Fall 2018 U.S. Poverty Laser Talks

August 3, 2018

Protecting Nutrition Assistance (SNAP)

Engage: As anti-poverty advocates, we believe no person should go hungry. Congress has an opportunity to improve, rather than weaken, America’s most effective anti-hunger program in a bipartisan farm bill.

Problem: The House-passed farm bill would take food assistance away from 2 million low-income Americans; we must reject these changes or any measures that cut or make harmful changes to SNAP (formerly Food Stamps).

Illustrate/Inform: Census data shows that more than one in ___ residents in our state/your district are living below the poverty line and struggling to make ends meet. SNAP is the cornerstone in the fight against hunger in America – it is timely, targeted, and incredibly effective, including during economic crises or natural disasters.

Unfortunately, the House’s partisan farm bill takes food assistance away from millions of Americans through harsh time limits, reduced state flexibility, and punitive barriers such as permanently banning people who’ve been incarcerated from receiving SNAP. Rather than taking away crucial supports from working families as they strive to increase their income, I urge you to protect and strengthen nutrition assistance. (Include your own experience and/or why you care about the impact these programs have on your community.)

Call to Action: Will you tell congressional leaders and Agriculture Committee members you oppose any harmful changes or cuts to SNAP and other anti-poverty programs, and ensure the final farm bill includes the Senate’s common sense, bipartisan SNAP policies and protections?

Please let us know when you’ve relayed your concerns to leadership.

Housing and Closing the Racial Wealth Divide

Engage: I am deeply concerned about wealth inequality in the United States — median wealth for white families was 10 times greater than African American family wealth and eight times greater than Hispanic family wealth.

Problem: We must reduce wealth inequality and close the racial wealth divide; housing policy can help us do that.

Illustrate or Inform: Wealth inequality is a huge problem and many families lack the assets needed to weather financial problems. (Include your own experience/why you care) The Institute on Assets and Social Policy estimates that equalizing home ownership rates would reduce the white/African-American wealth divide by 31 percent. Looking ahead, we look forward to working with Congress to increase access to affordable housing and home ownership, focusing on reducing racial wealth inequality.

Call for Further Collaboration: What are your priorities when it comes to increasing access to affordable housing, especially for people of color? For example, what are your thoughts on bipartisan proposals to increase the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) or Housing Choice Mobility Vouchers?

Prioritize Tax Policies That Focus on Working Families

Engage: Tax policy is an incredible tool to create opportunity and economic mobility.

Problem: Unfortunately, tax policies, in particular tax cuts that primarily benefit those who already have wealth, can also deepen inequality and put health and nutrition assistance at risk by increasing deficits.

Illustrate or Inform: Recent tax bills, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, are dramatically increasing the federal budget deficit, threatening investments in basic health, nutrition, and education assistance programs. Unpaid-for tax cuts also widen the gap between the wealthy and those struggling to make ends meet. We should restructure current tax policies to reduce inequality, focusing instead on effective policies like expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children in the home, boosting the Child Tax Credit for low-income families, and helping low-income families access affordable rental housing or buy a home.

Call to Action: Will you oppose any tax legislation that increases the federal budget deficit, and instead focus tax policy on reducing poverty and creating opportunity for low-income Americans.

Protect Immigrant Families

Engage: Immigrant families across America could soon be faced with an impossible choice: feeding their families or being deported.

Problem: Under a new proposed rule, a person residing here legally could be denied permanent residency for using SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid, federal housing assistance, or other anti-poverty programs.

Inform: This rule is a radical departure from current law. It creates a wealth test for immigration and intentionally forces families into poverty. This is immoral. Already, immigrant families are forgoing food assistance and health care – services they are legally permitted to use – for fear of being thrown out of the country.

Call to Action: You have until December 12 to make your voice heard. Will you speak out against this proposed rule and submit an official comment voicing your opposition to this latest attack on immigrant families?

What Is a Laser Talk?

A laser talk serves as a useful starting point for your advocacy work, whether as a talking points during a town hall meeting or as a primer for face-to-face meetings with candidates and elected officials. Follow up with more information and evidence supporting your points. And of course, adapt a laser talk to reflect your own experiences and why you care about the issue! For more on how to create your own laser talk, see the RESULTS Activist Toolkit: Create and Deliver Your EPIC Laser Talk.

Download the MS Word version of the above Laser Talks here.

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