Seven leading consumer groups released their shared priority platform for 2009 last month. They sent letters to President-elect Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asking them to take action on financial meltdown, health care, energy, food safety and restoring legal rights. Quick and comprehensive action was urged by the groups. In addition, they are asking that the President and Congress elevate consumer protection as a priority by reinstating the long-dormant Office of Consumer Affairs, this time to be headed by a special advisor to the President in the White House. That person would in effect be a consumer czar. The list of priorities will be pushed as a united consumer front and that’s very good news.
The leaders of the public-interest groups want the adoption of six major pro-consumer priorities. Reinstatement of the White House Special Advisor on Consumer Affairs is a top priority. Leaders of the seven groups – Public Citizen, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumer Law Center, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, representing millions of American consumers – have united behind this agenda in response to increasing risks to consumer rights and protections.
During the Bush years we have seen consumer rights threatened and taken away. The severe financial crisis and mortgage meltdown, high and volatile oil prices, growing concerns over the safety of imports and food, and the rising cost of health care have all resulted from the Bush Administration’s total disregard for the plight of ordinary citizens in this country. I have never seen a worse Administration when it comes to consumer rights and protection than the Bush gang.
As a result of anti-consumer policies by the Bush Administration in these areas, the coalition of consumer advocates have developed an agenda to highlight some of the most critical issues facing the American public today. The leaders noted that Congressional passage of comprehensive Consumer Product Safety Commission reform this summer was a positive step, suggesting that Congress may be ready to consider other important consumer reforms.
As the events of recent months have shown, weak consumer protections don’t just harm individual Americans, but the economy overall. Inadequate laws and poor oversight of credit and financial services have led to a huge loss of wealth for many American families and were a major factor in causing the severe economic recession. This agenda is not simply a way to protect consumers, but to increase the economic and health security of the country. The six-point agenda includes:
• Restoring the United States Office of Consumer Affairs. This would include putting a consumer “czar” In the White House.
• Reining in Wall Street Excesses, Protecting Consumers from Abusive and Predatory Lending.
• Protecting Consumers from Price-Gouging in Oil, Gas and Electricity Markets, and Taking Steps To Provide Households With Access to Alternative Energy and Efficiency.
• Improving Consumer Access to Justice by Reinstating Legal Rights.
• Ensuring Safe, High Quality, Affordable Healthcare for Everyone.
• Making Sure Food Products are Safe, including imported products.
Hopefully, President-elect Obama and the new Congress will adopt these priorities and push them very hard. If so, the American people will see real change!
Source: Public Citizen
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