U.S. Poverty Weekly Update July 16, 2013

July 16, 2013

The price of a farm bill should not be making more people hungry in America.

– Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-2), commenting on last week’s House “SNAP-less” Farm Bill vote

New and Urgent in This Week's Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Got Two Minutes? Tell Senators to Support Low-income Americans in Tax Reform

As discussed on last Saturday’s RESULTS National Conference Call, tax leaders in the House and Senate are working to enact comprehensive tax reform. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are seeking input about tax reform. This is an important opportunity to reiterate our support for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and specifically request that 2009 improvements to these credits be made permanent. This also gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of our asset building work and the Family Financial Security Credit (FFSC). As our conference call guest speaker Rachel Black discussed on Saturday, this innovative credit allows low income households to designate some of their tax refunds into a matched savings account right on their tax returns (see more below). Let’s not let this chance to shape potential tax reform the right way slip by.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to call your Senate tax aide to weigh in about tax reform. Because of the July 26 deadline, you want to make calls this week (and then follow up at your RESULTS International Conference or August recess lobby meetings).

I am a constituent and a RESULTS volunteer. As Congress works on comprehensive tax reform, I urge Sen. __________________ to speak up in support of tax policies that benefit low-income working families. The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are a financial lifeline for millions of families; these credits lift more children out of poverty than any other program. They also promote work and support local economies. In addition, helping families build savings and assets is one of the surest pathways out of poverty. The Family Financial Security Credit (first proposed as the Saver's Bonus by Sen. Bob Menendez in 2008), would help low-income tax filers start a matched  savings account right on their tax returns. Since 2008, a similar program called $aveNYC (now $aveUSA) has been helping low-income people start savings accounts with great success.

Before July 26, please have Sen. ____________send a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch urging them to:

  1. Support hardworking low-income families by making the 2009 ARRA improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent and protecting these credits from cuts in tax reform.
  2. Expand low-income asset building in the tax code by including the Family Financial Security Credit in tax reform.

Our updated tax and assets lobby request sheet has more information you can use for your calls. Calls are best but it you cannot call this week, use our updated tax credit e-mail alert to urge your members of Congress to protect low-income working families in tax reform. You can also voice your opinion about tax reform at www.taxreform.gov.

See the latest about our Economic Opportunity Campaign on the Recent Developments in Economic Opportunity Legislation and our 2013 U.S. Poverty Campaign Summary.

Got Ten Minutes? Set Up Your Lobby Meetings (July Action)

July and August provide us with the chance to put poverty reduction front and center with lawmakers. The RESULTS International Conference that begins this weekend (July 20-23) will bring RESULTS volunteers from all over the world to Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress. RESULTS volunteers will be marching up Capitol Hill to meet with congressional offices next Tuesday, June 23. Also, members of Congress will be on recess most of the month of August, doing constituent meetings and town hall events. This will be the last major recess before big decisions on the budget and debt ceiling have to be made in the fall, so we want to make sure we talk to them before then.

Once you get your meetings scheduled, please enter them into our Lobby Meeting tracking form.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to complete the July Action and set up your face-to-face meetings for the RESULTS International Conference, the August recess, or both. Contact your House and Senate schedulers to set up your meetings. Find their names and contact information on our Elected Officials page. So that you are well prepared, here are additional resources to help you:

If you get a meeting set up, please contact RESULTS U.S. Poverty Staff for help preparing. Also, if you have not set up a lobby prep call with our staff to get ready for your conference lobby meetings, please contact Ann Beltran ([email protected]) to schedule one.

Got Twenty Minutes? It’s Here! Time to Get Ready for the RESULTS International Conference

Can you believe it? It’s finally here! After months of anticipation, the 2013 RESULTS International Conference begins this weekend. It's an exciting time as you make final plans, and in order to make your conference a success please take a moment to check out our resources on the RESULTS conference page. We have a great conference planned and look forward to another wonderful event.

TAKE ACTION: If you are coming to the conference this weekend, please take twenty minutes to review the IC Checklist, which gives you a great run-down of things you’ll want to do before coming to DC. Here are a few things to specifically remember as you make your final plans:

  • Read the U.S. Poverty Campaigns Legislative Handbook. This comprehensive overview of our current U.S. Poverty campaigns is very helpful in getting you ready for the conference. We encourage you to read it before or on your way to DC. If you want a hard copy at the conference, please bring one with you.
  • Set Up your Face-to-Face Lobby Meetings and Lobby Prep Call. If you have not done so already, please schedule your DC lobby meetings (Lobby Day is July 23). Once scheduled, please enter each meeting into our Lobby Meeting tracking form. Also please contact Ann Beltran ([email protected]) to schedule a call this week to help you prepare for your lobby meetings at the conference.
  • Research Your Members of Congress. Our Elected Officials page has lots of important information about your members of Congress, including biographical information, committee assignments, and voting records. You can also find information about your members of Congress from their website and Google searches online. We’ll have some of this information at the conference but it’s always good to get started early.
  • Include Folks at Home. Not everyone come can to the conference this year, but you can still include them in your conference experience. Here are some ideas:
    • Have your fellow group and local action network members write letters this week for you to hand deliver on Lobby Day.
    • Update your Facebook page and Twitter accounts about your experience during the conference and ask others to share them with their networks.
    • See if your group members can participate in your DC lobby meetings by conference call (confirm with your congressional offices as well).

Also, be sure to pack appropriately. See this helpful RESULTS Blog post from Myrdin Thompson about dressing for success at the conference. As always, if you have any questions about the conference, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) or Katja Kleine ([email protected]).

And it’s not too late to join the more than 400 people coming to our conference. If you’re willing to book a last minute trip to DC to help make poverty history, register today! We look forward to seeing you in DC this weekend!

House Passes SNAP-less Farm Bill

As you’ve probably heard by now, last week the House passed a new Farm Bill that did not include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP was such a contentious issue during the June Farm Bill debate that House leaders decided removing nutrition from the mix was the best way forward. What happens next is anyone’s guess. The House could try to pass a SNAP bill with much deeper cuts and then try to work out a compromise with the Senate. It could do nothing and somehow let the Senate SNAP cuts move forward. Or it could use the impending debt ceiling or 2014 budget votes to ransom deep cuts to SNAP. What is clear is that SNAP is still very much in danger and we have to do all we can to protect it. In your calls, e-mails, and meetings, the message is simple – NO CUTS TO SNAP!

TAKE ACTION: Use advocacy skills and the media to keep the pressure on Congress to protect SNAP. Contact your representatives and senators urging them to protect SNAP from cuts using our online e-mail action. Finally, make sure to make SNAP a top priority in your upcoming lobby meetings. Print off and take our SNAP Lobby Meeting Request Sheet with you to your meeting. For more information about SNAP and the Farm Bill, see our Recent Developments in Nutrition and Health Legislation page and our 2013 U.S. Poverty Campaign Summary.

We also want to thank everyone who submitted media pieces on SNAP over the last six weeks. You all got 28 pieces published! This is outstanding media advocacy and already we’ve exceeded our total media pieces this year (59) from all our generated media in 2012 (49). Here is a list of the people who got SNAP media published recently (in order of publication). Congratulations!

Meghan Mantler (RESULTS Pioneer Valley, MA), Lydia Pendley (RESULTS Santa Fe), Mimi Hatch (RESULTS Santa Fe), Barbara Drake (RESULTS Tampa Free Agent), Kitty Sherlock (RESULTS Santa Fe), Ginnie Vogts (RESULTS Columbus), Evelyn Cole (RESULTS Santa Fe), Kay & Vic Streufert (RESULTS Lindsborg, KS), Sandra Duckert (RESULTS Albuquerque), Daria Flores (RESULTS San Diego), Alfonse Battistelli (RESULTS Columbus), Lesley Diamond (RESULTS Santa Fe), RESULTS Des Moines (editorial), Max Knauer (RESULTS Des Moines), Kathleen Duncan (RESULTS Houston), Lucinda Winslow (RESULTS Coastal Connecticut Free Agent), Bill Baker (RESULTS Coastal Connecticut Free Agent), Bruce Davison (RESULTS Buffalo), Ken Schatz (RESULTS Tampa), Lydia Pendley (RESULTS Santa Fe), Ivan Lyddon (RESULTS Des Moines), Barbara Drake (RESULTS Tampa Free Agent), Bruce Kessler (RESULTS South Central Pennsylvania), RESULTS Creston, IA (group letter), Joe Riffe (RESULTS Columbus), Jacques Angelino (RESULTS Columbus), Ann Boer (RESULTS Columbus), Georgia Platts (RESULTS San Jose Free Agent).

Keep it up by submitting your SNAP letter to the editor using our updated online LTE alert!

Saturday’s RESULTS Conference Call Highlighted Asset Development

We want to extend a very special thanks to Rachel Black of the New American Foundation, who was our guest speaker on the RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call last Saturday. Rachel shared great information about the importance of asset development in addressing poverty and how the Family Financial Security Credit (FFSC) can help. Rachel reminded us that the current tax code invests over $500 billion per year in asset development – helping people build assets and wealth – but that a very small amount of that actually benefits low-income Americans. Programs such as the mortgage interest and property tax deduction, preferential tax rates for capital gains and dividends, and tax breaks for retirement savings are of little benefit to people of limited means.

Rachel then reviewed how the FFSC helps rectify some of that imbalance. The FFSC uses the tax code to help low-income Americans begin to save. It allows low-income tax filers to deposit all or part of their refund (typically from the E ITC and CTC) into a designated savings product (e.g. savings account, savings bond, retirement or education accounts). If they don’t have an account, they can create one right on their tax return. The amount of their deposit would be matched by the government, up to $500 per year. This idea makes senses. It takes advantage of a time of year when people have extra income (tax refund), makes it easy for them to start (check a box on the return) and gives them an incentive to save (matched deposit).

As Rachel reminded us, the FFSC is only an idea at this point, but one that has been proven to work. The $aveNYC program in New York City helped people create savings accounts at tax time that included a match. Participants had an average household income of $18,000 (living on NYC, no less) yet the 80 percent of the participants kept their savings accounts throughout the year and 70 percent signed up again the next year. The program was so successful, it was expanded to Newark, Tulsa, and Santa Fe and renamed $aveUSA. Therefore, we have proof that if you give people the opportunity, ease, and incentive to save, they will.

We sincerely thank Rachel for all the information she shared with us. It will be most helpful as we prepare for our lobby meetings during the RESULTS International Conference and August recess. You can find a recording of the call, the conference call slides, and the conference call summary on our National Conference Calls page.

Join U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call Tonight

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents are meeting tonight for their monthly support call. Our Free Agents are dedicated activists who happen to live in areas with no existing RESULTS U.S. Poverty group. It’s a great way to get support on taking action and connect with like-minded advocates from around the country. Our call is tonight, July 16 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). Contact Jos at [email protected] for more information.

Also, we are still working hard to grow the RESULTS network. Jenny Martin has a RESULTS Outreach Meeting set for August 2 in Burlington, VT and Jos Linn has one set for Kansas City, MO in September. Also Myrdin Thompson is working to start new groups in Louisville, Cincinnati, and Albuquerque this fall. If you know people in these or other areas who would make great RESULTS volunteers, please contact us. For contacts in New England, please get in touch with Jenny Martin at [email protected]; for contacts in the Ohio Valley and the South and Midwest, please get in touch with Myrdin Thompson at [email protected]); for contacts elsewhere, please get in touch with Jos Linn at [email protected].

Quick News

Senate Gets It Right on Early Childhood. RESULTS supports strong investments in early childhood development programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care. It seems that Senate appropriators do too. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2014 Labor, Health, Human Services and Education bill (Labor-HHS), which includes funding for Head Start and child care. The bill allocates a $1.6 billion increase for Head Start and Early Head Start in FY 2014, which includes a $1.43 billion increase in funding for Early Head Start and a $171 million increase for Head Start programs ($146 million for cost-of-living and $25 million for the costs of re-competition). The bill also gives the Child Care Development Block Grant a $110 million increase. Finally, $750 million was allocated for preschool development grants to help expand pre-school to all low- and moderate-income families. The House has yet to set their funding levels but with a proposed an 18 percent cut to Labor-HHS programs, the news will likely be bad. The Senate understands the importance of early learning. Urge Congress to support these important investments using or early childhood e-mail alert.

How Would Immigration Reform Affect Tax Revenue? Looks like there could be even more benefit to immigration reform than we originally realized. We often hear about how expensive immigration reform would be for our country, but a new report by the Institute for Taxation and Economy Policy reveals that there could be some substantial economic benefit to moving forward on immigration reform. The study looks at each state to determine the contributions to state and local taxes by the 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. They find that overall, undocumented immigrants contributed about $10.6 billion in 2010. Immigrant reform would cause this number to rise by $2 billion. This is strong encouragement for clearing the path to citizenships for undocumented workers in the US.

RESULTS Fundraising Update

If you are coming to the International Conference, we have two fundraising workshop sessions for you. "Using Your Personal Story to Inspire Support for RESULTS" will show how our own stories help make a strong connection with donors. The same skill can be used in lobbying and outreach, too. "Friend to Friend Fundraising: Tools and Best Practices for Online Fundraising" will demonstrate best practices for online fundraising with a step by step instruction workshop for novice social media users. We hope you will join us for these sessions.

Also, everyone is invited to join our Everyday Hero Virtual Dash, a virtual fundraising run/walk event. Dash anywhere, any distance, any pace, anytime up until 7/28 to earn a medal! Participants in DC on July 21 can dash with us in person and in superhero costume (optional) at 7:00 am ET from the conference hotel for a 1 mile or 5K run/walk. Registration is $25 and includes a race bib and a hero medal. No need to ask people to sponsor you, but it can be a great outreach activity to ask your friends to participate and be heroes themselves.

For information on all our fundraising efforts and to get help hosting your own fundraiser for RESULTS, please contact Cindy Changyit Levin at [email protected].

RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: August 5 – September 6. Request face-to-face meetings.

Saturday, July 13: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Tuesday, July 16: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #).

Saturday, July 20 – Tuesday, July 23: 2013 RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. Register today!

Wednesday, August 14: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.

Saturday, August 17: RESULTS Outreach Meeting, 10:00am – Noon ET. Burlington Unitarian Universalist Society, Parlor Room, 152 Pearl Street, Burlington, VT. Contact Jenny Martin ([email protected]) for details.

Wednesday, September 18: RESULTS Kansas City Outreach Meeting, 7:00 pm CT. For more details, contact Jos Linn at (515) 288-3622, [email protected]. See more on Facebook.

RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1730 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil. Please note that RESULTS Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson is on maternity leave until Labor Day 2013.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Update is sent out every Tuesday via email to RESULTS volunteers and allies all over the country. The purpose of these updates is to inform and activate RESULTS activists to take action on our U.S. poverty campaigns.

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