August 2015 U.S. Poverty Action

Talk to Lawmakers and Candidates about Ending Poverty during the August Recess

Members of Congress are on recess this month through Labor Day (September 7). This is a great time to make your voice heard on the importance of protecting families who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Meeting face-to-face is the most effective action you can take to influence your members of Congress. If you have already submitted a request for a meeting, contact the scheduler to follow up on your request. If you have not already scheduled a meeting, use the July Action for guidance in making your request.

There are also opportunities for candidate engagement at local town halls and other events (also known as “bird-dogging”) to ensure that the end of poverty will be made a priority by candidates in the 2016 election. After a great International Conference last month, carry that positive energy into the August recess and make the most of face-to-face meetings, town halls, and candidate events.

EITC/CTC Laser Talk for Face-to-Face Meetings and Town Halls

Engage: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) help hardworking families make ends meet; they lifted 9.4 million people out of poverty in 2013, including 5 million children (state data at: http://www.results.org/uploads/files/State_Fact_Sheets_7.6.15.docx).

Problem: Despite the success of these pro-work tax credits, 16 million Americans, including 7.7 million children, could fall into or deeper into poverty if Congress does not save key EITC and CTC provisions.

Inform/Illustrate: Let me tell you my story/a story about the impact of these tax policies [share personal story here]… OR… The EITC and CTC promote work and help working families escape poverty, while making a big impact on the lives of children. Studies show that children in EITC families are healthier, do better in school, and earn more income as adults. Because of this success, these tax credits have long had bipartisan support, from Presidents Reagan and Clinton to House Ways and Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan.

Congressional Call to Action: Will you personally speak to House/Senate tax leaders urging them to make saving the EITC and CTC provisions their top tax priority this year?

Candidate Call to Action: Will you publicly speak about the importance of the EITC and CTC to working families and urge Congress to take action now to save these important provisions?

If you plan to attend a meeting or town hall, contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for help in getting you and your group ready. After any meeting or town hall event, be sure to follow up with the congressional staff and remember to fill out the RESULTS Lobby Report Form at www.tinyurl.com/RESLRF.

How to Make the Most of Town Halls and Candidate Appearances

  1. Find an event to attend. Look at member of Congress and candidate websites, your local newspaper, the local news, and the internet for upcoming events in your area.
  2. Research members of Congress and candidates. Learn about members of Congress at http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/ and Google candidates and your issue.
  3. Go in a group. Increase the chance of getting your questions asked by having others attend the event with you, each with a question to ask.
  4. Get to the event early and spread out. Getting there early will help you get a place near the front, where you are more visible. Also, if you’re in a group, spread out around the room. Politicians usually take questions from all around the room; this will increase your chances of getting called on. If they only take written questions, be sure everyone in your group writes down a similar question.
  5. Be “first, fast, high!” When it’s time for questions, raise your hand immediately, raise it high, and keep it up there.
  6. Ask your question to inform, not speechify. Ask a direct question that informs the audience, but be polite, assertive and concise. See the Laser Talk above as an example. Make sure you ask a specific question that requires a response. If your question is not answered, politely repeat your question asking for an appropriate response.
  7. Maximize your impact after the meeting:
    • Work the rope line: Find the exit where your member of Congress or candidate will leave to introduce yourselves and follow up, or ask an unasked question. Shake their hand with both hands so you can ask your question without them pulling their hand away and moving to the next person.
    • Work the staff: Find their staff and introduce yourself and your issue. Give them your contact information and any additional material you brought with you, including the U.S. Poverty Economic Mobility Request Sheet.
    • Work the media: Find the media to share your issues and whether they were covered or not during the meeting.
  8. Written follow-up: After a few days, send a follow up email or letter to the member of Congress or candidate and the staff person. Remind them that you were at the event and recap your issue and request. If you were not able to ask your question at the event, contact the appropriate staff person to provide information and your request.

We will discuss these strategies and others on the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Campaigns August National Webinar/Conference Call (note different time: Tuesday, August 11, at 8 pm ET).  For additional tips, check out our Activist Toolkit for Town Halls: http://www.results.org/skills_center/milestone_11/