Congressional Democrats are joining forces with the Biden administration and a progressive advocacy organization to make junk fees a potent political rallying cry. They are wagering that this relatively small yet potentially impactful concern, often found around kitchen tables, will resonate with voters.
President Biden, as part of his State of the Union address this year, vowed to address unforeseen charges that are added to items like plane and concert tickets, hotel accommodations, medical and cellphone bills, and real estate transactions. Subsequently, he has collaborated with major corporations to ensure greater transparency in pricing with regards to all types of fees.
Over a dozen House Democrats across various states are planning events, coordinated with support from the Progressive Change Institute, to promote the administration’s campaign against junk fees. Such events have already taken place in suburbs of Detroit, Philadelphia, central New Jersey, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Similar initiatives are on the horizon in cities such as Pittsburgh, New York, Las Vegas, as well as in Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina, with more in the planning stages.
The Biden administration asserts that industry groups have embraced greater fee transparency, believing that it can offer consumers a more accurate cost picture for comparison purposes, as long as these practices apply across the board. However, capping such fees presents a different challenge and may lead to pushback, according to the administration.
Democrats believe that addressing junk fees is a smart strategy to show that they stand with regular people and are responsive not just to moneyed interests. They hope that this issue will resonate with voters and help them win elections in 2022 and 2024.
Here are some of the arguments that Democrats are making in favor of addressing junk fees:
- Junk fees are unfair to consumers. They can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the cost of goods and services.
- Junk fees are often hidden or difficult to understand. This makes it difficult for consumers to comparison shop and make informed decisions.
- Junk fees can have a disproportionate impact on low-income consumers. They can make it harder for these consumers to afford basic necessities.
Democrats are hopeful that the issue of junk fees will resonate with voters. They believe that this is a matter of fairness and economic justice. They hope that by addressing junk fees, they can show that they are fighting for the interests of working families.