U.S. Poverty Weekly Update June 19, 2012

June 19, 2012

We are the richest country in the history of the world with hundreds of billionaires and millions of millionaires, but also with 45 million people living below the poverty line and more joining that vast group every day. What are our representatives doing to reduce poverty in America?

— RESULTS San Fernando Valley (CA) volunteer William Frothman in a June 12 letter to the editor in the LA Daily News

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

  • Got Two Minutes? Working Families Need Your Help to Protect the EITC and CTC (June Action)
  • Got Ten Minutes? Call Key SNAP Amendments Could Be Voted On TODAY — Call Senators NOW in Support of Hungry Families
  • Got Twenty Minutes? Set Up Face-to-Face Meetings and Attend Town Halls During Opportune Summer Season

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Got Two Minutes? Working Families Need Your Help to Protect the EITC and CTC (June Action)

With two weeks left in June, let’s make sure Congress remembers that Americans from all over the country are expecting them to do what’s right on tax policy this year. Specifically, they need to know that protecting the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) must be a top priority in any tax or deficit reduction legislation. Rewarding those who already have wealth, which was the goal of the Bush tax cuts, have done little to create jobs and much to damage our long-term financial situation. It is time to put working people first.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send an e-mail to Congress urging representatives and senators to protect the EITC and CTC. Send a strong message that our tax code should reward work over wealth. Families that work full time should not be living in poverty; the EITC and CTC are critical supports for low-income working families. When drafting your email using our online email alert, be sure to personalize it. By changing the subject line or sharing personal stories or local statistics, you increase the chance of your email getting read in a quick and timely manner.

Got Ten Minutes? Key SNAP Amendments Could Be Voted On TODAY — Call Senators NOW in Support of Hungry Families

The Senate debate over the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240) continues this week. As you know, the Farm Bill includes reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), which help put food on the table for nearly 50 million people each month.

The Farm Bill coming to the Senate floor cuts $4.5 billion from SNAP, targeting the “Heat and Eat” programs in various states (this program allows states to coordinate SNAP and energy assistance benefits). The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this cut would impact 500,000 households each year, reducing their SNAP benefits by $90 per month. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced an amendment that restores the cuts to SNAP and invests $500 million in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program.

We have spent the last several weeks building support for the Gillibrand amendment (see the current list of co-signers below), as well as opposing bad amendments. One such amendment, offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), would have cut SNAP funding nearly in half and turned it into a block grant. Fortunately, it was soundly defeated last week, 65-33. Senate leaders have now reached a deal to move forward on the Farm Bill (with over 200 amendments filed, full consideration of the bill was in doubt). This means that Sen. Gillibrand’s amendment could come up for a vote as soon as this afternoon.

Unfortunately, there is also bad news. Senators have offered other amendments that would deepen cuts to SNAP. The outcome of these votes would have a significant impact on the millions of Americans who rely on nutrition programs to prevent hunger and promote nutrition. Your advocacy is needed today! Let’s remind Senate offices that SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger in the U.S. and we need to protect and strengthen it.

TAKE ACTION: Consideration of Farm Bill amendments is scheduled to begin around 2:15 pm ET TODAY. Call both your Senate offices TODAY and leave a message with the receptionist urging your senators to protect SNAP. Use Feeding America’s toll-free number (877) 698-8228 to call (or you can call directly; find contact information on our Elected Officials page. Once connected, say:

My name is ______________ and I am a constituent of Sen. _________________ from ____________________. I want the Senator to protect and strengthen nutrition assistance in the Farm Bill. I urge Sen. _______________ to SUPPORT the Gillibrand and Nelson amendments to restore cuts to SNAP and strengthen the program. I also urge him/her to OPPOSE the Sessions and Boozman amendments that would cut SNAP. Thank you.

Current List of Gillibrand Amendment Co-Sponsors: Sens. Gillibrand (D-NY), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Schumer (D-NY), Reed (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR), Boxer (D-CA), Menendez (D-NJ), Scott Brown (R-MA), Whitehouse (D-NJ), Blumenthal (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Kerry (D-MA), Lieberman (I-CT), Sanders (I-VT), Merkley (D-OR), and Nelson (D-FL).

Got Twenty Minutes? Set Up Face-to-Face Meetings and Attend Town Halls During Opportune Summer Season

Summer arrives this week and along with the fun and frivolity this season brings, it also is the advent of prime congressional meeting season. With summer holidays, the RESULTS International Conference, and the August recess fast approaching, we want to make sure we take advantage of these opportunities to meet face-to-face with legislators.

RESULTS International Conference. The 2012 RESULTS International Conference is almost here. If you have not requested your face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff for the International Conference, please submit your requests ASAP. Their schedules fill up quickly so you want to get your request in now. See our Activist Toolkit for tips on requesting meetings. Once you have a meeting scheduled, please fill out our Lobby Meeting report form so we can track all the meetings taking place at the conference. Also, please contact Meredith at [email protected] to set up a lobby prep call for your lobby meetings at the conference. Please choose a time that includes everyone in your group who is attending the conference in your call (other members are welcomed to participate as well).

July 4 and August Recesses. Both the House and Senate will be home the week of July 2. While it may be difficult to set up sit-down meetings during this week, it is a great time to attend a Town Hall event. With the election only a few months away, members of Congress will be out this week looking to connect with constituents. Also, the House and Senate will be taking their annual month-long summer recess starting in early August through Labor Day. This is the best time to set up face-to-face meetings as they will have more time for constituent meetings. They will also be holding town hall events. Contact the scheduler for your House and Senate members and request a meeting for the August recess, if not earlier.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to contact your members of Congress to set up face-to-face meetings for the July 4 recess week, the RESULTS International Conference, and/or the August recess. These offices will get many requests during these recess times so get your request in early. Be sure to follow up a few days later to confirm that the schedulers received your requests and to check on the status. You can find contact info on our Elected Officials page.

In your meetings, remember to take our 2012 Request and Background sheets covering low-income tax credits, the Saver’s Bonus, and Head Start and child care. If you get a meeting scheduled or plan to attend a town hall, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you and your group prepare.


Use Helpful Resources to Help You with the June Action on Tax Credits

As you write your letters this month urging Congress to protect tax credits for working families, we want to remind you of the great resources we have available for you as you take time this month to urge Congress to protect the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). In addition to reading the June Action, feel free to use these resources in your efforts:

TAKE ACTION: Take the June Action. Write letters to your representative and both senators urging them to protect low-income working families. Remind them that the EITC and CTC are pro-work, pro-family, and pro-responsibility policies that lift millions of people out of poverty each year. Urge them to protect these working families by making the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent.

Senate Committee Sets Early Childhood Funding for FY2013; House Expected to Act This Week

Last Thursday, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations bill was approved by Labor-HHS Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee. The Labor-HHS bill sets funding for many important programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). RESULTS volunteers have been active in pushing the Labor-HHS Subcommittee to support Head Start and child care funding, most recently by getting 32 signatures on the Casey-Snowe letter in the Senate (the companion Kildee-Platts letter in the House got 88 representatives to sign on), urging robust funding increases for all federal early childhood development programs in the FY 2013 budget.

We are pleased to report your advocacy has paid off. Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG all received increases in the Senate Labor HHS bill. Head Start will receive a $70 million increase, which will help with the implementation of re-competition and help local centers with rising operational costs. CCDBG gets a $160 million increase; $90 million to improve the quality of education for early childhood teachers and staff and $70 million to help increase access to child care, subsidy rates, and rates of reimbursement for providers. While these are not the numbers we had hoped for, we are pleased that the Senate continues to see the value of early childhood services and provided these increases despite operating under very tight budget constraints.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor for debate and a vote, which is unlikely to happen before the election. In the meantime, the House Labor-HHS Subcommittee will mark up their FY13 Appropriations bill tomorrow. To get the strongest funding levels possible in any final House-Senate agreement, we must continue to push House members to make early childhood education a priority in 2013.

To help, a new report released by the HighScope Educational Research Foundation last week, once again affirms why investments like these are so important. The study followed Michigan students who participated in the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), which was a state-funded Pre-K program, and students with similar backgrounds but not in the program. They found that the GSRP students were more likely to graduate on time and were less likely to have been retained during their school careers than those who were not a part of the program. This trend was very noticeable with minority students; 59 percent of minority GSRP participants graduated on time, compared to the 39 percent who did not participate in GSRP. Once again, another study shows the long term benefits of investing in early childhood education, making the case for increased federal investment in these services. You can read more about the report outcomes from CLASP.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to support working families and help ensure a bright future for at-risk children by funding Head Start and child care services at the highest possible levels in the FY 2013 budget. Use our online e-mail action to send your message today.

Join RESULTS “Free Agents” Group Call TONIGHT at 9pm ET

Are you a RESULTS volunteer working to make a difference but all alone in your community? Are you looking to connect with others in the important work of ending poverty in America? Then plan join tonight’s RESULTS “Free Agents” call at 9:00 pm ET. This group is made up of individual activists from around the country who live in communities with no active RESULTS group. They are taking action (or wanting to) on our U.S. poverty issues and these calls are designed to bring them together each month to provide them the same support our local RESULTS groups get. It has been a hit with many activists already and we want you to join the fun.

If you are a RESULTS “free agent,” we invite you to attend our RESULTS Free Agents group conference calls. We have two options available for you. If your interest is U.S. poverty issues, our RESULTS Free Agents (U.S. Poverty) meets every third Tuesday of the month, which means the next call is TONIGHT, June 19 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, dial in (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). RSVPS are encouraged to Jos Linn at [email protected].

And don’t forget about our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls for new people wanting to learn more about RESULTS. The next RESULTS Intro call is this Wednesday, July 11 at 1:00 pm ET (note the different date because of the July 4 holiday). To register for the call, go to http:tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet. If you have questions, please contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]).

Join the June 27 RESULTS-National Priorities Project Call on Using Local Data in Your Advocacy

National Priorities Project (NPP) is a federal budget research organization, which helps people understand the local impact of federal dollars. The NPP database has two types of information: social indicators (e.g. unemployment rates) and federal expenditures (e.g. amount spent on unemployment insurance). These tools can be used to obtain data on various issues such as, SNAP, Head start, and other programs by state and county. To help better understand and use this data for upcoming lobby meetings, RESULTS will be holding a training call with NPP next week. The call will review how to use NPP tools to bring local and state data to the lobby meetings at the RESULTS International Conference or in your home districts. This will be a very informative call and we hope you will join us. The call is Wednesday, June 27 at 8:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (866) 503-7713 and enter passcode 4091413579.

Quick News

Come See the “Nuns on the Bus”. NETWORK, a Catholic Social Justice Lobby, has kicked off it “Nuns on the Bus” tour this week. Four nuns from NETWORK, a RESULTS ally in pushing Congress to address issues of justice and poverty, are traveling through nine states over the next two weeks to bring attention to the impact of the House Republican Budget on people living in poverty. They kicked off the tour with an inspirational prayer service in Des Moines on Sunday (RESULTS Senior Associate Jos Linn was in attendance) and will be making stops in IA, IL, IN, WI, MI, OH, PA, MD and VA before arriving in Washington DC on July 2. Learn more about their tour and plan to attend events in your area at the Nuns on the Bus website. You can also watch NETWORK Executive Director Simone Campbell on last week’s Colbert Report. NETWORK will also be participating in our Faith in Action session at this year’s RESULTS International Conference.

Sign Your Groups on to Budget and Tax Efforts. There are two “sign-ons” going around right now that RESULTS has signed onto in support, and we’d like your help. The first is a letter opposing any further cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs in the federal budget, which are already slated to receive automatic cuts next year. With some members of Congress working to exempt military spending from these cuts, NDD programs would see even deeper cuts. We urge you to sign your local RESULTS group onto a letter asking Congress to reject further cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. The deadline is June 22, 2012. Second, RESULTS has signed onto Americans for Tax Fairness, a group advocating for a tax system that raises revenues to meet critical needs in a fair and responsible way and ensures that everyone, including the very wealthy and corporations, pays their fair share Show your support by signing your local RESULTS group onto the principles of Americans for Tax Fairness.

Invite Aides to Briefing on Map the Meal Gap. On June 20, Feeding America will present Map the Meal Gap, landmark research describing food insecurity in each county and Congressional District in the United States. The event will describe what the data says about food insecurity in local districts. Hear our panel discuss nonprofit and private sector efforts to combat hunger across the country and the critical role that the federal nutrition safety net plays in those efforts. Speakers will include Elaine Waxman of Feeding America, Candy Hill of Catholic Charities USA, and Jennifer Hatcher of the Food Marketing Institute. Contact your House and Senate agriculture aides and urge them to attend. The event is tomorrow, June 20, 10:00 – 11:00am ET in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 207. Attendees can RSVP to [email protected].

Health Reform Ruling Expected Next Week. It is widely expected that the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be released next week. As you well know, RESULTS spent all of 2009 and part of 2010 advocating for protecting low-income Americans in the ACA, specifically expanding Medicaid and funding for community health centers. With the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion on the line, a bad ruling will have a tremendous impact on millions of low-income Americans. We will keep you updated as the ruling comes down.

Fundraising News

Thank you for RESULTS DC and Denver groups for their fantastic fundraisers! D.C. partners held a happy hour at Mad Hatter where RESULTS supporters, friends, staff and coalition partners mingled and had a great time to benefit our transformative work. Denver’s event was a “Behind the Scenes” dinner party where guests got exclusive glimpse of RESULTS’ microcredit work through the Microcredit Summit Campaign (MSC) to initiate, build, and track the microfinance movement around the world. MSC Director Larry Reed was the special guest speaker. Thank you all!

RESULTS International Conference

REGISTER for the 2012 RESULTS International Conference TODAY!

We are excited to announce that Justin King of the Asset Building Program of the New America Foundation and Sarah Haight of Ascend will speak on Saturday July 21 from 10:00-11:00 am ET during the workshop ‘Saving Works: How Asset Building Policies Can Help End Poverty’. This workshop will discuss innovative programs in communities that are already helping low-income families save and can be scaled up to reach many more around the country. We hope you will join us.

Don’t Forget to Invite Members of Congress to the IC Reception. Take a few minutes to invite your members of Congress to attend and speak at the Lobby Day Reception on July 24. You can use our customizable invitation letter to invite them. Please contact RESULTS staff if you have any questions.

Help Send Other to This Year’s Conference. Thanks you those of you who have donated to the Karen McQuillan Fund to help send RESULTS volunteers to the conference. Help us send a few more people to DC this summer making a donation to the Karen McQuillan Fund. Visit our online donation page to donate TODAY! (please write “Karen McQuillan” in the notes section of the form). Please note: a large portion of that amount is travel expenses, so we would also welcome donations of flight miles as well. For more information, contact Allison Burket at [email protected].

Submit Your Media Award Nominees. We are now accepting nominations for the Cameron Duncan Media Award. This award is given each year to a journalist who has demonstrated outstanding reporting of issues related to poverty and hunger. If you have a journalist you would like to nominate for the award, please submit a one to two paragraph nomination letter/email and relevant clips from the past 12 months that demonstrate the journalist’s dedication to our issues to Blair Hinderliter at [email protected]. The deadline to submit nominees is this Friday, June 22.

REGISTER for the 2012 RESULTS International Conference TODAY!

RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House: June 30 – July 8, August 4 – September 9. Senate: July 2 – 6, August 6 – September 7. Request face-to-face meetings.

Tuesday, June 19: RESULTS Free Agents group (U.S. Poverty) call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). For more information, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Wednesday, June 27: RESULTS-NPP Training Call on Using State Data in Lobby Meetings, 8:00 pm ET. (866) 503-7713, passcode 4091413579.

Saturday, July 14: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Saturday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 24, 2012: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. Register TODAY!

RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 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.

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

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Update is sent out every Tuesday via e-mail 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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