Jan 30, 2009 | Click here to send an email.
The Commonsense Approach

Normally, 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 bailouts began?

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 are gone.

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 economy.

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


Understanding 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 Report?

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?

To 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.


To 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 free report?

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 contact them:


Visit www.annualcreditreport.com


Call 1-877-322-8228


Complete 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 ftc.gov/credit.  


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, click here.


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.


1. 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.


2. 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, click here


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 management plan, click here.



Subscribe to Congressman Forbes' YouTube Page


Congressman Forbes has a YouTube channel where he posts videos on current events impacting you and your family. Subscribe to his YouTube channel to be the first to know when new videos are added.

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Make Sure You're Prepared for College Expenses


With college tuition in Virginia on the rise, make sure you are prepared for college expenses. Use this calculator from Federal Student Aid to help determine your yearly college expenses.

Follow this link to get started.



A Guide to Avoiding Foreclosure


Whether you're in foreclosure now or worried about it in the future, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has put together information that can help.

Follow this link for information.


Other News

Jan 28, 2009 Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) Statement on Economic Stimulus Vote

Jan 26, 2009 Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) Receives Committee Assignments for 111th Congress 

Jan 23, 2009 Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) Supports Bill Designating January as National Mentoring Month


Congressman Forbes meets with Chesterfield officials to discuss transportation and water issues.

Congressman Forbes presents the Purple Heart Medal to Kelly Huffman, a Navy veteran.
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