Monday, November 30, 2009

US Senate Debates Health Care Reform

Senate opens health care debate - CNN

Senate opens health care debate
November 30, 2009 5:02 p.m. EST




Sen. Harry Reid called the health care debate one of the most important in the nation's history.

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. Senate opened debate Monday on a sweeping bill to overhaul the nation's health care system.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid launched what is expected to be a lengthy and rancorous legislative battle by hailing the debate as one of the most important in U.S. history.

However, the process quickly bogged down in Republican procedural objections, causing Reid to lament, "This is not a good way to start this debate."

Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming challenged a motion by Reid that he said would unfairly cut off the proposal of amendments, including a planned Republican amendment that would prevent any cuts to the government-run Medicare health program for senior citizens.

Democrats contend that the bill will ensure Medicare's future financial stability by eliminating waste and reducing costs. Reid said the bill "saves money, saves lives and saves Medicare."

Republicans argue that proposed Medicare cuts would harm senior citizens, with Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona saying the bill "can't be fixed" if the Medicare provisions it contains remain intact.

The House has passed its version of a health care bill, and if the Senate passes its bill, the two measures would be merged by a congressional conference committee. Both chambers then would have to approve the revised bill before it could go to President Obama's desk.

Republicans unanimously oppose the $849 billion Democratic proposal that would expand health coverage to 31 million more Americans. The Senate voted 60-39 to launch debate on the bill, overcoming a Republican filibuster through support from every member of the Democratic caucus.

Reid also will need 60 votes to eventually close the debate, and his ability to secure that support remains uncertain.

The debate will feature amendments intended to delete or change controversial provisions in the 2,074-page bill, including creation of a government-run public health insurance option to compete against private insurers, tax increases and provisions intended to prevent federal tax dollars from paying for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother's life.

For the most part, battle lines are clearly drawn. Liberal-minded senators such as Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who sits with the Democratic caucus, favor a public option as the best way to force competition on private insurers to bring down costs, but fiscally conservative Democrats such as Nebraska's Ben Nelson are concerned about the cost and scope of a government-run alternative.

Nelson has said he would join a Republican filibuster against closing debate on the bill if it retains the current public option provision, which allows states to opt out of a national plan. Another Democratic caucus member, independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, says he also will prevent a final vote if the bill contains any form of public option.

However, Sanders said Sunday on the ABC show "This Week" that he would be "very reluctant" to support a bill that lacks a strong public option. Dean also called for a public option to provide a choice for consumers.

On the Republican side, none of the 40 senators supports a public option, but one -- moderate Olympia Snowe of Maine -- has discussed a trigger mechanism that would automatically bring a public option if thresholds for expanded coverage and lower costs go unmet. The trigger idea is considered the lone chance of a compromise that could gain the support of any Republicans.

For Democrats, each vote is crucial. Overcoming a filibuster requires support every member of the Democratic caucus, so if Lieberman or others oppose a public option, Reid would need a GOP senator to switch sides on the bill.

Senate Democrats concede that some changes are necessary to get the health care bill passed. They contend that their comprehensive approach is necessary to reform a system in which higher costs are draining the national economy and harming businesses and individuals.

Republicans call for an incremental approach that they say would reduce the costs of health care without needing to create new bureaucracies and raise taxes in a huge overhaul.

Other risky issues for Senate Democrats include abortion and tax increases to pay for health care reform. The bill includes tax increases aimed at those earning more than $200,000 a year and insurers providing "Cadillac" health plans worth more than $8,500 a year for individuals or $23,000 for families. It also would set a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery.

In contrast, a health care bill narrowly passed by the House of Representatives this month includes an income tax surcharge on individuals earning more than $500,000 a year and couples making more than $1 million.

Republicans say that any tax increase is bad in a struggling economy because it hinders growth and gets passed on to consumers, but Democrats argue that the bill's tax provisions wouldn't hit the lower or middle classes and would create incentive for private insurers to lower the cost of policies.

However, a key Democratic constituency -- organized labor -- opposes taxing the "Cadillac" health plans negotiated for workers in lieu of wage increases.

On abortion, the House bill has more restrictive language regarding the use of federal funding, and some Senate Democrats say they oppose adding it to their chamber's proposal.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Senate health care bill would reduce the federal deficit by about $130 billion over the next 10 years, through 2019.

Any effect on the deficit in the following decade would be "subject to substantial uncertainty" but probably would result in "small reductions in federal budget deficits," the budget office report said.

It also reported that health insurance premiums would remain roughly the same for most people, with costs for lower-income Americans reduced due to subsidies under the plan. According to the budget office, more than 80 percent of Americans would remain in employer-based health plans.

Both the Senate and House bills would require individuals to buy health insurance, with penalties for noncompliance. Unlike the House version, the Senate bill does not mandate that all employers offer health care.

The two bills are virtually identical on a broad range of changes, including creating health insurance exchanges, expanding Medicaid, subsidizing insurance for low- and some middle-income families, and capping out-of-pocket medical expenses while preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

CNN's Ted Barrett, Alan Silverleib and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.


http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/11/30/health.care/index.html

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Health Care Reform bill and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency

.
Vel Herandez
VVA Advocacy Committee Chair
Message broadcasted by Vietnamese American Broadcasting,Inc
on Radio of Overseas Vietnamese, November 2009


Thank you Viet Nam Hai Ngoai for having me speak on behalf of Voice of Vietnamese Americans. VVA is a nonpartisan organization that works to promote civic engagement in the Vietnamese American community of the DC area. I started with VVA in this past summer after graduating from college in May. Co Ngoc Giao came to me asking for my support to help her expand this organization and help her reach out to youth Vietnamese Americans and I was happy to help. We have the mission to educate Vietnamese Americans about the issues and help them be prepared when it comes to election day. I am happy to be here today.

The two topics I will be discussing today will be the Health Care Reform bill and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. I will be giving a brief overview of these major pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives. These two topics have been taking over the headlines in recent news and reports about Capitol Hill. Being knowledgeable of what’s going on in the House and Senate is especially important since many of these domestic policy bills will have a direct impact on you and your family.


Health Care Reform Bill


Let me begin by giving you the latest about the Health Care Reform Bill.

On Saturday, November 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 3962 The Affordable Health Care for America Act by a vote of 220 to 215. It is by far the most comprehensive health care reform bill that has passed the House in recent US political history, since the passing of the Social Security Act of 1965. The legislation bill, which is nearly 2000 pages long, seeks To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes, that is the exact first line of the bill, verbatim

Democrats passed the needed majority of 218 by 2 to pass the bill. There were a total of 39 defections of the Democratic party. Republican House leaders had predicted their members would unanimously oppose the bill. BUT Representative from Louisiana Anh Joseph Cao was the only republican to vote in favor of the bill. Rep. Cao represents a very Democratic-leaning district of New Orleans and he was the target of a very last-minute lobbying and persuasion from White House just days before the vote.

The bill requires for the first time that every individual to obtain insurance, and would require all employers, except for the smaller employers with low payrolls, to provide coverage to their workers. It would vastly expand Medicaid and create a new marketplace where people could obtain federal subsidies to buy insurance from private companies or from a new government-run insurance plan. The public option that is included in this bill would be in line for competition against the private options that already exist today. And there are a lot of them.

In addition, for those currently with insurance, this bill:

• Keeps your insurance company from denying you care or coverage – or charging you more – because of any “pre-existing condition,” such as heart disease or diabetes.
• you will not lose coverage if you lose your job, move, or change jobs.
These are groundbreaking provisions that restrict insurance companies here on out.

The debate on the House floor extended for about 12 hours. It was not an easy legislative day for the House. Since 2000, there have only been about 20 times when the House has met on a weekend. So it was a very big deal to have the House in session on a Saturday for this vote.

One of the biggest obstacles that same to surface just days before the schedule vote was the abortion provision in the bill. Many anti abortion democrats were hesitant to vote in favor of the bill that included public funding to cover the procedure.

So, there was an agreement to vote on an amendment, offered by anti-abortion Democrats, original sponsor is Representative Bart Stupak, a Democrat, that bans the proposed new government plan from covering abortions, only except in cases of rape, incest or where the life of a mother is threatened.

The Stupak amendment was passed. Sixty-four Democrats joined 176 Republicans in backing this amendment.

The deal cleared the path for passage for the health care bill as a whole, like I said before by a vote of 220-215.


Criticisms of the bill


Now I’ll be getting certain criticisms and different perspectives regarding the health reform bill:

One of the major criticisms is that it would the government’s reach into private decisions by patients and doctors in what is known as “big government” and “government takeover” of the private health care system.

Also another concern is an increase in deficit spending, especially now when the country has a tremendous budget deficit.

Republicans argued that the country cannot afford such new entitlement program that would cost an estimated $1.05 trillion over the next decade.

Many are also criticizing the bill because it will raise taxes and slash projected spending on Medicare and put many new mandates on individuals and employers.
With these criticisms and different perspectives, there’s still a lot of work to be done before the bill passes the Senate. Because it now has to go through the Senate side.

In an op-ed article in the Washington Post by David Broder on November 13, David Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office, was interviewed and was asked what he thinks should be changed about the bill.

He suggests that "First, the reform should pay for itself over 10 years. Second, it should not add to deficits beyond the 10 years.

Of course the fiscal responsibility is a major concern for both democrats and republicans. So we will see how this plays out in the next few weeks.

District-by-district statistics in Northern Virginia

Now I will be getting into district-by-district statistics about the bill’s impacts on constituents in Northern Virginia. This information I am about to read was prepared by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and it is located on their homepage: energycommerce.house.gov

In Jim Moran Virginia's 8th Congressional District: is the heart of Northern Virginia. The 8th encompasses the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County including Reston and Tysons Corner.

In Congressman Moran’s district, the Affordable Health Care for America Act will:

• Improve employer-based coverage for 493,000 residents, which represent 75% of the district’s population
• Provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 101,000 households.
• Improve Medicare for 64,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug donut hole for
3,500 seniors.
• Allow 20,100 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits
to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 17,500 small businesses.
• Provide coverage for 35,000 uninsured residents.
• Protect up to 800 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
• Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $102 million.

Frank Wolf (Republican) representative of the 10th district:
Cities*: Manassas, Manassas Park, Winchester
Towns*: Boyce, Berryville, Front Royal, Hamilton, Herndon, Hillsboro, Leesburg, Lovettsville, Middleburg, Middletown, Purcellville, Round Hill, Stephens City, The Plains, Warrenton

In Congressman Wolf’s district, the Affordable Health Care for America Act will:

• Improve employer-based coverage for 606,000 residents, which is approximately 77% of the district’s population.
• Provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 103,000 households.
• Improve Medicare for 74,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug donut hole for
5,100 seniors.
• Allow 21,100 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits
to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 18,800 small businesses.
• Provide coverage for 45,000 uninsured residents.
• Protect up to 1,500 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
• Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $55 million.

Gerald Connolly: Virginia's 11th Congressional District is the heart and soul of Northern Virginia. It encompasses the City of Fairfax, most of Fairfax County, and most of Prince William County. The Towns of Clifton, Haymarket, Occoquan, and Vienna are located in the 11th District.

In Congressman Connolly’s district, the Affordable Health Care for America Act will:

• Improve employer-based coverage for 586,000 residents which represent approximately 77% of the district’s population.
• Provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 87,000 households
• Improve Medicare for 73,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug donut hole for
3,800 seniors.
• Allow 19,000 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits
to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 16,800 small businesses.
• Provide coverage for 46,000 uninsured residents.
• Protect up to 1,400 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
• Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $7 million.

There you have it, a breakdown of the different statistics for the three northern Virginia districts. We will see how this plays out in the next few weeks and months.

Next legislation is the Consumer Financial Protection Agency

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency has also gained a lot of news coverage on the Hill.

For many months, there have been lots of ideas about the creation of an agency that protects consumers against abusive practices by financial service companies.

Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren, and who is currently the Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Assets Relief Program that is responsible for the $700 billion in bailout taxpayer money for troubled firmed, has for many months suggested that Congress create an agency just for that…to protect consumers.

On October 22, 2009, in the HOUSE, the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Congressman Barney Frank, passed the legislation, which will create a federal agency to protect consumers against abusive practices by financial services companies, by a vote of 39-29 -- mostly along party lines.

The vote is considered to be a victory in these first preliminary legislation steps towards the creation of such an agency.

Professor Warren was quoted as saying: "I just want to say, when I first came to Washington with the idea of this agency, everyone told me: “The banks always win. Quit now, because the banks always win.” They didn’t win today. Chairman Frank has done something that is historic here... I never thought I would see this day, so I am delighted."

This is the first step in the House side. The House is expected to have a full vote on the floor by the end of this year.

What is the CFPA?

The creation of a consumer protection agency is part of the Obama administration's plans to enact the most wide-ranging financial regulations since the Great Depression.

Obama administration is proposing this agency to serve as a “watchdog” for consumer tricky financial products, such as credit cards and mortgages, and misleading contracts. This will encourage financial firms to be more open and transparent about the disclosure of their rules and information. Warren has been an advocate for such a regulatory body for a long time now, and she’s appealing to both republicans and democrats for support.

Under the proposed legislation, the agency would have the power to monitor the financial marketplace, including loans and credit cards, with consumers’ interests top of mind. Existing agencies that have that power today have other industry monitoring responsibilities as well.

The agency would have the power to write new consumer protection rules for a host of activities involving loans or credit and would have the ability to ban products and business practices that it determined were "unfair, deceptive or abusive."

Criticism of the bill

The bill faces serious opposition and would have to pass through a number of legislative obstacles before becoming law.

Both proposals (House and Senate) face opposition from industry groups, including the American Bankers Association as well as from other members of Congress. They argue that the agency would hurt innovation, lead to job losses, result in higher product fees and create unnecessary additional bureaucracy.

Banking lobbyists are gearing up to dissuade lawmakers from voting in favor of the bill.

But then again there are different trade groups that represent the industry are also divided over how they want the bill rewritten. They will now shift their struggle to the Senate, which has yet to unveil its version of proposals overhauling financial regulations.

We will be seeing several types of stakeholders, such as banking, lobbying firms, mortgage companies everyday consumers who buy homes and use credit cards. Many stakeholders in this situation and we’ll see how this plays out.

On the Senate side:

Then, on Tuesday, November 10, in the SENATE side, Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee released his proposal for comprehensive reform of this country’s financial regulatory system.

Senator Dodd’s proposal for the agency is a similar one to the pending legislation in the House of Representatives that was just approved by the Financial Services Cmte a few weeks before.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called it another 1,000+ page bill that no Republican is likely to support.

Senate Republicans mocked the meeting as an effort to try to figure out what's possible, rather than a discussion over what will work.

The economic downturn needs a lot of help. Needs to be hearing from all sides of the story to know where solutions can come from.

A major concern coming from the opposition is the prospect of an expansion of
“government reach” to private firms’ and private consumers’ decisions. The terms that were used to describe opposition against the Health Care Reform Bill earlier are roughly the same: “big government, government takeover.” If another agency is another created, many opponents believe it’s going to be another bureaucracy, new set of rules and agencies, to help things that were before PRIVATE decisions. But lawmakers, I would think, would have to hear both sides and hear from their constituents and hear where the desires are coming from.

Closing:

There you have it. The health care reform bill that was passed by the house by a vote of 220-215 on November 7 and the CFPA that was passed by House financial services committee on October 22 and financial system reform proposal released by Senator Dodd on November 10.

Please keep a look out for these two major pieces of legislation. And see if House or Senate have to keep working during most of the holiday season this year. This is a busy time with these two bills. Thank you for listening.

DỰ LUẬT CẢI TỔ BẢO HIỂM Y TẾ
DỰ LUẬT THÀNH LẬP ỦY BAN BẢO VỆ QUYỀN LỢI NGƯỜI TIÊU DÙNG


Vel Hernandez
Trưởng Khối Vận Động Chính sách - VVA
Bài nói chuyện tháng 11, 2009
trên Đài Phát Thanh Việt Nam Hải Ngoại


Ngỏ:

Xin cảm ơn Đài Phát Thanh Việt Nam Hải Ngoại đã cho Vel đại diện Voice of Việt Namese Americans cơ hội nói chuyện với quý thính giả của đài. VVA là một tổ chức thiện nguyện, không đảng phái, chủ trương nâng đỡ, khuyến khích, và phát triển tinh thần đóng góp của Cộng Đồng người Mỹ gốc Việt vùng Hoa Thịnh Đốn vào các sinh hoạt chung về bầu cử, thi hành bổn phận công dân. Tôi bắt đầu sinh hoạt với VVA từ mùa hè sau khi tốt nghiệp Đại Học vào tháng năm. Cô Ngọc Giao đến nói chuyện với Vel và yêu cầu Vel giúp cho cô phát triển tổ chức này cùng với đem nó đến với giới trẻ. Vel đã rất vui khi tiếp tay VVA. Chúng tôi tự cảm thấy có nghĩa vụ phải giải thích cho đồng bào Mỹ gốc Việt biết tường tận hơn về các vấn đề quan trọng, để họ có sự chuẩn bị và lựa chọn kỹ càng khi đến ngày đi bầu. Vel rất vui khi nói chuyện với thính giả hôm nay.

Hai vấn đề mà Vel sẽ trình bày cùng thảo luận hôm nay là Dự luật Health Care Reform, hay Cải Tổ Y Tế, và Consumer Financial Protection Agency, hay lập Cơ Quan bảo vệ nguời tiêu dùng trên phương diện tài chánh. Tôi sẽ nói sơ qua về các chủ đề chính này tại Hạ Viện. Hai đề tài này đã tạo nhiều quan tâm hàng đầu trên các tin tức về Quốc Hội. Có kiến thức rõ ràng về mọi việc xảy ra tại Thượng Viện là điều rất quan trọng vì nhiều dự luật ảnh hưởng trực tiếp đến chúng ta và gia đình nếu nó trở thành luật.

Dự Luật Cải Tổ Bảo Hiểm Y Tế:

Vel xin được bắt đầu bằng những tin tức mới nhất về dự luật Cải Tổ Bảo Hiểm Y Tế.

Ngày thứ bảy, 7 tháng 11 vừa qua, Hạ Viện Hoa Kỳ thông qua Nghị Quyết 3962, The Affordable Health Care for American Act với số phiếu 220 trên 215. Đây là dự luật Cải Tổ Y Tế tương đối hoàn chỉnh nhất được Hạ Viện thông qua trong lịch sử chính trị Hoa Kỳ, từ khi Dự Luật về An Sinh Xã Hội (Social Security Act) được thông qua năm 1965. Dự luật này dài gần 2000 trang, nhằm cung ứng bảo hiểm sức khỏe với giá phải chăng và chất lượng đảm bảo cho tất cả mọi người dân Hoa Kỳ, đồng thời giảm phí tổn ngày càng gia tăng trong ngành y tế, cùng với một số mục đích khác. Đây là nguyên văn dòng đầu tiên trong Dự Luật..

Đảng Dân Chủ vượt quá đa số cần thiết 218 với 2 phiếu dư để thông qua Dự Luật. Có tất cả 39 dân biểu thuộc đảng Dân Chủ không theo quyết định này. Những lãnh tụ Cộng Hòa tại Hạ Viện đã tiên đoán thành viên của họ sẽ cùng nhất loạt phản đối Dự Luật. Nhưng vị đại diện cho dân tiểu bang Louisiana, Cao Quang Ánh, đã là người dân biểu Cộng Hòa duy nhất bỏ phiếu thuận. Dân biểu Cao đại diện cho khu vực nghiêng nhiều về đảng Dân Chủ, và ông trở thành mục tiêu được Nhà Trắng chú ý khuyến dụ vào phút cuối, chỉ vài ngày trước khi Hạ Viện biểu quyết.

Lần đầu tiên chúng ta có một Dự Luật đòi hỏi tất cả mọi cá nhân đều phải có bảo hiểm y tế, và buộc tất cả các chủ nhân, trừ các doanh nghiệp quá nhỏ, phải mua bảo hiểm sức khỏe cho người làm công. Nó sẽ mở rộng Medicaid và tạo ra một thị trường mới nơi người ta có thể dùng sự trợ giúp của chính phủ liên bang để mua bảo hiểm từ các công ty tư hay từ một chương trình bảo hiểm do chính phủ điều hành. Sự lựa chọn của cộng đồng, hay “Public Option”, trong dự luật này sẽ cùng cạnh tranh với các lựa chọn công ty tư đã có mặt sẵn sàng, và có rất nhiều công ty tư nhân như vậy.

Thêm vào đó, cho những ai hiện đang có bảo hiểm, chương trình này sẽ:

1. Không cho phép các hãng bảo hiểm thay đổi chính sách nửa chừng, không được từ chối chữa chạy cho người bệnh – vì những vấn đề “đã có sẵn (pre-existing condition) như bệnh tim mạch hay tiểu đường.
2. Quý vị sẽ không bị mất bảo hiểm nếu quý vị bị sa thải, đổi việc làm, hay dọn nhà sang vùng khác. Dự luật co những điều rất mới sẽ kiểm soát và hạn chế các hãng bảo hiểm tư kể từ hôm nay trở đi.

Cuộc tranh luận tại Hạ Viện kéo dài 12 tiếng đồng hồ. Đây không phải một ngày làm việc dễ dàng tại Hạ Viện. Từ năm 2000 cho đến nay, chỉ vỏn vẹn có 20 lần Hạ Viện làm việc vào cuối tuần. Điều này cho thấy đây là việc rất lớn lao khiến Hạ Viện phải nhóm họp vào ngày thứ bảy để thảo luật về Dự Luật này.

Một trong những trở ngại lớn nhất trồi lên chỉ vài ngày trước ngày biểu quyết là điều khoản về phá thai trong dự luật. Đa số những người dân chủ chống phá thai cũng ngần ngại không bỏ phiếu cho dự luật khi nó có việc cho phép sử dụng ngân quỹ quốc gia để hỗ trợ việc này.

Do đó, đã có một sự đồng ý bỏ phiếu cho phần tu chính, do nhóm Dân Chủ chống phá thai đưa ra, bắt đầu từ Dân Biểu Bart Stupak thuộc đảng Dân Chủ, xóa bỏ chương trình do chính quyền đề nghị dùng ngân quỹ quốc gia để trợ giúp việc phá thai, chỉ trừ trường hợp bị hãm hiếp, incest, hay khi mạng sống của người mẹ bị đe dọa.

Tu chính án Stupak được thông qua. 64 Democrats theo với 176 Republicans bỏ phiếu cho tu chính án này.

Việc này mở đường cho sự thông qua toàn dự luật với tỷ số 220/215.


Phê bình Dự Luật.


Bây giờ chúng ta hãy xem qua các chỉ trích cùng những cách nhìn khác về Dự Luật Cải Tổ Y Tế.

Một trong những chỉ trích chính là Dự Luật cho phép chính quyền tham dự vào các quyết định riêng tư của bệnh nhân và bác sĩ, trong điều gọi là “chính quyền lớn”, và “chính quyền tiếm đoạt” hệ thống y tế tư nhân.

Một quan tâm khác nữa là sự gia tăng phí tổn, thâm thủng ngân quỹ, nhất là trong giai đoạn này, khi đất nước đang bị thiếu hụt trầm trọng.

Đảng Cộng Hòa cho rằng Hoa Kỳ không thể cáng đáng nổi chương trình to lớn và sẽ tiêu khoảng $1. 05 trillion trong vòng 10 năm tới.

Nhiều người cũng chỉ trích dự luật vì nó sẽ tăng thuế và cắt giảm các dự án chi tiêu về Medicare và đưa ra nhiều đòi hỏi hơn đối với cá nhân và chủ nhân.

Với những chỉ trích và ý kiến khác nhau này, chúng ta còn phải làm việc rất nhiều trước khi Dự Luật được đưa sang Thượng Viện.

Trong một bài do David Broder viết trên tờ Washington Post ngày 13 tháng 11, David Walker, cựu lãnh đạo văn phòng Chính Phủ Trách Nhiệm (the Government Accountability Office) được phỏng vấn và hỏi ông nghĩ dự luật nên thay đổi điều gì.

Ông đề nghị: “Trước tiên, các cải cách phải tự lấy lại vốn trong vòng 10 năm. Thứ hai, nó không thể làm cho ngân quỹ thêm thâm thủng quá 10 năm.”

Dĩ nhiên trách nhiệm tài chánh là một quan tâm chính cho cả Dân Chủ lẫn Cộng Hòa. Chúng ta sẽ theo dõi xem sự việc diễn biến thế nào trong vài tuần tới.

Ảnh hưởng của Dự Luật tại vài địa hạt vùng Đông Bắc Virginia:

Bây giờ chúng ta xem xét đến từng địa hạt với các con số thống kê về ảnh hưởng của Dự Luật lên người dân tại vùng Đông Bắc Virginia. Những tin tức mà tôi sắp đưa ra được tìm hiểu và đúc kết bởi the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in trên trang nhà của họ: energycommerce.house.gov.

Tại Địa Hạt 8 của Dân Biểu Jim Moran: đây là trái tim của vùng Đông Bắc Virginia. Địa hạt 8 bao gồm thành phố Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, và một phần của Quận Fairfax, gồm Reston va và Tyson. Tại địa hạt của Dân Biểu Moran, chương trình này sẽ:

1. Tăng mức bảo hiểm do chủ nhân đài thọ lên đến 493,000 dân, đại diện cho 75% dân số khu vực.
2. Cung cấp tín dụng để giúp trả cho 101,000 gia đình.
3. Tăng Medicare lên đến 64,000 người được hưởng, gồm cả việc xóa bỏ các lỗ hổng về tiền mua thuốc cho trên 3,500 người già.
4. Cho phép 20,100 doanh nghiệp nhỏ mua bảo hiểm y tế với giá phải chăng và cho họ được miễn thuế.
5. Giúp hạ tiền bảo hiểm y tế cho 17,500 doanh nghiệp.
6. Cung cấp 35,000 bảo hiểm y tế cho những người chưa có.
7. Bảo vệ 800 gia đình tránh khỏi bị bankruptcy vì không chịu nổi giá tiền chữa bệnh.
8. Giảm giá phí tổn cho nhà thương và các bác sĩ tới $102 triệu.

FRANK WOLF (R ) đại diện địa hạt 10th:
Thành phố: Manassas, Manassas Park, Winchester
Thị trấn: Boyce, Berryville, Front Royal, Hamilton, Herndon, Hillsboro, Leesburg, Lovettsville, Middleburg, Middletown, Purcellville, Round Hill, Stephens City, The Plains, Warrenton.

Trong địa hạt của Dân Biểu Wolf, Dự Luật “Affordable Health Care for America” sẽ:

1. Giúp tăng các bảo hiểm y tế do chủ hãng cung cấp cho 606,000 người, tức là khoảng 77% dân số khu vực.
2. Cung cấp tín dụng giúp trả tiền bảo hiểm cho trên 103,000 gia đình.
3. Tăng lượng người được Medicare trợ cấp lên 74,000 người, gồm cả giúp trả tiền thuốc cho 5,100 người già.
4. Cho phép 21,000 doanh nghiệp nhỏ có thể mua bảo hiểm y tế với giá rẻ và được tax credits cuối năm, nhờ vậy giảm phí tổn về bảo hiểm y tế cho 18,800 doanh nghiệp nhỏ.
5. Cung cấp bảo hiểm y tế cho 45,000 người hiện chưa có bảo hiểm.
6. Bảo vệ 1,500 gia đình tránh khỏi nạn phá sản (bankcruptcy) vì phải trả tiền y tế quá cao.
7. Giảm phí tổn trả cho nhà thương và các nhân viên y tế ít hơN $55 triệu đô la.


Địa hạt của Dân Biểu Gerry Connolly: Địa hạt 11 của Virginia là trái tim và linh hồn của Virginia. Địa hạt này bao gồm City of Fairfax, phần lớn quận Fairfax, và phần lớn quận Prince William. Thị trấn Clifton, Haymarket, Occoquan, và Vienna đều thuộc về địa hạt 11.

Trong khu vực của Dân Biểu Connolly, Dự Luật “Affordable Health Care for America” sẽ giúp các điều sau đây:

1. Tăng số bảo hiểm y tế do chủ hãng trả cho 586 ngàn người, khoảng 77% dân số khu vực.
2. Cung cấp tín dụng để giúp trả bảo hiểm y tế cho 87 ngàn gia đình.
3. Tăng lượng người được trợ cấp Medicare lên 73 ngàn, gồm cả trả tiền thuốc men cho 3,800 người lớn tuổi.
4. Cho phép 19 ngàn doanh nghiệp nhỏ được mua bảo hiểm y tế với giá rẻ và được hưởng tín dụng trừ thuế vào cuố năm, giúp giảm phí tổn trả bảo hiểm y tế cho 16,800 doanh nghiệp nhỏ.
5. Cung cấp bảo hiểm y tế cho 46,000 người hiện chưa có bảo hiểm.
6. Bảo vệ 1,400 gia đình khỏi sa vào nạn bị phá sản (bankcruptcy) vì không đủ tiền trả phí tổn y tế.
7. Giảm $7 triệu đô la về phí tổn trả cho nhà thương và nhân viên y tế .


Thưa quý vi, trên đây là phân tích các thống kê cho ba địa hạt đông người Việt nhất và lớn nhất tại vùng Đông Bắc Virginia. Chúng ta sẽ theo dõi trong vài tuần tới và vài tháng tới xem diễn biến thế nào. Xin quý vị tiếp tay gửi thư đến các Dân Biểu, Nghị Sĩ đại diện khu mình ở để vận động cho Dự Luật được thành hình tốt đẹp.

Dự Luật được bàn thảo kế tiếp là Consumer Financial Protection Agency (Uỷ Ban Bảo Vệ Tài Chánh cho Người Tiêu Thụ)

Ý tưởng lập Ủy Ban Bảo Vệ Tài Chánh cho Người Tiêu Thụ cũng đang được bàn cãi sôi nổi và là nguồn tin tức mới tại Capitol Hill.

Trong nhiều tháng qua, có rất nhiều ý kiến đưa ra về việc thành lập một cơ quan bảo vệ quyền lợi người tiêu thụ trước sự lạm dụng của một số công ty tài chánh có cách hành nghề thiếu lương tâm.

Giáo sư Elizabeth Warren của Đại Học Harvard, hiện đang là Chủ Tịch của Hội Đồng Giám Sát Chương Trình Giải Nguy các Troubled Assets tại Quốc Hội, trách nhiệm cho 700 tỷ đô la do chính phủ tài trợ tù tiền thuế của dân nhằm cứu các công ty đang gặp khó khăn, trong nhiều tháng qua đã không ngừng lên tiếng đề nghị Quốc Hội lập ra một cơ quan với nhiệm vụ giám sát và bảo vệ người tiêu dùng.

Ngầy 22 tháng 10, 2009, tại Hạ Viện, Ủy Ban Tài Chánh Hạ Viện, dưới sự lãnh đạo của chủ tịch Dân Biểu Barney Frank, thông qua dự luật, nhằm thành lập một cơ quan liên bang bảo vệ người tiêu dùng trước những thủ thuật thiếu lương tâm của các công ty tài chánh. Dự luật thông qua với tỷ số 39/ 29 – đa phần là theo lằn ranh phân chia hai đảng.

Sự thông qua này được xem là chiến thắng sơ khởi cho dự luật trong những bước cần thiết để thành lập một Ủy Ban Bảo Vệ người Vay Tiền.

Giáo Sư Warren đã nói: “Khi tôi đến Hoa Thịnh Đốn lần đầu với ý tưởng thành lập Ủy Ban Bảo Vệ người vay tiền, mọi người bảo tôi: Các Ngân Hàng sẽ luôn luôn thắng thế, Giáo Sư hãy bỏ ý định này đi. Hãy chịu thua từ bây giờ đi, vì bọn tài phiệt sẽ luôn luôn thắng.” Cho đến hôm nay, họ đã không thắng chúng ta. Chủ Tịch Frank đã làm được một điều đáng đi vào lịch sử… Tôi không bao giờ nghĩ rằng chúng ta sẽ có thắng lợi ngày hôm nay, và tôi rất vui mừng…”

Đây là bước đầu tiên tại Hạ Viện. Hạ Viện kỳ vọng sẽ có đa phiếu thuận cho Dự Luật này vào cuối năm nay.

CFPA là gì?

CFPA hay Consumer Financial Protection Agency là một phần trong các kế hoạch của chính quyền Obama nhằm thực thi sự điều hòa tài chánh trên một địa bàn rộng lớn, kể từ ngày nước Mỹ sa vào Great Depression.

Chính phủ Obama đề nghị Cơ quan này sẽ đóng vai trò “watchdog”, “Giám sát” hộ người tiêu thụ những sản phẩm tài chánh có tính lừa đảo, như các thẻ tín dụng, các món nợ mua nhà cửa, và các hợp đồng không rõ ràng. Điều này sẽ khuyến khích các cơ quan tài chánh minh bạch hơn và trình bày rõ ràng hơn về các luật lệ và tin tức cần thông báo với thân chủ. Giáo Sư Warren từng là người vận động mạnh mẽ cho một cơ quan kiểm soát tài chánh, và Bà yêu cầu sự hợp tác hỗ trợ của cả hai đảng Cộng Hòa lẫn Dân Chủ.

Theo Dự Luật đề nghị, cơ quan này sẽ có quyền theo dõi và kiểm soát thị trường tài chánh, gồm cả các món nợ và thẻ tín dụng, với quyền lợi của người tiêu thụ là mục đích chính. Những cơ quan hiện hành đang có khả năng này cũng có trách nhiệm kiểm soát ngành tài chánh như vậy.

Cơ quan này sẽ có quyền viết ra một số luật bảo vệ người tiêu dùng cho một số hoạt động gồm các món nợ, thẻ tín dụng, và sẽ có khả năng cấm một số sản phẩm tài chính và cách hành nghề mà cơ quan xác định rằng có tính “lừa đảo, lạm dụng, và không công bằng.”

Các Phê bình và Chỉ Trích nhắm vào Dự Luật:


Dự Luật này gặp sự chống đối mạnh mẽ và sẽ phải qua một số cản trở về luật pháp trước khi có thể thực sự thành một đạo luật.

Cả hai kiến nghị từ Hạ Viện và Thượng Viện đều gặp chống đối mạnh mẽ từ các nhóm trong ngành tài chánh, gồm American Bankers Association cùng một số thành viên của Quốc Hội. Họ cho rằng một Cơ Quan như vậy sẽ làm giảm tính sáng tạo về tài chánh, tạo ra sự thất nghiệp, tăng phí tổn trên sản phẩm, và tạo ra một số thủ tục hành chánh rườm rà.

Những chuyên viên lobby của các ngân hàng đã sẵn sàng nhảy vào cuộc để làm mất tinh thần của các nhà soạn luật, và khuyến dụ họ không đồng thuận với dự luật này.

Nhưng chúng ta cũng có một số các nhóm khác đại diện ngành tài chánh góp một số ý kiến khác nhau về dự luật. Họ sẽ chuyển cách tranh đấu sang Thượng Viện, nơi mà bản kiến nghị về Dự Luật chưa được công bố rõ ràng trong các đề nghị kiểm soát tài chính.

Chúng ta sẽ có dịp nhìn thấy nhiều nhóm có quyền lợi khác nhau, như ngân hàng, các hãng lobby, các hãng cho vay tiền, và người mượn tiền mua nhà hay sử dụng thẻ tín dụng. Có rất nhiều người trực tiếp chịu ảnh hưởng về quyền lợi đối với dự luật này, và chúng ta sẽ có dịp quan sát xem sự việc diễn tiến thế nào.

Tại Thượng Viện:


Vào Thứ Ba, 10 tháng 11, tại Thượng Viện, Thượng Nghị Sĩ Christopher Dodd, Chủ Tịch Ủy Ban về Ngân Hàng tại Thượng Viện, đưa ra kiến nghị của ông cho một sự Cải Tổ toàn diện trên guồng máy tài chánh của quốc gia chúng ta.

Bản dự thảo của Thượng Nghị Sĩ Dodd cũng giống như Dự Luật đang còn nằm tại Hạ Viện và mới được Ủy Ban Tài Chánh chấp nhận vài tuần lễ trước đây.

Chủ tịch Khối Thiểu Số tại Thượng Viện, (Senate Minority Leader) Thượng Nghị Sĩ Mitch McConnell, đảng Cộng Hòa, từ Kentucky, gọi đây là một Dự Luật Ngàn trang mà có lẽ không ai trong đảng Cộng Hòa sẽ đồng thuận.

Phe Cộng Hòa tại Thượng Viện chế diễu buổi họp rằng đó chỉ là nỗ lực tìm ra cái gì có thể, không phải là cuộc thảo luận nhằm tìm ra một giải pháp thực sự hữu hiệu.

Sự suy thoái kinh tế hiện nay cần rất nhiều đóng góp. Chúng ta cần lắng nghe từ mọi hướng để xem giải pháp nào là tốt nhất.

Một quan tâm chính từ nhóm đối lập là viễn ảnh guồng máy chính quyền can thiệp vào các công ty tư nhân, và ảnh hưởng đến quyết định cá nhân của người tiêu thụ. Sự phản đối của nhóm đối lập trong trường hợp này cũng tương tự như với Dự Luật Cải Tổ Y Tế: “Quốc Doanh, với sự bành trướng của chính quyền”. Khi thêm một cơ quan được thành lập, nhiều người đối lập tin rằng nó sẽ tăng thêm thủ tục hành chánh rườm rà, thêm luật lệ, thêm tính quan lại, so với cách làm việc có sự quyết định nhanh chóng của tư nhân. Nhưng tôi tin rằng những nhà làm luật sẽ cố gắng nghe cả hai phía và nhất là lắng nghe từ cử tri vùng họ đại diện, và nhận ra những nhu cầu bức thiết của người dân.

Kết Luận:

Quý vị vừa nghe qua trình bày về Cải Tổ Y Tế và Dự Luật Cải Tổ Tài Chánh. Dự Luật Cải Tổ Y Tế HR3962 được Hạ Viện thông qua ngày 7 tháng 11 với tỷ số 220/ 215, và Dự Luật thành lập Ủy Ban Bảo Vệ Tài Chánh cho Người Tiêu Dùng, CFPA được Tiểu Ban Tài Chánh Hạ Viện thông qua ngày 22 tháng 10. Kiến nghị về Cải Tổ Tài Chánh do Thượng Nghị Sĩ Dodd đưa ra vào ngày 10 tháng 11 .

Xin tiếp tục theo dõi hai dự luật quan trọng này, xem Hạ Việt và Thượng Viện có tiếp tục làm việc trong suốt mùa Lễ năm này không. Đây là giai đoạn rất bận rộn cho Quốc Hội với cả hai dự luật.

Xin cảm ơn quý thính giả đã theo dõi chương trình của Voice of Vietnamese Americans.

Xin cảm ơn Đài Phát Thanh Việt Nam Hải Ngoại.


.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, AMERICA

.


Chia sẻ nhân Lễ Tạ Ơn


Happy Thanksgiving, America
Uploaded by OneCarolinaGirl

Nhân dịp Lễ Tạ Ơn, Tiếng Nói Người Mỹ gốc Việt xin chân thành cảm tạ mọi hỗ trợ của Quý vi Lãnh Đạo Tinh Thần, Lãnh Đạo Hội Đòan, Quý vị Giáo Sư Cố Vấn, và nhất là quý bạn trẻ cùng quý đồng hương.

Xin kính chúc quý vị một Lễ Tạ Ơn nhiều hạnh phúc, bình tâm, an tọai.


May many blessings come to you this season,
May your contributions to the community be great blessings to all others.
Our sincere thanks to all of your support given to Voice of Vietnamese Americans. We are very grateful and will strive to serve our community better together with all of you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

VIRGINIA: SPECIAL ELECTION FOR CUCCINELLI'S SEAT SET FOR JAN. 12

.

By Rosalind Helderman
The Washington Post's Blog


Gov. Tim Kaine's office reports that it has now received a copy of a letter from Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, indicating that he will resign from the state Senate on Jan. 12, in preparation for his inauguration as state attorney general Jan. 16.

Kaine plans to call the special election to fill Cuccinelli's Fairfax County seat for that same day, said Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey.

Cuccinelli, meanwhile, met with the entire staff of the attorney general's office this week, telling attorneys and others in a 15-minute speech that he respects their work and looks forward to working with them. All employees of the AG's office formally work at the pleasure of the sitting attorney general. It is not yet clear how many of the office's staff Cuccinelli plans to keep on.


.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

US Senate votes to move health care reform bill forward

.

(philstar.com) Updated November 22, 2009 11:00 AM

WASHINGTON (Xinhua) - The US Senate voted on Saturday night to move an overhaul health care reform bill forward, removing the first procedural hurdle for the bill to be passed in the chamber.

Supported by all of the 60 Democratic and independent senators, the bill was voted to be in a full-scale debate in the Senate starting Nov. 30 after this year's Thanksgiving holiday.

However, all Republican senators said no to the Democrats-backed bill except one who missed the voting.

Earlier reports said that the debate over the bill was expected to last as long as three weeks before the Senate can vote on the legislation.

So far, the Democratic party has gained commitment of all the 60 Democratic and independent senators to the passage of the bill without further changes.

According to the 2,074-page bill unveiled on Wednesday, the overhaul health care reform bill would expand health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans.

Citing an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said that the bill was estimated to cost $849 billion over 10 years but it can reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion in the first decade and more than $600 billion in the following decade.

Reid told reporters that public option, one of the most controversial issues about the health care reform, is included in the Senate bill, but states reserve their right to opt out after the bill is put into practice.

The bill would also cease practices including denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, and raise Medicare payroll taxes for the wealthiest Americans to help pay for the social insurance program for the elderly.

The House of Representative approved its health care reform bill on Nov. 7 by a narrow margin of 220 to 215. But, in the Senate, the bill needs 60 out of 100 votes to be passed.

After the Senate approve its different version, two chambers would need to reach an unified bill sent to the president to sign into law.

(philstar.com) Updated November 22, 2009 11:00 AM


WASHINGTON (Xinhua) - The US Senate voted on Saturday night to move an overhaul health care reform bill forward, removing the first procedural hurdle for the bill to be passed in the chamber.

Supported by all of the 60 Democratic and independent senators, the bill was voted to be in a full-scale debate in the Senate starting Nov. 30 after this year's Thanksgiving holiday.

However, all Republican senators said no to the Democrats-backed bill except one who missed the voting.

Earlier reports said that the debate over the bill was expected to last as long as three weeks before the Senate can vote on the legislation.

So far, the Democratic party has gained commitment of all the 60 Democratic and independent senators to the passage of the bill without further changes.

According to the 2,074-page bill unveiled on Wednesday, the overhaul health care reform bill would expand health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans.

Citing an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said that the bill was estimated to cost $849 billion over 10 years but it can reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion in the first decade and more than $600 billion in the following decade.

Reid told reporters that public option, one of the most controversial issues about the health care reform, is included in the Senate bill, but states reserve their right to opt out after the bill is put into practice.

The bill would also cease practices including denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, and raise Medicare payroll taxes for the wealthiest Americans to help pay for the social insurance program for the elderly.

The House of Representative approved its health care reform bill on Nov. 7 by a narrow margin of 220 to 215. But, in the Senate, the bill needs 60 out of 100 votes to be passed.

After the Senate approve its different version, two chambers would need to reach an unified bill sent to the president to sign into law.

Health Insurance Reform Proceeds to Senate Floor Debate 37 views - 1 hour ago

Introducing the Patient Protection and Affordability Act (Complete Event)

.Reid and McConnell Debate With Health Care

11-19-09 Corker (R) Comments on Senate Health Care Bill

Health Care Reform Bill Passes House Of Representatives - The Lone GOP Vote of Congressman Cao

TRANH CÃI VỀ CẢI TỔ BẢO HIỂM Y TẾ - DISCUSSION OF H.R. 3200 - "America's Affordable Health Choices Act"

Thượng viện Mỹ sẽ tranh luận về dự luật y tế

Dự luật y tế đã gây nhiều tranh cãi
Thượng viện Hoa Kỳ đã bỏ phiếu thống nhất sẽ có phiên tranh luận về dự luật có mục đích cải tổ ngành y tế của nước này.

60 nghị sỹ bỏ phiếu thuận, 39 người phiếu chống, sau khi phe Dân chủ xác nhận rằng họ đã có đủ ủng hộ cho việc này.

Hai Thượng nghị sỹ Dân chủ vốn còn do dự đã tuyên bố bật đèn xanh cho dự luật, một trong những cam kết tranh cử quan trọng nhất của Tổng thống Barack Obama.

Trong khi đó chỉ có một thành viên Thượng viện theo Cộng hòa bỏ phiếu thuận.

Ông Obama đã nói ông đặt tầm quan trọng đặc biệt cho dự luật này, mà theo ông sẽ bảo đảm chăm sóc sức khỏe cho hàng triệu người Mỹ không có bảo hiểm y tế.

Nhà Trắng nói ông tổng thống "vui mừng" trước kết quả "cuộc bỏ phiếu lịch sử" hôm thứ Bảy.

Đầ xuất trị giá 849 tỷ đôla của Thủ lĩnh phe Dân chủ tại Thượng viện Harry Reid sẽ mang lại quyền lợi về y tế cho thêm 31 triệu người, tương đương 94% người trong diện được hưởng trợ giúp.

Dự luật dài 2.074 trang này sẽ giúp giảm thâm hụt ngân quỹ về y tế 127 tỷ đôla trong thập niên tới và 650 tỷ trong mười năm sau đó.

Thế nhưng phe Cộng hòa vẫn chỉ trích là nó quá tốn kém. Cuộc tranh luận sắp tới do vậy chắc chắn sẽ rất quyết liệt.


Vẫn còn quan ngại
Các nỗ lực thông qua dự luật đang tập trung vào ba nhân vật Dân chủ là các nghị sỹ Ben Nelson từ tiểu bang Nebraska, Blanche Lincoln của Arkansas và Mary Landrieu từ Louisiana - những người đã bày tỏ hoài nghi về dự luật.

Thượng nghị sỹ Nelson hôm thứ Sáu nói ông sẽ ủng hộ việc mang nó ra tranh luận, nhưng hai vị kia chỉ lên tiếng phát biểu vài giờ trước khi bắt đầu.

Cả ba người cho hay họ tiếp tục có quan ngại về nội dung dự luật.
Hạ viện Hoa Kỳ đã thông qua phiên bản của mình về dự luật cải cách y tế hồi đầu tháng.

Theo đó, đa số dân Mỹ sẽ có bảo hiểm y tế, các nhà bảo hiểm tư nhân sẽ không được từ chối khách hàng vì lý do họ đã có tiền sử bệnh tật.

Bảo hiểm y tế sẽ trở nên rẻ hơn nhờ có các khoản trợ giúp của chính phủ. Người dân cũng sẽ có thể tham gia các "chợ" bảo hiểm y tế và mu abảo hiểm của chính phủ từ năm 2014.

Các công ty lớn sẽ bị buộc phải bảo hiểm y tế cho nhân viên của mình và chi phí sẽ được trang trải nhờ tiết kiệm từ ngân sách Medicare của chính phủ.

Nếu như Thượng viện Mỹ thông qua dự luật, phiên bản của Thượng viện sẽ được khớp với của Hạ viện và mang ra bỏ phiếu lần nữa trước khi có thể được ông Obama ký thành luật.

Theo BBC - Cập nhật: 02:51 GMT - chủ nhật, 22 tháng 11, 2009
http://www.bbc.co.uk/vietnamese/world/2009/11/091122_ushealth.shtml



.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Signed Letter Condemning Racist Remarks Towards Congressman Joseph Cao

November 13, 2009

The Honorable John Boehner (R-OH)
House Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
1011 Longworth H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Boehner:

cc: Rep. Eric Cantor, House Minority Whip (R-VA)
Rep. Mike Honda, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair (D-CA)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker (D-CA)

Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-LA), the lone Republican who voted for healthcare reform legislation H.R. 3962, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, has come under withering racist attacks from conservative bloggers and websites. The Congressman has been denigrated as a “gook,” “Joseph Mao,” and a litany of other racially motivated smears.

This vile and racist language lowers the political discourse in our country and distracts our elected officials from solving the serious problems at hand. We call on you, your colleagues, and leaders of the Republican Party, to denounce this blatant racism that is increasingly coming from “tea party” bloggers and conservative forums like Free Republic.

America has been a land of immigrants from around the world, and this beloved country's strength comes from its diversity and equal protection for all under the law. Understanding this, we urge you to step forward and condemn the un-American hate currently being hurled at Congressman Cao.

Sincerely,



Asian American Action Fund - Gautam Dutta
Asian Americans for Progress
Cook Ross, Inc. - Leslie Traub
Indian American Leadership Council – Yesvy Gustasp
Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association - Hoan Dang
National Federation of Filipino American Associations – Jon Melegrito
National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies – Lan Le
Organizations of Chinese Americans – Stan Lou and Stan Tsai
Vietnamese American Voters Association, Inc. – Jackie Bong-Wright
Voice of Vietnamese Americans - Genie Nguyen Le
Your Energy Solutions - Renee Putsche
Amy Dang – Miami Beach, FL
George Dang - Silver Spring, MD
Judy Docca – Montgomery Village, MD
JoAnn Krecke - Bethesda, MD
Larry La - Silver Spring, MD
Christine Meloni – Springfield, VA
Vy Nguyen – Washington, DC


.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thông cáo: Đảng Cộng sản Đông Dương tự ý giải tán, ngày 11-11-1945

.

Thông cáo
Đảng Cộng sản Đông Dương tự ý giải tán,
ngày 11-11-1945


1- Cǎn cứ vào điều kiện lịch sử, tình hình thế giới và hoàn cảnh trong nước, nhận rằng lúc này chính là cơ hội nghìn nǎm có một cho nước Việt Nam giành quyền hoàn toàn độc lập;

2- Xét rằng: muốn hoàn thành nhiệm vụ dân tộc giải phóng vĩ đại ấy, sự đoàn kết nhất trí của toàn dân không phân biệt giai cấp, đảng phái là một điều kiện cốt yếu;

3- Để tỏ rằng: những đảng viên cộng sản là những chiến sĩ tiền phong của dân tộc, bao giờ cũng hy sinh tận tụy vì sự nghiệp giải phóng của toàn dân, sẵn sàng đặt quyền lợi quốc gia lên trên quyền lợi của giai cấp, hy sinh quyền lợi riêng của đảng phái cho quyền lợi chung của dân tộc;

4- Để phá tan tất cả những điều hiểu lầm ở ngoài nước và ở trong nước có thể trở ngại cho tiền đồ giải phóng của nước nhà.

Ban Chấp hành Trung ương
Đảng Cộng sản Đông Dương
họp ngày 11 tháng 11 nǎm 1945, nghị quyết tự động giải tán Đảng Cộng sản Đông Dương.


Những tín đồ của chủ nghĩa cộng sản muốn tiến hành việc nghiên cứu chủ nghĩa sẽ gia nhập "Hội nghiên cứu chủ nghĩa Mác ở Đông Dương".

Ban chấp hành Trung ương
Đảng Cộng sản Đông Dương

Lưu tại Kho Lưu trữ
Trung ương Đảng.


http://www.cpv.org.vn/cpv/Modules/News/NewsDetail.aspx?co_id=30063&cn_id=97203
.

VETERANS DAY: WE THANK OUR VETERANS FOR PRESERVING OUR FREEDOM AND THE AMERICAN VALUES

.







VETERANS, WE HONOR YOU!

WE THANK OUR VETERANS FOR PRESERVING OUR FREEDOM AND THE AMERICAN VALUES


TO ALL SOLDIERS WHO HAVE SERVED IN THE VIETNAM WAR, WE ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL TO ALL YOUR SACRIFICES TO THE NOBLE CAUSE OF FREEDOM. WE SINCERELY THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICES.

History of Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”



Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."



President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. From left: Alvin J. King, Wayne Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts

On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.

In 1958, the White House advised VA's General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee's chairman.

The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.


http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp

.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Health Care Reform Bill Passes House Of Representatives - The Lone GOP Vote of Congressman Cao

.



All the reps who voted for and against the health reform bill in VA.
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2369316/2_virginia_reps_vote_against_health.html

All the names who voted for and against the bill in the house.
http://news.lalate.com/2009/11/08/hr-3962-vote/

Joseph Cao Republican who passed HR3962




Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao
Jack Nguyên:
I am very proud Congressman Joseph Cao voted for this historic bill. If this bill passes in the Senate and signed into law by the President, Congressman Cao will forever be enshrined in history as the lone Republican who bucked his party and its leadership to be in the right side of history. And this guy is a Vietnamese. I am ecstatic and proud of his vote!
Let it be known our community is proud of this feat. If one fights for the common man, he is always on the right side of history.


Tân Liên:
I respect the man who stands alone. Yah, two thumbs up.

Lousiana Republican Anh' Joseph' Cao who is from a Democratic New Orleans district, joined the 219 Democrats to make the 'final margin 220 to 215 in favor of reforms passage'. He is making the rounds on the net because he voted in favor for HR 3962 and made a huge statement about it. Last night (Saturday, November 7th, 2009), the 176 Republicans voted against the HR 3962 (health care bill).

Oh and get this, the Huffington Post reports that President Obama had already contacted Cao, and that the two of them would be working to address the critical state of health care in Louisiana. From that stand point, it makes perfect sense for Cao to support a House Resolution that would bring direct benefits to his home state.

What is a president to do? Of course a president would contact someone to vote in 'favor' for something.

And for those who do not know what the HR 3962 is, well it is to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.

Cao said, "I read the versions of the House [health reform] bill. I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health care costs are exploding - if they are able to obtain health care at all. Louisianans needs real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children. Today, I obtained a commitment from President Obama that he and I will work together to address the critical health care issues of Louisiana including the FMAP crisis and community disaster loan forgiveness, as well as issues related to Charity and Methodist Hospitals. And, I call on my constituents to support me as I work with him on these issues.I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents.

Right-Wing Unleashes Racism on Rep Cao

How do you feel about the HR 3962? Do you think it still has some kinks in it or it is flawless?



http://momsword.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3853:joseph-cao-republican-who-passed-hr3982&catid=1:latest-reviews&Itemid=50

UNDERSTANDING HR3962: THE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICA ACT
Submitted by Denise Reynolds RD on Nov 8th, 2009

http://www.emaxhealth.com/1506/72/34374/understanding-hr3962-affordable-health-care-america-act.html

On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed the healthcare reform bill, formally known as HR3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act. Most of the bill will take effect on January 1, 2010 or when signed into law by the President. Some portions of the bill will be introduced in stages through 2013.

In a section-by-section analysis of the bill, the House explains what each section means to Americans who are currently uninsured or underinsured. Section 101 explains the target audience for the healthcare act: Those who have been uninsured for several months or denied a policy because of pre-existing conditions. No one can be denied health insurance, except in the instance of fraud.

Under the Act, the Exchange will offer essential benefits within the base package, with additional benefits offered in four tiers, basic (essential), enhanced, premium, and premium-plus. The essential benefits package will limit out-of-pocket spending to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family. The premium plus plan will offer extra benefits such as dental and vision.

The Health Insurance Exchange will facilitate the offering of health insurance choices. It will be under the direction of the Health Choices Commissioner who will establish a process with qualified plans and will ensure that the different levels of benefits are offered properly. The program will not replace Medicaid or Medicare. Those eligible for those programs will be enrolled appropriately.

The act provides for coverage for those who are caught in several loopholes for insurance. For example, low-wage workers who are working for small companies who cannot provide insurance coverage for employees, cannot afford a private plan, and do not qualify for federal plans such as Medicaid or Medicare, the public health options will provide options for coverage.

In addition to providing expanded coverage, the Act will set up affordability credits to ensure that people with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level will have affordable health coverage. These credits reduce the costs of both premium and annual out-of-pocket spending. During the first two years of the plan, these credits will only be offered with the basic plan. After that, a process will be developed for the remainder of the plans.

For 2009, the Federal Poverty Guidelines state that an individual making $10,830 or less is below the level of poverty. Insurance will be offered to those individuals up to an annual salary of $43,320. For a family of four, the federal level of poverty is $22,050 in annual income. The plan will be an option for those families with gross annual income of up to $88,200.

In order to receive the credits, one cannot be enrolled in other coverage, including private plans, Medicaid or Medicare, and must be an American citizen or legal resident. The credits are offered on a sliding scale, meaning those with lower incomes will receive higher credits (less cost paid out) on their premiums. Income is determined from the most recent tax return.

As a part of the shared responsibility provision, those who cannot establish acceptable health coverage for themselves and all dependents will pay a 2.5% additional tax on their gross income. There will be a hardship exception, as well as exemptions for certain groups. In addition, employers who cannot provide health insurance to employees will contribute a payroll tax of 8% to help cover the expenses of employees who choose coverage under the exchange.

The next stage for HR3962 is for the Senate to approve with at least 60 votes out of 100. The bill is not expected to reach the senate until 2010.

Source: Committee on Energy and Commerce

.

CENSUS NEWS BRIEF - No 81

.

CENSUS NEWS BRIEF

November 8, 2009 No. 81

In this issue
Senate dispenses with Vitter amendment; approves 2010 funding bill
House oversight hearing focuses on address list, background checks, cost
Countdown to 2010: Update on final preparations and key operations

SENATE CLOSES OFF DEBATE ON VITTER AMENDMENT,
APPROVES CENSUS FUNDING IN COMMERCE BILL


PLUS:

Address list quality focus of House oversight hearing

House Republicans seek Director pledge on disqualifying criminals from census jobs
Countdown to 2010: Key operations update

SENATE VOTE ENDS CONSIDERATION OF VITTER-BENNETT PROPOSAL TO ADD CENSUS QUESTIONS
The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday (11/5) to end debate on the Fiscal Year 2010 Commerce Department spending bill, closing off further opportunity for the chamber to consider an amendment authored by Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) that would have denied funding for the Census Bureau unless the agency added questions to the 2010 census on citizenship and immigration status. (Sen. Vitter had said he planned to modify the amendment to only require a new question on citizenship, if the Senate considered the proposal.) The 60 - 39 vote to "invoke cloture" broke along party lines, with all Democrats voting in favor and all but one Republican voting against. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the ranking minority member on the census oversight subcommittee, did not vote. After the cloture vote, the Parliamentarian determined that the amendment was not in order under Senate rules.
The Senate then gave final approval to its version of the Fiscal Year 2010 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 2847), sending it to a conference committee that will reconcile differences between the House and Senate measures. The bill allocates $7.3 billion for the Census Bureau, including $7.066 for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account, which covers the decennial census. The House of Representatives appropriated $6.91 billion for Periodic programs.

Sen. Vitter said he was disappointed by the Senate's failure to consider his "common sense amendment," which he said could prevent Louisiana and several other states from losing a congressional district in the post-2010 census apportionment. The senator said the census could not collect accurate information "unless we know whether or not we are counting actual U.S. citizens."

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights hailed the outcome, saying, "The civil rights community won an important battle today in the right for a fair and accurate 2010 census that counts every person in the United States as required by the U.S. Constitution." LCCR, whose Education Fund is heading a national census public education campaign, applauded senators for "sparing the nation from the damage the amendment would have done to the census."

The Service Employees International Union, part of a "Don't Wreck the Census" campaign against the amendment, called the Vitter-Bennett proposal "a misguided attempt to undercut 2010 enumeration efforts and mar this critical process with hateful, anti-immigrant politics."

At a congressional hearing on October 21 (see below), Census Director Robert Groves told lawmakers that the Census Bureau "will not deliver the reapportionment counts on December 31, 2010" if Congress required new questions on the census form. "We don't have enough time to make these changes," the Director warned.

HOUSE PANEL EXAMINES ADDRESS LIST OPERATION,
BACKGROUND CHECKS, CENSUS COSTS


The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) told House census overseers that last spring's nationwide address canvassing "generally proceeded as planned" without "significant flaws" or "major operational setbacks," but that the operation was over-budget and that the accuracy of the master address list would not be known until later in the census.

The House Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives held an October 21 hearing to examine the quality of the Master Address File (MAF), a list of all housing units and group facilities that the Census Bureau will enumerate in the 2010 census. Census Director Groves reported that 140,000 field staff checked about 145 million address in the canvass operation. According to GAO, the field verification added only 2.4 million of the 36 million submissions from state, local, and Tribal governments participating in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program; the remaining addresses were duplicates, non-existent, or non-residential. The MAF now includes 134 million records, in line with annual, independent housing unit estimates, Dr. Groves testified. (While Dr. Groves summarized early results from address canvassing, the Census Bureau had not completed its evaluation of the program at the time of the hearing.)

Dr. Groves said LUCA represented "a key both symbolic and real cooperation" with state, local, and Tribal governments. 11,500 (29 percent of eligible governmental units) participated in the 2010 census LUCA, fewer than in Census 2000 (18,000) but representing more of the nation's housing units (92 percent). A higher proportion of jurisdictions submitted proposed changes to their preliminary address list than in 2000 (79 v. 67 percent), the Director reported. (The 2000 census LUCA offered two opportunities to submit changes to the preliminary address lists; 48 percent of participating governments sent additions in the second round.)

The master file for 2010 blends both residential addresses and group quarters facilities, such as college and nursing homes, for the first time, Dr. Groves noted, to help reduce an unexpectedly high number of duplicates in the 2000 census list. The Census Bureau updated and spatially realigned all roads, streets, and geographic features in the related TIGER digital mapping system earlier in the decade, to facilitate accurate placement of each structure and its residents in the census.

The Commerce Department's Inspector General, Todd Zinser, said his office "has concerns about the overall quality of the address list," citing "consistent problems," such as the failure of census workers to follow procedures and errors on the preliminary file, his staff observed during review of the 2006 census field test, the 2008 Census Dress Rehearsal, and address canvassing. The department's top independent overseer encouraged the Census Bureau to use its housing unit estimates program as a check on the completeness of the Master Address File and to target areas where it might have missed living quarters. He also encouraged greater use of administrative records to identify missing addresses.

Ilene Jacobs, Director of Litigation, Advocacy and Training for California Rural Legal Assistance, a member of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, told the panel that hard-to-count populations are deprived of adequate housing, educational opportunities, basic community infrastructure, and other programs that rely on census data when the address list is inaccurate. Ms. Jacobs highlighted what she called a "structural bias" in the Master Address File, citing hard-to-locate and "actively concealed" housing units such as chicken coops, illegally-converted garages, tool sheds, tarps strung between trees, and apartment units subdivided by one-room-per-family. (During the question and answer period, Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) pointed to living quarters "over the liquor store" and families living in "cramped apartments" in her district.) Ms. Jacobs, who also chairs the advisory committee's working group on hidden housing units, recommended that the Census Bureau use special procedures - such as Update/Enumerate, where census takers visit every home to ensure a correct and comprehensive address list, updating as they go and collecting responses from each household on the spot -- to count areas with high concentrations of hard-to-locate housing units. She also suggested that community organizations should be allowed to assist with review of preliminary address lists in the future; current law only allows governmental units to participate in the LUCA program.

A full set of statements and testimony from the hearing are available on the subcommittee's web site at http://informationpolicy.oversight.house.gov/review.asp.

Panel members question cost of census operations: Subcommittee members also expressed concern about cost overruns in the address canvassing operation and the cost of the 2010 census overall. GAO reported that address canvassing cost 25 percent more than its projected $356 million budget, for a total expense of $444 million. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), chair of the Republican Census Task Force, questioned the square footage cost for some local census offices in rural areas.
Dr. Groves said that cost overruns were "intolerable" and credited "flaws in the cost modeling logic" for the problem. The Census Bureau currently is implementing "two independent cost modeling schemes," he told lawmakers, to improve estimates for Nonresponse Follow-Up, the largest and most expensive census operation. He advocated a "bottom up approach" to cost modeling, starting with the cost of each component of the census and "aggregating it up." Cost overruns, he pledged, are "not going to happen on my watch."

Mr. Goldenkoff said that the Census Bureau's cost estimates "lack detailed documentation" and that assumptions affecting projected costs, such as the address canvassing universe and the mail response rate, and sources of information have been "very weak or lacking." He also noted, however, that lower-than-expected turnover among address listers resulted in cost savings and more efficient operations, factors that could help keep costs under control during door-to-door canvassing next spring.

Republicans seek assurances on criminal background checks: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) expressed concern about the Census Bureau's "practice of hiring known criminals." The congressman questioned the Census Bureau's policy of not precluding all applicants with criminal histories, if the offenses are not considered a threat to public safety, saying he would not have "any confidence in allowing somebody to go knock on grandma's door and invite themselves in to further discuss very pertinent personal information." He suggested that hiring some criminals "seems to be acceptable to the Census Bureau."

In response to a question from Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the panel's senior Republican member, Dr. Groves said the agency is reviewing the process for checking the background of all applicants, which involves an FBI name-check (social security numbers are required) followed by a fingerprint check for all hires. "The safety of the U.S. public is paramount to us," the Director emphasized, noting that the bureau is working with the FBI to improve the readability of fingerprints. Many of the unreadable fingerprints during address canvassing, he said, were from older and female candidates. Inspector General Zinser said he believed the Census Bureau should make some judgments with respect to prior criminal offenses that might not disqualify an applicant from census work, citing the passage of time and the nature of the crime (violent or nonviolent) as appropriate factors to consider. Mr. Zinser agreed with the Census Bureau's practice of centralizing determinations on hiring eligibility and noted that the bureau is consulting with the FBI in setting hiring standards.

All four Republican members of the subcommittee subsequently wrote to Dr. Groves, "out of great concern over the issue of the Census Bureau's hiring of temporary workers that may have criminal records." In their October 26 letter, Reps. McHenry, Chaffetz, Westmoreland, and John Mica (FL) asked the Census Director for "a commitment in writing to us and on behalf of the American people that the Census Bureau will not hire anyone with any criminal record" for temporary census positions that "interact with the public." The lawmakers said that hiring people with criminal backgrounds "will have a seriously detrimental effect on the American people's confidence in the 2010 census and their behavior," and that the "safety and security of Americans in their own homes are at stake." The letter requested the Census Bureau's policy regarding crimes that disqualify applicants, as well as information on temporary employees who have criminal records.

According to the Census Bureau's web site, the names of all applicants are submitted for a pre-appointment check against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services Division's Name Index. "This means that the FBI database is searched to see if it contains a criminal history record file that matches an applicant's name, date of birth, and social security number. This criminal history record file contains records of individuals that have been arrested and fingerprinted," the site explains. Applicants with favorable name checks who are hired are then fingerprinted on their first day of training. "The Census Bureau takes public trust seriously and is working to ensure that temporary workers undergo the most thorough and accurate background checks possible," the agency says.


COUNTDOWN TO 2010:
Partnerships, QACs, Hiring, LUCA appeals, and more!


Census Bureau staff offered status reports on key operations at the fall meeting of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee (Nov. 5 - 6). Census Director Groves compared final preparations to "the beginning of a war effort," with most Local Census Offices open and peak recruitment for census taker positions starting in most communities. He acknowledged "this decade's challenge" posed by the foreclosure crisis, which has left more families doubled-up or living in unconventional housing such as RVs, circumstances the Director described as the "new face of homelessness." Dr. Groves said the Census Bureau will increase its advertising in an effort to educate doubled-up families about the importance of including everyone on that household's census form, with targeted ads in high foreclosure areas and along the Gulf Coast, where people remain displaced by hurricanes.

The Director told lawmakers at the October 21 oversight hearing that he worries most about public cooperation next spring. "I am most worried about the behavior of the American public, whether they will return this questionnaire at the rates that we hope they will, and that the leadership of this country ignites and energizes themselves to encourage that participation," Dr. Groves said at the conclusion of the hearing.

Following is a summary of other information from the meeting that should help stakeholders engaged in public education and mobilization efforts.

New 2010 census web site: The Census Bureau launched the official 2010 census web site that "will serve as a platform for a national dialogue about how the census develops a 'Portrait of America.' The on-line resource offers basic facts about the census process, historical information, and in-language materials to help reach households with limited English proficiency (http://2010.census.gov/partners/materials/inlanguage.php). The site also features a Director's blog, where Dr. Groves shares his impressions of census preparations and operations as he travels the country (http://blogs.census.gov/2010census/).

Local Census Offices open: Almost all 500 Local Census Offices (LCOs) across the country have opened. Go to http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/how-to-apply/local-census-offices.php to find a list of LCOs in your state, including address, telephone number, and the starting pay for census takers.

Recruitment for census taker jobs starts this month: The Census Bureau begins its massive recruitment drive this month in communities across the country, in advance of hiring more than one million temporary workers to conduct the decennial count next year. Census officials said the high unemployment rate in many communities has eliminated the need for a national recruitment campaign. Many local offices already have lengthy lists of highly-qualified applicants from last spring's address canvassing operation, the bureau's Field Division reported. Instead, regional offices and LCOs will do targeted recruiting, to ensure that census takers are fully knowledgeable about and representative of the neighborhoods they will canvass during door-to-door visits to unresponsive homes in spring 2010 (Nonresponse Follow-Up).

Job seekers can begin by contacting their Local Census Office; go to http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/ to get started and download a Census Practice Test, or call 1-866-861-2010. Regional Census Offices also have openings; go to http://www.census.gov/field/www/, where current openings, such as Regional Census Center administrative positions, are posted. Local Census Offices will announce testing dates and sites for positions that will support and carry out field operations in each community.

Veterans preference applies to test results, and all prospective employees must undergo a name-based background check and fingerprint check before they can start work. The Census Bureau strives to hire employees who live in the communities in which they will work. In addition to census taker ("enumerator") positions, the Bureau is hiring crew leaders, supervisors, and administrative personnel.

LUCA appeals office opening: The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will oversee the 2010 Decennial Census LUCA Appeals Staff, a temporary entity established each census cycle to review local government challenges to their address lists and block-level housing unit counts. State and local governments that previously participated in the LUCA program receive a "feedback file" from the Census Bureau, with the jurisdiction's full address list, recently updated during last spring's address canvassing. Census officials reported that 15,000 jurisdictions will participate in this phase of the LUCA program.

The feedback file indicates how the Census Bureau settled the locality's proposed additions to the list, submitted after local officials reviewed their initial address file in advance of the canvassing operation. For example, address listers may have determined that a proposed new address was already on the Master Address File or was nonexistent. Participating local governments have 30 days to appeal the Census Bureau's determinations to the independent staff. The Census Bureau began issuing feedback packets in mid-October and will continue through early December.

If the appeals office agrees with a local government's challenge of any specific addresses, census field staff will enumerate the housing units (if found to exist) during the Vacant Delete Check operation, which takes place after door-to-door visits to unresponsive homes end. During this operation, census workers also double-check all addresses identified as vacant or uninhabitable during earlier field activities.

Formal launch for Census in the Schools: Commerce Department chief Gary Locke and Census Director Groves formally launched the Census in the Schools program at a Baltimore high school on November 2. The "2010 Census: It's About Us" program, developed under contract by Scholastic, Inc., is part of the 2010 Communications Campaign. Secretary Locke noted that the census has historically undercounted children and said that including census topics in school curricula would "increase their awareness of the upcoming 2010 Census." Dr. Groves highlighted the importance of learning about the census as "an important constitutional responsibility." The Census Bureau hopes that students from homes where English is a second language can "help teach their parents about the importance of participating in this national, civic exercise."

Free curriculum materials designed for kindergarten through 12th grade include suggested lesson plans for math, social studies, and other relevant subjects; maps; broadcast, photo, and radio services; and fact sheets. The Census Bureau sent initial materials to principals and teachers at the nation's 118,000 public, private, and charter schools in August. Additional information about Census in the Schools is available at www.census.gov/schools.

100,000+ organizations sign on as 2010 Census Partners: 111,000 groups have signed up to be 2010 census partners, a number that includes 600 national organizations and 7,500 Complete Count Committees in states and communities across the country. 3,000 partnership program staff, including 1,000 professional staff and 2,000 partnership assistants hired with funds from the stimulus bill, are working out of regional and local census offices; for the 2000 census, there were 650 partnership staff on board at the start of peak operations in January 2000. Census 2010 partnership staff speak a total of 118 languages, with 20 percent speaking Spanish, Tim Olson, Assistant Division Chief, Field Division, reported.

The Census Bureau allocated $10 million to the 12 Regional Census Offices in Fiscal Year 2009 (which ended September 30) to give small in-kind grants to local census partners engaged in outreach and promotion activities; an additional $10 million is allocated for the current year. Local partners can apply for grants of roughly $3,000 (per organization) to pay for goods and services such as T-shirts or event space.

Census regions identifying assistance centers and Be Counted sites: The Regional Census Offices are working with partner organizations to identify Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs) and Be Counted sites for the 2010 census. The Census Bureau will set up 30,000 QACs in hard-to-count communities, to offer assistance in completing census forms and to answer questions. There will be an additional 10,000 unstaffed sites where people can pick up "Be Counted" forms - slightly modified questionnaires that can be used if someone believes their home did not receive a form or if they were not included on the form their household completed. The regional offices will finalize the sites in January or early February; the Census Bureau will post the location, address and telephone number, days and hours of operation, and any language assistance offered, for all QACs and Be Counted sites on its 2010 Census web site.

Super Bowl ads to mark launch of national advertising campaign: The Census Bureau and its Communications Campaign contractors are finalizing creative materials for $140 million worth of paid media for the 2010 census that will include advertisements during the Super Bowl, March Madness, and other events that attract a large television audience. The bureau has made $36 million worth of ad buys so far and expects to complete local media placement in December, spending 35 percent more overall on paid media than it did in 2000. The paid advertising campaign has a national component to reach a general audience (47 percent of ad dollars) and targeted efforts to reach historically hard-to-count populations (53 percent). The Census Bureau will be the top advertiser in the country during next year's enumeration, running ads in 28 languages.

Steve Jost, Associate Director for Communications, described additional creative opportunities that will be part of next year's communications campaign. Examples include Gerber Foods "shelf advertising," reminding parents to include their children on the census form (evaluations show that the census misses young children at disproportionate rates); TV bank census promotion at Best Buy stores for two weeks in March; arrangements with television meteorologists to "report" local census response rates next spring; and targeted promotion at 10,000 neighborhood bodegas, with cling-wrap signs on milk cases and cardboard signs and fact sheets at check-out counters. Mr. Jost emphasized the need for an "atomized approach" to reach a diverse population; there will be 300 - 400 different ads for the paid media campaign, reflecting messages and communications vehicles most likely to reach different audiences. The general message for all audiences, Mr. Jost said, will highlight how census data are used to benefit families and communities, empowering communities through an accurate count, and the ease of participation.

Mr. Jost said the Census Bureau is holding $4 million in reserve to address unanticipated events, such as natural disasters, a national emergency, or anti-census campaigns on the Internet, through additional advertising. The Census Bureau already is working with Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of the Catholic Church's Los Angeles Diocese, to help counter calls for immigrants and Latinos to boycott the census unless Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform.

Census web site will track response rates: Starting March 22, localities can track their progress on the 2010 census web site during the mail response phase through an interactive reporting system that the Census Bureau will update daily (with a 24-hour delay).

The response rates, for all 39,000 governmental units in the country, will reflect the percent of all housing units (not people) on the master address list - occupied and vacant - that have returned a form by mail. Communities hit hard by the foreclosure crisis could experience lower-than-anticipated mail response because of high vacancy rates.

Dr. Groves emphasized that the Census Bureau is now working to estimate mail response rates reflecting various circumstances that could arise when the census starts. He clarified that a recently reported projected national response rate of 64 percent was used for budgeting purposes, but that "no one can estimate that number perfectly." The Director, a survey methodologist, noted that response rates to all surveys have been dropping every year, suggesting that a 2010 response rate below the 2000 level of 65 percent would not be surprising. The 2000 final response rate of 67 percent reflects telephone and Internet responses and late mail returns, in addition to the initial mail-backs.

ACS interviewing, data release, continue during 2010 census: The Census Bureau will modify the American Community Survey (ACS) advance letter, mailing envelope, and respondent letter starting in January, to remind households in the ongoing sample that they must fill out both the ACS questionnaire and 2010 census form. 250,000 addresses a month (3 million a year) will receive the ACS, which replaced the traditional census long form.

2010 also marks the first year that the Census Bureau will release 5-year average ACS estimates (2005-09) for areas as small as census tracts and block groups. That means there will be three sets of data (one-year estimates for areas with 65,000+ population; 3-year estimates for areas with 20,000+ population; and 5-year estimates) published only several months before the bureau issues the first 2010 census population counts (state totals for congressional apportionment) by December 31, creating the potential for confusion among the public and news organizations, Census officials acknowledged. The agency is working "to minimize the confusion," ACS Office Chief Susan Schechter said, and is preparing information to help Questionnaire Assistance Center staff and census takers answer questions from households that receive an ACS form in 2010.

The Census Bureau has prepared a series of handbooks to help a wide range of ACS data users, such as businesses, Congress, teachers, and the media (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/UseData/Compass/handbook_def.html). Ms. Schechter said the agency is developing an e-tutorial on using 5-year ACS estimates and considering workshops to help data users.

Looking ahead to 2020 census: Reflecting the long lead time needed to plan for a census, agency staff outlined a wide range of research projects that will help lay the groundwork for the 2020 decennial count. The 2010 census will provide a test-bed for alternative ways to collect data on race and ethnicity (2010 Census Alternative Questionnaire Experiment) and ethnographic studies on enumeration methods. Due to the significant amount of 2010 census information to report, we will cover some of these research activities in future Census News Briefs.


QUICK LINKS:


2010 Census Web Site: The Census Bureau's new 2010 census web site offers useful basic information on the census process, as well as sample questionnaires, information on job opportunities, and in-language materials. Add it to your "Bookmarks" bar to track mail response rates daily for your state and locality next spring.

2010 Census Jobs: Visit this web page to download a Census Practice Test and find information about the application process and a Local Census Office near you.

The Census Project: Visit the Census Project web site for previous Census News Briefs, fact sheets, and a weekly blog in support of an accurate 2010 census.

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund: The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund is spearheading a national 2010 Census Public Education Campaign, in partnership with the NAACP, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). LCCREF's census web site features talking points, fact sheets, information on census operations, advice on community outreach, and links to other organizations engaged in census campaigns.

Nonprofits Count!: The Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network has launched a campaign to educate nonprofits about the importance of the census and to help them mobilize their constituencies and clients to participate in the 2010 count. The Nonprofits Count! web site features a toolkit for nonprofits, fact sheets, web badges and widgets to help nonprofits customize their census outreach materials, and an interactive map to help nonprofits find state resources and state-specific information about the census.


Census News Briefs are prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal, an independent legislative and policy consultant specializing in the census and federal statistics. All views expressed in the News Briefs are solely those of the author. Please direct questions about the information in this News Brief to Ms. Lowenthal at TerriAnn2K@aol.com. Please feel free to circulate this document to other interested individuals and organizations. Ms. Lowenthal is a consultant to the nonpartisan Census Project, organized by the Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington, DC. Previous Census News Briefs are posted at www.thecensusproject.org.

.