Eight of the nation’s leading consumer groups are calling on President Obama and Congress to give consumers a greater voice in Washington, D.C., and to help them get a fair shake in the marketplace.
The groups are pushing for a wide-ranging agenda as the president begins a second term and lawmakers start a new session on Capitol Hill. The groups include Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports; Consumer Action; Consumer Federation of America; National Association of Consumer Advocates; National Consumers League; National Consumer Law Center; Public Citizen; and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
This agenda, submitted to the White House and Congress this month, calls for continued efforts to improve health care and stop rip-offs by financial services, as well as tougher safety standards for food and products. Other agenda items include privacy protections, energy and telecommunications reforms, consumer legal rights, and stronger policies to ensure markets are open and competitive.
“The agenda we are providing is a key starting point for our recommendations regarding the top issues for consumers,” the groups wrote. “By working together and helping consumers make more informed decisions, we are building an influential consumer movement that will be a force for change.”
The groups laid out nine major initiatives:
- Elevate the consumer voice in government by reinstating the position of the White House Special Advisor on Consumer Affairs, holding regular meetings with consumer leaders, and convening a White House conference on the state of the consumer.
- Continue to work to make health care affordable, accessible, and safe. The groups urged policymakers to protect funds for helping patients under Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act by reducing wasteful spending, not by gutting services or shifting costs to consumers.
- Expand and build upon the financial consumer protections secured in recent years, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Ensure the food we eat and products we buy are safe by moving forward on still-pending food-safety rules and implementing tougher standards for babies’ toys and other infant and toddler items.
- Provide consumers with affordable and sustainable energy options by promoting clean energy and addressing climate change.
- Ensure that the Internet and telecommunications services are affordable and widely available to consumers, and support measures to help Web users gain greater control over their private information.
- Strengthen regulations that improve consumers’ quality of life and protect their health and safety, such as rules that keep dangerous products off the shelves, and regulations that crack down on unscrupulous lenders and scam artists. At the same time, policymakers should oppose efforts to undercut the regulatory process and weaken these rules.
- Improve consumers’ legal rights by enacting legislation to make the justice system more open and accessible to consumers.
- Promote competition in the marketplace through tough enforcement of antitrust prohibitions on company mergers, and oppose monopolistic practices that lead to exorbitant price hikes and fewer choices for consumers.
Read the consumer groups’ letters and see the details of the agenda (both PDFs).