Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year: VVA Applauds the United Effort of the White House and Congress in Averting the Fiscal Cliff

Fiscal Cliff Deal Reached: White House, Hill Leaders Agree To Delay Sequester By Two Months (UPDATE)

Posted:   |  Updated: 01/01/2013 2:27 am EST
Voice of Vietnamese Americans applauds the united efforts of President Obama, Vice President Biden, all leaders of both Parties in Congress, to have worked out a compromise that put the American people's interest first. 
May the agreement pass the Senate and the House, to ultimately avert the "fiscal cliff".
This New Year Day will mark the tremendous strength of "We the People" in helping parties to overcome differences of ideologies. 
May God bless America!


CBS NEWS/ December 31, 2012, 9:14 PM

It's official: Deal reached on "fiscal cliff"

Source: CBS News
Updated 12:10 a.m. ET
The ball in Times Square has dropped, 2013 is here and, technically, so is the "fiscal cliff", as Congress has yet to officially pass a plan to avert the scheduled spending cuts and tax hikes. But before panic sets in, although lawmakers failed to meet the midnight deadline, a deal is in place and the Senate is preparing to vote on the agreement that, if it passes the Senate and the House, will ultimately avert the "cliff" and keep tax rates at current levels for most Americans.
After Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., settled on a deal, Biden traveled to Capitol Hill to brief Senate Democrats on the details; both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signed off on the agreement.

Following the meeting, Biden, briefly spoke to reporters, sounding cautiously optimistic that the deal would pass the Senate, at least.
"Being in the Senate as long as I have, there's two things you shouldn't do: you shouldn't predict how the Senate will vote -- you won't make a lot of money -- and number two, you surely shouldn't predict how the House is going to vote. I feel very, very good. I think we'll have a good vote tonight, but Happy New Year," said Biden.
The House Republican leadership released a statement lacking emotion or support, but promising a vote on the deal.
"The House will honor its commitment to consider the Senate agreement if it is passed," wrote the leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner. But Boehner did not guarantee that the Republican-dominated House would pass it. "Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members -- and the American people -- have been able to review the legislation."
Because the deal was not signed into law before midnight, the country has technically gone over the "cliff". However, unless the deal fails to clear Congress, any detrimental economic impact will be avoided, as language will likely be added to the final legislation that would make the agreement retroactive to midnight Jan. 1.
Here are the known details of the deal:
  • Tax rates: Current tax rates will be extended for all wage earners making below $400,000 and couples making below $450,000.
    This was a key concession for both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats wanted the threshold for tax increases to rest at $250,000 and Republicans didn't want marginal tax rates to increase for anyone.
  • The estate tax: It was set to increase from rom 35 percent to 55 percent in 2013. Instead, the compromise sets the new rate at 40 percent with the first $5 million worth of property exempt from being taxed.
  • Capital gains tax: Capital gains and dividend tax rates will increase from 15 to 20 percent.
  • Alternative Minimum Tax: A permanent fix to the tax that would hit middle class families
  • "Doc Fix": Doctors will be shielded from a massive reimbursement gap for treating Medicare patients.
  • Unemployment benefits: Unemployed workers will receive their benefits which expired over the weekend.
  • Renewable energy tax credit: The tax credit for renewable energy companies will be extended for another year.
While the extension of unemployment benefits and the Medicare "doc fix" cost money, and revenue will be lost due to a fix in the Alternative Minimum Tax, the package will still increase the federal government's receipts. The total package will add $600 billion to federal coffers.
Also included in the deal is an unrelated provision but one that would have impacted Americans' pocketbooks. According to Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., negotiators agreed to a nine-month partial extension of the farm bill. The legislation, which dictates subsidies to crop and commodity growers, was also set to expire at midnight, and the impact was likely to cause milk prices to rise to $7 or $8 a gallon.
What has been left out of the "cliff" deal:
  • The sequester: The $110 billion worth of automatic spending cuts under the sequester will be delayed for two months. The cost of continuing current federal spending levels will be offset by revenue increases and some spending cuts. In two months, the delayed spending cuts will kick in half will come from defense and half from non-defense accounts.
    The two-month window is to allow Congress and the White House to come up with a larger deal on spending cuts, leading to another (though smaller) "fiscal cliff." Democrats see this deal as a victory because Republicans had objected to using any new tax revenue to offset the loss of sequester spending cuts, reports Garrett.
  • Payroll tax extension: payroll taxes will increase by 2 percent for all wage earners. This was passed and extended by Congress to give taxpayers additional relief during the slow economic recovery. 
  • Debt limit: The country reached its debt ceiling today, according to a latest estimate by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, but because of maneuvering and shuffling the nation's balance books, bills can be paid for another two months. Another debt ceiling fight is poised to happen around the same time the new sequester is expected to kick in. 
Emphasizing the importance of deficit reduction to his fellow Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the GOP's lead negotiator, urged his colleagues not to hold up a deal because budget cuts have not been addressed. Earlier in the day he called the tax portion of the "fiscal cliff" the most important component and said, "Let's take what's been agreed to and get moving."

"Action on the sequester is something we can continue to work on," McConnell added.
The agreement, formulated mostly between McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden, was a last-ditch effort after negotiations broke down numerous times.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who for weeks negotiated directly with President Obama, froze himself out of the arena just before Christmas with his ill-fated attempt at a "Plan B" that landed with a thud among a few dozen of his own members. Then, after Mr. Obama flew back from his Hawaiian vacation, presumably unhappy about leaving paradise for the cold and deserted nation's capital, he summoned congressional leaders to the White House and dumped the onus of reaching a deal on the laps of Reid and McConnell.
Alas, Sunday, McConnell found himself throwing his hands up in exasperation after Reid slow-walked a promised counter-proposal and he picked up the phone to the White House to find, as he put it, "a dancing partner" in Vice President Joe Biden.
The $1.2 trillion of federal spending cuts over ten years combined with a massive tax increases for all wage earners was the result of Congress kicking the can down the road. In previous last-minute deals sealed by the two current negotiators - McConnell and Biden - Congress extended the Bush-era tax rates in 2010 for an additional two years and in 2011 agreed to the automatic, non-targeted federal spending cuts worth $1.2 trillion over ten years in exchange for an increase to the debt ceiling. Those actions combined with other extensions to tax credits, unemployment benefits and Medicare doctor payments, the "fiscal cliff" was born.
Earlier Monday, President Obama took to the stage with middle-class taxpayers urging Congress to seal the deal. Even though he was unable to reach a deal with Boehner and his vice president stepped in to finalize the last-minute negotiations, he made no qualms about digging in at Congress, raising the ire of some Republicans. Mr. Obama quipped the "one thing" he can count on with Congress is "if there is even one second left before you have to do what you're supposed to do, they will use that last second."
CBS News' Major Garrett and Nancy Cordes contributed to this report.

Friday, December 28, 2012

VVA Urges Congress to Compromise to Avert the Fiscal Cliff


Voice of Vietnamese Americans urges all of us to call and contact our Congressmen and Senators from both
Parties to resolve the gridlock, to pass laws in prevention of the Fiscal Cliff.

1. Please extend the middle class tax cuts for 98% of Americans.
2. Please agree on a balanced approach in resolving our budget deficit to promote sustainable development while cutting wasteful spending.

VVA urges Congress to work with President Obama to prevent the fiscal cliff which would be disastrous to our people and our nation.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas from Voice of Vietnamese Americans

May this Christmas bring love and blessings to everyone.

May all human rights activists currently being imprisoned by the Vietnamese Communist Regime be released.

May the Communist Party of Vietnam free themselves of ideology and greed, so they too, can be blessed with true freedom.

Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Voice of Vietnamese Americans Mourns the Passing of U.S. Senator Inouye and Celebrates His Legacy

Daniel K. Inouye [1924 - 2012]
 the most senior member of the U.S. Senate 
and the President Pro-Tempore,

With saddened heart, Voice of Vietnamese Americans mourns the passing of our most senior U.S APIA Senator Daniel K. Inouye.  With inspiration, Voice of Vietnamese Americans celebrates the first U.S. APIA Senator's legacy: 

"For him freedom and dignity were not abstractions," 
Obama said at the National Cathedral Service. 
"They were values that he had bled for."

Obama: Daniel Inouye An 'Extraordinary' Man

Daniel K. Inouye, the most senior member of the U.S. Senate and the President Pro-Tempore, is known for his distinguished record as a legislative leader, and as a World War II combat veteran with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who earned the nation’s highest award for military valor, the Medal of Honor.

Although he was thrust into the limelight in the 1970s as a member of the Watergate Committee and in 1987 as Chairman of the Iran-Contra Committee, he has also made his mark as a respected legislator able to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact meaningful legislation.

bio page5
As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Inouye has been able to focus on defense matters that strengthen national security, and enhance the quality of life for military personnel and their families.

This reflects his hope for a more secure world, and his desire to provide the best possible assistance to the men and women who put their lives at risk to protect the United States.

In addition, he is the Ranking Democrat on the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee and sits on the Rules Committee.

He helped establish the Inter-parliamentary Exchange Program between the U.S. Senate and Japan’s legislature, and in 2000 the Government of Japan presented him with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.

On June 18, 2011, the Government of Japan made Senator Inouye the seventh American and the first of Japanese descent to receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, the highest award in the order of the Rising Sun.

Early in his tenure in the Senate, Senator Inouye delivered the keynote address at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and was under consideration to become Hubert Humphrey’s vice-presidential running mate that same year.

He became the first Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976, served as the third-ranking leader among Senate Democrats as Secretary of the Democratic Conference from January 1979 through 1988.

He chaired the Senate Democratic Central America Study Group to assess U.S. policy and served as Senior Counselor to the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (also known as the Kissinger Commission).

bio page3
Senator Inouye has championed the interest of Hawaii’s people throughout his career. With his support, Hawaii’s infrastructure has been strengthened, its economy diversified, and its natural resources protected and restored. For local residents, particularly Native Hawaiians, whose history and welcoming culture give the state its defining characteristics, Senator Inouye has increased job training and employment opportunities, provided more community healthcare, and provided support services and research to help small businesses and diverse sectors, from agriculture to high technology.

His imprint is seen on all of the state’s islands through initiatives such as Honolulu and Neighbor Island bus service, steady construction jobs in support of military infrastructure, the diversification of agriculture, the birth of the Kauai High Technology Center and the rise of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, the launch of the Maui supercomputer, the expansion of national parks and wildlife refuges in Hawaii, and the protection of Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, the alala (Hawaiian crow), the nene goose and coral reefs.

bio page4
Senator Inouye got his start in politics in 1954 when he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives; soon after his election, his Democratic colleagues, well aware of Inouye’s leadership abilities, selected him as their Majority Leader. In 1958 he was elected to the Territorial Senate. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, he was elected the first Congressman from the new state, and was re-elected to a full term in 1960. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962 and is now serving his ninth consecutive term.

On May 24, 2008, Senator Inouye married Irene Hirano, who is President of the U.S.-Japan Council. He was married for nearly 57 years to Margaret Awamura Inouye, a former instructor at the University of Hawaii, who passed away on March 13, 2006.

He has a son, Ken, who is married to Jessica Carroll from Rochester, New York, and a granddaughter Mary Margaret “Maggie” Inouye.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

With Deepest Sympathy for Families of the Victims of the Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, VVA Calls for Stronger Gun Control Legislation

Flag lowered to half-staff on Main St. in Newtown, Conn. in wake of shooting. Photo: John Makely / NBC News

Voice of Vietnamese Americans shares our deepest sympathy and condolences with parents and families of the victims in this shooting. This is a very sad moment of our nation. Together, we should call for stronger legislation in gun control.

May God Bless America

Voice of Vietnamese Americans


Monday, December 10, 2012

Voice of Vietnamese Americans Celebrates International Human Rights Day

Voice of Vietnamese Americans stands in solidarity with all Human Rights Advocates in urging the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to respect human rights, respect freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and to immediately release all human rights advocates who were imprisoned for having peacefully voiced their concerns for social injustice.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans thanks musician Truc Ho, lawyer Do Phu, and SBTN for taking the leadership role in the campaign for Human Rights for Vietnam with "We The People" in February 2012, and the campaign "Million Hearts, One Voice",  in November 2012.

The campaign "We The People" have engaged over 150,000 Vietnamese Americans in signing petition to ask President Obama and the US State Department to urge Vietnam to release Viet Khang and all activists in respect for freedom of speech and expression.

The campaign "Million Hearts, One Voice" started November 10, ending December 10, 2012, gathered about 127,000 signatures of Vietnamese international, and petitions have been delivered to the United Nations, the United States Department, and the Foreign Ministries of many other nations like France, Norwegian, Australia, ...

In solidarity with the international community, Voice of Vietnamese Americans urges the government of Vietnam to immediately release all human rights activists being imprisoned for exercising their freedom of speech peacefully to promote social justice.

Tuyên Ngôn Quốc Tế Nhân Quyền - Vietnam Human Rights Network

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTSas a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

  • Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

  • (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  • (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  • (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  • (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

  • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  • (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  • (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  • (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
  • (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

  • Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

  • Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  • (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  • (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  • (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

  • (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  • (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

  • Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

  • (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
  • (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
  • (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

  • Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.