U.S. Poverty Weekly Update October 30, 2012

October 30, 2012

Why would good leaders choose to increase poverty? We should tell them to apply the ancient principle: first, do no harm. Make the recent improvements in the EITC and the CTC permanent.

—    RESULTS South Central PA volunteer Bruce Kessler in an op-ed in the Chambersburg Public Opinion (10/24/12)

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

RESULTS offers condolences to all those who lost loved ones because of Hurricane Sandy. We hope for a safe recovery and quick return to normalcy for all those impacted by the storm. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Please note that all RESULTS offices are closed today as a result of the hurricane, as are all congressional offices in Washington, DC.

Got Two minutes? Create a Facebook Event for your Upcoming Outreach Meeting (October Action)

The RESULTS November 10 conference call/outreach event with Barbara Ehrenreich is less than two weeks away! In addition to personally inviting people to attend your local event, Facebook can also be a useful tool in reaching out to people. You can create a “Facebook Event” for your local outreach event and then invite your Facebook friends to attend. While you’ll want to personally confirm the attendance of anyone who responds, this is great way to get an informal head count for your event and get the word out to a broader audience. Use this social media tool to create an even more successful event!

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and create a Facebook event for your local outreach meeting. To help you, RESULTS has created a November 10 Outreach Event Facebook page on the RESULTS Facebook page. Use the information from our event page to create your own Facebook Event and invite people to come. Just follow these five easy steps:

  1. Open your Facebook page and click on “Events” (left-hand side of page).
  2. Click on the “Create Event” icon at the top of the page.
  3. Fill in the information about the name, date, time, location, and a brief description of your event under “Details” and hit “Create”. (Note: to make it easy, copy the description from the RESULTS Outreach Event page and paste it into yours)
  4. Once your event is created, click on the “Invite Friends” icon at the top of the page and start inviting Facebook friends to attend.
  5.  Check back frequently to see who has responded to your invitation.

You can find the additional inviting resources on our National Outreach Event page, including a National Outreach Flyer and sample e-mail invitation. Also see the October Action for tips on having a successful outreach meeting. If you need any assistance with these resources or help with your inviting efforts, please contact the Jos Linn or Meredith Dodson on the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff.

Got Ten Minutes? Plan your Agenda for Your Outreach Meeting (October Action)

Obviously, priority number one for your upcoming outreach event is inviting people to come. Priority number two is having a successful meeting. For that, you need a strong agenda that engages your audience. Once your invitations have gone out, start planning your meeting agenda. If you are doing your outreach meeting as part of the November 10 conference call, a good chunk of your agenda is already done. Therefore, you can build your agenda around the call. Here are some items you should consider including in your meeting agenda:

  • Introductions. Make sure everyone knows who you and your group are and why you volunteer for RESULTS. If time, let participants introduce themselves and tell why they came.
  • Overview of RESULTS. The conference call will include a little information about RESULTS. Plan to include more about our work and in particular, actions and successes your local group has accomplished.
  • How your local group works. Briefly explain the structure of your group, when and where you meet, and the kinds of actions you typically take. Paint a picture of what it’s like to volunteer with your group.
  • Action component. If you have time, have people write letters at the meeting. Download and print copies of the Tax Credit Outreach Action sheet, urging Congress to protect the EITC and CTC. Be sure to have pens and paper available for your letters.
  • Invitation to participate. This is the most important part of your meeting — the “ask.” Remind people of why you volunteer with RESULTS and invite them to get involved with your group. For those who are not willing to formally join the group, you can ask them to be part of your local action network and/or become donors to RESULTS. You can download a RESULTS participation form from the RESULTS website.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to plan out the agenda for your outreach meeting. Decide if your local component will before or after the November 10 conference call with Barbara Ehrenreich (or both). See the October Action for helpful information in planning and executing your event, as well as our National Outreach Event page for additional resources. If you need planning your agenda, please contact the Jos Linn or Meredith Dodson on the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff.

Got Twenty Minutes? Keep Inviting People to and Following Up about Your Outreach Meeting (October Action)

The next two weeks will be the most important in making your outreach event successful. If you haven’t started inviting people to attend your event, please do so this week. People’s schedules fill up quickly and you want to make sure your event is included. Make that call, send that e-mail, send that Facebook invitation inviting your friends and family to attend. Also, be sure to invite people in other parts of the country to participate. This is truly a “national” outreach event so if you know someone somewhere who might be interested in the call, send them an invitation. Call and send them our National Outreach Flyer or Facebook invitation.

If you have started inviting, this is the week to follow up. Did the person get your invitation? Do they have any questions? Are they familiar with the location of your meeting? May you count them as attending? We cannot say it enough — your relationships with the people you invite are what make the difference. Quite simply, people are more receptive to someone they know and trust.

A helpful tip is to set a goal and then write it down. When we articulate a specific goal for ourselves, we are more likely to take the steps to achieve it. As you work on your contact list this week, set a goal for how many people you will personally be in touch with. And if you call someone and don’t get an answer, don’t be content with just leaving a message. Call them back until you connect with them in person. Think about how many calls many of you have gotten this election season about voting. It’s the same concept; campaigns keep calling until they talk to you personally because they know it increases the likelihood that you’ll go out and vote.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to contact and/or follow up with invited guests for your upcoming outreach meeting. See the October Action for tips on making your outreach meeting a great success. Also, don’t forget to review our outreach laser talk for talking points as you talk to people about your event. We also have helpful resources on our National Outreach Event page. Please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff for any help you need.

Also, be sure to invite your members of Congress, as well as state and local policymakers, and their staff to attend your event. This is great opportunity to educate them on our issues, especially in anticipation of the Lame Duck session after the election, as well as build a stronger connection to their offices. You can find contact information on our Elected Officials page.

Remind Members of Congress What’s At Stake for Working Families

Members of Congress will be home for another two weeks. This is a crazy time because of the election but it’s also an important time to be talking to them. As noted last week, big decisions on taxes, the budget, and the deficit could be made in November and December. We need to be educating lawmakers about what’s at stake in the Lame Duck and beyond. Issue number one for RESULTS is the fate of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). For a brief refresher, here is why this issue is so important.

In 2009, both the EITC and CTC were expanded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARRA expanded the EITC by reducing the “marriage penalty” for low-income married couples. Before ARRA, if two EITC-eligible workers got married, they could lose all or part of their EITC simply from the act of marrying (because their income was combined for EITC eligibility). ARRA allowed low-income married couples to earn more income before losing their EITC. ARRA also increased the EITC for families with three or more children (they previously received the same credit as family with two children).

ARRA also made some significant changes to the CTC. Before 2008, a working parent had to earn over $12,000 per year to qualify for the credit. Parents below that amount were deemed “too poor” to qualify. ARRA reduced that threshold to $3,000. As the Washington Post noted over the weekend, over 90 percent of the benefits from this change went to the bottom 60 percent of the population, with the majority going to the bottom 20 percent. In other words, the benefits are going to those who need them most.

These changes have had a profound impact. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has shown, the EITC and CTC lifted 9.2 million people out of poverty, more than half of them children in 2010. The ARRA changes alone accounted for 1.6 million of those people. Unfortunately, Congress made these improvements temporary and now scheduled to expire in December (note that changes to the CTC enacted in 2001 will also expire, i.e. cutting the credit from $1,000 to $500 and eliminating refundability). CBPP estimates that if these changes expire, over 13 million working families will be adversely affected, including over 25 million children. With no action, millions of children and families risk balling back or deeper into poverty. We cannot let that happen.

TAKE ACTION:  Request face-to-face meetings with your representative and senators during the election recess. You can find a sample meeting request on the RESULTS website or use our online request form. Also, check candidate websites and call local offices to find out if they have any public appearances over the next two weeks. You can find contact information for Elected Officials as well as information on candidates on the RESULTS website. Once you get a meeting scheduled or if you plan to attend a public event to ask a question, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff to help you plan your agenda and devise the best messaging to use in your meeting.

When talking to them, you want to highlight two important requests:

  1. Make the expiring improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent.
  2. Make sure any deficit reduction framework Congress enacts includes a principle specifically protecting the EITC and CTC from cuts.

See our updated Tax Credit Outreach Action sheet for talking points and the requests. You can use and adapt our updated Tax Credit Laser Talk: Urge Congress to Protect Low-income Tax Credits. If you don’t have time this week to work on getting face-to-face with your member of Congress, use our online alert to tell Congress to protect tax credits for working families.

Contact Congressional Aides about Tax Credits for Working Families

As you work to get face time with your members of Congress, you can supplement your efforts as you wait for your meeting or upcoming town hall event. Calling and getting to know the aide that focuses on tax issues can really hit home about the importance of the EITC and CTC to working families. These aides are the “gatekeepers,” deciding which information is of most importance to their bosses. We want members of Congress coming back to DC in two weeks to a desk full of messages telling them to protect tax credits for working families.

TAKE ACTION: Designate members of your group to call the tax aides for your representative and both senators. You’ll only need to make one call per aide and keep trying until you get them on the phone. You can find contact information for House and Senate DC offices and the names of the tax aides on our Elected Officials page. Use our Tax Credit Outreach Action sheet and Tax Credit Laser Talk for talking points and background. Also, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff if you have any questions or need some coaching before you call.

As for the members of your group not tasked with calling an aide, they should call and leave this message with the receptionist:

My name is _______________ and I live in ___________________. I am calling to urge Sen./Rep. ______________________ to protect low-income working families in our state. The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are vital services for people working hard to support their families in tough economic times. However, if Congress does not act soon, recent, long-overdue improvements to these credits will expire at the end of this year. This will raise taxes on hard working families* who can least afford it. Please urge Sen./Rep. _______________________ to talk to Senate/House leadership and urge them to make the expiring improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent and to specifically protect the EITC and CTC from cuts in any deficit reduction framework.

* For statistics on how many families and children would be impacted in your state, go to: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3850.

If you are pressed for time and cannot call this week, send an e-mail to House and Senate offices urging them to protect working families getting the EITC and CTC. You can use our online e-mail alert to send your message. Be sure to personalize your message.

Note: Because of Hurricane Sandy, congressional offices are closed today; plan to call later this week.

Quick News

#TalkPoverty Starts the Conversation about Poverty. Thank you to everyone who participated in Half in Ten’s #TalkPoverty movement. Although we were not successful in getting a direct question about poverty asked in the recent presidential debates, the effort has still been successful. As of last week, #TalkPoverty reached an audience of more than 500,000 Twitter followers! That’s why we need to keep building the momentum for the #TalkPoverty movement, as lawmakers start making major decisions that will affect struggling families after the election. Keep using the #TalkPoverty hashtag on Twitter and Half In Ten’s Facebook page to share stories, information, photos, and videos from events about how we can reduce poverty and support the policies and programs that we know make a difference.

This Week in Poverty Highlights Harshness of Ryan Budget.  Greg Kaufmann’s “This Week in Poverty” blog at The Nation is now collaborating with Bill Moyers of PBS. In this week’s blog, Kaufmann highlights some of the rhetoric from the campaign trail, in particular from Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI-1). Kaufmann points out while Ryan has been talking about the need to reduce poverty, his House Republican Budget would in fact make things much worse. Kaufmann points out that welfare reform, whose state block-grant structure Ryan touts as a model for restructuring Medicaid and SNAP, has had mixed results at best. In fact, Medicaid, SNAP, the EITC and CTC have proven far more effective in helping low-income Americans than welfare since reform was enacted in 1996. Help push back at these efforts by sending an e-mail today urging Congress to protect the social safety net.

Krugman Highlights Importance of Medicaid. New York Times columnist wrote an important column this weekend about the importance of Medicaid. He points out that despite the political rhetoric to the contrary, Medicaid is a very successful program at providing health care to America’s most vulnerable. It costs less than private insurance and provides much needed health services to children, people with disabilities, and seniors who cannot get coverage elsewhere. He also reminds readers that the majority of Medicaid recipients are working families. Unfortunately, the House or Representatives, as well as Governor Romney, are pushing for major cuts to Medicaid. He concludes: “By any reasonable standard, this is a program that should be expanded, not slashed.” Use our online e-mail alert to tell Congress to protect low-income Americans by protecting Medicaid.

RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: September 21 – November 12. Request face-to-face meetings.

Tuesday, November 6: Election Day.

November 8-9: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Senior Associate Jos Linn traveling to Kansas for the RESULTS Salina outreach meeting (Nov. 8 at 7pm CT) and presentation at Kansas Head Start Association conference (Nov. 9). For more details about these events, contact Jos.

November 9-10: RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson participates in Marianne Williamson’s SISTER GIANT conference in Los Angeles, CA. For more details, contact Meredith.

Saturday, November 10: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call and Outreach Event with Barbara Ehrenreich, 12:30 pm ET. See more about this event on our National Outreach Event page.

Tuesday, November 13: Congress begins Lame Duck session in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, November 13: RESULTS Free Agents group (U.S. Poverty) call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode 7378587# (RESULTS#). For more information, contact Jos Linn at [email protected]. (NOTE: Because of the holidays, this call will be on the second Tuesday of the month in November and December)

Wednesday, November 14: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the call.

Wednesday, November 14: RESULTS Montana Informational Call, 8:00 pm MT. (218) 486-1611, passcode 2883622#. For more details, please contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Thursday and Friday, November 22 and 23: All RESULTS offices closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Wednesday, November 28: RESULTS New Activist Orientation, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP to Lisa Marchal at [email protected]. (this is the first call of a two-call series; the second call is December 12).

Wednesday, December 5: RESULTS New Activist Orientation, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP to Lisa Marchal at [email protected]. (this is the first call of a two-call series; the second call is December 12).

Wednesday, December 12: RESULTS New Activist Orientation, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP to Lisa Marchal at [email protected]. (this is the second call of the two-call series).

Tuesday, December 25 – Tuesday, January 1: All RESULTS offices closed for the end of year holidays.

RESULTS Contact Information

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.

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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