Consumer Protection

Is our food safe? What about the drugs we take? The cars we drive and the products we buy? Are the banks, credit card companies and lenders dealing fairly with us? In each case, federal agencies are charged with making sure the answer is “yes.” But examples of unsafe products and unfair practices abound in the marketplace.

For years, General Motors hid from regulators evidence that an ignition switch the company used in its Cobalts, Opels, Pontiacs, and Saturns had such a hair trigger that a light brush by the driver’s hand or knee would shut down the engine, disabling air bags and power steering. The resulting loss of control caused at least 13 fatal accidents. GM's ability to avoid detection for so many years says as much about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's weak enforcement record as anything.

Other examples abound. From tainted peanut butter to toxic drywall, to lead-laden imported toys, such instances of unsafe food, drugs, automobiles and products are all too dangerous evidence of a failed system of regulation and enforcement. Often the failure is the result of neglect – a lack of political will to spend the money required to conduct meaningful research and enforcement. Sometimes the cause is ideological: a conviction that safeguards interfere unduly with industry profits. Either way, the result is that industry is spared the costs of being accountable for unsafe production practices, shifting those costs instead to consumers in the form of injuries, illness and worse.

Below, see what CPR Members Scholars and staff have had to say about it in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.

Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor June 8, 2017 letter to Congress re HR 1215 and medical malpractice torts.

Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor's June 8, 2017 letter to Congress re HR 1215 and medical malpractice torts.

Type: Legislative Testimony (June 8, 2017)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor
EPA Scientists said 'ban pesticide chlorpyrifos'; Scott Pruitt said 'no'

EPA Scientists said ban pesticide chlorpyrifos. Scott Pruitt said 'no,' by Carl Cranor

Type: Op-Eds (June 7, 2017)
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Author(s): Carl Cranor
Congressional Review Act Targets

In the first few months of the Trump administration, Congress invoked a rarely used, little-known law called the Congressional Review Act to repeal a host of health, safety, and environmental regulations adopted during the Obama administration after years of consideration and public input. CPR tracked the congressional assault on our safeguards. See our chart from May 2017 detailing the damage.

Type: Reports (May 25, 2017)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy, James Goodwin
Regulatory Targets: Congressional GOP Takes Aim at Safeguards

In the first four months of his presidency, Donald Trump and his congressional allies used the Congressional Review Act to repeal 14 Obama era health, safety, labor, financial, education, energy, environmental rules. The law allows Congress to block "major" rules within 60 legislative days of adoption, with a joint resolution (not subject to the Senate's normal 60-vote requirement) and president's signature. CPR tracked the damage.

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Author(s): Katie Tracy, James Goodwin
Beware Compounded Drugs -- Especially Under Trump’s FDA

Writing for The American Prospect, Rena Steinzor observes that a burgeoning and little-regulated private industry that specially mixes drugs at so-called compounding pharmacies poses a public-health hazard that the Trump administration will only make worse.

Type: Op-Eds (Dec. 8, 2016)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Wave of Corporate Wrongdoing Demands More Prosecution, Not Less

Writing for the Huffington Post, Rena Steinzor and Dan Dudis point to a recent wave of corporate criminality -- from the Wells Fargo fake account scandal to the Volkswagen scheme to evade air pollution standards -- and call for criminal prosecutions of companies and their leaders.

Type: Op-Eds (Nov. 30, 2016)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
The Truth About Torts: Regulatory Preemption at the Federal Aviation Administration

The Truth About Torts: Regulatory Preemption at the Federal Aviation Administration, CPR Paper 1608, by CPR Member Scholars Thomas McGarity, Nina Mendelson, Sidney Shapiro, and CPR Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin and CPR Policy Analyst Mollie Rosenzweig

Type: Reports (Nov. 28, 2016)
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Author(s): Nina Mendelson, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, James Goodwin, Mollie Rosenzweig
Coalition Comments on 'Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances' Rule

Coalition comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on proposed rules to align its regulations for new chemical uses with OSHA rules.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Nov. 21, 2016)
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Comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau re its proposal to limit the use of forced arbitration

Comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau re its proposal to limit the use of forced arbitration from Martha McCluskey, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, James Goodwin, and Mollie Rosenzweig, August 22, 2016. 

Type: Letters to Agencies (Aug. 22, 2016)
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Author(s): Martha McCluskey, Sidney Shapiro, Mollie Rosenzweig, James Goodwin, Thomas McGarity

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