Congress Redirects $303 Million from Pell Grant Program to Debt Collectors

From the Washington Post:

The measure, championed by Senate Democrats, would cut Pell Grants in order to free up money to pay companies that collect student loans on behalf of the Department of Education.

Sounds like robbing the poor to give to the rich.

Sherrod Brown’s Recommendations for Improving the FDCPA

From insideARM, the recommendations include:

  • Require that debt collectors, whether primary creditors or third party collectors, hold all relevant documentation before issuing their first debt collection notice to the consumer.
  • Require that information on prior collection attempts travel with the debt.
  • Prohibit the sale of unverifiable debts.
  • Eliminate the sale or collection of time-barred debt.
  • Issue updated guidance for consumer dispute procedures reflecting the new technological possibilities for documented consumer disputes.

Senator Elizabeth Warren


Harvard law professor, originator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and consumer-advocate-in-chief Elizabeth Warren will be a U.S. senator.

Senators Franken and Klobuchar Still Co-Sponsoring PIPA, but Interested in “Compromise”

According to the City Pages, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Al Franken aren’t quite giving up on the Protect IP Act in the wake of Wednesday’s internet-wide protest. Instead, they say they are interested in a “compromise” that will preserve the bill.

Aaron Rupar from the City Pages calls bullshit, and so do I. Even Michele Bachmann is on the right side of this issue, while Klobuchar and Franken remain anti-internet. Then again, this isn’t Klobuchar’s first piece of anti-internet legislation.

(Representative Keith Ellison, on the other hand, actually joined in the blackout.)

President Obama Plans Recess Appointment for Cordray

As part of their plans to grind Congress to a halt, the GOP swore to block any nomination of a head to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, according to the New York Times, the President plans to appoint Cordray while Congress is in recess. The legality of the move is apparently a bit murky, though, so we’ll wait to see how this plays out. (Hat tip to ShortFormBlog!)

Edit: Check out Cordray’s first post on the CFPB blog.

Tax Loopholes for the Rich Weaken the Middle Class

Most “regular” Americans—those making under $100,000 per year—pay about 35% of their taxable income to the IRS. Those who earn more than a $1 million per year pay less than 30%, and the wealthiest 400 Americans pay about 18%, on average. This makes the US tax code regressive: the less you earn, the more you pay.

Keep Reading »

Don’t Let the Government Ruin the Internets

Congress wants to create a totalitarian internet with SOPA and PROTECT IP, two bills wending their way through the House and Senate. These bills are even dumber than Senator Klobuchar’s attempt to turn kids into criminals for uploading videos of themselves singing along with their favorite artists.

But hey, it’s Congress. And senators and representatives are proud Luddites who laugh in the face of “experts” who say these bills will break the internet! Hey, you probably wouldn’t understand the internet, either, if you had to read email like this.

If these bills go through, the internet will look more like cable TV: hundreds of channels, and nothing you want to watch.

(Thanks, BoingBoing!)

Census Shows 1 in 2 Americans Are Poor or Low-Income

Is America sliding into the third world? Okay, probably not, but for the most prosperous country in the world, at least according to our marketing materials, 50% of Americans in or near poverty should have our leaders hanging their heads in shame instead of fighting about lightbulbs and threatening to shut down the government.

Senate Considers Eliminating Insider Trading by Members of Congress

Did you know that members of Congress are allowed to trade on insider information? Insider trading may get non-legislators tossed in jail, but according to 60 Minutes, our representatives prove “particularly adept at buying and selling stocks.” Democrats consistently beat the market by as much as 9%, and Republicans do pretty well, too. In fact, the Senate as a whole beats the market by 12%!

Keep Reading »

Will the CFPB Finally Have a Head?

The Senate is set to vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 10:30 a.m. today, after months of stalling tactics (including filibuster threats) by the anti-consumer faction in the Senate. This is a big deal, and if the vote goes forward, the first governmental agency actually on the side of consumers may actually have a head.

If you have a moment, call your senator at 202-224-3121, and urge him or her to vote! (Hat tip to US PIRG.)

Update: As expected, Republicans blocked the vote with a procedural measure.