Press Releases

Today, the House rejected an attempt to reverse normal trade relations with Vietnam.  The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on his support for continuing trade relations with Vietnam.  

“I supported the renewal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for Vietnam in 1999 and I support the renewal again this year.  I believe that overturning the waiver would have serious negative implications for our relations with Vietnam and our larger interests in Southeast Asia.  We are well on our way towards developing a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam that would bring us closer to promoting stability in this often-volatile region.

“Trade with Vietnam has doubled in the last few years.  As Asia’s fourth largest nation, Vietnam is our second-fastest-growing source of imports.  Since the end of the trade embargo in 1995, a dynamic commercial relationship has developed between the two nations, ranging from American sales of cotton, semiconductor chips and computers to Vietnamese exports of coffee and shrimp.

“American trade policy in Asia faces growing challenges.  The region is both the largest overseas market for American goods and our largest source of merchandise imports, but the combination of recent economic crises, policy changes and America’s war on terrorism have left the region vulnerable to economic nationalism, Pan-Asian thinking and resentment of the United States.  These developments pose great risks to America’s position in East Asia and to our vital interest in peace in the region.  We must move carefully.

“I believe that we must pursue the expansion of our contacts in Asia, rather than removing or downsizing our presence in the region.  We must use all the tools at our disposal - trade, aid, exchange programs, participation in WTO and other regional and international organizations - to engage East Asia in productive dialogues towards progress on human rights issues and our national security.  Cutting off trade with Vietnam would be a step backwards, not forwards, in our efforts.”

At a forum today on the uninsured crisis in America, Congressman Adam Smith (D-09, Tacoma) called on Congress to take action to help states deal with the ballooning numbers of uninsured individuals.  

The forum offered a look at the nation’s pending uninsured crisis, discussed ways in which small businesses in Washington can provide coverage to their employees at reasonable cost and presented both long- and short-term strategies to combat the problem.  

 “Health care costs continue to rise, and an increasing number of Americans feel unsure about the quality of their health care and whether or not they will have insurance a year from today,” said Smith.  “Washington state, like many other states around the country, is currently experiencing budgetary shortfalls, and with our economy in a downturn as well, it is crucial that people have the tools to take care of themselves and their families.  Access to quality health care is one of those fundamental needs.”

 “From annual check-ups to specialist visits to affordable prescription drugs, many of our neighbors aren’t getting the basic services they need.  To combat this, I believe we must make it a goal that every American has health insurance,” continued Smith.  “Not only will this clearly help the 43 million who currently do not have health care, but it makes good economic sense for all of us - people who don't have health care get their medical attention through costly emergency room services, for which taxpayers end up footing the bill. We need to get these uninsured people paying into the insurance system and the way that makes the most sense right now, given our economic situation and the demographics of this uninsured population, is through employers.  But Congress has to step in and make sure that there are incentives for businesses to do so.  We need to take the lead and offer proactive help to the states here.”

 “Eight out of ten uninsured Americans come from wage earning households” said Alan Mertz, Executive Vice President of Healthcare Leadership Council, one of the participants in Smith’s forum. “Today’s forum helped local business groups better understand the options available to Washington State employers and the steps Congress can take, including refundable tax incentives, to make sure more Americans are covered.”

Tackling the problem of the large numbers of uninsured individuals in the state is one more way in which Smith is working to make sure that no matter what the economy is doing, we maintain a high quality of life for all our citizens under a fiscally responsible banner.  Smith is the lead co-sponsor in the House of the "MediFAIR Act," H.R. 4850, which would ensure that Washington’s seniors are treated on par with seniors around the country.  It will stop punishing Washington state’s health care system and our seniors and instead reward the efficiency and good results the state has produced.  He is also introducing a comprehensive Unemployment Insurance reform package to modernize the program for today's economy.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-09, Tacoma) will spend July 1st talking with Seniors about problems with the Medicare program and describing some of his proposals to begin to address them.  Some topics that Smith is likely to discuss during the day include the current decline in access to doctors, hospitals, nurses and home health care for seniors on Medicare in Washington state; rising prescription drug costs and lack of generics in the marketplace; and his “MediFAIR” bill, calling for fairness in national Medicare reimbursement rates.  The following is the schedule of events for the day:  

Members of the media are invited and encouraged to attend these meetings.  For further information or to speak with Smith during the day, please contact Katharine Lister at (202) 226-8454.

9:30a.m. – 10:00a.m. 
Congressman Adam Smith meets with members of WA Citizen Action from the Ninth District to talk about Medicare and the cost of prescription drugs.

Where: Kent Senior Center 
600 East Smith Street, Kent

10:00a.m. - 11:15a.m. 
Congressman Adam Smith will convene the quarterly meeting of his Senior Advisory Board to discuss their concerns about current legislation in Congress, the state of health care in Washington and what steps should be taken to ensure that seniors are treated fairly and with respect.
Where: Kent Senior Center, The Dry Crafts Room 
600 East Smith Street, Kent

12:00 noon - 1:00p.m. 
Congressman Adam Smith will visit with the Des Moines Senior Center to answer their questions and listen to their concerns about legislation in Congress – topics will most likely range from the war on terrorism to transportation in the state.

Where: Des Moines Masonic Lodge 
corner of 24th Ave South and 223rd Street, Des Moines

Congressman Adam Smith (D-09, Tacoma) will host a forum on July 2 to open a dialogue about how to ensure that every Washingtonian has access to quality health care.  With the state currently in an economic downturn, it is more important than ever to make sure that people are getting the help they need and aren’t falling through the cracks in the system.

Of the 43 million uninsured Americans, seven out of every ten have a connection to the workplace and beginning to address the problem by making employer-sponsored health coverage more affordable and more accessible makes sense.  

The forum will offer insights into ways in which small businesses in Washington can provide coverage to their employees at reasonable cost.  Tackling the problem of the large numbers of uninsured individuals in the state is one more way in which Smith is working to make sure that no matter what the economy is doing, we maintain a high quality of life for all our citizens under a fiscally responsible banner.

Speakers at the forum will include: Mike Kreidler, Washington State Insurance Commissioner, Alan Mertz of the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) and Marcia Wilcox with the Washington State Association of Health Underwriters.

Smith and his Small Business Advisory Council invited the HLC, a coalition of the nation's leading health care organizations and institutions, to share in this discussion. 

There will be a press roundtable before the forum and members of the media are invited and encouraged to attend both the press roundtable and the forum.  For further information or to speak with Smith during the day, please contact Katharine Lister at (202) 226-8454.

8:30a.m. – 9:00a.m. 
Press Roundtable
 
Where: Congressman Adam Smith’s office
1717 Pacific Avenue, Suite 2135, Tacoma

9:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.
Forum Addressing the Uninsured

Where: 2nd floor Jury Assembly room, Suite 2110
1717 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

New Democrat Coalition (NDC) co-chair Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today joined other NDC members to unveil the group’s “e-genda 2002.”  The annually released document is the NDC’s comprehensive technology policy agenda, outlining goals and priorities for the coming year.  

E-genda 2002 emphasizes critical New Democrat efforts on investment in workforce education, privacy standards, providing greater access to overseas markets, encouraging innovation and promoting e-commerce, while also calling for new policy initiatives such as public-private partnerships to improve homeland security and win the war against terrorism, a balanced approach to digital rights management, open trade and travel with Cuba and restoring investor confidence in our financial markets.

“The e-genda outlines policies that we need to adopt in order to keep our country poised to compete in the global New Economy,” said Smith. “One of the most important aspects of this document is the commitment it makes to education and worker training.  In Washington state, for example, the high technology sector employs more people than does Boeing.   Many jobs in the tech sector, however, repeatedly go unfilled due to shortages of qualified workers.  Fifty-nine percent of firms that were hiring new employees last year reported difficulty finding skilled employees and as of January of this year, there were 115,000 dislocated workers in the state.  We need to do a better job of taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities technology provides, not just in Washington, but nationally.”

Technology issues are critically important specifically to the Ninth District, argued Smith. “Growth in the technology sector actually has a far bigger impact in the South Sound than it does up in Redmond and the Eastside,” Smith explained. “I want to encourage technology companies to grow and create good paying jobs in the South Sound, and that is happening.  The entire Puget Sound economy benefits from the growth in technology, and the resulting surge in job creation.  Some of the areas I am committed to working on to promote and expand the South Sound include improving higher education for our state, creating an setting that is friendly to business and job growth, and promoting innovations like comprehensive broadband and securing greater investments in research and development.  Today’s release of the e-genda is one step towards making all of that happen.”

Smith was joined at the release by fellow NDC co-chairs Reps. Jim Davis (D-Fla.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.), as well as key NDC executive council members Reps. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.), Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.), and Jim Moran (D-Va.).

The New Democrat Coalition is a group of 74 pro-growth, centrist Democrats in the House of Representatives founded in 1997.  Since then, two-thirds of Democrats elected to the House have joined the NDC, making it the largest and one of the most influential caucuses in the House

The full text of e-genda 2002, along with an executive summary and the New Democrat Coalition’s Record of Results, and can be found online at: www.house.gov/adamsmith/NDC/ndc.html