Laser Talk: Urge an Editorial Writer to about the EITC and CTC

September 12, 2014

Media advocacy is a powerful tool in creating political will. In September 2014, RESULTS volunteers are reaching out to local editorial writers and editors, urging them to write about expanding economic mobility in America. Specifically, volunteers are asking them to talk about the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) – two of the most effective tools we have in the fight against poverty – and urging Congress to protect and expand these vital tax credits. Below is an example of a conversation with a local editorial writer asking him/her to write an editorial on the EITC and CTC.

Volunteer: Hello. Is this Mr. Miller?

Editorial Writer: Yes it is.

Volunteer: Hi Mr. Miller. My name is Ginnie Vogts. I'm calling to see if you received my email last Tuesday concerning an editorial on the new U.S. Census poverty data and the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit?

Editorial Writer: Uh, wait a minute, let me check. When did you send it?

Volunteer: Last Tuesday morning. It had an attachment with facts on poverty and refundable tax credits.

Editorial Writer: What's your name again?

Volunteer: Ginnie Vogts. I'm a volunteer with RESULTS here in Columbus.

Editorial Writer: Oh yes. I did get it but I haven't had time to read it yet. Let's see, you want me to write an editorial?

Volunteer: Yes. First, I want to acknowledge all the articles the Dispatch has written on poverty in Ohio recently. You have really done a great job showing the lingering effects of the recession and how the existing programs are not keeping up with the needs of the people living in poverty. It's a big problem.

Editorial Writer: Well thank you. What is RESULTS?

Volunteer: RESULTS is a grassroots advocacy group that works to create the public and political will to end poverty. We do this by empowering individuals to exercise their personal and political power for change.  Our group in Columbus works on U.S. poverty issues. We write letters, make calls, work with congressional aides, meet with members of Congress, have public events, all designed to raise awareness of U.S. poverty and enact federal policies to end it. Another way we impact legislators is through the media by getting letters, op/eds, and most importantly editorials published. As you know, editorials can be a powerful way to get lawmakers to take action. It shows them that the community is paying attention.

Editorial Writer: Well, I don't know about writing an editorial on poverty.

Volunteer: I think this would be a perfect time for an editorial. The Dispatch has had such good writing about the extent of poverty – how it’s being felt in suburbs, the inner city, and Ohio’s Appalachian regions as well as how existing programs are not meeting the need. To build on that, I think an editorial on well-known poverty relievers like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which help millions of poor working families, would be very timely. Next week, the U.S. Census is going to release its poverty data for 2013. It’s likely to show little change from 2012, when over 46 million Americans, including 1.8 million Ohioans, were living in poverty. It’s a problem that needs greater attention and we know programs like the EITC and CTC can make a difference. Are you familiar with the EITC and CTC?

Editorial Writer: I know what they are but I’m not an expert.

Volunteer: As you will see in my email and in more detail in the attached editorial packet, in 2012, these credits lifted 10 million people, half of them children, out of poverty. Part of this success comes from some important improvements to the EITC and CTC that were enacted in 2009. Here in Ohio, between 2009 and 2013, an average of 361,000 Ohioans were lifted out of poverty or made less poor by these improvements alone. But Congress refuses to make them permanent; they’re set to expire in 2017, which will have a big impact on millions of low-income working families.

Editorial Writer: So you're saying Congress has not taken this up?

Volunteer: No, they have not… and it gets worse. Not only have they ignored these expiring improvements, but the House just passed legislation in July that expanded the Child Tax Credit for wealthier families while cutting it for 5.5 children of immigrant parents, 4.5 million of which are U.S. citizens. It’s like they’re digging families deeper into poverty.

Editorial Writer: Can you get me information on this legislation?

Volunteer: It's in the packet I sent. I think it highlights the disconnect Congress seems to have with working families. When Congress has policies that reduce poverty already in place, they ignore them or worse, try to cut them. No wonder people are so cynical about politics these days. That’s why an editorial can be so effective. It’s a wake-up call, especially as the new poverty data is coming out. I will send you info on what that data says as soon as I have it.

Editorial Writer: OK, I'll take a look at the information you sent me. However, we don't write editorials upon request. I'm not promising anything.

Volunteer: I understand. I just want to offer some valuable information at a time when everybody's eyes are going to be on poverty because of the Census data release. Taking a stand on programs that encourage work, have a proven broad effect on poverty, and have bipartisan support seems like a logical step given how thoroughly your paper has investigated the poverty problem.

Editorial Writer: I'll take a look at it.

Volunteer: Thank you very much. I'll be sure to send the Census data after it comes out on Tuesday. If I contact you on Wednesday morning, would that work with your schedule?

Editorial Writer: That should work.

Volunteer: Thanks for considering my request. I'll talk to you next week.

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.

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