Research Congress and Your Money

More than a few Americans are very concerned about both the direction of their government and the state of their money.

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We’re taking on two big topics this month: your money and your government. Or maybe it’s the same thing? Just kidding—I’m not here to pick that fight. Although I’d be happy to referee it.

The truth is that more than a few Americans are very concerned about both the direction of their government and the state of their money. Some folks make a strong case that the two are much too closely linked. Others will tell you that the federal government is playing a bigger role because it has to—because of failures in the market economy and inequities in the fabric of society. That’s why we have elections. And we’ve got a great one coming up.

We’re not here to argue the case for or against big government. But we are trying to help you understand the political forces that have already made this one of the most interesting, consequential years in American politics—and one that will only get more intense as we approach the fall House and Senate elections. We’re taking a step back to take a look forward with a political guide that tries to separate the noise from the substance. Tea Parties, talk radio, cable partisanship, and Internet money bombs are only part of the hyperactive climate that’s been created by a president with an agenda that at least half the electorate is not buying.

We’re also introducing a new aspect to our coverage: an online insider’s guide to Congress, an interactive database that lets you research any member of Congress, including their backgrounds, politics, and campaign contributions. As we build this out over time, we hope it will become an essential resource to understanding how Congress—and your congressman—works. [See which industries give the most to Congress.]

Now, let’s talk about your money. The focus this month is on investing, as we debut our Best Mutual Funds rating tool (more about that in a moment). We also take you through a range of issues from rebuilding a battered portfolio to retirement planning to tips for making your money go further. Even with the outlines of a recovery starting to become visible, it’s clear that we’re going to be living in a new economic climate that will require us to be very engaged in our own finances.

To that end, we’ve created a Best Mutual Funds feature on our website. We’re following a methodology we’ve used with great success on our increasingly popular auto rankings site ( usnews.com/cars) and our new travel site. Essentially, Best Mutual Funds is a review of the reviews, a composite of data from the most respected raters of mutual funds that gives you a blended score for each of the most popular funds. We’ve created a clean, simple navigation that will help guide you through what can be a daunting set of choices.

Both the Congress project and the mutual fund ratings are part of our strategy to use the best attributes of print and online formats to give you the information you need to make sound decisions about things that matter in your life.  [Follow the money with Congress Tracker.]

As always, I’m eager to hear your feedback about how we’re doing and what you think of the bigger issues. How do you think the fall elections are shaping up? Care to handicap the odds of the Democrats losing the House? And what would happen then? How can President Obama rally his supporters? We’re also very interested in what you think of our mutual funds coverage. Tell us how we can do a better job giving you objective, useful information. Drop me a note and share your thoughts with the rest of our readers on my blog or at editor@usnews.com.

  • Check out this month’s best political cartoons.
  • Follow the money in Congress.
  • See a slide show of the 10 keys to an Obama comeback.