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.

Laurie Ristino's testimony to House Committee on Small Business on regulation and agriculture.

Laurie Ristino's June 21, 2018, testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business on regulation and agriculture, June 21, 2018.

Type: Legislative Testimony (June 21, 2018)
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Author(s): Laurie Ristino
Deconstructing Regulatory Science

Writing for The Regulatory Review, Rena Steinzor and Wendy Wagner observe that "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt recently opened another front in his battle to redirect the agency away from its mission to protect human health and the environment. This time, he cobbled together a proposed rule that would drastically change how science is considered during the regulatory process."

Type: Op-Eds (June 19, 2018)
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Author(s): Wendy Wagner, Rena Steinzor
Joint Letter to the National Academies on IRIS Process
Joint Letter to the National Academies on IRIS Process
Type: Letters to Agencies (Jan. 30, 2018)
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Author(s): Matt Shudtz
The House Recently Sided with Big Banks Over Consumers

The House Recently Sided with Big Banks Over Consumers, op-ed by Martha McCluskey

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 5, 2017)
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Author(s): Martha McCluskey
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

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