U.S. Poverty Weekly Update June 5, 2012
In this era of special-interest lobbying, children and families in poverty are going to need all the help they can get.
— Charles Kindleberger, RESULTS St. Louis group member in a May 28 letter to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)
- Got Two Minutes? Join RESULTS National Conference Call THIS Saturday at 12:30 pm ET
- Got Ten Minutes? Start Drafting Letters Urging Congress to Protect Tax Credits for Working Families
- Got Twenty Minutes? Urge Senators to Support Gillibrand Amendment to Protect SNAP
Latest from Washington, DC
- Urge People to Register for Tomorrow’s RESULTS Intro Call
- House Recess Next Week — Set Up Meetings and Attend Town Halls
- New Tax Cut Proposal Would Put Safety Net Programs at Risk
- Quick News
Join us this Saturday, June 9 for the RESULTS National Conference Call. We are pleased to welcome Debbie Stein from the Hatcher Group as our conference call guest. Debbie is Vice President of The Hatcher Group, an organization that devises thoughtful communications strategies that build successful campaigns and bring key issues to the forefront. As vice president, Debbie provides policy insight, manages meetings with Hill staff, develops strategic communications plans and messaging advice, tracks federal and state policy developments, manages policy briefings and helps train state advocates. Debbie also helps coordinate and manage the Tax Credits for Working Families campaign, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of low-income tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Debbie will share with us some of her insights and experience in messaging and framing the tax credit issue with lawmakers, which is the subject of our June Action.
TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and remind your local RESULTS group about this RESULTS monthly national conference call this Saturday, June 9 at 12:30 pm ET. Coordinate with your group where you will meet for the call. To join the call, dial (888) 409-6709 and once connected to the operator, ask for the RESULTS National Conference Call. Plan to call in no later than 12:27 pm ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call.
Also, please be sure to download the June 2012 Conference Call Overview (PDF), which provides useful information and sources that we’ll cover on the call. If possible, have the document open on a computer during the call so that your group can follow along.
We thank everyone who submitted letters to the editor last month urging Congress to protect and strengthen social safety net services. In June, we are shifting our focus to our primary U.S. poverty legislative campaign, Economic Opportunity for All. In particular, we want to remind members of Congress that some important changes are looming for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). These tax credits are a financial lifeline for low-income working families. These two credits alone helped lift 9.2 million people out of poverty in 2010, most of them children. In addition, these credits generate billions of dollars in much-needed consumer spending, which supports local business and communities still struggling in this economy.
In 2009, long-overdue improvements to the EITC and CTC included the economic recovery bill (ARRA); these ARRA changes alone helped lift more than a million low-income Americans out of poverty. Unfortunately, unless Congress acts, these improvements will expire at the end of this year. To allow this to happen not only puts millions of working families at risk of falling into or deeper into poverty, it also takes much needed spending out of the economy. We need to remind Congress that a strong economy has fewer people in poverty and more people in the middle class. By helping people move up the economic ladder, tax credits like the EITC and CTC help us create a bigger and stronger middle class.
TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to draft your letter to your senators and representatives urging them to protect the EITC and CTC. Remind them that these tax credits are our most effective tools at reducing poverty and strengthening families. Urge them to talk to members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees about making the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent. See the June Action for talking points, background information on the credits, and a sample letter.
Plan to bring your draft letter to Saturday’s conference call; you will have time during the call to talk with your group about specific message points for your members of Congress.
The Senate begins debating the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240) this week, with votes on key amendments starting next week. The Senate Agriculture Farm Bill cuts over $4 billion from the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), targeting the “Heat and Eat” provision, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates will mean that 500,000 households a year would lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will introduce an amendment (pdf) to the Farm Bill that restores the cuts to SNAP and invests $500 million in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program. RESULTS strongly supports Sen. Gillibrand’s amendment and urges senators to vote in favor of it if and when it comes up for a vote. As the Senate Farm Bill debate approaches, we want to start building support for the Gillibrand amendment now with calls to Senate aides, urging them to cosponsor the amendment now and, of course, support it on the Senate floor. She has circulated a “Dear Colleague Letter” in the Senate asking for cosponsors.
TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to contact agriculture aides from both your Senate offices. You can find their names and contact information on the Elected Officials page of the RESULTS website and can use Feeding America’s toll-free number (877) 698-8228 to call. When calling, tell the aides you want to discuss the upcoming Farm Bill and protecting SNAP. Tell them that Sen. Gillibrand of New York will be offering an amendment to restore $4 billion in SNAP cuts in the bill and that you want your senator to cosponsor that amendment. Offices should contact Kathryn Tanner in Sen. Gillibrand’s office ([email protected]) to co-sponsor the amendment. Also ask the aide to tell your senator to oppose any other amendments that would cut SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs.
Here are a few facts about SNAP to help in your conversations:
- SNAP currently serves more than46 million per month, half of them children.
- SNAP has been very effective in helping low-income families during the Great Recession; it lifted4 million people out of poverty in 2010
- For many low-income Americans, SNAP is the only form of assistance they are eligible to receive
- SNAP benefits are very modest, about $1.50 per meal per person; this will drop to $1.30 per meal in 2013
- SNAP enrollment will decrease as the economy strengthens
We have created a new resource that can also provide you talking points for these conversations. Once you have talked directly to your senators’ offices, amplify your message by taking the May Action (or taking it again!), calling on Congress to protect SNAP and other key safety net programs. You can send a letter to the editor using our quick and easy online media alert. Or, take it a step further and use our SNAP Editorial Memo in a meeting with your local newspaper (this is also helpful for conversations with congressional aides).
Our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls continue to be a success. These 30-45 minute calls are a fun and easy introduction to RESULTS and our work. Attendees find the calls informative and helpful. As a result, we have connected new activists to RESULTS groups around the country and have also generated leads for starting new groups. If you know anyone interested in learning more about RESULTS (or if you’re interested yourself), please urge them to register for our next RESULTS Introductory Call TOMORROW NIGHT, June 6 at 9:00 pm ET. You can register at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet. If you cannot make tomorrow’s call, our next call will be Friday, June 15 at 1:00 pm ET.
Also, remember that our June RESULTS Free Agents calls are just around the corner. The calls are designed to support activists in areas where there is no active RESULT group. Anyone taking action (or who wants to begin doing so) is welcomed to join in. The global poverty Free Agents call is Monday, June 18 at 8:00 pm ET (contact [email protected] with questions). The U.S. poverty Free Agents call is Tuesday, June 19 at 9:00 pm ET (contact [email protected] with questions). To participate in either call, dial (218) 486-1611, passcode 7378587# (RESULTS#).
The House will again be on recess next week (June 9-17). This is a great opportunity to follow up on last month’s media action and this month’s tax credit action by meeting with legislators one-on-one urging them to reject recent attempts to balance the budget on the backs of low-income Americans. Use our Activist Toolkit for tips on requesting meetings. If you cannot get a meeting, ask if your members of Congress are holding any town hall meetings during the recess; if they are, plan to attend and ask a question. You can find schedulers’ names and contact info on our Elected Officials page.
In your meetings, be sure to take our 2012 Request and Background sheets covering low-income tax credits, the Saver’s Bonus, and Head Start and child care. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you and your group prepare for your meeting(s).
Finally, note that both the House and Senate will be on recess the week of July 2. If you cannot get meetings or attend town halls during next week’s recess, contact their offices to schedule a meeting that week. Note that many members of Congress will be attending local Independence Day parades that week; this is a great opportunity to catch them for a quick conversation before or after a parade.
Several weeks ago, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8) challenged House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) to hold a vote on extension of the Bush tax cuts for middle class Americans. While this is nothing new — the political rhetoric over extending the Bush tax cuts will only get more heated throughout the summer and fall — there was a notable shift in what she proposed that has many people concerned.
President Obama has been arguing that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy — households earning over $250,000 per year — should be allowed to expire. Many politicians and advocacy groups support this proposal, including RESULTS. Unfortunately, Minority Leader Pelosi has decided to move the goalpost in her challenge to Speaker Boehner, arguing that the dividing line for tax cuts should be $1 million, not $250,000. As many have noted, this shift is almost as reckless as the adoption of Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that by moving the cutoff to $1 million, nearly half of the revenue from letting the high-end Bush tax cuts expire would be lost ($366 billion). In addition, because of the progressive nature of the income tax code, millionaires would still receive a large tax cut from her proposal by paying lower taxes on their income between $250,000 and $1 million.
If the Pelosi proposal were to become law, it would have a huge impact on the budget and in particular, services that help low-income Americans. The Bush tax cuts blew a $2 trillion hole in the budget and are the primary driver of our long-term budget deficits. As we have seen over the last 18 months, Congress refuses to muster the courage to undo this damage by raising revenue (despite taxes for all Americans being at their lowest in decades). Instead, Congress has proposed radical spending cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, Head Start, child care, tax credits, and other services as a means to reduce the deficit. Minority Leader Pelosi’s proposal would only make matters worse by creating even more pressure to cut these programs to offset the lost revenue.
Groups have already started pushing back at the Pelosi proposal and President Obama has reiterated his commitment to allowing the tax cuts for people earning more than $250,000 to expire. We will keep you updated on the progress of this debate and any further actions you can take to protect anti-poverty programs.
Congratulations on Strong Media Month! Congratulations to all our U.S. poverty volunteers who submitted letters to the editor in May urging Congress to reject draconian budget cuts to safety net services. RESULTS volunteers got seven letters published in May, with many more submitted. This brings our total for the year to seventeen media pieces (15 LTEs, 2 op-eds); not bad at all considering May was our first media action of the year. Because some papers delay in publishing letters, some letter may still get published. If your letter does get published, please let us know. If your letter is not published, consider submitting it to another paper (i.e. weekly or suburban papers, national papers, another paper in your state). Finally, if have not submitted a letter yet, you can use our online LTE alert to send one in today.
Invite People in DC to the June 13 RESULTS “Ending Poverty” Happy Hour. How can a mojito, an IPA, and a Chardonnay fight poverty in the U.S. and around the world? By having a drink at Mad Hatter next week in Washington, DC. For every drink purchased during happy hour on June 13, Mad Hatter will donate $1 to benefit RESULTS’ advocacy work. Help make this a success by attending yourself (if you’re in DC) and by telling your friends, relations, and congressional aides in DC to stop by and have a drink for the end of poverty! Wednesday, June 13, 5:30-7:30 pm ET, at the Mad Hatter, 1321 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036. RSVP at: http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSBarNight.
Plan to Attend June 27 Training on Using State Data in Lobby Meetings. RESULTS and the National Priorities Project (NPP) are teaming up for a conference call training in June to help you use NPP tools to get state and local data for meetings with members of Congress. This data will be helpful in your meetings at the International Conference or in-district meetings back home. We hope you will join us for this informative call. The call is Wednesday, June 27 at 8:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (866) 503-7713 and enter passcode 4091413579.
Interested in improving your advocacy skills? There’s no better way than joining us for the advocacy boot camp at this year’s RESULTS International Conference! Whether you’re an experienced advocate or new to advocacy, there are sessions for you. From developing media skills to challenges you might face when lobbying, you’ll learn it at the conference.
Also, it’s time once again to submit nominations for the Cameron Duncan Media Award. This award, which will be presented at the conference, is given each year to a journalist who has demonstrated outstanding reporting of issues related to poverty and hunger. The award honors Cameron Duncan, a former associate executive director of RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund 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. 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].
Finally, if you are coming to the conference to lobby on U.S. poverty issues, please contact Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson to schedule a call to prepare you for your individual lobby meetings before you come to Washington. These lobby prep calls have proven very successful the last few years. Ideally, Meredith would like to meet with everyone in your group coming to the conference on the same call. During this Saturday’s conference call, coordinate with your group on times you could meet via conference call with Meredith and then contact her at [email protected] or (202) 783-7100, x.116 to set it up.
(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)
Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House recesses, June 9-17, June 30 – July 8. Senate recess, July 2 – 6. Request face-to-face meetings.
Wednesday, June 6: RESULTS Introductory Call. 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the call.
Saturday, June 9: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. (888) 409-6709. Listen to previous conference calls online.
Friday, June 15: Last day to register for the RESULTS International Conference at the regular conference rate ($225). $75 late fee is added after this date.
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.
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:
- Meredith Dodson, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns, (202) 783-7100, x116, [email protected]
- Jos Linn, Senior Associate, U.S. Poverty Campaigns, (515) 288-3622, [email protected]
- Jenny Martin, U.S. Poverty Grassroots Organizer, New England, (413) 774-1707, [email protected]
- Ann Beltran, U.S. Poverty Volunteer Lobbyist, [email protected]
- Tavia Benjamin, 2012 Emerson Hunger Fellow, [email protected]
- Allison Burkett, 2012 Emerson Hunger Fellow, [email protected]
- Cindy Changyit Levin, Grassroots Development Associate, (773) 236-7758, [email protected]
The RESULTS Domestic 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.