U.S. Poverty Weekly Update March 17, 2015

March 17, 2015

U.S. Poverty Campaigns

Weekly Update | March 17, 2015

“21 percent of U.S. kids are growing up in poverty… Protecting SNAP simply makes sense.”

– RESULTS Bremerton/Kitsap (WA) volunteer Donna Munro in a March 11 letter to the editor in the Kitsap Sun

In This Week’s Update:

Quick Action: Tell Congress to Protect SNAP in the Budget!

Take Action

Got Two Minutes? Call Members of Congress about Protecting SNAP

Today the House released its FY 2016 budget proposal. As expected, it makes some dramatic changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The budget would convert SNAP (as well as Medicaid) into "state flexibility funds," better-known as block grants, and also require deep cuts in  "mandatory" programs (outside of health and retirement programs), which includes SNAP. While the proposal provide no specific details, converting SNAP in to a block grant would be disastrous for millions of children and families. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that last year's House plan to block grant SNAP could have forced 10 million people off the program. Let your members of Congress know that you won’t stand for these arbitrary attacks on hungry families.

TAKE ACTION: To two minutes to call your House and Senate offices to tell them to protect SNAP in budget negotiations. Call the Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask for your representative’s or senator’s office. Once connected, leave this message with the receptionist:

My name is ______________ and I am a constituent from ____________________. I am very concerned that Congress is proposing drastic changes to SNAP (formerly food stamps) which would push millions of children and families deeper into poverty, as evidenced by the new House budget proposal. Right now, one in five American children are at risk of going to bed hungry each night. SNAP lifts millions out of poverty and is one the most efficient programs in government. I urge Rep./Sen. ________________ to tell budget committee members TODAY that he/she opposes cuts to SNAP and will vote against any budget that cuts SNAP or restructures it into a block grant to states. Will you please give him/her that message?

Make sure you call your representative’s and both senators’ offices. If you cannot call today, tell Congress to protect SNAP by using our online e-mail alert.

Got Ten Minutes? Follow Up with Ag Aides about Protecting SNAP (March Action)

As mentioned above, the House released its FY 2016 budget proposal today. The Senate is expected to follow suit later today or tomorrow. There is good news and very bad news in the House proposal. First, while we feared that the proposal would assign budget cuts to the Agriculture Committee, which would essentially force cuts to SNAP, it does not include those assigned cuts. That is a direct of result of advocates like you. As one lawmaker’s staff told RESULTS volunteers a few weeks ago, the 2013 fight over SNAP in the Farm Bill, where the grassroots advocates put pressure on lawmakers to protect the program, has made them leery of fighting over SNAP cuts anytime soon. That is a testament to your passion and determination.

Now the bad news. As with previous House budgets, the plan would convert SNAP into a block grant to states (along with Medicaid). This is a very bad idea. When other programs have been block-granted in the past (e.g. TANF), it has served only one purpose – to reduce spending for the program. Doing this to SNAP would have the same effect – less spending, not less hunger. For a detailed explanation of why block-granting SNAP and Medicaid is wrong, see this RESULTS Blog post. To make matters worse, the House plan would also require an additional $165 billion in cuts to some mandatory programs (which includes SNAP), repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, keep sequestration in place, increases defense spending, and cuts taxes, putting even more strain on vital services to low- and middle-income Americans.

TAKE ACTION: Debate over the House and Senate budget proposals are expected to begin tomorrow. You can still shape the outcome of this process. Take ten minutes to follow up with agriculture aides in your House and Senate offices asking if their bosses have spoken to budget negotiators about protecting SNAP. If they have not done so, urge them to do so today. Specifically, you want your legislators to tell negotiators that they will not support any budget that cuts or restructures SNAP. You can also see a sample conversation with an aide on the RESULTS website. You can find aide names on our Elected Officials page. If you have questions or need coaching for your calls, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]).

Sign Your Local Group to SAVE Letter and Attend CLC Budget Webinar: Once you’ve weighed in with the Ag aides, show your support for a budget that works for all Americans by signing your local RESULTS group onto the SAVE for All letter by this Friday, March 20 (e.g. sign on as “RESULTS Albuquerque” or “RESULTS Houston”). In addition, our friends at the Children’s Leadership Council are hosting a webinar this Friday, March 20 at 3:00 pm ET about the federal budget’s impact on children. This will be an informative webinar and help you in your advocacy; you can sign up for the webinar here.

Got Twenty Minutes? Use New Budget Proposals to Generate Media about SNAP

With the release of the House and Senate budgets this week, you have the opportunity to generate media in support of policies that lift and keep people out of poverty. Newspapers are likely to cover the budget releases over the next few days, giving you a good “hook” for letters to the editor and op-eds. Media is a great way to publicly pressure members of Congress to take action on the issues you care about.

TAKE ACTION: To twenty minutes to draft a letter to the editor about protecting anti-poverty programs in the 2016 federal budget. Look for articles in your local paper this week about the new budget proposals in Congress and write your letter urging them to protect SNAP. You can use the talking points in the March Action to help draft your letters. Be sure to mention your members of Congress by name in your media piece, urging them to stand up for low-income Americans and oppose any budget that would cut services or restructure SNAP. You can also use our SNAP LTE alert to send a letter to the editor right now.

Join RESULTS Media Training Call Tomorrow Night. If you’d like coaching on generating media this month, RESULTS will hold a Media Training tomorrow (Wednesday), March 18 at 8:00 pm ET on how to get letters to the editor and op-eds published. To join the meeting, go to: http://fuze.me/28074102. To join by phone, dial (201) 479-4595 and enter Meeting ID: 28074102. For questions, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

March U.S. Poverty National Meeting Provides Deep Dive into the Budget Process

RESULTS is very grateful to Lindsay Koshgarian of the National Priorities Project (NPP) for speaking with us last Saturday on our March 2015 U.S. Poverty National Meeting. NPP does an excellent job of analyzing the federal budget, explaining how it works, and pointing out the good and bad priorities contained in it.

At out meeting, Lindsay provided a detailed overview of the budget process in very understandable terms and pointed out some of the myths and discrepancies people have about the budget. For example, despite rhetoric to the contrary, she point out that current deficit levels (difference between federal spending and revenue in a given year) are fairly normal for recent history – about 3 percent of gross domestic product. She also discussed the discrepancy between individual tax and corporate tax revenue. Beginning in the 1940s, the share of revenue coming from corporate taxes has dropped from 40 percent to 13 percent now, while revenue from individual taxes has risen to 46 percent. This certainly flies in the face that corporations need more tax breaks. Lindsay also highlighted some important resources NPP has available to help you in your advocacy, including:

  • The State Smart site showing federal funding, federal aid to individuals, federal compensation for federal employees, federal contracts for each state
  • The Tradeoff Tool, which highlights the tradeoffs in funding one program over another and what could you get if you shifted funds (can do this at national, state, and local levels)
  • The Tax Receipt Tool, which shows on average how much of your tax dollars go to specific programs in government, such as the military, SNAP, Medicaid, etc.

In addition to Lindsay’s presentation, we also talked about the current state of SNAP in Congress (discussed above) and Jeff Olson of RESULTS Bernardsville, NJ did an excellent role play of calling an agriculture aide about protecting SNAP in the budget. We also heard shares from REAL Change Fellows Sarah Miller and Reba Carethers about their recent REAL Change trip to DC and Anita Lee of RESULTS San Fernando Valley, CA talked about the RESULTS Southern California regional workday held last month. You can read a summary of the meeting and see the meeting slides on our National Conference Calls page.

Finally, we apologize for the technical glitches that occurred during the meeting, particularly the scrolling of slides and not making a recording of the meeting. While the latter was a simple oversight on our part, we are investigating the cause of the scrolling problem and will have a solution to it by our April 11 meeting.

Upcoming Events – RESULTS Heading South

RESULTS U.S. Poverty Organizer is traveling this week, working to expand RESULTS’ reach and impact in the South. If you know people in the following areas, please invite them to attend one of these events (contact Kristy at [email protected] with questions):

  • Group Start Meeting in Atlanta, GA on March 17 at 6:00 pm ET. This is a community outreach event to start a new RESULTS U.S. poverty group in Atlanta. The meeting is at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Central Branch (One Margaret Mitchell Square) in the 3rd Floor meeting room. It is free and open to the public.
  • Tax Policy Training in North Carolina, March 19 at 6:00 pm ET. RESULTS and MomsRising are hosting “Putting Working Families First: Building a Fair Tax Policy for All", an evening of discussion, training, and taking action to put working families first in NC. This event will also be the start of a new RESULTS U.S. Poverty chapter for the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. The event is at the Full Frame Theatre, 320 Blackwell Street #101 in Durham, NC.

Here are some additional events to keep in mind. You can find these and additional events on the RESULTS Events Calendar.

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: March 28-April 12. Request face-to-face meetings.

RESULTS Free Agents, March 17 at 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm ET. If you live in an area with no active RESULTS U.S. Poverty group, please join our monthly support call online at: http://fuze.me/27491886 or by phone at (201) 479-4595, Meeting ID: 27491886. Contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for details.

RESULTS Media Training, March 18 at 8:00 pm ET. Join us for this training on how to get letters to the editor and op-eds published. To join, go to: http://fuze.me/28074102. To join by phone, dial (201) 479-4595 and enter Meeting ID: 28074102.

RESULTS Introductory Call, March 27 at 1:00 pm ET. If you are new to RESULTS, learn more about our work by joining our next RESULTS Intro Call. The next call is Friday, March 27 at 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another call on the RESULTS website.

Group Start in Colorado Springs, April 9 at 6:00 pm MT. On April 9, we’re holding a community outreach event to start a new RESULTS U.S. Poverty group in Colorado Springs, CO. The event is 6:00 – 8:00 pm MT at Old Colorado City Library, Meeting Room, 2418 West Pikes Peak Ave, Colorado Springs, CO. Contact Kristy Martino at [email protected] for details.

Attend the RESULTS International Conference, July 18-21. Join us for the RESULTS International Conference at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC. This is the biggest event of the year for RESULTS. Register TODAY!

Find a list of the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff with contact information on the RESULTS website.

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