Commission, Public Citizen staffers are putting on their best public interest game faces.

Tomorrow, Public Citizen attorney Scott Nelson will go before the U.S. Supreme Court to argue that the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) protects consumers from having to give up their right to sue when they seek help rebuilding their credit rating.  The CROA broadly prohibits credit repair organizations – businesses that take money in exchange for improving consumers’ credit – from engaging in fraudulent or deceptive conduct. It also prohibits them from requiring consumers to sign away their right to go to court, Nelson will argue.

On Wednesday, Congress will vote on the Bush-negotiated, NAFTA-style trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Even the official government studies say that these deals will increase our trade deficit. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Group says,

Bigger trade deficits mean job loss.

"This Week Rachel Lewis "We are already off to a big start this week, once again working hard while Congress is on vacation. One of our biggest tasks at hand is countering the misinformation many corporate-backed GOP lawmakers in Congress are pushing. Lax regulation was a chief culprit in a number of recent disasters in the U.S.  The financial meltdown, the BP oil spill and the Upper Big Branch mine explosion each demonstrate the need for government oversight of corporations. Despite this, there are several bills gaining steam in Congress that seek to undermine efforts to establish commonsense protections.  In the case of the REINS Act, which we just released a fantastic report on called  Decoding the Bill, the degree to which major electric utility companies are ready to shell out millions to lobby for its passage calls into question the “deregulation will help small businesses” rationale.

Today we just released a new analysis entitled, Regulations At Work: Five Rules that Save Workers’ Lives and Protect their Health.  As it turns out, regulations aren’t so bad! Read the report and also check out Public Citizen’s workplace health and safety expert Justin Feldman’s blog post from earlier today, “I don’t mind working, I do mind dying.”

Also today, per our usual– we are fighting back against hydraulic fracking. Late last week, a subcommittee of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) studying fracking issued some recommendations. Well, we submitted comments to the subcommittee, whose makeup isn’t exactly balanced, and now we are submitting a second round of comments because the recommendations do not adequately address the many problems with fracking. According to our energy program director Tyson Slocum in a just released statement, among the solutions Public Citizen has proposed is a repeal of the various exemptions the natural gas industry has received from federal environmental laws; the denial of drilling companies’ “proprietary” right to keep secret the identity of toxic materials they inject underground and an emphasis on improved outreach to affected communities. Click here to read the rest of Tyson Slocum’s statement on the DOE’s fracking recommendations.

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Despite repeated claims by Republicans that their signature anti-regulatory measure, the REINS Act (“Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny”) is geared toward helping small business, Public Citizen has learned that the energy industry has by far exerted the most lobbying influence in support of the proposed legislation.

Today’s  report is being released just days after Republicans announced their intention to make passage of the REINS Act a central feature of their legislative agenda this fall. Soon, Republicans will be unleashing a new wave of rhetoric about how overregulation is killing small businesses and preventing job creation, without any mention of the essential benefits that regulation provides in the form of clean air and water, safe food and consumer products, a sound financial system and strong workplace safety protections.

In spite of the Republicans’ insistence that small businesses stand to benefit the most from REINS, lobbying disclosures analyzed in the report reveal that the dominant force behind the push for REINS is in fact a particular industry composed almost exclusively of large corporations: the energy industry.

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