Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I am looking forward to learning more about Judge Sotomayor, President Obama’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, during the confirmation hearings. While the House doesn’t get a vote on this; like many Americans, I want to know more about her record on the bench, her qualifications for this very important post, and her understanding of the proper role of the Supreme Court in protecting our Constitution and our laws.
In fact, I think the confirmation process is a wonderful opportunity for all Americans to reflect again on our Constitution and appreciate the very special roles of all parts of our government in preserving our liberties. Senators must ask tough, substantive questions to determine if the nominee respects the Constitution and laws as written or is instead inclined to rewrite them to fit with her own political worldview, the traditional purview of the legislative branch.
We know from past statements that President Obama's ideal nominee is one "who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old—and that's the criterion by which I'll be selecting my judges."
In fact, explaining his vote against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, Obama declared that deciding the "truly difficult" cases requires a judge to resort to "one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy. The critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart."
One wonders what he found lacking in Chief Justice Roberts’ heart; but still more disconcerting is the fact that a Justice's role is to interpret the law, not make it based on feelings and emotions.
Judge Sotomayor has admitted that she applies her feelings and personal politics when deciding cases. In a 2001 speech at Berkeley, she stated that she believes it is appropriate for a judge to consider their “experiences as women and people of color,” which she believes should “affect our decisions.” She went on to say in that same speech “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
She reiterated her commitment to that judicial philosophy at Duke Law School in 2005 when she stated that the “Court of Appeals is where policy is made.”
If this is truly her view of interpreting the law, and I do hope we’ll learn more through a thorough evaluation and confirmation process, then President Obama’s nominee appears lacking.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Small businesses are the backbone of our nation's economy, yet the Obama Administration Auto Task Force is planning to eliminate more than 3,000 Chrysler and GM auto dealerships. Sadly, these closings are expected to put more than 150,000 people out of work, devastating many small towns.
These aren’t necessarily unprofitable dealerships. In fact, many of them have been doing quite well even in the economic downturn, yet the Administration finds it necessary to close them down. This is unprecedented and simply astonishing, as neither the Administration nor any government official should have any authority over the management of private companies.
My staff and I have been in close contact with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which represents auto dealers’ interests in Washington. NADA has hired a firm to represent the legal interests of those auto dealers that have been chosen by the Task Force to close. Any such auto dealer should call 703-821-7000 for more information. I shared that information with several Chambers of Commerce throughout the Sixth District of Minnesota so that businesses that are hurting or worried can look for concrete help. And I urge you to get it to anyone you know that might need such assistance.
The Administration’s Car Czar has put theory above real hard-working Americans, while simultaneously standing rock-solid American legal principles on their head. If he can throw a dart at a map and determine which car dealers don’t deserve to be open, what business is next? Will the drive for socialized medicine mean that a “health czar” in Washington will determine which hospitals can remain open or which doctors can keep their practices? The precedents we are setting are scary and we must consider them carefully now before the consequences gain too much momentum to stop.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I've talked extensively about my recent ACORN amendment to the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act – an amendment that would keep tax dollars from flowing to organizations that have been indicted, or employ individuals who have been indicted, for voter fraud or related crimes. As you may remember, Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank worked to gut my amendment, lowering the bar so that an organization would have to be convicted of voter fraud – not just indicted – before we turn off the flow of tax dollars.
Chairman Frank was undeterred by the fact that the language of my amendment was identical to language passed by Congress in 2008 as part of another housing bill. He essentially pleaded that he’d been forced to accept that language in a compromise with the Senate.
Well, lo and behold: Just yesterday, the House passed – with Chairman Frank’s vote -- the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act with a provision that sets new eligibility requirements for lenders to be approved Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lenders. One of the standards is that the lenders may not employ individuals that are “under indictment for, or have been convicted of, an offense that reflects adversely upon the applicant’s integrity, competence or fitness to meet the responsibilities of an approved mortgagee.” This was in both the original House-passed bill and yesterday’s Senate version. There’s no blaming this on a compromise with the Senate.
So, it appears that Democrats think it is O.K. to set the bar high when deciding who can make FHA loans but the same standard shouldn’t apply to groups directly receiving taxpayer dollars?
Just another example of the Democrats' inconsistency when it comes to distributing your tax dollars, particularly when ACORN is the recipient.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Obama Administration is certainly having its say when it comes to the U.S. auto industry.
For instance, what kind of cars should we drive? The Administration is announcing plans to increase the fuel efficiency of cars by 2016 to 35.5 mpg. The current CAFE standard is 27.5 mpg for cars and 24 mpg for light trucks. Current law already requires a 35 mpg standard by 2020. But, given the Administration’s dominance in the auto board room these days, why not move the deadline up 4 years?
Automakers are strapped as it is when it comes to manufacturing and car sales, and this new standard will increase the strain on these manufacturers to meet requirements four years sooner. Furthermore, the AP reports that new fuel and emission standards for cars and trucks will increase the costs to consumers of about $1,300 per vehicle by 2016.
Seeing as how standards were already in place to meet these fuel efficiency standards by 2020, it's interesting that the President would choose to hit the wallets of already struggling Americans yet again to advance his environmental agenda.
The President's intercession has essentially made him CEO of the American automobile industry. In fact, his Auto Task Force has called for the elimination of more than 3,000 Chrysler and General Motors automotive dealerships which would subsequently put over 150,000 employees out of work.
Arbitrarily, dealerships across the country are receiving notice that no matter how profitable they may be, they’ll be closing their doors by government fiat. These closings will not fix the litany of problems facing the automotive sector nor make it viable once again, yet the President has chosen to destroy small businesses, hurting families and worsening the recession for communities all over America.
Given that nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is the President given the power to make such demands on businesses, the President should reconsider this plan. The government takeover of the automotive industry is unprecedented and unacceptable, and it’s families and small businesses who will bear the weight of this misguided policy.
Monday, May 18, 2009
As part of the Wall Street bailout Congress passed last year, you may recall the optimistic talk about the potential profit taxpayers could get for their “investment.” But, as banks start to repay their TARP loans, it turns out that the U.S. Treasury is just turning the bailout into a sort of revolving door slush fund.
Some institutions have paid back their money as required – including Minnesota’s own TCF Bank, but instead of returning that money to the taxpayers to pay down the debt, Treasury Secretary Geithner wants to dole out the returned funds to more banks! Geithner announced just last week that funds will soon be made available to banks with less than $500 million in assets, and will allow those banks to apply for as much as 5 percent of risk-weighted assets, up from the previous 3 percent limit.
I’m cosponsoring legislation that will require that repaid bailout funds go directly to paying down the debt. And, it would require that TARP’s overall authorization to spend be reduced every time an institution pays the taxpayers back by the corresponding amount. All analyses now forecast trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. Congress needs to pay back the taxpayers who footed the bill for this misguided bailout. As an opponent of the Wall Street bailout I have to ask: How much longer will we continue this revolving line of credit to burden American taxpayers?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Yesterday, the Medicare and Social Security Trustees issued a new report that laid out unequivocally that our current Medicare and Social Security programs are on a path for financial implosion and are in need of serious reform.
In fact, the Medicare insolvency date has moved up to 2017. And, that doesn’t include the impact of the so-called “stimulus” bill, which could accelerate insolvency by about 6 months.
And, we're facing a strain on Social Security like never before, with nearly 80 million retiring Baby Boomers tapping into the funds soon we'll be spending more to pay benefits than what the system receives in payroll taxes. Yet, we continue to carry on with the status quo, every now and then saying that we need to reform it, but not actually doing anything about it.
It's crucial that Americans know full well what the government is doing with the government books. You have to be able to hold your lawmakers accountable for the way they spend your money. I've introduced the Truth In Accounting Act to make government finances truly transparent and open. Not only would financial commitments be crystal clear to Congress, but also to the taxpayers.
Currently, when Congress and the President prepare budget proposals and pass spending bills, they have the luxury of ignoring shortfalls year after year. They prepare, present, and approve budgets which project these estimates over the short-term – usually five or ten years. And, there are a lot of things that can be done on paper to paper over the long-term shortfalls.
My Truth in Accounting Act would require the President to consider these long-term shortfalls when he proposes his budget. And, it would require both the GAO (Government Accountability Office) and the U.S. Treasury to report this information to the Congress so that the numbers can be used when we’re finalizing the annual budget.
Furthermore, my legislation would require that the report be translated into easily comprehensible terms so that nothing could be hidden by complex jargon. The government’s fiscal imbalance would be presented in the whole, and as distributed per person, per worker, and per household.
We can’t fix our current budget shortfalls if we continue to dig ourselves deeper in debt, and we can’t solve our Social Security conundrum by simply putting a patch on it year after year. It's time to take an honest account of our finances instead of mortgaging our debt to future generations of Americans.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
President Obama was swept into the White House and Democrats increased their control in both the House and Senate on a platform of change. Now, change can mean a lot of things; but looking at the first 100 days for this new administration, we know for a fact that this "change" does not apply to the standard liberal playbook for higher taxes and more government spending.
And, this fact was made startlingly clear by yesterday’s announcement from the Obama Office of Management and Budget that the annual budget deficit that was projected at $1.75 trillion in February has grown in just two months to $1.84 trillion. What’s $9 billion between friends?
The question now becomes: Will this trend of non-change continue in the next 100 days? And, I’m afraid that the answer is yes.
Take for instance the proposals that some Democrat Senators are now considering to pay for President Obama's proposed health care plan -- priced at roughly $1.2 trillion.
To help pay for the plan, they are considering new federal taxes on soda and other sugary drinks
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that adding a 3-cent tax per 12-ounce serving of soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and ready-to-drink teas will result in $24 billion for the federal government over four years. And proponents of the tax note that it would reduce health problems related to obesity, diabetes and more by limiting consumption of the sugary drinks.
The concept is tried-and-true: Raise revenue while also forcing government-approved changes in behavior. In the past, these “sin taxes” have been levied on items like alcohol and cigarettes. Now it seems that juice boxes are making their way on the list – somewhere between Marlboros and Jim Beam, I guess. How have we survived as a society for this long with our children drinking Gatorade, Capri Sun, and Coke?
As Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association points out, "taxes are not going to teach our children how to have a healthy lifestyle."
This is just another revenue-raiser that Washington wants to spread across a broad base of American consumers – and it will hit low-income Americans hardest of all – to pay for ever-expanding government programs.
Washington taxes too much, spends too much, and borrows too much. It's time to hold Washington accountable. I have a hard time believing that this is the "change" so many Americans were looking for.
Monday, May 11, 2009
President Obama's policy agenda is a lot of things, but it is certainly not sluggish. He has wasted no time highlighting those initiatives he'd like in place - from the cap-and-trade energy tax to a takeover of the American auto industry to radical healthcare reform. And it’s healthcare that has been looming in the background until now, as the President seems to be slowly unraveling his vision.
The Wall Street Journal
ran a great piece this morning detailing how government health care programs always start out sounding like benign options and then balloon into something far more.
Take for instance Medicare. Created in 1965, "benefits were relatively limited and retirees paid a substantial percentage of the costs of their own care. But the clout of retirees has always led to expanding benefits for seniors while raising taxes on younger workers.
"In 1965, Congressional actuaries expected Medicare to cost $3.1 billion by 1970. In 1969, that estimate was revised to $5 billion, and it actually came in at $6.8 billion. That same year, the Senate Finance Committee declared a Medicare cost emergency. In 1979, Jimmy Carter proposed limiting benefits, only to have the bill killed by fellow Democrats. Things have gotten worse since, and Medicare today costs $455 billion and rising.
"Medicaid was intended as a last resort for the poor but now covers one-third of all long-term care expenses in the U.S. -- that is, it has become a middle-class subsidy for aging parents of the Baby Boomers. Its annual bill is $227 billion, and so far this fiscal year is rising by 17%.
"Schip was pitched a decade ago as a safety net for poor kids, and some Republicans helped sell it as a free-market reform. But Schip is now open to families that earn up to 300% of the poverty level, or $63,081 for a family of four. In New York, you can qualify at 400% of poverty."
The Democrats immediate strategy in this march toward socialized medicine is to try and attract just a smattering of Republican support by making it as bland and constrained as possible in its appearance - selling it as a measure with strict limits and boundaries. However, there’s little doubt that as the years progress, more and more money will be needed and more and more bureaucracy added as it grows bigger and bigger. We've seen it with all the programs that have come before it.
Republicans want to make quality healthcare coverage affordable and accessible for every American, and we want people to retain the ability to make choices and choose options that fit their needs. A government takeover will raise taxes, ration care, and let government bureaucrats in Washington make decisions that should be made by families and their doctors. We cannot allow politicians and special interests to stand between patients and the care they need.
Friday, May 08, 2009
The latest word around Capitol Hill is that Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank’s next big legislative item is to put the full faith and credit of the United States up as a guarantee for state and municipal bonds. In fact, he held a foundation-laying hearing for such legislation just this week.
This is absolutely the last thing the federal government should consider taking on, as the Treasury has already extended the taxpayers’ credit line way too far. The only thing this will do is just open the flood gates to profligate spending at a state and local level. As the L.A. Times reported this week, “With Uncle Sam fully backing muni bonds, and presumably thus lowering state and local governments’ interest costs, the risk is that some would borrow like the proverbial drunken sailor….”
Take the current example of California, the world’s sixth largest economy. According to Chriss W. Street, the treasurer-tax collector for Orange County, California, writing in Forbes:
"California is asking Congress to take an unprecedented step: to guarantee the state's sovereign debt with the "full faith and credit" of the United States. Such a move would be a life raft for California politicians, but it might jeopardize the U.S.' AAA credit rating and destroy the ability of local government to borrow.
"For 35 years, California led the nation in job creation and standard of living. The Golden State responded by taxing, borrowing and spending itself into an increasingly uncompetitive economic position. Today, California boasts the highest tax rates, the highest number of unemployed residents, the lowest credit rating and the largest deficit in the U.S.
"With its golden luster fading, businesses are leaving in droves. Instead of fixing a broken model, California wants a federal co-signer."
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported earlier this year that 43 states are reporting budget shortfalls – with California leading the pack. Too many states -- and cities -- have been paying for spending increases with high revenues from the strong economy and booming housing markets. Too few prepared for a rainy day or the burst housing bubble. As New York Governor Paterson said last year, “the fact [is] that when there was...wealth, we overspent," says Gov. Paterson.
If spending wasn't bad enough as it is, we now have the federal government possibly taking on the debt of the states and local governments? When will the fiscal recklessness come to an end?
The law doesn’t even allow the federal government to tell municipal bond issuers what they must disclose to investors, but we’re thinking about giving them a backstop?
Now more than ever we need transparency to see what the Fed is up to. That is why I have cosponsored The Federal Reserve Transparency Act
. This bill would eliminate restrictions on GAO audits of the Federal Reserve and open up the Fed’s books to the taxpayers. Everyday we hear elected officials praise openness and transparency from our government, yet the Federal Reserve continues to act in the shadows without sufficient scrutiny or oversight.
Your money has been squandered for far too long. You have a right to know what’s happening with your hard-earned money.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
On Monday of this week, charges were brought in Nevada against ACORN
and two of its former employees for voter registration violations, and today, the Allegheny County District Attorney in Pennsylvania
charged seven employees of ACORN with forgery and election law violations, saying they filed hundreds of fraudulent voter registrations during last year's general election.
It really could not be more timely as Chairman Barney Frank was just on the House floor trying to justify his amendment to the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act that will allow groups such as ACORN that have been indicted, or have employees who have been indicted, of voter fraud to receive millions in taxpayer funding.
Last week, the House Financial Services Committee unanimously passed my amendment
to prohibit the flow of your money to such groups, but Chairman Frank feels it necessary to take back his support for that commonsense language and raise the bar so that organizations would have to be convicted before their access to tax dollars would be cut off.
While I realize that we are all innocent until proven guilty, ACORN has established a pattern of voter registration violations that seems to pop up election after election and in state after state. The courts are the appropriate place to try guilt and innocence. Congress has a fiduciary obligation to spend tax dollars wisely.
Your taxpayer money must be held to the highest standard, and not used to engage in a proven pattern of voter registration violations.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
In my last couple of posts, I've told you about how last Thursday the House Financial Services Committee unanimously accepted my amendment
to keep tax dollars from flowing to organizations indicted for voter fraud. As you may remember, Committee Chairman Barney Frank later decided that he wants to raise the bar so that an organization would have to be convicted of voter fraud – not just indicted – before we turn off the flow of tax dollars. Later today, the House will begin debate on the underlying legislation, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act
, and I expect that Chairman Frank will try to strip my taxpayer protection amendment from the bill.
Yesterday, I posted a link to an Associated Press report
detailing how Nevada authorities have filed criminal charges against ACORN and two former employees for voter registration fraud.
However, this is not the first time ACORN has made the headlines for their questionable voter registration practices.
- A voter registration worker for ACORN in East St. Louis was indicted on two counts of voter fraud for submitting forged cards for residents at nursing homes without their knowledge. - KSDK, 1/09
- “A suburban Philadelphia man is charged with forgery, allegedly altering 18 voter-registration applications during his employment with an organization [ACORN] whose voter-outreach efforts have become a flashpoint in the presidential campaign.” – Associated Press, 10/23/08
- “Clifton Mitchell helped register nearly 2,000 voters for the community group ACORN. But not one of them actually existed… Mitchell was convicted last year and spent nearly three months in prison.” – CNN, 10/22/08
According to the Economist
- “An internal report by a lawyer for the community organizing group Acorn raises questions about whether the web of relationships among its 174 affiliates may have led to violations of federal laws… The June 18 report, written by Elizabeth Kingsley, a Washington lawyer, spells out her concerns about potentially improper use of charitable dollars for political purposes; money transfers among the affiliates; and potential conflicts created by employees working for multiple affiliates, among other things.” – New York Times, 10/22/08
in October of 2008 leading up to the Presidential election:
"In Orlando, home to the Magic Kingdom of Disney, Mickey Mouse tried to register. In Indiana there was an application from a sandwich shop called Jimmy Johns. Authorities in Nevada were surprised to receive voter registration forms from the starting line-up of the Dallas Cowboys.
"All these applications were provided by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a group that works to register low-income voters. ACORN has been industrious this year, signing up 1.3m voters in 21 states according to its own tallies. But they have run into some trouble; thousands of their voter-registration applications are fakes. In Connecticut a seven-year-old girl applied. A man in Ohio admitted he had signed up with organizers more than 70 times in exchange for cash and cigarettes. In one county in Indiana ACORN turned in 5,000 applications, 2,100 of which were quickly identified as fakes."
The threshold for gaining taxpayer funding should not be so low. An organization that is repeatedly under suspicion of fraud and criminal activities should rightfully be held from accessing your money.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Last week, you may recall that the House Financial Services Committee unanimously accepted my amendment
to keep tax dollars from flowing to organizations indicted for voter fraud during consideration of the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act.
You may also recall that Chairman Barney Frank later revoked his support
for my amendment.
My amendment would keep organizations that are under indictment for voter fraud or other criminal activities, or that employ people indicted for such crimes, from accessing billions of your tax dollars. Groups such as ACORN are repeatedly charged with violating the law and the public trust, yet they continue to access taxpayer funds. The threshold for gaining taxpayer funding should not be so low.
Interestingly, the Associated Press reported
Monday that Nevada authorities filed criminal charges against ACORN and two former employees for voter registration fraud.
Last week I asked: Whose side are we on: The taxpayer's or ACORN's? Chairman Frank still has the opportunity to side with taxpayers by upholding the decision of the Financial Services Committee to implement the highest standard and withhold taxpayer dollars from funding organizations when they're under the cloud of suspicion of a public criminal indictment.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Yesterday, the House Financial Services Committee passed my ACORN amendment that will prevent organizations, or employees of organizations, that have been indicted for voter fraud from being eligible for the housing counseling grants and legal assistance grants authorized under the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act.
Chairman Barney Frank accepted the amendment right there in front of the whole committee -- I assumed because it was his very own language as passed under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008 -- and the amendment was then passed by unanimous voice vote.
Later that day, Chairman Frank said he had reservations about my amendment and would discuss them with me. His staff approached mine with specific changes he would like to make -- changes which eviscerate the meaning of the amendment and were clearly not acceptable. Again, this was puzzling given that it is identical to the language Chairman Frank included in HERA just last year.
Their changes include: Raising the bar from indictment to conviction to preclude an organization from getting taxpayer dollars, limiting the time the ban is in effect, and applying the standard to only senior employees. We're talking about giving tax dollars to organizations that could be mixed up in criminal actions. Are we expected to keep forking over tax dollars to these organization when they're under the cloud of suspicion of a public criminal indictment?
Who's side are we on: The taxpayer or ACORN's?
If nothing else, this shows us just how much influence ACORN and others have over Chairman Frank and the Democrat party. Your tax dollars are being abused.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
With the health care debate looming on the horizon, it's imperative that Americans understand not only what this reform entails, but also comprehend the process by which the Democrats hope it will pass.
John Sununu, a former United States Senator from New Hampshire, has penned an excellent and informative piece in the Wall Street Journal
laying out the process of "budget reconciliation" – a parliamentary maneuver that President Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders are expected to use to push through their massive health care plan.
"The power of a reconciliation bill is this: Senate rules allow only 20 hours of debate and then passage with a simple majority of 51 votes. This represents a lightning strike in the normal deliberative time-frame of the Senate. The historic precedent of open debate, and the requirement of 60 votes to close debate, are completely short-circuited.
"Budget reconciliation was never intended to push through dramatic and expansive new programs. It was created as a way to help a reluctant Congress curb spending, reduce deficits, and cut the debt. Moreover, changes made under reconciliation expire after five or 10 years, depending on the budget. This is clearly not the appropriate process for implementing significant new policies."
Not only is this abuse of the legislative process a probable reality, the legislation they are looking to ram though is hurtful to all of us as America will take on the likes of a socialized, government-run health care system.
To see the perils of what government-run health care can do for a nation, check out this link here
From Canada to Cuba to countries across Europe, the results are all the same: a lack of doctors and nurses (particularly well-trained ones), bed shortages and long waiting lists for treatments and surgeries, and rationed care.
While our current system is not perfect, it's the best there is. We should work to give Americans more choices in health care; not less. We should work to make health care more portable and more affordable; not subject all health consumers to a singular government bureaucracy. The Democrat plan is an extreme makeover for which we already know the ugly outcome. The examples of countries who went down this path exist all around us and the results are in - it's bad policy, plain and simple.
Monday, April 27, 2009
For Americans from coast to coast, Sunday, April 26 marked our nation's Debt Day. Debt Day is the day during the fiscal year – which runs from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 this year – on which government spending exceeds revenue for the first time during the year.
Last year's Debt Day fell more than three months later, on Aug. 5.
Judging by the penchant for spending we've seen from Congress and the White House, I think it's safe to say that this infamous day will be creeping earlier and earlier for the next several years. It's simply another symptom of a government that spends too much, borrows too much, and taxes too much.
I come from the strong Minnesota culture of thrift, spending only what I truly can and eschewing debt. But, the trend in Washington is just the opposite. It’s very much a “spend now, and our children will pay later” attitude. That’s why I voted against the trillion-dollar-plus so-called stimulus bill, the nearly-half-a-trillion “omnibus” spending bill, and the multi-hundred billion-dollar Wall Street bailouts.
It’s high-time your family budget took priority here in Washington – and that means not just looking out for your finances today, but also looking out for your children’s futures.