U.S. Poverty Weekly Update February 14, 2017

February 14, 2017

U.S. Poverty Campaigns

Weekly Update | February 14, 2017

“Town hall meetings are probably the most directly impactful for individual constituents to communicate with the Senator and I’m not sure people typically understand the impact that their presence and comments can have.”

—Senate Communications Director quoted in the new report Citizen-Centric Advocacy: The Untapped Power of Constituent Engagement from the Congressional Management Foundation

In This Week’s Update:

Quick Media Action: Remind Congress that Americans Want a Strong Safety Net

Take Action!

Got Two Minutes? Contact Schedulers about Meetings during Next Week’s Recess (February Action)

We’re less than one week away from the 115th Congress’ first official recess. With lawmakers back home, they need to hear from you about protecting critical anti-poverty programs, such as SNAP and Medicaid. As Kathy Saile of CBPP, our guest speaker on Saturday’s National Webinar, told us last Saturday, the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act has slowed down in Congress. The reason for these delays is grassroots pressure. Members of Congress are getting an earful from their constituents about hurting low- and middle-income Americans with these drastic changes.

Keep the pressure on Congress to protect services that help millions of Americans make ends meet. Contact schedulers today about setting up face-to-face meetings or attending town halls during next week’s congressional recess.

TAKE ACTION: It’s not too late to take two minutes to contact your House and Senate schedulers and request face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress the week of February 20. Also, ask them about any upcoming town halls or public events their bosses are doing (also check out www.townhallproject2018.com as an additional resource). The February Action has tips for requesting meetings and preparing for town halls. In addition, as you get these events in your calendar, please enter the meeting info into our First 100 Days Meeting Tracker: http://tinyurl.com/100daysmeetings and contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) to set up a lobby prep call to get you ready. For your meetings, don’t forget your:

RESULTS sincerely thanks Kathy Saile for appearing on our National Webinar this past weekend. Listen to the recording of the webinar and to download the webinar, slides and summary from our National Webinars page.

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Got Ten Minutes? Prepare for Meetings and Town Halls with Your Own Laser Talk (February Action)

Next week’s recess is a great opportunity for you to meet with members of Congress in-person or at town halls and urge them to protect programs that help Americans living in poverty. The first thing you want to do is schedule the meeting or find the town hall. Next on the list is figuring out what to say. RESULTS can help you.

The RESULTS EPIC Laser Talk is the backbone of our advocacy work. Learning how to speak powerfully is the foundation of everything else we do. With most of our focus on protecting SNAP right now, work on a Laser Talk for that issue first. Here is an example:

Hi, my name is _____ and I’m a constituent from ___________. I’m asking today that you stand up for hungry children and families. SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program, is our first line of defense against hunger in America. And it works. In 2015, SNAP lifted 4.6 million people out of poverty, half of them children. Unfortunately, some leaders in Congress want to radically restructure SNAP into a “block grant” to states. This will undermine SNAP’s effectiveness, cost states more money, and push millions of people into poverty. Will you tell Speaker Ryan that you oppose block granting SNAP and any other harmful changes to nutrition programs which would increase hunger in America?

On Saturday’s National Webinar, guest speaker Kathy Saile gave us tips on messaging this issue. She said stay positive – focus on the good that SNAP does for your community and people you know. She also noted that SNAP’s ability to respond to economic downturns is critical to its success and changing it to a block grant to states would eliminate that component of the program. Use these tips to draft a powerful last talk to use in your meetings and town halls next week.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to draft a Laser Talk on protecting SNAP from cuts and block grants. If you’re not sure what to say, start with the sample Laser Talk above. You can also find one in the February Action. However, the more personal you can make it, the better. Use these simple steps to help you draft your own:

1.“I am very concerned about proposals to decimate key anti-poverty programs – not only the Affordable Care Act & Medicaid, but also SNAP (formerly Food Stamps).”

2.Share why you care. Use a personal story, state or local data, etc.

3.“Will you fight to protect the core financing & structure of SNAP and other safety net programs?”

If you need help with your Laser Talk or would like to work on one concerning the EITC or the racial wealth gap, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for assistance. As always, if and when your get a meeting or town hall scheduled, contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) to set up a lobby prep call to get ready.

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Got Twenty Minutes? Use New CMF Report to Engage Others in Advocacy Work

For a number of years, RESULTS has highlighted the 2011 report from the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) on the importance of citizen engagement with lawmakers on issues you care about. Yesterday, CMF released its new report, Citizen-Centric Advocacy: The Untapped Power of Constituent Engagement. This is a poll of key congressional staff about the impact of citizen engagement on congressional decision-making. Here are some key findings from the report:

  1. In person meetings from constituents are still the best way to influence a member of Congress who is undecided on an issue, with 94 percent of respondents saying it has some or a lot of influence.
  2. Relationships matter. 99 percent of respondents said that meetings with members of Congress and their staff are important to understanding constituents’ views and opinions. From the report: “Constituents and groups that emphasize long-term, qualitative relationships are much more likely to be sought out and listened to by decision-makers when Congress considers public policy that will impact their issues.” (p.20)
  3. Personal and localized information is important. Respondents were asked which of the following were important in congressional decision-making and how frequently they received such information: information highlighting a bill’s impact on their state/district (91 percent found it important but only 9 percent said they received such information frequently), constituent reasons for supporting/opposing the bill (90 percent and 50 percent), a specific request (88 percent and 59 percent), personal stories related to the issue (79 percent and 18 percent).

This research confirms that you have known for a long time – advocacy works! With so many people looking to engage in the political process right now, use this report to do outreach to people in your community and engage them in your important work to end poverty.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to read and share the new CMF report on citizen engagement (also see information about the report on the RESULTS Blog). E-mail it to your Local Action Networks, post the link on Facebook and other social media, and talk it up amongst friends. For people wanting to do advocacy, this report confirms that their instincts are correct. Invite these potential new advocates to your next RESULTS meeting or event. When people see there is already a local structure in place for them to learn and take action, they’ll be more likely to follow through (vs. starting something from scratch). In addition, offer yourself/group as a resource. Perhaps a local group wants to learn about how to lobby members of Congress, or generate media, or about the threats to safety net programs. Offer to present for them. We have PowerPoints, Action Sheets, sign-up forms, and other materials you can use; please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for more information. 

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Quick News

Please Send in your Group Plans. Only 40 percent of First 100 Days plans have been submitted (and there’s only two months of the First 100 Days left!). Please finish and submit your First 100 Days Plan ASAP at: www.tinyurl.com/First100Plan. If you have not started planning, find Group Planning Resources on our First 100 Days page and the January U.S. Poverty Action also has tips to help.

Use Price Confirmation for Media. Last week, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) was confirmed as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a controversial, party-line vote. In this position, Price will oversee the administration of the Affordable Care Act, its potential repeal (for which he has strongly advocated), and any replacement plan Congress enacts. His confirmation has and will get lots of media attention and is a good hook for new letters to the editor. Tailor our online LTE alert using the Price confirmation as evidence that Congress must do all it can to protect programs and services for low-income Americans.

ACA Repeal Would Be a Big Tax Cut for the Wealthy. Much of the attention on Congress’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act has focused on what the detriment repeal would mean for ordinary Americans. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 30 million people will lose health coverage if the ACA is repealed. Not being covered as much is the benefit repeal would bring for wealthy Americans. Our friends at CBPP have a new paper showing that repeal would eliminate several Medicare taxes on the highest income earners, giving the 400 wealthiest Americans an average $7 million tax cut per year. Use our online LTE alert to remind your members of Congress that public policy should help work to reduce poverty and hardship, not making matters worse while giving another tax cut to the wealthy.

Sign Your RESULTS Group onto FRAC Nutrition Letter. Stand with advocates working to protect SNAP and other nutrition programs by signing your local RESULTS group onto the Food Research and Action letter to President Trump and Congress.

Register for the RESULTS International Conference/Apply for REAL Change. The 2017 RESULTS International Conference is coming (July 22-25 in Washington, DC). Join hundreds of advocates from around the world at this great event. Register today. Also, remember that RESULTS is now accepting REAL Change Fellowship applications. Encourage young people you know to apply.

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Upcoming Events

Go to the RESULTS Events Calendar to see a full list of RESULTS events. Also, find a list of the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff with contact information on the RESULTS website.

Upcoming staff vacations: Jos Linn, February 17, March 18-26.

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: February 20-24.

Presidents Day, Monday, February 20. All RESULTS offices closed.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, Tuesday, February 21 at 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm ET. To participate, login at http://fuze.me/32256018 or dial by phone at (201) 479-4595, Meeting ID: 32256018#.

RESULTS Introductory Call, Friday, February 24 at 1:00 pm ET. If you want to learn more about RESULTS, register for an Intro Call on the RESULTS website.

RESULTS REAL Change Mid-Year Retreat, March 5-7. Washington, DC. Apply for the 2017-18 REAL Change Fellowship today.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Webinar, Saturday, March 11 at 12:30 pm ET.  Participate at http://fuze.me/32255914 or (201) 479-4595, Meeting ID: 32255914#. Listen to previous webinars on our National Webinars page.

Training Call: Creating Bi-Partisan Support for our Issues in our Communities: A Learning and Sharing Lab, Wednesday, March 15 at 9:00 pm ET. Login online: http://fuze.me/34116938; or via phone (201)479-4595, Meeting ID 34116938#.

RESULTS International Conference, Saturday, July 22 – Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC. Registration is now open!

If you have a question, comment or suggestion for the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board, please e-mail them to RESULTS Grassroots Board Member Vanessa Garcia at [email protected]. You can view the most recently published minutes from Board meetings on the RESULTS website, as well as download RESULTS’ most recent Annual Report.

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