U.S. Poverty Weekly Update July 29, 2013
“Members of congress need to hear a human story. YOUR story.”
– Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Kicking off Last Week's RESULTS International Conference Lobby Day
New and Urgent in This Week's Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)
Latest from Washington, DC
Last week, nearly 500 RESULTS volunteers from across the country and world gathered on Capitol Hill telling Congress to make decisions that will put an end to poverty. We told our elected officials to protect SNAP, strengthen the EITC and CTC, implement a Financial Security Credit, and support the Senate increases to early childhood education. These meetings are also a vital part of maintaining a relationship with your member of Congress and their office.
TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send a thank you e-mail to any offices that you met with while you were in Washington, DC. Couldn’t make it to the conference? Then take this opportunity to set up your August recess meeting. See our July Action for help in getting your meeting set up.
Got Ten Minutes? Set Up Your August Recess Lobby Meeting (July Action)
Congress will be on recess for most of the month of August. This presents an excellent opportunity for RESULTS volunteers to get in touch with their members of Congress in their hometowns. This is the last major recess before a lot of very important decisions are made in the fall. There will be large budget, deficit reduction, immigration and SNAP debates happening when they get back to DC in September, which means a lot of the programs we care about will be under attack. We want to make sure that you have the opportunity to talk to them before these big decisions are made.
Even if you were able to meet with your member of Congress or their staff during the RESULTS International Conference last week, you should still plan to get another meeting in August. This will give you a chance to follow up in person and reiterate your support for anti-poverty measures.
TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to set up a lobby meeting for the August recess. Contact your House and Senate schedulers in your own state to set up your meetings. Find their names and contact information on our Elected Officials page. Here are some additional resources that can help you:
Use our RESULTS 2013 U.S. Poverty Lobby Meeting Request letter to request a meeting by e-mail or fax.
Read the RESULTS Blog post outlining important tips for a successful lobby meeting.
If you get a meeting set up, please contact RESULTS U.S. Poverty Staff for help preparing.
Can’t get a meeting scheduled? Ask the scheduler if your member of Congress will be making any public appearances or holding any town hall meetings. These are great opportunities to ask a question and publicly ask your member of Congress to support a RESULTS issue. Remember the EPIC format and check out the town hall meetings page for additional tips.
Got Twenty Minutes? Follow Up with Congressional Offices
The RESULTS International Conference was a huge success with lots of fun activities, inspirational panels, and effective advocacy – you can get a glimpse of it through our Storify summary. But, we all know that our work is not done yet. One of the most important components of lobby visits is the follow up. The follow up shows your member of Congress or their aide that you are serious about these issues and that you will hold them accountable. It also helps to strengthen your relationship; we want congressional offices to see RESULTS as a resource and an ally.
TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to follow up with your member of Congress.
Fill out the Lobby Report Form: If you didn’t get a chance to hand in your lobby report form to a RESULTS staff member or fill it out during the conference, please take the time to fill it online at: tinyurl.com/2013lobbyreportform.
Send Information: Did your office ask for additional information or make a claim that you disagree with? Consider following up with some data or sources that they might find interesting or helpful. Contact the RESULTS staff if you need help with specific information.
Ask Questions: If your member of Congress or aide said they would send you some additional information, follow up and politely ask them to send that info along and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
During many of your meetings questions or criticisms came up. A main one that we heard was that SNAP is riddled with fraud. As RESULTS volunteers, we know that the fraud rate in SNAP is only 1 percent, but we want to make sure that our members of Congress know this as well. Here are some additional resources that you can pass along to offices about fraud and SNAP.
The Food and Nutrition Services in the United States Department of Agriculture: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/fraud/fraud_2.htm
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3239
Our June conference call guest, Greg Kaufmann, was honored at the RESULTS International Conference as the 2013 Cameron Duncan Award winner. Greg has been a true champion of RESUTLS issues by brining domestic poverty to the forefront of the media. He maintains a blog, This Week in Poverty, and is a correspondent for The Nation and a contributor to BillMoyers.com. He has truly shed light on inequalities and poverty in the United States, touching on topics that many journalists choose to ignore. Every single week he is highlighting different aspects of poverty and solutions to these programs, giving a voice to America’s most vulnerable. The Cameron Duncan Media Award recognizes a journalist for outstanding reporting of issues relating to poverty and hunger either domestically or worldwide. The award honors Cameron Duncan, a former associate executive director of RESULTS who devoted his life to fighting hunger and poverty. Duncan arranged an endowment to RESULTS Educational Fund for an annual media award prior to his death.
Representative Paul Ryan, House Budget Committee Chairman, has stated that the War on Poverty has “failed miserably”. He has called for the Republican Party to take initiative in reducing poverty, largely by cutting federal assistance programs. The House Budget Committee, being led by Ryan, plans to hold “Progress Report on the War on Poverty” hearings on July 31 as a way to assess anti-poverty programs and figure out new approaches to alleviate poverty.
The War on Poverty was introduced in 1964 by former United States President Lyndon B. Johnson. This legislation was put into place as a way to reduce poverty and use federal funds as a way to fight against it. Today, the War on Poverty continues through programs such as Head Start, SNAP, EITC, CTC, and others.
At this point, Ryan has not set a GOP agenda to help people in poverty that depend on these programs because he says the committee needs to do more “listening to people who are in the trenches fighting poverty.” Despite these statements, the list of witnesses set to speak during the hearings on July 31st does not include anyone who is currently dealing with poverty.
His claims of a failed War on Poverty are unsupported. The facts show that government programs are fulfilling their purpose of reducing poverty. SNAP kept 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2011. The EITC and CTC kept 9.4 million from falling into poverty, including 4.9 million children. Investments in early childhood have been proven to lead to increased financial stability and reduced need for government assistance in adulthood. The problem with the War on Poverty is not that it has failed. The problem is that we have not yet finished it.
TAKE ACTION: Circulate media that disputes these claims. Write a letter to the editor that shows the importance of government programs and the War on Poverty using our LTE generator. Urge Congressmen to protect programs that are vital in the fight against poverty.
The struggle of more than 30 million minimum wage workers is heating up this summer with the support of 80 percent of Americans, Democrats in Congress, and the President.
On July 24, a National Day of Action to increase the minimum wage, a new poll was released that finds that 80 percent of Americans – including 62 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Independents – support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and indexing it to the cost of living. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) earlier this year (S.460 / H.R. 1010).
That same day, raising the minimum wage was also part of the economic vision President Obama laid out as he described what we need to do to support the middle class and those who are trying to join it: “because no one who works full-time in America should have to live in poverty, I will keep making the case that we need to raise a minimum wage that in real terms is lower than it was when Ronald Reagan took office.” Indeed, the minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.56 today when adjusted for inflation.
The #RaiseTheWage protests were also held on the same date, the fourth anniversary of the last time the minimum wage was increased, to the current rate of $7.25 an hour. In cities from coast to coast, demonstrators rallied outside of major retailers and fast-food chains including Wal-Mart, Target, Dunkin’ Donuts, Papa John’s, and McDonald’s.
Who are our minimum wage workers? According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, 88 percent of these workers are adults over the age of 20; 85 percent work more than 20 hours per week; and 43 percent have at least some college education. The minimum wage is also a staple of support for many families: more than 15 million children in the U.S. have a parent who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
Finally, dispelling the myth that raising the minimum wage hurts job creation, the most rigorous economic research over the past 20 years shows that raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay without causing job losses – even in regions where the economy is weak or unemployment is high.
The Everyday Heroes Run was a huge Success with early morning runners in DC joining folks from all around the country to participate in our virtual 5K Fun Run. Thank you to all of you who participated in the run and support RESULTS.
(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)
Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: August 5 – September 6. Request face-to-face meetings.
Saturday, August 10: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.
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.
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 andI Grassroots Support Staff:
Jos Linn, Acting Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns, (515) 288-3622, [email protected]
Jenny Martin, U.S. Poverty Grassroots Organizer, New England, (413) 772-9596, [email protected]
Myrdin Thompson, U.S. Poverty Grassroots Organizer, South, (502) 295-1315, [email protected]
Ann Beltran, U.S. Poverty Policy Consultant, [email protected]
Katja Kleine, U.S. Poverty Campaigns Consultant, [email protected]
Errolyn Gray, U.S. Poverty Campaigns Intern, [email protected], (202) 783-7100, x.142
Cindy Changyit Levin, Grassroots Development Associate, (773) 236-7758, [email protected]
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.