U.S. Poverty Weekly Update October 22, 2013

October 22, 2013

Children do not vote, making them an easy target for spending cuts. We need to speak for them.

 – Vic and Kay Streufert, RESULTS Lindsborg (KS) volunteers in an October 22 letter to the editor in the Salina Journal

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Got Two Minutes? Send a Letter to the Editor about Protecting SNAP (October Action)

Now that the government shutdown is over and a default over our nation’s debt has been postponed for a few months, Congress is turning back to its regular order of business. One of the first things the House and Senate will be a new Farm Bill, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). President Obama has made passing a Farm Bill one of his top three priorities before the end of the year.

With the House contemplating deep cuts to SNAP (the Senate is proposing a smaller cut but a cut nonetheless), it is imperative that we keep the pressure on them to protect and strengthen SNAP in any final Farm Bill. Remember, beginning next week, all SNAP recipients will see their benefits cut as the increase in benefits under 2009’s Recovery Act abruptly ends. This equates to a $36 cut per month for a family of four, right before the holidays. For Congress to contemplate deeper cuts to SNAP on top of this cut shortsighted and wrong. Be sure to let them know what you think.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send a letter to the editor to your local paper urging your members of Congress to protect and strengthen SNAP. Use our online LTE action alert to send your letter today.

Got Ten Minutes? Pick Up that Phone and Call an Editorial Writer to Pitch Your Editorial (October Action)

This month, RESULTS volunteers are working to generate media about protecting SNAP from deep cuts in the Farm Bill. Media plays an integral role in advocacy and can have a significant impact on policymakers as they work to finalize Farm Bill legislation. As you know, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  faces $40 billion in cuts from the House and you can bet that many House negotiators will push their Senate colleagues to accept that number or one close to it. We cannot let this happen. We can push back at these efforts though the media and send a message to senators to hold the line and protect SNAP.

One of the most important tools in media advocacy is the editorial (the paper itself takes a position on an issue). Many people consider working to get an editorial published very difficult. But when you think about it, it’s actually easier than you think. First, you don’t have to write anything. For most of us, the hardest thing about media is putting pen to paper. With an editorial, you don’t need to do that. Your job is simply to convince an editorial writer to write the piece. That’s their job. Second, it’s just like your legislative advocacy. For many RESULTS volunteers, asking a member of Congress or staff person to take action is almost second nature. You research what you want to say, you practice it, then you make the call. Pitching an editorial is the same. The only difference is your audience (writer) and your request (write the editorial).

What’s holding you back? Make the call today. To help you, we have created a SNAP editorial memo in your pitch to editorial writers. It has all the facts about the proposed cuts to SNAP, information about SNAP’s success, and arguments for why we need to protect the program. Download the memo and use it to prepare for your pitch to your local editorial writer. Remember the worst that can happen is that the writer says no. If that happens, use the memo to draft an op-ed and submit it. Two birds, one memo.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to pick up the phone and call an editorial writer to ask him/her to write a piece about protecting and strengthening SNAP. Designate one person in your group to  take the lead for making the pitch to a particular paper. Download our SNAP editorial memo to help you prepare for your call. In addition, the October Action has talking points about SNAP and tips for editorial pitches, as does our October 8 Weekly Update. Also, use our October Laser Talk for guidance; it is a sample conversation with an editorial writer. Our Media Guide provides contact information for media outlets by state. And as always, please contact RESULTS staff if you need help brainstorming media “hooks,” crafting your argument, or practicing a call.

Got Twenty Minutes? Contact Agriculture Aides about Protecting SNAP in Farm Bill Negotiations

On October 28, the Farm Bill conference committee is scheduled to meet. The conference committee is made up of key members of the House and Senate who will negotiate the final bill. These negotiations are very important – they provide us the last opportunity to shape Farm Bill policy and in particular, the future of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Assuming the conference committee comes to agreement, this agreement, called “conference report” cannot be changed; it simply goes to the full House and full Senate for yes or no votes. Therefore, whatever policy the conference committee decides regarding SNAP is the final word.

We now know who these negotiators will be (see the full list in the Take Action section below). We want as many people as possible weighing in with these offices. This means taking advantage of your relationships with agriculture aides you’ve gotten to know through e-mails, letters, calls, and meetings. If you haven’t gotten to know your ag aide yet, this is the perfect time to start. If your member of Congress is on the Farm Bill conference committee, call the agriculture aide and ask him/her to tell his/her boss to protect and strengthen SNAP in the final Farm Bill. If your member of Congress is not on the conference committee, ask the agriculture aide to urge his/her boss to tell Reps. Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson (for House members) or Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Thad Cochran (for Senators) to protect and strengthen SNAP in the final Farm Bill.

Help maintain food security for millions of Americans by making the case for protecting SNAP in the Farm Bill.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to contact the agriculture aide for your House and Senate members about SNAP and the Farm Bill. For each office, have someone in your group contact the ag aide and ask him/her to have his/her boss weigh in with Reps. Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson (for House members) or Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Thad Cochran (for Senators) about protecting and strengthening SNAP in Farm Bill negotiations. If your member of Congress is on the conference committee (see list below), ask the aide to urge his/her boss to work to protect and strengthen SNAP in the negotiations. The October Action has talking points and please contact RESULTS’ Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) for help in preparing for your calls.

Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee Members: Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI; Agriculture Committee Chair), Thad Cochran (R-MS; Agriculture Committee Ranking Member), John Boozman (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Max Baucus (D-MT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

House Farm Bill Conference Committee Members: Reps. Frank D. Lucas (R-OK-3; Agriculture Committee Chair), Collin Peterson (D-MN-7; Agriculture Committee Ranking Member), Martha Roby (R-AL-2), Mike D. Rogers (R-AL-3), Rick Crawford (R-AR-1), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), Jim Costa (D-CA-16), Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA-35), Ed Royce (R-CA-39), Steve Southerland (R-FL-2), Austin Scott (R-GA-8), Rodney Davis (R-IL-13), Steve King (R-IA-4), Jim McGovern (D-MA-2), Dave Camp (R-MI-4), Sandy Levin (D-MI-9), Tim Walz (D-MN-1), Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7), Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5),  Glenn Thompson (R-PA-5), Tom Marino (R-PA-10), Kristi Noem (R-SD-AL), Sam Johnson (R-TX-3), K. Michael Conaway (R-TX-11), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX-19), Filemon Vela (D-TX-34), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1).

Shutdown Over, Crisis Averted… For Now

Last week, with only hours to spare before a U.S. government default on our debt, Congress averted the crisis and reopened the government. A bill negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) passed the Senate, 81-18, on October 16. The bill was passed by the House 285-144 later that day and signed into law by President Obama that evening. While we applaud those members of Congress who came together to reopen the government and avoid default, it’s important to remember that this only a temporary reprieve.

The law reopens the government by passing a “continuing resolution” (CR) that funds the government at sequestration levels (which RESULTS does not support) through January 15, 2014. It also extends the “debt ceiling” until February 7, 2014. The deal also sets up a budget commission of House and Senate leaders to negotiate a final budget for FY 2014. Their deadline to come up with a plan is December 13. While the commission has the authority to make changes to entitlement programs, discretionary programs, and tax policy, few expect a “grand bargain” to  deal with long-term deficits to be reached. It is hoped that some of the sequestration cuts, which have had a significant impact on Head Start programs, will be undone but it is too early to tell if and by how much that will happen. If no deal is reached by December 13, the commission’s work ends. The law also includes back pay for federal workers furloughed during the shutdown and income verification procedures for people receiving subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

RESULTS Outreach – No Better Time to Introduce People to RESULTS

Key decisions about the future of SNAP, investments in early childhood education, global nutrition funding, and other policies designed to combat poverty will be made in the coming weeks and months. This is a perfect time to get involved with RESULTS. If we hope to create a world free of poverty, we need more people taking action. RESULTS helps people create the political will to end poverty. Why not introduce someone you know to this important work?. It’s very easy to do.

RESULTS hosts bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls to help introduce our work to new people. If you know someone who would make a great advocate, someone looking to make a difference, or someone who is looking for a new activity, invite them to one of these calls. They last 30-45 minutes and provide you a brief overview of RESULTS and how to get involved in your local community. All are welcome to join in. Our next RESULTS Intro Call is this Friday, October 25 at 1:00 pm ET. Simply go to www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/ to sign up. If you cannot make the next call, you can register for another upcoming call that fits your schedule.

We are also proud to announce that our newest RESULTS promotional video Everyday Heroes 2013 is now available on our website. Forward it to people you know and urge them to watch; it’ll be the best seven minutes of their week. Then urge them to sign up for an Intro Call.

RESULTS staff are also actively working to expand our presence in other parts of the country. This past week, RESULTS Grassroots Expansion Associate Myrdin Thompson, and former RESULTS U.S. Poverty consultant Katja Kline, presented several workshops at the Fall Bonner Congress Meeting at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. From this, twenty-seven students from across the country expressed interest in learning more about RESULTS and engaging others from their community in our work. It was a great conference and we look forward to working with these change agents going forward. We also want to extend our thanks to Josh Blair and the entire Bonner Foundation staff for their hospitality and support, and to Rhodes College for sharing their campus and space.

Myrdin Thompson is also working with new volunteers in Albuquerque, NM, Lexington, KY, and Louisville, KY. Myrdin is also working with leaders from Circles USA to start a new group in Indianapolis, IN on November 21. If you know anyone in these or other areas, please contact Myrdin at [email protected].

Finally, New England Organizer Zahara Heckscher continues her outreach to people in New England, in particular New Hampshire and Maine. She is heading to New Hampshire this weekend to work on starting a group there. If you know people in NH or ME who might be interested in RESULTS, please contact Zahara at [email protected] or (202) 489-8908.

Quick News

Submit Your Stories about Poverty Programs that Help. Fifty years ago this January, our nation came together to declare a War on Poverty. President Lyndon B. Johnson put our national commitment into reality with the creation of Head Start and other programs serving low-income families. Since then, we’ve seen the importance of these services in cutting poverty and creating greater economic opportunity. While we recognize that there is still more work to do to better serve low-income families, some policymakers are already looking to use the anniversary as another opportunity to make the case that essential programs helping families pay bills and put food on the table should be cut. It’s important that we be ready for the national conversation that will ensue in January around this important anniversary. To help, our friends and Half in Ten and the Coalition on Human Needs are working to collect and deploy personal stories from those who have been helped by anti-poverty services—or have helped others or seen the benefits in their community—with the media and policymakers. Support this effort by submitting your own story or submitting a story on behalf of someone else.

Tell Others about your ACA Success. The health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act has been open since October 1. While there have been glitches with the national exchange website, they have not deterred hundreds of thousands of Americans to apply for affordable health insurance, many for the first time. The Obama Administration reported over the weekend that 476,000 insurance applications have been filed since the exchanges went online. To help promote the ACA and helped people get enrolled, our friends and Families USA are asking people to share their ACA success stories. If you’ve used the ACA exchanges or know someone who has, go to http://www.mycoveragestory.org/ to submit your story today.

Watch Powerful Video about Wealth Inequality. The wealth gap between the rich and everyone else continues to grow, which poses a threat to our economic and social stability as a nation. To get a powerful picture of the U.S. wealth gap, as well as perceptions about wealth in America, see this video from utrend.tv. After watching it, use our online action to help narrow the gap by urging Congress to protect tax credits for working families in tax reform.

Please Vote for Next Grassroots Board Member

RESULTS is electing a new Grassroots Board Member to serve on the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board. Grassroots Board Members serve for a term of three years, and represent the volunteer body on the Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee of the Board of RESULTS and REF. The three nominees are Frank Gilbert of Louisville, KY, Roger Hudson of Anchorage, AK, and Lydia Pendley of Santa Fe, NM. You can read their candidate bios on the RESULTS website. All active RESULTS volunteers are eligible to vote. You must vote by November 6. Help shape the future of RESULTS – vote for the Grassroots Board Member today

RESULTS Fundraising Update

LOTR Virtual Villains Challenge registration closing 10/31. Don't miss your chance to earn real J.R.R. Tolkien-themed medals for running 5K, 10K, or 13.1 mile challenges anytime and anywhere. $25 per medal or $70 for all three with proceeds going to RESULTS Educational Fund. Register at www.tinyurl.com/LOTRVillains by October 31.

Join RESULTS for a Virtual Thanksgiving Feast! For the month of November, invite your friends to give online and help those suffering from hunger during a time of plenty. Visit www.tinyurl.com/2013RESULTSThanks to register a personal fundraising page. Contact Cindy at [email protected] for help.

Upcoming fundraising events. Please invite people you know to attend:

RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House: November 12-21; Senate: November 28 – December 1. Request face-to-face meetings.

Friday, October 25: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.

Wednesday, November 6: Voting ends for RESULTS Grassroots Board member. Vote today.

Saturday, November 9: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Monday, November 18: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 1:00 pm ET. (267) 507-0370, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #).

Tuesday, November 19: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 9:00 pm ET. (267) 507-0370, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #).

RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1101 15th St NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005. 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 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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