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Privacy Interests Debate Credit-Reporting Law
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Privacy Interests Debate Credit-Reporting Law

BY Drew Clark

Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

07/05/2003
Technology's Coming of Age: Part II
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Press Release

Technology's Coming of Age: Part II

The last column discussed the technology industry on the cusp of a new defining period of growth. As an industry matures, the “reward” is often to become a target for regulation: with the internet, when an industry becomes so pervasive to touch upon almost every area of the economy, it becomes subject to laws that address the old and are interpreted to the new. Laws regulating horse and buggy transportation could cause quite a traffic jam if applied to modern driving. Without a good navigation system, technology companies may find their fate as much determined by Washington as their own good fortune in this new age.

07/04/2003
The power behind the tax cuts
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The power behind the tax cuts

BY Fred Gaboury

In a brief period of two years, the right wing ideologues who control the federal government have been able to ram trillion-dollar tax cuts through Congress in 2001 and again in 2003, reduced a budget surplus to a deficit, and increase military spending while cutting spending for social programs. By their standards, quite an accomplishment. And the question becomes: How were they able to get away with it?

07/03/2003
Justices Add Fuel to the Fire
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Press Release

Justices Add Fuel to the Fire

From the Charleston Daily Mail July 3, 2003, Thursday Copyright 2003 Charleston Newspapers Two state Supreme Court justices laid the blame for some of West Virginia's economic woes at the feet of their colleagues in a dissent that accused the court of issuing decisions that destroy "the possibility of attracting new businesses and new jobs to West Virginia."

07/03/2003
Old Europe: Could America Follow?
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Press Release

Old Europe: Could America Follow?

Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld raised eyebrows when he referred disparagingly to “Old Europe.” It was a jolting description, and one that angered our allies. Rumsfeld was making a geo-political point about Iraq, however, the concept of “Old Europe” also applies to a fundamental crisis now hitting European state retirement systems. Indeed, Europe’s pension disaster offers a chilling glimpse at the potential Social Security calamity we face here in the United States.

07/03/2003
Texas Gov. Perry Opens Special Session
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Press Release

Texas Gov. Perry Opens Special Session

Gov. Rick Perry announced the addition of 28 issues to the call of the current legislative session. The governor’s action allows the Texas House and Senate to consider legislation relating to these issues during the special session.

07/03/2003
The power behind the tax cuts
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The power behind the tax cuts

BY Fred Gaboury

In a brief period of two years, the right wing ideologues who control the federal government have been able to ram trillion-dollar tax cuts through Congress in 2001 and again in 2003, reduced a budget surplus to a deficit, and increase military spending while cutting spending for social programs. By their standards, quite an accomplishment. And the question becomes: How were they able to get away with it?

07/03/2003
What Would Jefferson Do?
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Press Release

What Would Jefferson Do?

On July 4th in 1776, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the Declaration of Independence, a document that announced the colonies’ freedom from the British Crown. Written by Thomas Jefferson, the declaration of freedom signaled a new approach to governance, rejecting tyranny and despotic rule in favor of a government whose power was limited in scope and whose authority was drawn from the people it governed. As so eloquently stated by Jefferson, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Today, with the federal government alone consuming roughly 20 percent of the nation’s output, it may be useful to revisit the original tenets outlined by Jefferson.

07/02/2003
Connecticut CSE: No Tax Increases!
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Press Release

Connecticut CSE: No Tax Increases!

On Tuesday, Connecticut Governor John Rowland vetoed an interim budget proposed by state Senate and House Democrats. The spending plan would have cost the state $27.7 billion, creating a $1 billion budget gap. The solution from state legislators was to raise taxes, and the proposal included a $447 million tax hike. The plan would also raise taxes on business profits and license fees. Citizens for a Sound Economy supports the governor’s decision to reject the tax increase.

07/02/2003
New Jersey Tax Hike Plan Passes Legislature on Tuesday
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Press Release

New Jersey Tax Hike Plan Passes Legislature on Tuesday

With Governor McGreevey's support, the New Jersey state Senate passed a plan on Tuesday that will raise taxes by almost $600 million. Last year, Governor McGreevey passed the Business Tax Reform Act of 2002, which cost taxpayers in the state $2.5 billion in 2003. The governor promised not to raise taxes in his 2002 campaign, and Citizens for a Sound Economy’s 7000 New Jersey members are disappointed that McGreevey broke his no-tax commitment yet again.

07/02/2003

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