Financial Literacy Biography
On the House Committee on Financial Services, Congressman Hinojosa is widely recognized as a leader of the financial literacy cause. Hinojosa is Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus. The goal of the Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus is to improve the financial literacy and economic education of all individuals across the United States during all stages of their lives. The Caucus reviews, discusses and recommends financial and economic literacy policies, legislation, programs and related matters at the federal, state and local levels and collaborates with the private sector, nonprofits, community-based organizations and faith based groups. The Caucus also hosts roundtables, staff briefings and other financial literacy educational forums. It also organizes and coordinates with outside groups on events such as the annual Financial Literacy Month, National Consumer Protection Week, America Saves Week, and an annual appropriation for the Excellence in Financial Education program.
There is a growing consensus that too many Americans lack the basic financial literacy skills to enable them to navigate our increasingly complex financial system, make informed financial decisions, and avoid abusive financial products and services. Studies consistently show that a significant number of Americans have inadequate knowledge about concepts related to personal finance and basic economics including budgeting, managing credit use and debt problems, reading and understanding credit reports, understanding the terms of a mortgage or vehicle loan, using and maintaining a checking account, and understanding the importance of saving for retirement.
Hinojosa believes strongly that improving financial literacy in the United States might help prevent a future credit crunch and reduce the percentage of citizens weighed down by a large amount of debt. Toward this end, House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit held a financial literacy hearing June 25, 2009 entitled “Improving Consumer Financial Literacy under the New Regulatory System.” Hinojosa played a key role organizing that hearing and chaired it for the majority of its duration. He continues to seek to find ways to improve financial literacy rates across the United States.
As Co-Chair of the Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus, Hinojosa has collaborated with Jump$tart, Junior Achievement and the Council on Economic Education on a Financial Literacy Day Fair in April of each year since 2005. Over 40 financial literacy entities participate each year in the Fair, and well over 800 people attended this year’s Fair, including Members of Congress, Hill staff, the private sector, non-profits and community based and faith based groups participated in this year’s Fair. During each fair, vendors provide insight, contacts, and recommendations for financial literacy events in each Member’s district. Also available at the Fair are documents that will help consumers get their financial affairs in order, and, in turn, reach out to others to improve the financial education of America, and to bring them a little bit closer to realizing the American dream of homeownership.
Congressman Hinojosa is also a strong proponent of permitting foreign nationals to use Consular ID Cards, issued by their Consulates, to open accounts at mainstream financial institutions. Congressman Hinojosa led a broad-based coalition of consumers, nonprofits and financial institutions established to protect the use of such cards. He has been credited as one of the reasons U.S. financial institutions continue to accept at their discretion consular identification cards, resulting in billions of dollars being deposited into the U.S. financial services system and transferring a moderate level of those funds via remittances to their loved ones overseas.
Hinojosa has served as a bridge between consumers and businesses. He and others with similar ideologies provided the votes necessary for the House to approve the reauthorization of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This Act permanently extends seven expiring provisions of FCRA that are essential to maintaining the integrity of the U.S. national credit system. The law also provides convenience and security for consumers. Congressman Hinojosa and his Democratic colleagues successfully included provisions in the FACT Act to prevent, recognize, and counter identity theft. Furthermore, Congressman Hinojosa successfully inserted a multilingual clause in the Financial Literacy and Education Commission and National Financial Literacy Media Campaign provisions of this legislation. Most important, the law permits every individual across the United States to obtain one copy of their credit report annually from each of the three main credit reporting agencies. Hinojosa believes that granting constituents and all Americans free access to their credit reports once a year will help reduce identity theft and increase financial literacy rates across the U.S., which, as noted before, is the goal of the Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus.