SUPPORTING THE GOALS AND IDEALS OF FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH -- (House of Representatives - April 05, 2006)
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Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Georgia for yielding me the time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House Resolution 737 to designate April as Financial Literacy Month. This is the third year that I have introduced this resolution with my colleague from Texas (Mr. Hinojosa) to raise public awareness about the importance of financial education in the United States.
The state of financial literacy among our citizens may not garner much in the way of headlines, but it is an issue that should command our attention. It is a problem that is serious and urgent but is one that could be solved through education, and that is why I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.
In 2003 I worked with my colleagues and again Mr. Hinojosa to establish within the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, or the FACTA, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. We tasked the commission with establishing a Web site, a toll-free hotline, and a national financial literacy strategy. I am happy to say that the commission immediately launched www.mymoney.gov and 1-888-MYMONEY, and just yesterday it unveiled the national strategy report.
It is called ``Taking Ownership of the Future: The National Strategy for Financial Literacy.'' And it highlights best practices and outlines outreach and education goals for the public and private sectors. I would urge my colleagues to go to mymoney.gov and take a look at the report. It is a great roadmap for how Americans can improve their understanding of issues such as credit management, savings, and homeownership. It is my hope that this national strategy can serve as a focal point for the hundreds of groups out there who are stepping up to the plate on financial literacy. There are so many issues and so many groups of individuals who need help and want to help.
Since my colleague Mr. Hinojosa and I founded the Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus, which now has 68 Members of Congress, literally hundreds, if not a thousand, not-for-profit groups and private sector organizations have called us to offer their help or tell us about their financial literacy programs.
And I would like to take a moment to insert into the Congressional Record letters of support for these resolutions from four such organizations.
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Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank some of the people in my home State of Illinois who have demonstrated their commitment to educating Americans of all ages about savings and finance: Susan Beecham, founder of Money Savvy Generation and the inventor of my favorite financial literacy tool, the Money Savvy Pig; and then there is Joanne Dempsey, Illinois Council on Economic Education; and one of my good friends, the other Judy from Illinois, Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka.
Mr. Speaker, most of our States do not require schools to have financial literacy programs, and the majority of students failed a basic financial literacy exam. Many eighth graders do not know the difference between cash, checks, and credit cards. And most college students have at least one credit card with a large unpaid cash balance. Adults have not fared very well either, and the number of ``unbanked'' households in the United States is estimated to be close to 10 million.
Studies show that Americans are not saving for life's expensive, and at times unexpected, needs such as education, retirement, and health care. Now is the time for us to encourage our children and adults to learn about finance and economics and engage in good budget and long-term savings habits.
I want to thank my distinguished colleague and friend, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hinojosa), for his dedication to this issue and sponsorship of this resolution. I would also like to thank the chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Davis) for cosponsoring this resolution and moving it through his committee. And I would especially like to thank the gentleman from Georgia for managing this resolution and my colleague from Illinois (Mr. Davis) for managing the resolution. And last I would like to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier) and the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Mrs. Johnson) for their support of the resolution and their commitment to financial literacy.
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