Domestic Weekly Update April 26, 2011

A spending cap is an effort to deny our real problems, not to fix them. It allows politicians to sound tough and solutions-oriented without forcing them to actually develop any solutions.

— Ezra Klein in an April 15 Washington Post Blog Post

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Participate in RESULTS “To Catch a Dollar” Webinars This Week; Encourage Newcomers to Join New Activist Orientation

Our “To Catch a Dollar” work continues this week with several events designed to educate veteran and new RESULTS volunteers about advocacy, the budget, and RESULTS itself. Yesterday, Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson, as well as members of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, hosted a webinar on microfinance and asset building strategies in the U.S. The webinar was very informative and touched on RESULTS’ Economic Opportunity for All campaign and the Saver’s Bonus. If you missed the webinar, we will have a recording along with the PowerPoint presentation available soon. Check our “To Catch a Dollar” Resources page for details.

RESULTS will be hosting two more webinars this week and we urge you to sign up and participate. This afternoon, April 26 at 5:00 pm ET, Meredith will be doing an Advocacy 101 webinar that will focus on advocacy strategies that can make a difference, how to communicate with policymakers, and present resources and tools that can be used to approach them. It’s not too late to register today.

Then tomorrow, April 27 at 2:00 pm ET, Meredith will host a webinar around The Budget Debate. This webinar will focus on broader budget issues and how some deficit reduction proposals will actually make it harder for people in poverty to make ends meet. We are also very pleased that Debbie Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, will join us for this discussion. Debbie and CHN are great allies with RESULTS and we look forward to her insights on how to best navigate the current budget climate. This presentation will help make our actions in April even more powerful and effective, so be sure to register today for the webinar.

Immediately following tomorrow’s webinar, join RESULTS for a “Twitter Party” at 3 p.m. ET, where we’ll discuss the issues raised in the week’s webinars as well as the “To Catch a Dollar” themes, including poverty and financial literacy. Use the hashtag #TCAD and be sure to follow @tocatchadollar (

Next, urge new activists to your group to attend RESULTS’ New Activist Orientation series. This is a series of conference call trainings designed to provide an easy and fun orientation of RESULTS to new activists. The next call in this series is this Wednesday 27 at 9:00 pm ET. See call-in details below.

Finally, we want to congratulate the Santa Fe, NM RESULTS group for a special event they help last week. On Monday, April 18, RESULTS-Santa Fe and our local Whole Foods hosted a post-“To Catch a Dollar” gathering at the Whole Foods Community Room. Among the guests were representatives from local and global microcredit organizations, Santa Fe’s Mayor, staff from our U.S. Senate offices, and other organizations and individuals involved with building assets and ending poverty advocacy. The RESULTS volunteers used the meeting to get acquainted with each other’s work, spread the word about the “To Catch a Dollar” campaign (including the RESULTS webinars), and to begin discussion of advocacy needed in Santa Fe and our state/nation to transform how poverty is seen and addressed. To learn more about their April 18 event and their plans going forward, see the post from Lydia Pendley and Kitty Sherlock on the RESULTS Blog. Thank you and congratulations, Santa Fe!

TAKE ACTION: Continue your “To Catch a Dollar” work by:

  • Registering for the RESULTS webinars. Advocacy 101 today at 5:00 pm ET and the Budget Debate tomorrow at 2:00 pm ET.
  • Joining the Twitter Party after the April 27 webinar at 3:00 pm ET.
  • Contacting persons who expressed interest in RESULTS at your local “To Catch a Dollar” screening. Invite them to your next meeting and provide more information about RESULTS to them. See our “To Catch a Dollar” Resources page for follow-up resources.
  • Inviting new activists to participate in our spring New Activist Orientation series. The calls are April 13 and 27, and May 11 and 25 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, call (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the series or get more information by contacting Lisa Marchal. And remember if you missed the April 13 call, you can still join the series.

Keep Pushing Members of Congress to Support Head Start and Child Care (April Action)

We are one week into the spring recess and members of Congress are already getting an earful from constituents about the proposed FY 2012 budget passed by the House on April 15. ThinkProgress reports that Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of the House budget plan are getting heated questions and even boos at town hall meetings when they try to defend this disastrous budget. These events, as well as what happened to Democrats at town halls in the summer of 2009 during the health reform debate, demonstrate how powerful these meetings can be in shaping the actions and perceptions of members of Congress.

In addition to public events, meeting face-to-face with members of Congress can be just as powerful, if not more so. Just last week, RESULTS volunteers in Spartanburg, SC and Charlottesville, VA met with their representatives about funding for Head Start, Early Head Start , and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in 2012. They made powerful arguments about the importance of these programs and urged them to weigh in with Appropriation Committee members about early childhood funding. In fact, the discussions went so well that both meetings lasted well beyond the scheduled time allotted.

The truth is these actions matter. Sometimes it is easy to get busy or frustrated or disillusioned about the political process and our power as citizens to make a difference. But as RESULTS volunteers have shown time again over the last three decades, citizens can and do make a difference. It only takes one voice to break the silence. We can be that voice again now, as we have been so many times in the past. All we need do is speak up.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your Senate and House offices and request a face-to-face meeting with your senators and representatives during the recess to talk about investing in America’s children. Specifically, meet with them and urge them to fund Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG in FY 2012 at the levels necessary to maintain existing services. Also, contact their offices or check their websites for town hall meetings in your area where you can go and ask a question.

If you cannot meet with members of Congress during the recess, write letters to senators and representatives urging these important investments. Use April Action and April Outreach Action, and April 2011 Laser Talk for talking points, background information, and to encourage others to take action. See also our updated Early Childhood Development PowerPoint presentation for more background.

Sign Up for the RESULTS International Conference TODAY

Have you registered for the 2011 RESULTS International Conference (June 19-21) yet? If you haven’t, do so today. This year’s conference agenda includes pre-conference skill building workshops, a big conference kick-off with Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, education and lobby preparation sessions, Lobby Day meetings with your senators, representatives, and/or their staff on Capitol Hill, and a Lobby Day reception with members of Congress. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of all that?

TAKE ACTION: Get your conference experience started today by:

  1. Registering for the conference online. You only have one week left to get the standard registration fee. After May 3, a $50 charge will be added to your registration. Go to our International Conference page for more information. Please note: We have almost filled our block of rooms at the Four Points Sheraton — register today to ensure your discounted rate.
  2. Donating to the Karen McQuillan Memorial Fund. Whether or not you can come to the conference, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Karen McQuillan Memorial Fund to help others attend. This fund was set up to help those needing financial assistance attend our annual conference. You can make your donation online (write “Karen McQuillan Fund” in the “Other comments” box at the bottom of the donation form) or make a check payable to, and mail to, RESULTS Educational Fund, 750 First St. NE, Ste 1040, Washington, DC 20002, Attn: Cynthia Stancil.
  3. Nominating a journalist for the Cameron Duncan Media Award. The award honors Cameron Duncan, a former associate executive director of RESULTS, and is presented each year to a journalist for outstanding reporting of issues related to poverty and hunger either domestically or worldwide. E-mail your nomination to Blair Hinderliter at [email protected]
  4. Applying for the Campus for Change Program (for college students). This scholarship program covers the full cost for travel, accommodations for four nights hotel, conference registration fee, and other conference costs. Students accepted receive additional advocacy training the Saturday before and Wednesday after the conference. The deadline to register for the program is this Saturday, April 30. Contact Crickett Nicovich ([email protected]) with questions.
  5. Scheduling Your Lobby Meetings. If you are attending the RESULTS conference, contact your House and Senate offices to set up face-to-face meetings while you are there. Our Lobby Day on Capitol Hill is Tuesday, June 21. See our Activist Milestone: Meeting Face-to-Face with Members of Congress for tips on scheduling meetings.
  6. Inviting Members of Congress and Staff to our Lobby Day Reception. Contact your congressional offices are invite your representatives and senators to our Capitol Hill Lobby Day reception on Tuesday, June 21 at 5:45 pm. See our International Conference page for letters you can customize and send as invitations.

Thank you all and we look forward to seeing you in June!

Trojan Horse: The Global Spending Cap and Why It Is Dangerous

Although most of our current focus is on the FY 2012 budget process, there is another important topic that is going to get more attention over the next few weeks. As you know, the House FY 2012 budget proposes block granting Medicaid and SNAP, privatizing Medicare, and substantially cutting the domestic discretionary budget, which includes Head Start and child care programs. These proposals are very unpopular with Americans. However, they could still very well happen as a result of a “global spending cap.”

Essentially, a global spending cap is a limit on the amount of money the government spends each year. This can be a cap on all or parts of federal spending. The proposal getting the most traction right now is the Commitment to American Prosperity Act or “CAP Act” introduced by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Bob Corker (R-TN). The CAP Act would cap all government spending at 20.6 percent of GDP, phased in from 2013 to 2023. Under the Act, as long as government spending is below that amount, there is no problem. However, once the cap is exceeded, automatic procedures would kick in and force immediate across the board budget cuts.

There are several serious problems with this and other spending cap proposals. First, the 20.6 percent of GDP cap is arbitrary and unrealistic. The last time U.S. government spending was 20.6 percent of GDP was when Ronald Reagan was president. Our country is much different than it was in the 1980s. We now have more retirees relying on Social Security and Medicare, with many more retiring in the coming years. We also have skyrocketing health care costs that increase more rapidly than inflation and driving up the cost of Medicare, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We also are coming out of a financial crisis that drove up spending in Medicaid, SNAP, and unemployment insurance because millions of Americans who had lost their jobs, health coverage, and incomes turned to these and other programs for help.

Yet under the CAP Act, between 2013 and 2021 Social Security would be cut by $1.3 trillion, Medicare by $860 billion, and Medicaid by $550 billion. To make matters worse, the CAP Act only mandates spending cuts as a remedy for exceeding the cap. Tax increases to offset spending would not be required and in some proposals, tax increases would be forbidden to offset spending.

This may sound complicated, but the results are easy to imagine. By capping government spending at arbitrary and unrealistic levels, block-granting Medicaid, privatizing Medicare, cutting Social Security, and forcing other disastrous cuts would become unavoidable. In other words, the CAP Act and other proposals like it are a Trojan Horse — back-door attempts to enact the House 2012 budget plan. Unfortunately, the CAP Act proposal is gaining support. Republican leaders are even demanding a spending cap as a condition for voting to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.

There is no question that our long-term debt is a problem that needs to be addressed. But this is the wrong way to do it. We need a balanced approach to our fiscal issues, not proposals that abandon the middle class and working families. Furthermore, members of Congress need to stand up and take responsibility for their actions. It is their job to make the tough decisions about our spending priorities and face the consequences for such decisions. Using budget gimmicks to sneak in a radical agenda is shirking that responsibility.

TAKE ACTION: When contacting senators and representatives (meetings, town halls, calls, letters), still focus your message on opposing the House budget and protecting early child programs like Head Start and child care assistance. However, include in your message your opposition to the House budget plan, including any arbitrary caps on government spending. Tell them spending caps are just back-door attempts to kill Medicare, Social Security, and other important programs that the middle class and working families rely on.

Be sure to attend our Budget Debate webinar tomorrow at 2:00 pm ET to get a broader understanding of the spending cap issue. Register for the webinar today.

Quick News

Hunger Fast Ends. After 27 days of fasting, consuming only water the first week, and juice after that, Tony Hall ended his fast on Easter Sunday, April 24. You can read Tony Hall’s final blog post on the Hunger Fast website. Even though the physical act of fasting has come to an end, the movement is just beginning. With over 36,000 people who joined the Circle of Protection, in addition to the 40 organizations, and 28 Members of Congress, we have a base for these conversations to keep happening. We need the debate to stay focused on not balancing budgets on the backs of the poor. Thank you to all who participated in the Hunger Fast and shared your experiences. Your participation made a difference!

Washington Post Magazine Puts Face on Rural Poverty. For an excellent portrait of rural poverty and what assistance agencies are facing in this economic climate, see this excellent article from the Washington Post Magazine.

Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Tuesday, April 26: Advocacy 101, 5:00 pm ET. RESULTS is hosting this webinar as part of the “To Catch a Dollar” campaign. Register today.

Wednesday, April 27: The Budget Debate, 2:00 pm ET. RESULTS is hosting this webinar as part of the “To Catch a Dollar” campaign. Register today.

Wednesday, April 27: New Activist Orientation series, 9:00 pm ET. Call (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the series (April 13 and 27, May 11 and 25) or get more information by contacting Lisa Marchal. If you missed the first call, you can still join the series.

Tuesday, May 3: Deadline to register for the RESULTS International Conference at normal rate of $250 (rate increases by $50 after May 3).

Monday, May 9: Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity audio conference with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), 4:00 pm ET. This call will offer an insider’s perspective on the latest budget developments in Congress. Reserve your spot by signing up today.

Saturday, May 14: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.

Monday, May 16 – Sunday , May 22: House of Representatives is on recess.

Monday, May 30 – Sunday , June 5: Senate is on recess.

Monday, June 6 – Sunday , June 12: House of Representatives is on recess.

Sunday, June 19 – Tuesday, June 21: RESULTS International Conference at the Four Points Sheraton in Washington, DC.

RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 750 First Street NE, Suite 1040, Washington DC 20002. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.

Domestic Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:

The RESULTS Domestic Update is sent out every Tuesday over 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 domestic campaigns.