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2018: More of the Same Attacks on Federal Employees?

2018: More of the Same Attacks on Federal Employees?

I’m not usually in the business of making New Year’s predictions, but you don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that 2018 will be another year of assaults on civil service pay, benefits, and accountability.   In other words, enjoy your 2018 pay increase because you are unlikely to see another one in 2019 and, most likely, you’ll see a series of measures introduced in Congress that try to slash benefits and make it easier to fire civil servants.

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Budget Shenanigans – And You

Budget Shenanigans – And You

Congress is about to pass its fourth continuing resolution funding government operations in as many months. Legislators who claim to desire an “effective and efficient” government are failing to uphold one of their primary constitutional duties – the power of the purse codified in Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution – that can actually enable federal executives to deliver upon that objective.

As I’ve written about before, the congressional budgeting and appropriations process is desperately broken, with lawmakers deciding on a budget and timely appropriating funds to agencies enough times to count on one hand over a 40-year period. Talk about accountability.

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SEA Joins Letter to DOJ Opposing Addition of Immigration Question to Census (ACTION)

Dear Secretary Ross:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the undersigned 168 organizations, we urge you to reject the Department of Justice’s untimely and unnecessary request for a new citizenship question on the 2020 Census, which would threaten a fair and accurate decennial census. Adding a new citizenship question to the 2020 Census would destroy any chance for an accurate count, discard years of careful research, and increase costs significantly.

You and your staff have made clear that you share our goal of a full, fair, and accurate census. A fair and accurate census, and the collection of useful, objective data about our nation’s people, housing, economy, and communities generally, are among the most significant civil rights issues facing the country today. Every census since the first enumeration in 1790 has included citizens and non-citizens alike. Adding a new question on citizenship to the 2020 Census undoubtedly would affect response rates, outreach, and advertising strategies, and other important elements of the nation’s largest, most complex peacetime activity, calling into question the results of many years of costly, painstaking research and testing.

Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would disrupt preparations at a pivotal point in the decade, undermining years of research and testing and increasing census costs significantly at a time when Congress has directed a less expensive enumeration. The Justice Department’s request would literally would add billions of dollars to the life-cycle cost of this census, without improving accuracy.

Questionnaire design and testing began nearly eight years ago during the 2010 Census. Requiring this new topic this late in the decade would threaten the success of the 2020 Census because robust testing in a census-like environment is essential, given the probable chilling effect of adding these questions to the form. There simply is no time to redesign the census form, craft scientifically sound questions to collect the information the Justice Department requests, and evaluate the impact of this new question on census participation and operations before the census starts, in any responsible way. Given the constitutional requirement to conduct the census in 2020, final planning and preparations for the census would be haphazard, at best, leaving the nation with a deeply flawed foundation for our democratic ideals, informed decision-making, and prudent allocation of precious taxpayer dollars.

In addition, adding this question would jeopardize the accuracy of the 2020 Census in every state and every community by deterring many people from responding. The question is unnecessarily intrusive and will raise concerns in all households – native- and foreign-born, citizens and non-citizens – about the confidentiality of information provided to the government and how that information might be used. Moreover, there are many mixed status households in the United States, which include members who are both citizens and non-citizens with various legal statuses. Mixed-status and immigrant households will be especially fearful of providing information to the federal government in 2020, given the heightened climate of fear that anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies have created. In short, any effort to determine citizenship through the constitutionally required census would jeopardize the accuracy of the entire count, leaving public, private, and nonprofit decision-makers with bad information for all purposes, for the next 10 years. Further, such an effort is likely to shake public confidence in the narrow (though vital) statistical objectives of the Census Bureau’s work, damaging ongoing data collection efforts well into the future. Finally, in addition to being untimely, the request is unnecessary. The Justice Department has never needed to add this new question to the decennial census to enforce the Voting Rights Act before, so there is no reason it would need to do so now. Contrary to the Justice Department’s letter, the Census Bureau has not included a citizenship question on the modern census “short form,” sent to every household. In fact, no such question has appeared on the census “short form” since enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Estimates of the citizen voting-age population derived from the ongoing American Community Survey, and the so-called census “long” or sample form before that, have been and continue to be suitable for purposes of civil rights and Voting Rights Act enforcement. Whether utilizing such data for Section 2 enforcement actions, Section 203 determinations, or other voting rights enforcement efforts, courts and the Justice Department have accepted census data as currently collected since enactment of the Voting Rights Act. Given these plain facts, the entire justification for the request should be viewed skeptically as an attempt to throw a wrench into final planning and preparations for an enumeration that already faces enormous challenges, including inadequate and delayed funding, cyber-security risks, and a climate of fear fanned by anti-immigrant rhetoric.

For these reasons, we urge you to reject the Justice Department’s request to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. If you have any questions about these comments, please contact Leadership Conference Census Task Force Co-chairs Terry Ao Minnis, Asian Americans Advancing Justice|AAJC, at 202-2962300 x0127, or Arturo Vargas, NALEO Educational Fund, at 213-747-7606, or Chris Harley, Census Campaign Director at 202-466-3311.

Sincerely,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

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The Benefits of Long Term Care Insurance Are Invaluable

The Benefits of Long Term Care Insurance Are Invaluable

While many enrollees in the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) may question at one time or another whether long term insurance is worth the cost, they may ultimately realize the emotional and financial reassurance of having this protection may offer value that outweighs the cost of premiums.

If you struggle with the question, “What’s it worth?,” look beyond dollars and cents. Evaluate how an insurance program like the FLTCIP can help ensure your independence as well as maintain your quality of life and positive relationships with family members and friends, should you ever need long term care.

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January Calendar of Events

January Calendar of Events

A listing of upcoming SEA webinars and events in December and beyond.

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