you and I receive our daily dose of bad news by turning on our
television, plugging in an internet connection, or walking to the end of
our driveways to pick up a newspaper. However, these times are
different. Today it is delivered by a best friend who has lost his job
and can’t sleep at night because he fears he will lose his home, or by
one of our children graduating from college and quickly discovering
there is no job market, or by someone with whom we work or attend church
who has received the life transforming news of a major illness.
Last week, I received the news from my nephew that he had just watched
his house burn to the ground. When I arrived, I looked into the eyes of
a man who worked multiple jobs to keep his family going, and I watched
as his children sifted through ashes to find the charred remains of
memories they can never replace. No words were needed; it was a picture
I will never forget. I stared in the face of a family I love, who was
experiencing the realization that they had lost in a matter of moments
every material item they had worked for, received as a gift, or built
for over a lifetime.
Across America today there are families just like this who worry when
the quietness overtakes them that this economic crisis burning across
the globe could overwhelm them with a similar fate. Individuals
expecting to retire see those hopes dashed in a moment. People working
multiple jobs to keep their families afloat lose their jobs in an
instant. Young people with their entire lives before them recognize that
their hopes and dreams may be lost because they either cannot afford to
attend college or cannot find a job once they graduate.
That is why we need a bold plan of action, perhaps initially led by
government, but not totally dependent upon it. It has to be innovative,
but most of all it has to be an effective solution – not just effective
rhetoric. In this effort, Americans have been far ahead of their
politicians. They realize that a bold plan is not measured by its costs,
but rather by the strength and wisdom of its ideas. They also know it is
not measured by what the editorial writers or TV pundits say. And they
know it is not measured by its complexity. Instead it is measured by a
single criterion – does it work?
In order to work, it must have accountability and transparency, and it
must pass the simple commonsense test.
The simple questions we can all ask are these:
1. Have you received your check from any of the bailouts yet? I can
assure you many of the CEOs on Wall Street have.
2. Are you able to borrow more easily today than you were six months ago
before all of these bailouts began?
3. Are you less worried about your future now than you were before the
4. If the government asked you if you would feel better about your
economic situation by keeping $6700 for your family, or sending it to
the government and asking them to spend it however they would like,
which one would make you feel better?
I am one of only 16 out of 435 Members of the House of Representatives
who has voted against every single bailout and stimulus package in the
last two years. I did so because the packages lacked those critical
principles of accountability, transparency, and effectiveness.
Unfortunately, even many of the original proponents of the programs
admit that they have not worked and that they will not work. However, it
is our grandchildren who will be paying for many of them, years after we
Commonsense tells us that if we are trapped in the woods with a wild
animal attacking us and we have only one gun and five bullets, we have
to act fast, but effectively. How foolish we would be to fire all five
bullets in the air without aim, in our haste to act suddenly. We would
soon be out of ammunition. Instead, we would carefully target our shots
because we may not get a second chance.
These bailout programs have been more like randomly shooting in the air
than a targeted attack.
This week we voted on the biggest stimulus package yet. It is the most
expensive single piece of legislation Congress has considered, and the
total cost of this one piece of legislation is almost as much as the
annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government in 2007. I
voted against the $819 billion stimulus package because it, like all of
the others, failed to meet those three principles of accountability,
transparency, and effectiveness. Here are some things you should know
about the stimulus bill that came before Congress this week that your
children and grandchildren will be paying for.
● It spends an average of $222,972 for
every job it creates, with the average salary for those jobs in Virginia
being just over $35,000.
● The legislation contained 152
separate spending lines. Only 34 of those spending lines went directly
towards saving jobs for Americans, like highway construction projects.
117 had no job saving estimate associated with them at all, like $1
billion for the 2010 census or $800 million in funding for Amtrak.
● To impact our current recession, any
spending must happen fast. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget
Office has said only $26 billion of the spending approved in the package
is capable of being spent in fiscal year 2009, hardly providing the
amount economists say is necessary to have a meaningful impact on our
● The total cost of this package per
family in Virginia’s Fourth District is nearly $6,700.
I will continue to work for the opportunity to develop a bipartisan
solution for the families we all love, but this is not the time to shoot
aimlessly in the air and hope we hit our target. America is too great
for that – our destiny too important. We must succeed, for the price of
our failure is far too great.
Understanding Your Credit Report
your credit report and what effect it may have on your financial
decisions can seem like a daunting, confusing, and sometimes
nerve-racking task. Especially in the tough economic times we are
facing today, many people may be reluctant to check their credit report,
in fear that it could be more bad news. Your credit report, however,
can have a large impact on your personal finances, including your
decisions on purchasing a car or home, or the loans you get, job you
take, and future savings you make. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
provides specific information and resources on how exactly to check your
credit report and what your credit report means for your future.
What is a Credit
A credit report includes information on
where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or
arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting
companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers,
employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your
applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.
Why should I request
a copy of my free credit report?
make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before
you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy
insurance, or apply for a job.
help guard against identity theft. Identity thieves may use your
personal information to open a new credit card account in your name and
then not pay the bills, which will show up on your credit report.
How do I order my
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax,
Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your
credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The three
nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up a central way to
the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit
Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. The
form can be found at
Do not contact the three nationwide
consumer reporting companies individually; use this central contact
information instead. Through this contact information, you can choose
to either get a credit report from all three consumer reporting
companies at the same time or space out your credit reports over the 12
month period, opting for a credit report from one company at a time.
For more information on access to your credit report,
What if I find errors
— either inaccuracies or incomplete information — in my credit report?
By law, you are responsible for
correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take
full advantage of your rights under this law, contact the consumer
reporting company and the information provider.
Tell the consumer reporting company, in
writing, what information you think is inaccurate. The consumer
reporting company will investigate the items in question — usually
within 30 days. They also must forward all the relevant data you
provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the
information. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute
from the consumer reporting company, it must investigate, review the
relevant information, and report the results back to the consumer
reporting company. If the information provider finds the disputed
information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide consumer
reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.
Tell the creditor or other information
provider in writing that you dispute an item. Many providers specify an
address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a consumer
reporting company, it must include a notice of your dispute. And if you
are correct — that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate —
the information provider may not report it again.
For more information on how to dispute
a credit report error,
Are there other times
I am eligible for a free credit report?
Besides the three credit reports you
get from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax,
Experian, and TransUnion – you are also entitled to a free report if a
company takes adverse action against you, like denying your application
for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within
60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the
name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company.
You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and
plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your
report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
If you are not satisfied with your
credit report, there are ways you can improve it. For instructions on
how to build a better credit report,
click here. For information on using a credit counselor or debt