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Who Really Supports You Getting Ripped Off? Rand Paul


The World’s Worst Deliberative Body strikes again.

Inflation continues to ease. The Consumer Price Index was essentially unchanged in May, and on a 12-month basis, core inflation is at the lowest point in three years. Excluding shelter, which is being driven by a “price” nobody pays called “owner equivalent rent,” prices over the past year rose 1.9 percent, below the Federal Reserve’s target.

Yet people remain scarred by the prior run-up of inflation, and more than that by a sense of unfairness in the economy, the feeling that they’re getting less and paying more and even being duped in the process. The Biden administration is speaking to this discontent by creating a politics out of fighting the tricks and traps that create this perception. That agenda has become so popular that we saw an outrageously lopsided vote on the House floor last night.

By a vote of 384-25—a margin typically reserved for post office namings—the House passed the No Hidden Fees on Extra Expenses for Stays Act, bizarrely shortened to the No Hidden FEES Act when “Fees” is already in the title and doesn’t really need an acronym. This bill requires all added fees to hotel reservations and short-term rentals, including the insidious “resort fees” often imposed by hotels that have no resort amenities, to be disclosed and listed up front, so people know the price and can comparison shop accordingly.

The bill gives the Federal Trade Commission the power to enforce violations of hotel junk fee disclosures as an unfair or deceptive practice, and states can enforce as well. The FTC proposed a rule last October banning hidden junk fees of all kinds, and legislation on any one aspect would bolster their case.

The No Hidden FEES Act was co-authored by Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Young Kim (R-CA), a “frontline” Republican in a swing seat in Orange County, California, that Biden won in 2020. Here’s Kim speaking about the bill in ways that sound more like Elizabeth Warren: “These unexpected, deceptive fees hurt families, bottom line.” Resort fees cost travelers an estimated $2.9 billion in 2018, according to Consumer Reports.

This is actually the second junk fee disclosure bill passed by the House in the last month; the TICKET Act, which would also force all-in pricing, this time for concert and event tickets, passed 388-24. Clearly, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) thinks it’s good politics for Republicans to empower Lina Khan to stop businesses from enacting bait-and-switches on their customers. The only no votes came from the likes of Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and their colleagues in the Freedom Caucus.

Sounds pretty good, right? One slight problem:

There hasn’t been a vote on the TICKET Act in the Senate, and the Prospect has learned that the No Hidden FEES Act immediately drew a hold from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is fighting desperately for the rights of Hilton and Marriott and Airbnb to deceive customers. This isn’t about campaign money: Paul got all of $41 from Marriott this cycle, and nothing from other major hoteliers. He just has the libertarian belief that Americans should be left with no help to navigate the tricks-and-traps economy of corporate deception.

Rand is such a good man! Thanks Kentucky!

Now, David Dayen, who is always great and who wrote this article, believes that this is a political opportunity for Democrats. I don’t know, maybe? The problem of course is that Joe Biden is old and also is responsible for Roe v. Wade being overturned and also for TNT losing the NBA and whatever else the morons who make up the persuadable electorate think. So I have trouble seeing something like this registering at that level. But might as well try.

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