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

Over 100 groups call on Federal Reserve to Strengthen CRA
More than 100 national and local civil rights, fair lending and consumer rights organizations have urged the Federal Reserve Board to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a key anti-redlining and civil rights law. In detailed comments that addressed issues from access to credit, location of bank branches and investments in underserved communities, the groups laid out a plan for the Biden Administration to leverage CRA to ensure an equitable recovery from the ongoing economic, racial justice and public health crisis.

The pandemic’s impact on the digital divide: Low-income Americans need help now
The pandemic didn't create the digital divide, but it has certainly exacerbated it. Consumer Action and National Consumers League wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to applaud its efforts to bring broadband internet connection to low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, and its efforts to expand the Lifeline program to reach more low-income households. Today, Lifeline recipients can use a modest $9.25 monthly subsidy to connect to phone and/or internet services, yet only 1-in-4 eligible households enrolls in the program. As Americans continue to work, attend school, and conduct healthcare appointments online during the pandemic, it is critical that everyone has access to broadband internet.

Key DOT aviation committee lacks consumer representation
Coalition members wrote to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, and urged him to appoint a new slate of members to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) that genuinely represent key stakeholders in the travel marketplace to address issues like family seating, an air travelers bill of rights and airfare transparency. In its current state, ACPAC is skewed to preserve the interests of the airline industry over consumers. The ACPAC is supposed to be a forum to bring consumer interests and concerns to the DOT, however, it does not adequately address issues of concern to the traveling public due to its lack of meaningful consumer representation.

Immediate action needed to help keep families in their homes
As millions of Americans face continued hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates wrote to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to urge the Bureau to keep individuals and families in their homes. Advocates recommended specific steps the Bureau can take to help borrowers avoid foreclosure, including homeowners without federally-backed mortgages. They asked that the CFPB focus on implementing quick policies during this current crisis, rather than embarking on a larger disaster-related rulemaking, leaving time to analyze best practices and measure how well the policies adopted during this crisis worked to save homes.

The new California privacy agency should prioritize consumers’ privacy
The recently-passed California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) augments and supplements California’s existing privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It also creates a new supervisory authority for data protection and privacy in California — the California Privacy Protection Agency. Privacy advocates wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to select members to the new agency who have demonstrated experience working on behalf of consumers and a commitment to civil rights and ending discriminatory business practices.

Prioritizing health equity to overcome the coronavirus pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed stunning gaps in the U.S. public health and health care systems and highlighted the negative effects of hundreds of years of structural inequities and systemic racism on our communities. The U.S. COVID-19 response has been marked by politicization of public health, skepticism of science, and a lack of a national plan. For people with disabilities, low-income families, communities of color, and those living in congregate settings, COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities with fatal consequences. Advocates joined together in making recommendations to the Biden administration: from community mitigation to testing and tracing to safe quarantine, working and sharing lessons with nations around the world. An equitable and fair COVID-19 response ensures the safety and healthcare needs of our most vulnerable communities.

Advocates urge the Biden administration to slash drug costs
Advocates wrote to the Biden administration asking the President-elect to immediately implement a series of reforms to slash prescription drug costs once he takes office. Advocates urged the President-elect to authorize more generic competition through patent licensing, launch a demonstration project in Medicare to link payments to vastly lower costs paid broadly and prosecute pharmaceutical companies for anti-competitive behavior. Americans currently spend more on prescription drugs than anyone else in the world. There were 717 drug price increases so far this year, and just seven of them on generics, bumping prices up by 4.5 percent on average. It’s time to improve the lives of patients and families by lowering drug prices and making medicines affordable.

New banking rule aims to prop up fossil fuel industry
Consumer Action joined in opposing the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) deceptively titled Fair Access to Financial Services proposed rule. The rule would pressure and, in some cases, require banks to lend to fossil fuel companies, without regard to strategic or reputational risk. The proposed rule flatly contradicts the OCC’s mission by threatening the safety and soundness of banks seeking to mitigate climate-related risks. It twists the language of racial justice and redlining to justify pressuring banks to lend to the increasingly risky fossil fuel industry. Forcing banks to take on dangerous investments will stress the financial system and prop up a dying industry that continues to damage the environment.

California legislators urged to make significant investments in public broadband
Consumer Action joined advocates in urging California legislators to support the state bill "Broadband for All" (SB 4), which enables local governments to make a massive billion-dollar investment in public infrastructure by unlocking the bond market for local communities. The pandemic has highlighted the dire need to move quickly on providing broadband access, especially to underserved and underinvested communities. With one in eight families in California disconnected, and nearly one million school-aged children with no internet connection, the lack of access is creating additional hardships during a time when connectivity is more essential than ever.

It’s critical that the CFPB uphold strong lending protections for all consumers
Advocates joined together in submitting comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regarding the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Under the ECOA it is illegal to discriminate against a borrower “on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status or age in credit transactions.” This critical measure protects consumers from discrimination and provides access to safe and responsible credit products on fair terms. Advocates urged the Bureau to take no action that would weaken this critical regulatory measure so that all consumers and communities are protected from discrimination in the lending industry.

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