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THIS WEEK in The Halls of Power: Terrible trade deals, FEC reform, malpractice myths

We have lots on our plate This Week in The Halls of Power. From tackling legislation designed to undermine public "Public Citizen Lady Liberty"protections and issuing a new report on medical malpractice, to holding a press conference on the Hill where we will call for swift action to remedy the broken Federal Election Commission, Public Citizen staffers are putting on their best public interest game faces.

Tomorrow, Public Citizen attorney Scott Nelson will go before the U.S. Supreme Court to argue that the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) protects consumers from having to give up their right to sue when they seek help rebuilding their credit rating.  The CROA broadly prohibits credit repair organizations – businesses that take money in exchange for improving consumers’ credit – from engaging in fraudulent or deceptive conduct. It also prohibits them from requiring consumers to sign away their right to go to court, Nelson will argue.

On Wednesday, Congress will vote on the Bush-negotiated, NAFTA-style trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Even the official government studies say that these deals will increase our trade deficit. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Group says,

Bigger trade deficits mean job loss.

Furthermore, President Barack Obama is seriously upsetting his base by  pushing these trade deals, which he opposed on the campaign trail, and the majority of his own party will vote against them. Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Americans – across the political spectrum – oppose these kinds of trade deals too. Tell your member of Congress to vote against all three of these job-killing trade deals.

Also this week Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, will report on Obama’s transmission line regulation evisceration order from last week, as Obama’s commitment to renewable energy comes into question as much as his Bush-era stand on trade.

You’ll want to be sure to check back in with us on Wednesday to check out a new report we will be releasing on how Texas has fared since the state limited the ability of injured patients to go to court to seek compensation for medical malpractice. (Let’s just say, it’s not what you might have heard).

Thursday’s schedule is jam packed! Public Citizen will join several other organizations for a 2 p.m. Capitol Hill press conference in Rayburn room 2456 to call for the Federal Election Commission to do a better job enforcing campaign finance laws. The press event comes before a 3 p.m. House Administration Committee hearing regarding the commission’s performance.

Also on Thursday, we’ll be bird-dogging a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the REINS Act. This is another anti-regulatory bill designed to serve the interests of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Big Business’ best pal in proliferating propaganda. The REINS Act would undermine the public protections most crucial to our health, safety, environment and economy by requiring congressional approval of all major federal rules within 70 legislative days. Just look at Congress. How functional is it these days? Can you imagine what would happen if Congress had to approve every rule, whether about food safety or pollution? Our system of protections would grind to a halt. For Big Business, of course, that’s the goal, which is why we are working along with more than 60 organizations to stop it.

And believe or not– we are not done with Thursday yet. On that day, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Arbitration Fairness Act. This measure would ensure that consumers aren’t roped into giving up their right to go to court every time they buy a cell phone or computer, take a job, get a credit card or open a bank account. You might not realize it, but you give up your right to sue on a regular basis; so-called “arbitration clauses” are buried in the fine print of those contracts you probably don’t look at because you can’t change their terms anyway. We are working to ensure that you don’t have to give up your legal rights in this way.

Also this week, our money/politics and lobbying/ethics expert Craig Holman will be in Brussels addressing a conference of the European Parliament on its new governmental ethics rules. Nice gig if you can get it!