Monday, August 22, 2005

Congressman Harold Ford Jr. On The Forefront Of The Fight For Childhood Savings Accounts

In America today, forty-seven percent of children grow up in a home with zero or negative assets. Simply put, their guardians owe more than they actually own. The affect on a child growing up in that kind of environment can be devastating.

That is why it is so important that we break that cycle and start anew by giving every child born in America a stake in our "ownership society."

Congressman Harold Ford Jr. understands that and is fighting to see it become reality. In 2004, Congressman Ford introduced a bill into the House called the ASPIRE Act (KIDS Accounts).

The ASPIRE Act is a new initiative which calls for the federal government to give every child born in 2007 and beyond a $500 starter deposit "from the government and children from households below the national median income would be eligible for a supplemental contribution up to an additional $500.

Further contributions from any source could be deposited into the account and grow tax-free. Low- and moderate-income children would have their savings matched. Once a child reaches 18, they would be able to use the account for a post-secondary education, a home, or save it until retirement.

To ensure that families make good decisions regarding the account, financial education would be offered.

Once an accountholder reaches age 30, they must begin paying back the initial starter deposit from the government both to signal that the deposit was not something for nothing and to seed the next generation of KIDS Accounts." (Bill summary gleaned from the Asset Building Organization)

Congressman Ford is not alone in his support of childhood savings accounts. Big political names on both sides of the isle have joined the Congressman in support of the ASPIRE Act such as Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY. "It's a simple kind of merging of the stereotypes of the parties," Ford recently said of the idea of personal savings accounts for children."

"Success in America today depends on not just a job and growing income, but increasingly on the ability to accumulate a wide range of assets. Owning a home, obtaining an education, and building a stock of financial investments are essential to building and expanding wealth," Ford said while at the press conference that announced the introduction of the ASPIRE Act in April of 2005 . "People who have a stake in this country’s future are more likely to become productive members of society," he added.

As you can see by his words and actions, Congressman Ford is dedicated to fighting for a better future for all Americans. He is just the kind of leader that Tennessee needs in the U.S. Senate in the years to come--one who confronts real problems with real solutions.

For more information on the ASPIRE Act, please read the following: