October 2014 U.S. Poverty Action
Make Sure Poverty is a Part of Election Conversations
This is the home stretch! Candidates for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are campaigning with only a month before the election. This means we have an important opportunity to get poverty issues discussed on the campaign trail and build momentum for tax policies that prioritize creating economic mobility – both in the short-term (when Congress passes tax legislation during the “Lame Duck” session after the election) and long-term (when policymakers move forward on larger tax changes next year).
Contact Candidates to Discuss the EITC, Child Tax Credit, and Financial Security Credit
- Coordinate with your group to assign a specific person to request a meeting with each Congressional candidate, prioritizing candidates in close races and open seats.
- Find contact information for the campaign offices through the RESULTS website.
- Once connected, ask for whoever coordinates the candidate’s schedule.
- Use the following conversation as a template for the conversation with the scheduler.
Hi, my name is _________________, and I am a local volunteer with RESULTS, a grassroots group working to end poverty. I know that your campaign values input from voters on the issues that matter to us. With that in mind, our local RESULTS group would like to schedule meeting with ______ to discuss specific policies to build economic mobility for low-income Americans that she/he can support if elected. Would it be possible to set that up today? There will be at least ____ of us at the meeting and we would like to discuss how we can reduce poverty through protecting and strengthening tax credits for low-income working families, and discuss ways we can work together to support innovative approaches to helping families move out of poverty. What times would he/she be available to meet?
- You may be asked for a written request — use the above conversation to create a request letter/e-mail.
- If the candidate is unavailable, ask to meet a member of the staff that helps shape their policy priorities. Also ask about any town hall meetings or other public events.
- Once you confirm a meeting, contact Director of US Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for coaching, materials, and tailored requests.
As the Census Bureau’s latest income and poverty data revealed, one in seven Americans (14.5 percent, 45.3 million total) still live below the poverty line. Even more shocking, almost one in five children in America are growing up in poverty. This election season offers us an opportunity to demand that candidates support policies that create true economic mobility – making sure those working can make ends meet and build for the future.
The next Congress could be making major changes to the tax code, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit. Current Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) says he wants to undertake major tax reform. Furthermore, if Republicans take Senate control, they have indicated they might use reconciliation in next year’s budget to do tax reform; reconciliation cannot be filibustered and can be passed by only 51 votes. Finally, Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) is looking to become the next Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Ryan’s recent House budgets have included major tax cuts and he’s also proposed an expansion of EITC that resembles President Obama’s proposal.
All this makes the relationships we build with current and future members of Congress very important. By meeting with members of Congress, we have been able to build support for tax changes that would help low-income Americans get out and stay out of poverty. As of October 1, RESULTS U.S. poverty-focused volunteers have met face-to-face with members of Congress 101 times in 2014 — 74 meetings with 44 different representatives and 27 meetings with 23 different senators. That’s dramatically more meetings than any year in the last decade.
Facing a new Congress in January, it’s important that we start kindling new relationships and cementing old ones now. Meeting with candidates now and educating them on RESULTS and our issues will help you to build those relationships we will need in the Lame Duck session of Congress and in the new Congress sworn in next year. If you are unable to get a meeting with a candidate or their staff, look for these opportunities:
- Traditional town hall meetings. Many members of Congress also do these by phone.
- County Fairs and local events are a great place to see your member of Congress in a fun setting. Make sure you are armed with a quality laser talk!
- Candidate forums: These are places where candidates meet to talk to an audience and take questions. These are great places to find out where candidates stand on RESULTS issues. Additionally, if their opponent attends, it can spark interesting and informative discussion.
- Debates: Often constituents and groups provide the questions used in debates. Find out if this is true in your area and submit your questions! Attend the debate and keep your ear open for RESULTS issues.
Looking for an opportunity to engage your local Action Network? Ask others to call the campaign office to reiterate their support for protecting and expanding EITC, and/or join you at one of these public events.
On the October 2014 RESULTS National Conference Call, we’ll hear from guest speaker Marge Clark of NETWORK Lobby, one of the “Nuns on the Bus” touring this fall, who will share about the tour and NETWORK’s wealth gap work. The call is Saturday, October 11, at 12:30 pm ET . To participate, call (888) 409-6709 by 12:27 pm ET.