Saturday, November 12, 2011
S. 1487, the “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards Act of 2011,” which authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to issue Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards to eligible business leaders and U.S. Government officials actively engaged in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation business.
By Erica Coghill
By Victoria Craig
Friday, November 11, 2011
The Battle Veterans Face After War
By Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden
November 11, 2011
Today is Veterans Day, the day we honor the military service and sacrifice of all the veterans who have served this nation. Because of the incredible courage of the 9/11 generation, the tide of war is receding and America is more secure than a decade ago.
Next month, we will end the war in Iraq, bringing all of our troops home by the end of this calendar year. In Afghanistan, our brave forces are transferring responsibility to the Afghans. They too will be home within two years.
But as our service members return to their families, many are discovering a new battlefield as they leave the military and search for civilian employment opportunities.
After serving two, three, four, and even five tours of duty for their country, these young men and women are forced to fight for jobs when they return. That's not only morally wrong, it’s a terrible waste for our country. We’ve seen the 9/11 generation of American service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have skills across the spectrum.
We have 25 year-old Sergeants leading soldiers into the chaos of battle, responsible for bringing them home alive; we have 24 year-old Lieutenants flying multi-million dollar jets; we have 21 year-old sailors who are entrusted with helping to maneuver nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. There is literally no challenge too great. Nothing they cannot do. Employers everywhere should be competing to hire them.
As a military family, we have come to know many of the families of those who served alongside our son Beau in Iraq. We understand the problems they face.
War is challenging under any circumstances. But at a time of 12.1% unemployment for 9/11 generation veterans, the added stress of earning a decent living makes the transition even harder.
That’s why our Administration has made it a priority to create financial incentives for private-sector companies to hire veterans while at the same time ensuring that every member of the service receives the education, training, and credentials they need to be career-ready.
Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States
That’s why we joined President Obama in asking Congress to act now and pass the key provisions in the American Jobs Act that would benefit veterans and their families. Yesterday, the Senate answered the call, voting in favor of these measures, including incentives like the $5,600 Returning Heroes Tax Credit and the $9,600 Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which will reward private firms for each veteran they hire.
In addition to the American Jobs Act, the President has challenged the private sector to commit to train or hire 100,000 post-9/11 veterans by the end of 2013. And we are well on our way to reaching that goal. The Joining Forces initiative is working to encourage companies and organizations to hire veterans and military spouses. Last month, our Administration announced that 270 companies have committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and their spouses by the end of 2013. And just yesterday, the First Lady announced that the International Franchising Association and 1,200 affiliate companies are aiming to hire 80,000 veterans by 2013, including 5,000 wounded warriors.
We’re taking steps to make the job search easier for veterans. This week, the Department of Labor introduced the Veterans Gold Card, a certificate that will provide every post-9/11 veteran with individualized guidance, including a six-month plan of action, career coaching, a skills assessment, and one-on-one case management. Another tool, My Next Move for Veterans, will allow veterans to search for jobs using key words, industry type, or military experience. These new resources are up and running and you can find them at whitehouse.gov/vets.
In response to the President’s call for a career-ready military, the Department of Defense-Veterans Affairs Task Force is sharpening its focus on how to ease the transition from active duty to civilian life. It has broadened the existing Transition Assistance Program (TAP) that provides career readiness counseling, and will oversee the creation of an entirely new program to provide more comprehensive services to every transitioning member of our military.
We’re breaking down walls that prevent veterans from using the skills and training they acquired in their military service as civilians. For example, we’re helping veterans with medical training who are seeking health care jobs to cut though barriers to accreditation. To literally ease the journey to civilian life, the Department of Transportation announced this week over $30 million in grants to assist veterans in need of transportation to education and training centers, work, and medical appointments.
Holly Petraeus is leading an effort at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help prevent abusive practices by financial institutions that target military families. And we’re instituting new protections for veterans who are preyed upon by for-profit education institutions that promise more than they deliver.
We cannot make the point often enough: The government has many obligations, but only one sacred obligation. If we put troops in harm’s way, we have to take care of them when they come home. We are in awe of our 9/11 generation of veterans. Not only because they are the finest military force in the world but because they are extraordinary people and as a nation we owe them something better than 12.1% unemployment. The leadership, talent, and courage these men and women demonstrated on distant battlefields can become a powerful force in restoring our economy here at home. So hire a vet. They’ll get the job done.
Image courtesy of http://www.clker.com
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Anchor: Christina Hartman
The United States strongly condemns the aerial bombardment by the Sudan Armed Forces of the town of Yida in South Sudan. Yida is located inside South Sudan and hosts more than 20,000 refugees who have fled the ongoing conflict in the Sudanese state of Southern Kordofan. International humanitarian workers and United Nations staff have been working to provide food and shelter for these refugees.
This bombing of civilians and humanitarian workers is an outrageous act, and those responsible must be held accountable for their actions.
This abhorrent attack follows other aerial bombardments undertaken by the Sudan Armed Forces on November 8 near the international border. These provocative aerial bombardments greatly increase the potential for direct confrontation between Sudan and South Sudan.
The United States demands the Government of Sudan halt aerial bombardments immediately. We urge the Government of South Sudan to exercise restraint in responding to this provocation to prevent further escalation of hostilities.
The United States calls on the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North to immediately resume negotiations on a cessation of hostilities and resume political talks toward political and security arrangements for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Photo source: Flickr
Author: Pete Souza
Permission: Public Domain
The final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people. At the same time, my administration will build on the unprecedented progress we’ve made towards strengthening our nation’s energy security, from responsibly expanding domestic oil and gas production to nearly doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, to continued progress in the development of a clean energy economy.
No veteran who fought for our nation should have to fight for a job when they come home, and I urge the House to pass these tax credits as well so I can sign them into law. I also urge Congress to pass additional jobs proposals in the weeks ahead to help the millions of other Americans who are still looking for work.
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 674 –Three Percent Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act
(Rep. Herger, R-CA, and 269 cosponsors)
The Administration strongly supports passage of H.R. 674 and an amendment offered by Senator Tester that together will reduce unemployment and ensure that our veterans leave the military with the tools they need to succeed in the civilian workforce.
H.R. 674 would repeal a three percent withholding on certain payments made to private contractors by Federal, State, and local government entities. The repeal of the withholding requirement in H.R. 674 would reduce a burden on government contractors who otherwise comply with their tax obligations, particularly small businesses.
As evidenced in the President's proposed American Jobs Act, released September 12, 2011, the Administration has supported alleviating this burden, which was originally enacted into law on May 17, 2006.
The Administration also believes it is important to ensure that Federal contractors are compliant with tax laws and supports more targeted efforts that prevent persons with outstanding tax debts from receiving Federal contracts.
The effect of the repeal of the withholding requirement would be to avoid a decrease in cash flow to these contractors, which would allow them to retain these funds and use them to create jobs and pay suppliers.
This would complement the Administration's other efforts to help small businesses. Repeal of the withholding requirement would also reduce implementation costs borne by Federal and other governmental agencies.
H.R. 674, as amended by Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, contains the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits for firms that hire unemployed veterans that the President proposed to the Congress as part of the American Jobs Act, as well as other reforms to ensure that the men and women who serve are able to navigate this labor market upon exiting the military.
Having served and defended the Nation, our veterans are well-trained, highly skilled and will add value to any company. But today's veterans face unique challenges. As of last month, over 850,000 veterans were unemployed, and the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans was 12.1 percent.
As we end the war in Iraq and wind down the war in Afghanistan, over one million servicemembers are projected to leave the military between 2011 and 2016. We have an obligation to ensure that these men and women who have risked their lives to fight for our country do not have to fight for jobs when they return home.
The Vow to Hire Heroes Act provides a new Returning Heroes Tax Credit for firms that hire unemployed veterans. Firms that hire those veterans who have been unemployed at least 4 weeks will be eligible for a tax credit up to $2,400 per employee, while firms that hire veterans who are long-term unemployed (looking for work for over 6 months) will be eligible for a tax credit up to $5,600.
H.R. 674, as amended, also provides a Wounded Warriors Tax Credit of up to $9,600 that doubles the existing tax credit for firms that hire long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities. Together, these tax credits will create a powerful incentive for firms to hire veterans and will help lower the veteran unemployment rate.
As amended by the Vow to Hire Heroes Act, H.R. 674 further provides a number of additional tools to help veterans successfully transition to the civilian workforce. The Administration has been strongly supportive of improving the Transition Assistance Program. The amended H.R. 674 builds on these steps and would make TAP mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status.
H.R. 674, as amended, also expands career counseling, educational, and training options for unemployed servicemembers, facilitates federal hiring of veterans, and tasks the Department of Labor to develop new tools to help translate military experience to the civilian sector.
All of these reforms are consistent with the Presiden's direction on August 5, 2011, to the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Defense to lead an interagency Task Force to ensure that every member of the service receives the training, education, and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or to pursue higher education.
The Administration already made substantial progress on these proposals. The amended H.R. 674 will aid the Task Force's work and ensure that our veterans have the support they need to transition to civilian life.
Finally, H.R 674 as amended changes the calculation of modified adjusted gross income, as defined in section 1401 of the Affordable Care Act, to include both taxable and non-taxable Social Security benefits.
Beginning in 2014, this income definition will be used to determine financial eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions available through Affordable Insurance Exchanges.
Image courtesy of http://www.businesscliparts.com
Through the "Experience Counts" campaign, state agencies will now identify ways that New York can better recognize the skills and training that veterans possess.
The mortuary in Delaware, the main point of entry for the nation’s war dead and the target of federal investigations of alleged mishandling of remains, engaged in the practice from 2003 to 2008, according to Air Force officials. The manner of disposal was not disclosed to relatives of fallen service members."
The full story, which was written by Craig Whitock and Greg Jaffe, can be read via the following link:
Photo source: United States Marine Corp, I.D. 030427-M-4066S-013
Author: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jonathan P. Sotelo.
Permission: Public Domain