You may have heard that, a few weeks ago, a bunch of national public interest groups (including the National Consumers League) sent letters to Congressional leaders and President-Elect Obama calling for new pro-consumer policies that would help American consumers and workers on “pocketbook issues” and help heal our economic woes.
The groups recognized the threats against consumers’ rights and standards of living, including the mortgage meltdown, crazy high gas prices, fears about import and food safety, and unaffordable healthcare. When you think about it, things are pretty bad for us consumers these days.
One of the big things the groups (Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumers League, the National Consumer Law Center, Public Citizen, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group) are demanding is that the new Administration put a Consumer Czar in the White House.
The groups’ demand for a Czar is starting to get a little attention: the New York Times supported it in an editorial, the Consumerist has mentioned it, and the Wall Street Journal has blogged about it.
A little history: The United States Office of Consumer Affairs (USOCA) was established by Executive Order by President Nixon. Under pressure from Congress, the Clinton Administration allowed the office to be closed. The consumer groups are calling for the office to be reinstated as it existed under the Carter Administration, the time when it was most effective.
Under the Carter Administration, the director of the Office of Consumer Affairs had regular and direct access to the President. The office gave a voice to consumers and balanced and supplemented the ever-present and extremely well funded business lobby and Department of Commerce. The office was instrumental in victories for consumers, including: energy-efficiency labels on products; a program that simplified English in government documents; consumer rights regarding overbooked airline flights; a cooperative bank that would offer low-interest loans to public-interest groups; and increased competition in the trucking industry.
No wonder these groups are calling for a Consumer Czar! Show your support for these efforts today!