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U.S. Public Interest Research Group Statement on the State of the Union Address
The State of the Union address is the President's opportunity to articulate his priorities. In a time of divided government, action on many of the President's priorities will require an agreement with Congress. However, it is notable the range of issues raised by the President where he and his Administration can take action independent of Congress:
U.S. PIRG could not agree more with President Obama that our politics shouldn’t be drowning in dark money. Citizens have a right to know who is behind the slick campaign ads trying to influence their votes. The President should urge the SEC to require all corporations to disclose their political spending up front so that shareholders and citizens aren’t kept in the dark, and corporations can’t avoid accountability.
On Consumer Protections
U.S. PIRG supports the great work that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has done to protect consumers against predatory lending practices We will strongly oppose any efforts to weaken the CFPB or any other parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. We applaud President Obama for renewing his vow to veto any attacks to this agency.
U.S. PIRG commends the President for backing the FCC’s existing authority to protect Net Neutrality. We will oppose any legislation aimed at hobbling or crippling FCC’s ability to protect the Internet from unfair practices, especially by its gatekeepers, the phone and cable oligopoly.
U.S. PIRG is working to ensure that transportation dollars are well spent for the future, including meeting the increasing demand for buses, trains, and infrastructure for walking and biking. We oppose the spending of federal tax dollars on highway expansion projects that are justified on unrealistic forecasts of future driving. We also oppose federal loans for public private partnerships that are financially risky because they are based on unrealistic forecasts of future toll revenue. While we agree with President Obama that infrastructural improvements are necessary, we think it is equally important that these dollars are well spent. President Obama’s Department of Transportation should ensure that the new reality of Americans driving less – which they recently acknowledged – is reflected in our transportation investments.
On Tax and the Budget
Corporate tax haven abuse costs the federal government $90 billion in lost tax revenue every year, forcing ordinary taxpayers to pick up the tab through cuts to public programs, higher taxes, or more borrowing. We applaud the Treasury Department’s guidance to crack down on corporate inversions, a tricky maneuver where a U.S. company changes its address on paper to a foreign country to avoid U.S. taxes. However, in addition to tackling several incentives to invert, we strongly urge the Treasury Department to issue a subsequent guidance to block earnings stripping, a strategy that allows companies to avoid U.S. tax by shifting profits made in the U.S. to tax havens.
Additionally, we strongly urge the Administration to reject any temporary corporate tax repatriation holiday — passing a tax holiday would reward the most aggressive tax dodgers by giving companies a massive tax discount on the profits they’ve booked offshore for tax purposes.
On Higher Education
U.S. PIRG shares President Obama’s sentiment that student loans are crippling our younger generation and that students should not have to go broke to pay for college. While it requires congressional action, U.S. PIRG applauds the President’s efforts to ensure two years of community college available for all those who are willing to work for it.
Please contact Mario Salazar, Legislative Director, with any questions (mario [AT] pirg [DOT] org or 202-546-9707, ext. 316).
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