Biden and House Democrats hope to make curbing ‘junk fees’ a winning issue in 2024


WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats are teaming up with the Biden administration and a progressive advocacy group to transform policy efforts to curb Junk fees In a political rallying cry, betting that the small but potentially powerful kitchen table issue will resonate with voters.

President Joe Biden I promised this year State of the Union cast To target unexpected fees charged for things like airline and concert tickets, hotel rooms, hospital bills, mobile phones, and housing transactions. Since then, he has worked with major companies to see that pricing is more transparent about all fees.

More than a dozen House Democrats across the country plan to hold events organized with the help of the Institute for Progressive Change to bolster the administration’s efforts to reduce unwanted fees. The events have already occurred in suburbs of Detroit, Philadelphia, central New Jersey, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Similar efforts are planned in the coming weeks in Pittsburgh, New York and Las Vegas, as well as in Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina. Still others are in the works.

“Hidden and deceptive fees cost Americans billions of dollars every year,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic House Leader. “House Democrats will continue to work with President Biden to fight these excessive fees, hold businesses accountable and lower costs for families across the country.”

representative. Elisa Slutkin A swinging Michigan Democrat who is now running for Senate, plans an event in a few weeks and said “the administration’s initiative to eliminate unwanted fees will put money back into people’s pockets.”

Fellow Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib She referred to seat assignment fees by saying she was “surprised to see airlines charging you more to sit next to your child” during last week’s event at a health center outside Detroit with the Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell.

installment is part of pedinomicsThe president’s effort to stimulate the economy by increasing social spending in ways he says can strengthen the middle class. It could ease inflation, which has eased in recent months but remains high. By metrics it is strong – with low unemployment and high wages – and Polls indicate that many Americans do not view this as positive for the Democrats.

“We have to be in a position to show people what we’ve done,” Biden said at a fundraiser for his 2024 campaign in New Mexico last week, referring to public perceptions about the economy. He added, “It just doesn’t show up. It takes time for people to realize why that is there.”

Calling it a “win for consumers,” President Joe Biden highlighted progress in reducing so-called unwanted fees as he met with executives from Live Nation, Airbnb and other companies that have taken steps toward more transparent pricing. (June 15)

The Biden administration has used executive actions to try to limit tickets and medical fees, and it has used federal agencies to try to rein in unexpected charges at banks, airlines and other sectors. President too Announced in June Company executives who met with him at the White House, including those from Live Nation Entertainment, Ticketmaster’s parent company, and SeatGeek, agreed to disclose more ticket fees up front so that consumers would have a better idea of ​​the final price as they compared their shopping.

House Democrats have introduced legislation to eliminate windfall fees, and at their events, some seek to localize the issue, inviting people to talk about their experiences of being forced to pay them.

One such story comes from Joe Pfister, a 36-year-old paralegal. He had been looking forward to buying a house for a year and a half and went on a tour of the Brooklyn Coop he eventually bought the day before New York shut down for the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. But he wasn’t expecting thousands of those. A dollar in additional fees that came later from the mortgage lender, real estate agent, and co-operative.

said Pfister, whose unexpected fees included more than a $400 survey fee, a $200 COVID-19 cleanup fee and a $750 deposit. “You were kind of in the way and you couldn’t get off.”

The Institute for Progressive Change’s political arm, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, was closely allied with the Massachusetts senator. Elizabeth Warren 2020 presidential campaignwhich was built around championing consumer protection and promoting progressive causes through economic populism. The fight against unexpected charges could be an extension of this theme, with appeals to progressives but also to moderate Democrats and swing voters.

“The surprise spam fee fight is very popular and bipartisan with the public because everyone hates these arbitrary extra costs,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Institute.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s campaign arm in the House of Representatives, says its members are spending the August recess announcing the economic impact of the Biden-backed legislation. Encouraging local chip production and the Inflation Reduction Act, which led to the development of green energy and greatly increased federal social spending. But some lawmakers, including in competitive districts, point to junk fee suppression as a pocket issue voters will feel more immediately than data points about the larger economy.

“Bidenomics is about growing the middle class, which is why President Biden is leading the fight against junk fees that unfairly drive up costs,” said Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for Biden’s re-election campaign.

The White House views these efforts as an example of good governance with bipartisan benefits. Consumer Reports Conducted a 2018 survey that found that at least 85% of Americans have encountered hidden or unexpected charges for a service in the past two years.

However, some Republicans dismiss the issue as a distraction that will not have a lasting effect. said Will Reinert, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican House campaign arm.

Republican Senator from South Carolina. Tim Scott“After fee control, income control, price control, it looks more like socialism than free markets and capitalism,” Trump, who is now running for president, told Fox News Radio in February.

The Biden administration says industry groups have embraced greater transparency about fees, believing they can give consumers a price comparison more accurate picture of costs — as long as they apply to everyone. But she acknowledges that setting such fees is different and may cause some backlash.

“I think most people experience at least one type of unwanted charge every month,” said Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council at the White House and former economic advisor to Warren. “Across party lines, there is broad support for addressing these fees, either eliminating them or disclosing them up front so people can shop with complete transparency.”

Pfister predicted that the fight against hidden fees will attract the attention of voters.

“I think that’s very much a working-class issue,” he said. “I think this is a good tactic for the Democrats to show that they are on the side of the average people – that they are not only responsive to financial interests and that they are doing something to protect consumers.”

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