I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this very important hearing and I would like to thank our witness for testifying today.
Today we have the first of a number of hearings on the Fair Credit Reauthorization Act As we all know, FCRA is a huge issue for the financial industry and consumer groups. There are some who think we need to pass a clean FCRA, some who think we ought to pass FCRA but with additional privacy and identity theft protections and some who think privacy decisions would be left to the states. I believe these hearings will be a great help to members in deciding which is the best course of action to take.
I have been involved in the privacy debate for a number of years. During the early 90s, I worked with the Kentucky General Assembly to remove the Social Security number for Kentucky drivers' licenses. In the House, as Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, I led the effort to stop the Social Security Administration fRom posting SSA earnings on line. And of course, all of us who were on this committee in 1999 were deeply involved in privacy issues during Gramm-Leach-Bliley.
I certainly believe more can be done to prevent identity theft. I would like to see more restricted use of the Social Security number. I would like to see those who have had the privacy stolen to have better means to get their credit problems fixed. And I, like everyone else, would like to stop getting flooded with mail and getting solicitation calls during dinner.
But I have another concern. I am very concerned about this economy. I am very worried about the possibility of a double-dip recession. I know that puts me at odds with more optimistic economic experts, like Chairman Greenspan, but we have disagreed before. We are not growing like we can, and we are not creating jobs. There are many reasons for this. I believe Chairman Greenspan acted way to slow to cut rates back in early 2001. He should have cut them in the fall of 2000. The corporate governance scandals have hurt trust in the markets. Sarbanes-Oxley and other actions have helped, but it will take a long time for corporate America to rebuild that trust. September 11, had a devastating effect on our economy. The two wars we have had since then have also not helped.
The reason why most of these events have been so harmful to this economy is because they have created uncertainty in our markets. If there is one thing that shakes the markets, it is uncertainty. I am afraid that talk of not renewing FCRA is creating a lot of uncertainty in the financial markets. If we have 50 different privacy standards, it will be difficult for financial companies to sell their products nation wide. If counties and municipalities get in the act, and some already have, it will be even more difficult.
I think it is crucial that we pass an FCRA extension this year. We must bring some certainty back to the markets if we are ever going to grow this economy and prevent a double-dip.
Once again Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important oversight hearing.