(House of Representatives - June 25, 2013)

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[Pages H4011-H4015]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              {time}  1920

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2013, the gentleman from California (Mr. Garamendi) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity for this 
hour. Joining me tonight will be Mark Takano from the State of 
  We just heard 4 or 5, maybe 10 minutes of talk about the energy 
issue. I would like to put a slightly different face on it. It's not 
the main subject matter of this hour, which is really about jobs and 
how education fits into that, but this is sort of along the line, and 
it follows directly on what my Republican colleagues are talking about: 
denying that there is real climate change going on.
  We can no longer deny the fact that we as human beings have, over 
this last century, been putting into the atmosphere a vast amount of 
carbon dioxide that is changing our environment. But what I want to 
spend just a moment on here is to discuss how education fits

[[Page H4012]]

into this issue of climate change. It's an area in which the 
institutions of higher learning and students play an enormously 
important role combating climate change and developing a clean energy 
  Today, as we just heard from our Republican colleagues, President 
Obama outlined a plan to address the threat of climate change. He 
recognized what the scientists have said, which is during 2013--this 
year--we'll have another record year for climate problems. Deadly 
flooding, superstorms, droughts, and impacts on sensitive species are 
just a sampling of the dire consequences that climate change is already 
bringing to America and the rest of the world.
  In my district, home to the University of California, Davis, vitally 
important research is already being carried out to rise to the 
challenge of climate change. This research ranges from how changes in 
our climate are going to negatively impact agriculture and native 
California fish, flora, and fauna, and what we can do about it.
  Just this month, Dr. Daniel Sperling of the University of California, 
Davis Institute of Transportation Studies was one of two recipients of 
the 2013 Blue Planet Prize for his monumental work in clean 
transportation, hydrogen fuel infrastructure, and research into how we 
can achieve a 100 percent renewable energy economy for the globe and 
for America. The expansion of the clean energy section would also play 
a very, very important role in what we will fundamentally discuss here 
today, which is creating jobs and spurring economic growth.
  Recent research indicates that the revenue generated from clean 
energy globally within the next 5 years will create $1.9 trillion of 
revenue. Studies also show that States with larger green energy sectors 
are much more economically sound postrecession. We're on the right 
track. Last year, California led the national record for the most jobs 
created in the green energy sector, with over 26,000 new jobs being 
created. It's evident that we have the building blocks in place to make 
the changes that are needed for our future, especially in my home State 
of California. As Dr. Sperling said, solutions are all around us, and 
indeed, they are.
  Let me just go into how that fits into our common agenda here, an 
agenda that we speak about nearly every week. We're talking about Make 
It in America. There are these seven things that are involved in the 
Make It in America agenda.
  Trade policy is critically important. It's not the subject for 
tonight, but it's the trade policy of the United States as it affects 
jobs and bringing jobs back to America.
  Taxes. Tax policy is exceedingly important. I don't think the 
American public knew that prior to 2 years ago, American corporations 
were rewarded for offshoring jobs. When the Democrats controlled the 
House of Representatives, we eliminated some $16 billion annual tax 
deductions that American corporations had to offshore jobs.
  Energy issues. That's not the subject for tonight, but given what our 
Republican colleagues were talking about and my little 1-minute here, 
that is a major issue. And we know that the green energy economy 
creates jobs. The old coal economy doesn't.
  Labor issues. The value of labor, rebuilding the middle class. 
Research is critically important, but not the subject for tonight. And 
infrastructure, which is often our subject, we'll put off until next 
  What we want to talk about tonight is education. We want to talk 
about the role of education in rebuilding the American economy. A 
critical, critical part of the education issue is something that's 
going to happen in 5 days.
  At the end of this month, on July 1, 2013, thousands upon thousands, 
indeed, millions of students across the United States that have 
received Stafford loans are going to see a doubling of their interest 
rate, an interest rate that will go from 3.4 to 6.8. It's an incredible 
burden on the students across the Nation. Some who have finished 
school, others who are about to finish school or maybe just finished 
their graduation ceremonies are going to be greeted with a doubling of 
their interest rates.
  On the Democratic side of the aisle, more than 200 of us have put 
forth and already signed up for an effort to bring to the floor a 
solution to this problem. So we want to talk about that tonight. We 
want to talk about the Democratic solution to avoid this extraordinary 
problem that will be faced by millions of students who have graduated 
and have just picked up their degree this month.
  Joining me tonight for this discussion is Mark Takano, a newly 
elected Representative from the State of California, who represents the 
University of California, Riverside campus.
  Mark, please join us. Take up that microphone in front of you and 
tell us how this affects your district and the students in your 
  Mr. TAKANO. Well, I thank my colleague, Mr. Garamendi of California. 
We're both Californians.
  What this will do is further burden many of my students who are 
already burdened with a great deal of debt load from the University of 
California. But there are many students who bear even a greater debt 
load because they attend some of the private universities in my area. 
Many of my students leave my district for other schools and are going 
to out-of-State schools.
  The student loan debt is, I think, a hugely serious, serious problem. 
Before I came to the Congress, I was a teacher for 23 years. I taught 
high school. I always tried to counsel my students to be careful about 
the debts they took on.
  I would like to let my colleague know that when I was graduating from 
high school in the late 1970s and went on to an Ivy League school on 
the east coast, I had a package that the Ivy League school put 
together--contribution from my parents and some work study. But my 
total loan indebtedness from 4 years of Harvard College did not exceed 
$15,000. That was an amount that I could fairly easily manage. I am 
just horrified that students are racking up debts for undergraduate 
study of $80,000 or $100,000 worth of debt, let alone the debt they're 
going to have to incur when they go on to their master's programs.

                              {time}  1930

  A doubling of the interest rates would add just a tremendous burden 
to these students.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. We can just take a very quick look at the math. If 
it's a $100,000 debt and it's 3.4 percent--and you're paying just the 
interest rate, not the principal of the loan--you're talking about 
$3,400 a year that you would be paying at the current rate. Double it, 
you're talking $6,800 a year. So just that alone, without paying down 
the principal, you're looking at a very significant burden on a person 
that's leaving school, graduating just this year. We need to deal with 
that. And the effort that's under way here by the Democrats in 
Congress--and also by President Obama, who's put forth, I think, a very 
solid program--gives the students an opportunity.
  This is a very interesting chart here, Mark. And I think it's one 
that you're aware of. I know you've paid off your loan now, but that 
group hasn't.
  Mr. TAKANO. I did actually take on some more debt to get my master's 
degree before I came here. Two years before I came to Congress I 
completed my master's degree, and it was a 2-year master's program. 
Because of my income as a teacher, many years as a teacher in, but I 
came close to $40,000 worth of debt that I'm paying off to the Federal 
Treasury. But it's not the Stafford loan that subsidized it. But I have 
a sense of just--that's part of my horror of the amount of debt load 
that students are carrying.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. Well, then you're one of these students--ex-students. 
$1 trillion, this number, the total student loan, is well over $1 
trillion today. This is greater than the total credit card debt of 
every American. So we're looking at a situation where student debt is 
now larger than the credit card debts of all Americans. This is an 
enormous burden.
  But what this also does--and perhaps you have not only personal 
experience, but other--is that when a student graduates, their first 
obligation is to pay off this debt. You can't go into bankruptcy. This 
debt is going to follow you. With or without bankruptcy, you've got to 
make these payments.
  Now, last year we passed a bill that tends to modify how much you can 
pay. I think it's no more than 10 percent. The President's proposal 

[[Page H4013]]

that further and applies the 10 percent not just to the new loans that 
are taken out, but to all existing loans. So as your income from a 
teacher, you would be required to pay no more than 10 percent of your 
income to pay down this debt. But if this debt has an interest rate of 
3.4 percent, well, you can get it paid off more quickly. But if it's 
6.8 percent, it's going to take longer and be more difficult.
  Mr. TAKANO. The compounding effects on that amount of debt is going 
to seriously add to those students who will take, say, public service 
jobs or jobs in teaching, or jobs in the public sector, nonprofits. It 
will severely limit the kind of employment that young people might seek 
  Mr. GARAMENDI. Well, certainly that. And then a young person 
graduating from college, sometimes they want to get married. They may 
have to delay that. They want to form a household, buy a house, rent a 
house, buy the furniture. They can't because they've got to pay this 
off first.
  Mr. TAKANO. Well, it certainly hurts our economy in that way. They're 
going to delay buying a car; they're going to delay buying a home; 
they're going to delay starting a family with this debt overhanging.
  Beyond the interest rates, I also believe we need to focus on 
lowering the principal, making sure we support our public institutions 
of higher ed to make sure that the principal isn't there.
  But certainly I support our caucus's effort to keep interest rates 
from doubling. It's a very sad fact to say that doing nothing--if we 
don't get our way, that doing nothing is actually better than what the 
Republicans propose.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. I'm going to put up another chart here that speaks to 
what you just said. This chart talks about our colleagues' proposal. 
That was one that we passed here. We like to say that this is really 
about making education more expensive. Here's how it works.
  Our proposal is to keep the interest rate--and this is a person 
that's maxed out. They've borrowed the maximum amount from the Stafford 
loan; this is the subsidized portion of it. This is the total interest 
that they pay over 5 years of a subsidized loan. The proposal that we 
put forward would be $4,174 of interest. What's going to happen, unless 
we pass a law, is that that number will go to $8,808. That's the 
doubling of the interest rate from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.
  Now, the thing that I'll never understand--and this bill passed the 
House of Representatives a couple of months ago--was the proposal by 
our Republican colleagues that would actually force the students to pay 
more than just the doubling. You go, What's that all about? Why would 
they do that?
  So under the proposal that we say actually makes education more 
expensive, the Republican proposal would go to $10,109, as opposed to 
our proposal, which would keep it at $4,174. Or even allowing the rate 
to double, the Republican proposal is actually more expensive. It 
doesn't make sense. I would say nonsense is probably a better way of 
describing it--no sense. But it just creates a serious problem.
  Now, the proposal that the President has made is somewhere between 
these two numbers--actually, just a little over $4,000. That proposal 
is based on a 10-year note, the 10-year Treasury bond that would then 
set the floor.
  This one is also based on a Treasury bond--that's the GOP proposal--
but it is like an adjustable-rate mortgage on your home. So every year, 
as the interest changes, you're going to pay more and more. And we know 
that right now interest rates were, just 3 weeks ago, at an all-time 
low. But now you're looking at a situation where we're looking at those 
interest rates going up, and the Republican proposal would 
automatically adjust upward. It's one of the adjustable-rate mortgages 
that got this country into such great trouble.
  I notice that Rush Holt is here from New Jersey. Rush Holt, please 
join us. I know that this is an issue that is very important to you.
  If I recall correctly, you represent a university. What is that 
  Mr. HOLT. I represent a number of students in universities, students 
who have been to university, and students who hope to go to university 
for whom this is very important.
  As a member of the Education and Workforce Committee, I was involved 
in writing the legislation that resulted in the current lower interest 
rate. So I take this very personally for all sorts of reasons.
  As you point out, there are a number of problems with what is about 
to happen and what the majority, the Republican Party, is proposing 
here with adjustable rates that could trap students or former students 
with unmanageable debt. But what bothers me the most is why they are 
doing it.
  The point is they are trying to raise revenue without appearing to 
raise taxes. They are unwilling to ask a fair share from people in this 
economy who are doing well and instead want to turn to students and 
recent graduates and ask them to balance the budget, to reduce the 
deficit. That's why the interest rates are going up. It is so that they 
can collect more money. And they would be collecting it from students, 
just as you've been discussing. Just the wrong thing to do for an 
economy that is going to create new jobs, new job entry, create 
economic growth.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. Let me see if I understand what you were saying.
  The Republican proposal--which has passed the House of 
Representatives, is over in the Senate, and hopefully will die there--
by their proposal of allowing an adjustable rate on the student loans, 
they will actually bring money into the United States Treasury to 
reduce the deficit, or are they going to use that money for education?
  Mr. HOLT. Oh, this is very definitely a revenue-raising measure, 
because they have this hard-and-fast principle against collecting 
revenue from people who can afford to pay it and who are doing well.

                              {time}  1940

  Mr. GARAMENDI. We certainly have seen this many, many times over here 
on the floor.
  Mark, maybe you want to comment on this.
  Mr. TAKANO. I want to take a little different slant on this, if I 
might, John and Rush. I actually want to turn to a topic, and the 
reason why I want to turn to this topic is because of what the Senate 
is doing, what it was doing yesterday and today. They're considering 
the comprehensive immigration bill. Of course, in that comprehensive 
immigration bill is a provision on the DREAMers.
  The point you're making about the Republican attempt to raise revenue 
without straightforwardly asking for it and put on the burden of our 
students, our young people, we wouldn't have to do this if this House 
would follow suit and pass a comprehensive immigration bill. I'm going 
to tell you why. I'm going to make an economic argument for why 
comprehensive immigration is good for our country and our economy.
  As the debate continues on immigration reform, the effect that fixing 
the immigration system would have on our economy is becoming quite 
clear. Opponents of immigration reform don't seem to understand the 
benefits of our broken system. Many of the undocumented immigrants in 
this Nation are already working, yet because of their legal status they 
are forced to pay into the underground economy with no labor 
protections and no way to pay into the system.
  We should allow these individuals to come out of the shadows and put 
them on the pathway to citizenship. As an example, say there's an 
undocumented worker in my district. Because he or she is undocumented, 
that worker may only be making $4 or $5 an hour instead of the 
California minimum wage of $8 an hour. If comprehensive immigration 
reform is passed, it will mandate that all workers be paid minimum 
wage, which will in turn increase their buying power, raise revenues 
for businesses, and drive up wages for everyone else, thus increasing 
our GDP growth rate, not needing to have to resort to these tricks of 
variable interest rates on our students to raise revenue for our 
  Recent analysis by the Social Security Administration showed that, 
without comprehensive immigration reform, our annual growth rate would 
only be 4.5 percent, but with comprehensive immigration reform, our 
annual growth rate shoots up to 6.1 percent. This increase in GDP is 
going to have a tremendous effect on our job market.
  Earlier this year, Republican Senator Marco Rubio sent a letter to 
the Social

[[Page H4014]]

Security chief actuary asking for an analysis of the legislation. In 
his response, Chief Actuary Goss said that the Senate immigration 
reform proposal would create 3.2 million jobs by 2024--new jobs.
  In his reply, Chief Actuary Goss also said:

       We estimate a significant increase in both the population 
     and the number of workers paying taxes in the United States 
     as a result of these changes on legal immigration limits.

  3.2 million new jobs by 2024 is a serious jobs plan for America.
  A report by the Cato Institute analyzed the data and estimates that 
there will be a $1.5 trillion increase in 10 years to household income.
  The middle class has been struggling for some time as their wages 
have remained stagnant for 30 years. The squeeze on the middle class 
has forced average American families to go heavily into debt just to 
get by. Mortgage payments, college loans, and the cost of health 
insurance have all skyrocketed, but wages have barely increased. 
Passing comprehensive immigration reform will help close this gap.
  The more people we have working and the more they consume means that 
our Federal deficit will come down at an estimated--get this--$875 
billion over 20 years.
  But it doesn't stop there. Social Security, itself, is going to 
benefit greatly as well. As some 75 million baby boomers prepare to 
retire, the immigrant community, which is generally younger than the 
overall population, will help the balance sheet by bringing in more 
revenue to offset retirees taking out benefits. It's been estimated 
that comprehensive immigration reform will add $4.6 trillion, net, to 
Social Security over the next 75 years.
  The problem we face with Social Security is the ratio of workers to 
retirees. Sixty years ago, there were 16 workers for every retiree. 
Twenty years from now, when the last of the baby boomers retire, that 
ratio will be down to 2\1/2\ to 1 unless we pass comprehensive 
immigration reform.
  Comprehensive immigration reform is going to help Social Security in 
several ways:
  First, most immigrants who come to the United States are between the 
ages of 18 and 35. For decades, these working immigrants will be 
contributing to Social Security;
  Second, few come to the United States with their parents, and the 
seniors that do come aren't eligible for Social Security; and
  Finally, immigrants tend to have more children than native-born 
Americans, and their offspring will also pay into the system for 
decades to come.
  The numbers don't lie. Comprehensive immigration reform will improve 
our Nation in many different ways, but especially economically. The 
time is now.
  Thank you.
  Mr. HOLT. I thank the gentleman for presenting those numbers, because 
it's been in the news recently that the immigration bill would actually 
reduce the deficit. I'm sure a lot of people around the country scratch 
their head and say, ``How could that be?'' but you've made it quite 
clear. It actually improves the economy in several different ways, just 
as making college more affordable improves the economy. The result is 
we are all more prosperous. The result is the deficit goes down. The 
result is we all have improved quality of life.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. That's very interesting.
  Mr. Takano, you're absolutely correct about the role of immigration 
and the comprehensive reform. There are some pieces that we often talk 
about: the DREAMers, the young men and women that came here as 
children, brought here. They don't have their papers, but they also do 
not have the opportunity to really get the kind of education. So we 
have the DREAMers.

  But here's what I think Mr. Holt was talking about that's really 
important, and this is part of what you were saying, Mr. Takano, about 
immigration reform--access to all the benefits of the economy and what 
it means.
  If you happen to be a person that has less than a high school 
education, which is where you started your discussion on the 
immigration act, you're taking a look at perhaps as high as 14 percent 
unemployment and the average median--or excuse me, not average, but the 
median weekly earnings, less than $500 a week, $451 a week. If you get 
a high school degree, you may get $638, the median weekly income, but 
you're still looking at 9.4 percent unemployment.
  Here's where the issue of education comes in at the post-high school 
education and here's where the Stafford loan issue comes in. If you're 
able to go to college and get that bachelor's degree, your income is 
going to be more than double if you don't finish high school and nearly 
double what you would have if you were able to finish high school.
  So getting that education--and this is part of the immigration issue, 
and it's the facts that you were laying out so very well, Mr. Takano. 
If you're able to get that education with borrowing money, a Stafford 
loan, subsidized or unsubsidized, with a low interest rate, you're 
going to be looking at a median weekly earnings of well over $1,000 and 
your unemployment rate will be less than 5 percent.
  If you go on to get that professional degree--and here's where you 
and your own history have been able to get that professional degree, 
that master's degree---you're looking at $1,600 median weekly income 
and the unemployment rate is down.
  So here you begin to see not only how immigration fits into 
education, but how an individual, an immigrant or not, will be able to 
improve their life. And as they improve their personal life, they are 
improving the economy; they're bringing greater wealth to the economy, 
greater productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency to the economy.
  All of this is dependent upon immigration reform, as you pointed out 
so very well, as well as how we finance education.

                              {time}  1950

  Now, if we allow this situation that's going to occur in just 5 
days--we're coming up against a crisis for the education for those men 
and women, immigrants or not, for those who want to get an education, 
who want to move beyond high school--they're looking at a doubling--at 
least 6.8 percent--of the interest rates on their Stafford loans. So 
they're going, Well, maybe I can't finish college; maybe I can't even 
start; and maybe I'm not going to be able to get that master's degree 
or that doctorate when I know that I will be able to be more productive 
to the economy and earn a higher living.
  So these things fit together, and I thank you so very much for 
pointing out the way in which the immigration issue fits into this. We 
really must have comprehensive immigration reform.
  Mr. TAKANO. It's my pleasure. You have seven points to our economic 
agenda. Really, comprehensive immigration reform should be the eighth 
one. The wealth of our country really is in the skills and knowledge of 
our people. We need to find the pathway for 11 million people--have 
them come out of the shadows, have a pathway to citizenship. That, tied 
together with investments and their skills and knowledge, really raises 
up the true wealth of our country, which is in her people.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. This is the Make It in America agenda. As you say, you 
could easily add to this immigration reform as one of the things we 
need to do. These men and women--some 12 million who are here without 
documents--are unable to really rise up into these more highly skilled 
jobs. In many ways, their educational opportunities and their 
children's educational opportunities may be limited. This is the 
fundamental investment in any society; and giving access to people with 
that education, immigrant or not, allows us to build the American 
  Mr. TAKANO. So much of the focus, as you say, does go back to 
education, the need to find effective ways to educate all the immigrant 
  If you could leave that poster up just a little longer, there are 
investments we need to make in our basic scientific research and to 
make sure we have the scientists. The scientists are so important. It 
takes years and years of developing people to become these highly 
skilled, highly knowledgeable scientists who will create, in turn, the 
inventions and the technology that will transfer into our preeminence 
in trade. We are a great country because we are so great at patents, 
because we are so

[[Page H4015]]

great at creating new medications. This all comes from a highly 
educated workforce. By the way, comprehensive immigration reform means 
we can draw in some of the best talent into Silicon Valley, the best 
talent into our pharmaceutical research labs.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. It's really true. The comprehensive immigration reform 
bill that's being discussed does bring into our economy those people 
who have the high skills, many of whom came here and got an education 
but who under the current law have to leave and go start their 
businesses in China, India or somewhere else around the world. Part of 
that comprehensive immigration reform would allow those men and women 
who have taken their education in the United States--gotten their 
degrees, their doctorates in engineering or electrical engineering or 
whatever--to stay in the United States.
  It turns out that our State, California, is the great engine of 
economic growth. Some of it is in southern California with the 
entertainment industry and the way in which it is now merging into the 
electronic industry and all of the things that are going on with Google 
and the use of the smartphones for disseminating content--movies and 
the like. In the Silicon Valley, many of those start-up companies are 
immigrants. In fact, the majority of start-ups in the Silicon Valley 
are immigrants--a very interesting fact that goes back to the issue of 
immigration reform.
  We want to bring to America the talent. We want to bring--we want to 
be able to use--in America these extraordinary workers and make sure 
that they have access to the education system that then is the 
fundamental investment and make sure that they are able to participate 
and move our economy forward.
  Mr. TAKANO. Most of us come from immigrant stock. I think you're 
Basque Italian. My forebears came from Japan. We, ourselves, are 
examples of the striving of generations. I'm pretty sure your parents, 
as well as mine, instilled the importance of education. It's the story 
of America repeated over and over again--of people coming here because 
they hear about the freedom, the way of life that we have and the 
opportunity that our country represents. Much of it is embodied in our 
belief in education being the platform, the launching pad, for entering 
the middle class. Certainly, this dream will be cut short if we don't 
watch out for things like the doubling of the interest rates or 
allowing interest rates to be tied to variable rates.
  As Mr. Holt pointed out, he asserts that, really, it's a very sly way 
to try to raise revenue without actually being straightforward about 
it. It's a way to raise revenue on the backs of our children. I say 
let's do sensible things--pass comprehensive immigration reform. It, by 
itself, by the numbers I just showed, provides a tremendous amount of 
revenue to our government simply by the fact that we harness the energy 
of so many aspirational people.
  Mr. GARAMENDI. All of that is true, and we've got 5 days. The 
Congress of the United States has 5 days in which to make a fundamental 
decision about how we treat those who are participating in the most 
important investment that any society makes, which is the investment in 
  Right now, we are asking most students to pay for their own education 
through loans and through some grants that are given through Pell 
Grants, but they've taken on enormous amounts of debt. Students in the 
United States have taken on $1 trillion of debt. A large portion of 
that debt is the Stafford loans, subsidized and unsubsidized. The loan 
rate on those programs is going to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 
percent in just 5 days, creating an enormous burden on the students on 
whom we rely to grow our economy.

  They've made the investment, and this society has made the investment 
in them. We need to free them so that they can participate more fully 
in our society--so that they can participate as consumers and so that 
they can participate as small businesses men and women, the 
entrepreneurs. All of this is possible if we take action, and we must. 
We owe it to those students. We owe it to the economy. We owe it to our 
ability to make it once again in America. All of these things come 
together with immigration reform, as you've pointed out, Mr. Takano. I 
really appreciate you being with us tonight.
  I think we've pretty much closed off this subject. We'll be back next 
week to talk about Making It in America--about jobs. Today, we've 
talked about how education fits into the jobs agenda. We've got 5 days 
to solve a very, very serious problem for millions of Americans who 
have gotten their educations or who have just graduated who are now 
going to be faced with a doubling of their interest rates. We can do 
this. We have the power, we have the ability, and we have the 
proposals--the President's proposal and the proposal here from the 
Democrats--and we ask that those proposals be acted upon.
  Mr. Speaker, with that, I yield back the balance of my time.