The Consumerist blog is supposed to be a pro-consumer blog, but it’s amazing how often their political agenda is really a trial-lawyer agenda that hurts consumers. Many of the 2007 bills Carey Greenberg highlights as consumer-friendly are quite the opposite:
- H.R. 3010: Arbitration Fairness Act of 2007
What It Does: Raises costs to and reduces choices for consumers and lowers employee wages by forcing consumers and employees to pass up the benefits of mandatory arbitration, whether they wish to or not. More at Overlawyered, and on SSRN.
Status: Hearings held in both the House and Senate. Likely to be vetoed if passed.
- H.R. 2881: The Passengers Bill Of Rights
What It Does: Raises costs to consumers by removing decisions about level of service from the marketplace and putting it in the hands of Congress, enforceable by trial lawyers with punitive damages.
Status:Approved by the House as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act, 267-151-14. Currently in the Senate.
- S. 2045: CPSC Reform Act of 2007
What It Does: Decreases consumer safety, raises prices, and reduces wages by (1) balkanizing enforcement of safety standards, and (2) creating a new cause of action that would allow employees about to be fired for incompetence to keep their jobs by making bogus safety complaints and then suing for alleged retaliation. More at the WSJ ($) in a editorial largely taken from an uncredited interview with me.
Status: Passed by the Senate Commerce Committee. Companion legislation with fewer problems unanimously approved by the House.
- H.R. 3915: Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007
What It Does: Raises interest rates and effectively bars refinancings and lending to the poor by (1) creating the right to sue innocent third parties over bad loans, and (2) creating a vague standard for predatory lending that almost anyone in foreclosure over a refinancing can delay the foreclosure by suing over. More by Ted Frank.
Status: Approved by the House 297-127-14. In the Senate Banking Committee.
- H.R. 946: Consumer Overdraft Protection Fair Practices Act
What It Does: Raises costs to and reduces choices for consumers who pay their bills on time by forbidding the opportunity to trade lower interest rates for higher fees.
Status: Introduced, in the House Financial Services Committee.
- H.R. 698: Industrial Bank Holding Company Act of 2007
What It Does: Bans Walmart from opening its own bank, reducing competition over banking services at the same time that Congress and Public Citizen are complaining about high bank fees. See Peter Wallison’s take (and earlier).
Status: Approved by the House 371-16-45, dead in the Senate Banking Committee. Meanwhile, regulators are blocking Wal-Mart’s move.