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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund and Demos | Democracy

The Dominance of Big Money in the 2014 Congressional Elections

In 2014, large donors accounted for the vast majority of all individual federal election contributions this cycle, just as they have in previous elections. Seven of every 10 individual contribution dollars to the federal candidates, parties, PACs and Super PACs that were active in the 2013-2014 election cycle came from donors who gave $200 or more. Candidates alone got 84 percent of their individual contributions from large donors.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Big Money Dominates in Congressional Primaries

Our analysis of fund-raising data from 2014’s congressional primaries examines the way these dynamics are playing out state by state across the country. While some states show markedly more inequity than others, the picture painted by the data is of a primary money race where large donors carry more weight than ordinary Americans. Nationwide, just under two-thirds of all candidate contributions came from the largest donors (those giving over $1,000). And fewer than 5,500 large donors matched the primary contributions coming from at least 440,000 donors nationwide.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Millennials in Motion

Millennials are less car-focused than older Americans and previous generations of young people, and their transportation behaviors continue to change in ways that reduce driving. Now is the time for the nation’s transportation policies to acknowledge, accommodate and support Millennials’ demands for a greater array of transportation choices.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Weak Medicine

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people per year in the United States, causing more than 23,000 deaths. State governments, the FDA and other branches of the federal government should take steps to protect human health from the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can develop on factory farms.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

The Unfriendly Skies

It seems as if every consumer has an airline problem story—how they were trapped on the tarmac, tricked by fees, missed their connection, or lost their bag. What many consumers don’t know is that they have a number of new rights as well as a right to complain, both to the airline and to the government. This report tracks five years of consumer complaints and highlights which airlines received the most complaints and what kinds of complaints were most common.

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Inquirer: Bank elsewhere to avoid fees

With its latest fee, Bank of America has made the decision to balance its books on the backs of its customers, instead of changing its business model to be more consumer-friendly. ("Bank of America to charge $5 debit card fee," Friday). Chase and Wells Fargo are also testing a $3 debit card fee in certain markets.

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Media Hit | Budget, Transportation

Report ranks PA bridges worst in country

(Philadelphia) -- A recent report ranks Pennsylvania number one in the nation for its number of structurally deficient bridges. The Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group published the study saying more than 26 percent of the state's bridges are rated structurally deficient. Group associate Alana Miller says the state should focus on fixing existing bridges, rather than building new ones.

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Media Hit | Budget, Transportation

Keeping turnpike helps

One benefit of publicly held capacity is that it can be redeployed to other public needs in case of emergencies like extreme weather events. If the Pennsylvania Turnpike had been privatized last year, the private operator wouldn't likely have sacrificed their shareholders' interests by lending critical machinery and crews to help municipalities after the storm (Cheers & Jeers: Flood woes; Sept. 17).

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Data Shows Pennsylvania’s Bridges Are Worst in the Country on Eve of Obama Bridge Speech

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 22 – With President Obama calling for robust investments in repairing America’s crumbling roads and bridges today, PennPIRG released data documenting the number of “structurally deficient” bridges in the state.

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Media Hit | Food

Consumer Activists Say US Government Is Promoting Obesity

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -  A local activist group says if the government wants to battle childhood obesity, cutting subsidies to corn farmers would be a good start.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Making the Grade

When it comes to health care, there are few magic-bullet solutions for the many problems consumers face in the marketplace: insurers don’t compete for their business, leading to higher prices and lower quality. Important information about coverage is buried in the fine print, making it hard to know what’s really covered or which plan is right. And costs are continuing their unsustainable rise.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Transportation

Fixing It First

America’s infrastructure is showing its age. Our nation’s roads, highways and bridges have increasingly received failing scores on maintenance and upkeep. For the nation’s bridges, lack of maintenance can result in the sudden closure of a critical transportation link or, far worse, a collapse that results in lost lives and a significant loss in regional economic productivity.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Food

Apples to Twinkies

The rise in childhood obesity has many causes, but one of the most important is the increased prevalence of high-fat, heavily sweetened junk food.  And shockingly, American taxpayers are spending billions to subsidize junk food ingredients, making the problem worse.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Ten Reasons We Need Consumer Financial Protection

For years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, federal bank regulators ignored numerous warnings of increasingly predatory mortgage practices, credit card tricks and unfair overdraft policies used by banks. The banks were earning billions from “gotcha” practices. Incredibly, bank regulators actively encouraged this behavior, arguing it was profitable and kept banks safe. No regulator cared about its other (and, to them, secondary) job: enforcing consumer laws. Some regulators rejected the role and even actively worked to prevent states from carrying it out.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Tax Shell Game

Tax havens are countries with minimal or no taxes, to which U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals transfer their earnings to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Users of tax havens benefit from access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security, but pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system.

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