May 2012 U.S. Poverty Action
Using Media to Push Back on Proposed Cuts to SNAP (Formerly Food Stamps), Child Care, and the Child Tax Credit
On May 10, the House passed a “reconciliation package” 218-199 that includes sweeping cuts to SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), child care assistance, the Child Tax Credit (CTC), Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other services for millions of low-income children and families. While these cuts will not become law immediately, many in Congress will also push for slashing critical anti-poverty programs in other legislation this year. In order to put pressure on policymakers and educate others in our community, we will use the media both before and after the vote to tell lawmakers that these cuts are wrong for America.
Submit an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor to Your Local Paper to Impact the Budget Debate
- Find a piece in your local newspaper about the House Budget Reconciliation Bill, the federal budget deficit, or events on Capitol Hill.
- Express your outrage over proposed cuts to safety net programs being considered in Congress. Specifically these proposals would:
- Cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) by $33 billion. This would result in an average cut of $57 per month (for a family of four) for all participants in the program, cut 2 million people off the program, and cause 280,000 children to lose free school breakfasts and lunches. SNAP lifted 4.4 million people out of poverty in 2010.
- Cut the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for 5.5 million children from low-income working families. Together, the Earned Income Tax Credit and CTC lifted 9.3 million people out of povertyin 2010.
- Point out that study after study has shown that the safety net programs are effective at alleviating hardship, targeted at those most in need, and affordable.
- Highlight that these budget proposals are about choices — these draconian cuts are being used to give wealthy Americans and big corporations a massive tax cut.
- Remind readers that we are a stronger America when our children are fed; parents can get quality and affordable child care while they work; and everyone has access to healthcare when they need it.
- Urge your senators and representative by name to ensure a smarter, healthier, and stronger America by rejecting cuts to safety net programs that support low-income working families.
Note: To find contact information for media outlets in your area, including telephone numbers and addresses, visit our Media Guide at http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/media/. In addition, see our Activist Toolkit pieces on writing a letter to the editor and generating an op-ed and send your published piece to your member of Congress. We will update this action sheet when the House votes on the budget reconciliation deal (tentatively May 10). Please check the online version (http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMayAction) for updated talking points if you are not sure how to frame your media piece.
Why Focus on Getting Coverage in Local Newspapers?
Media work is an essential part of any advocacy strategy. It holds members of Congress accountable for their actions in a prominent and public way. Congressional offices still pay close attention to print media in their states and districts to see what constituents are saying and what they care about. What better way to get their attention than to call on them by name to protect safety net programs through a medium that is read by potentially thousands of people in your community. It is also a great way to educate the general public about these issues and sway public opinion in favor of helping at-risk children. Your media pieces will go a long way in building the political will we need to protect America’s vulnerable children and families. Of course, your letters will be more powerful when you talk passionately (and succinctly) about why you care about these programs and ending poverty in America.
Sample Letter: House Budget Cuts Reflect the Wrong Priorities
I am outraged with bills moving through Congress that would enact massive cuts to SNAP (food stamps), the Child Tax Credit, and other safety net services. These services help millions of Americans stay out of poverty, particularly children; half of all food stamp recipients are children and tax credits help lift more children out of poverty than any other program.
To add insult to injury, these draconian cuts are used to give wealthy Americans and big corporations a massive tax cut. This is about priorities. I guess some in Congress believe making millionaires and billionaires richer is far more important than feeding hungry children.
Americans want a budget that preserves and strengthens the American Dream. The House Republican Budget would crush it instead. I strongly urge our members of Congress to support a balanced approach to our budget woes that protects low-income Americans, expands the middle class, and makes the wealthy pay their fair share.
Sample Letter: We Must Protect Funding for Early Childhood Development Services
I am writing in response to your coverage of budget negotiations in DC. I strongly believe in the importance of early childhood programs like Head Start and child care. Studies show that investments in early childhood services are critical to building a strong and sustainable economy.
As Nobel-prize winning economist James Heckman notes, investing in early childhood programs is a “cost efficient and effective investment in preventing downstream problems in education, health, social and economic productivity.” In addition, parents need access to quality and affordable child care in order to work, and this is critical for creating and sustaining jobs and rebuilding our economy. With one out of every four young children living in poverty, we need to prioritize funding for quality early learning services to create opportunity and jobs.
Unfortunately, the House of Representatives is considering legislation that will eliminate early learning services for 4 million low-income children through cuts to the Social Services Block Grant. I urge our members of Congress to protect our children by supporting robust funding — not cuts — to Head Start and child care in the 2013 budget.
What’s at Stake: Helpful Infographic from Our Friends at Half in Ten
This graphic, put together by Half in Ten: the Campaign to Cut Poverty in Half in Ten Years, focuses on what the proposed House cuts could mean for children. Share this with others in your community to illustrate what’s at stake – often, visuals like these are more effective than just facts and figures.
Special thanks to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) for speaking on the May 2012 National Conference Call. As expected, Congresswoman was direct, passionate, and inspiring in urging RESULTS volunteers and others to make their voices heard in these challenging times for anti-poverty advocates. Rep. DeLauro is a champion in Congress for low-income children and families and we look forward to her insights and advice on how we can best advocate for them in these challenging times.