Domestic Weekly Update August 16, 2011
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Keep Pushing for Meetings During the August Recess (August Action)
Thanks to everyone who attended the RESULTS Domestic August 2011 national conference call last week. We especially want thank Melissa Boteach from the Half in Ten campaign for speaking with us on the call. She provided some great resources on accessing personal stories from around the country from people impacted by poverty and the programs we support. Half in Ten also has some other helpful tools, including a list of how you can use these stories in your state, poverty data by congressional district, and analyses of what the debt limit deal means for low-income families and communities of color and rural America. We hope you will use these resources in your meetings this month with members of Congress.
There is much we have to discuss with our elected officials this month. When Congress returns in September, they will need to approve the FY 2012 discretionary spending bills (or a temporary extension) to avoid another government shutdown on October 1. This means our work on protecting Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is front and center. The recent debt deal, the Budget Control Act (BCA), will cut domestic discretionary spending by $7 billion for FY 2012 and remember that domestic discretionary spending was already cut by $38 billion in the FY 2011 budget. Therefore, these early learning programs, and other important services, could again face cuts. We need to remind legislators that cutting Head Start and child care will have a negligible impact on the debt (e.g. eliminating Head Start entirely would reduce the national debt by just 0.05 percent), yet cutting them would have a devastating effect on thousands of low-income families. Is this the role we want our government to play?
We still have three weeks to get out there and talk to our legislators. If you have made a request for a meeting, follow up to see what the status is for your request. Our elected officials have tight schedules and numerous requests to deal with. Stand out by being politely persistent about getting those meetings. As many of you already know, the squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease.
If you cannot get a meeting this month, ask for one the next time your member of Congress is back home. Also, look for opportunities to attend town hall meetings this month to ask a question. On this latter point, remember that this is state and county fair season and members of Congress and candidates typically frequent these events each summer, making it easy to have access to them.
TAKE ACTION: Take the August Action by scheduling a time to meet with members of Congress in person to discuss funding Head Start and child care programs, as well as attend public appearances and town halls. Tell them to talk to House and Senate Labor-HHS appropriators urging them to fund these programs at levels that maintain existing services ($8.1 billion total allotment for Head Start/Early Head Start, $1.2 billion increase for CCDBG in FY 2012). See our August Laser Talk for messaging on this month’s action.
In your meetings, be sure to use resources and stories from the Half in Ten campaign cited above. Also, remember to remind legislators about the short- and long-term benefits early learning investments create for low-income families and society at large. This information can be found on our Head Start page.
If you were not able to attend last week’s conference call, you can listen to it online on the RESULTS website.
This week, several of our partner organizations will be hosting calls/webinars about the recent debt deal and its impact on low-income programs. First, the National Women’s Law Center will be hosting a call TODAY, August 16 at 2:00 pm ET about the debt deal’s impact on early childhood programs. This will be an important call in our work in protecting low-income children and families from reckless budget cuts to Head Start, Early Head Start and child care programs. One of the speakers will be Helen Blank of the NWLC. As many of you recall, Helen spoke at the recent RESULTS International Conference in June about the importance of early learning programs. You can register for this call at the NWLC website.
In addition, our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs will be hosting a webinar called “The Debt Deal Explained” this Thursday, August 18 at 1:00 pm ET. This is designed to be a “non-wonky” overview of the deal and what we can do to influence the deficit reduction process going forward. CHN’s webinars are always informative, inspiring and fun. You can register for this webinar at the CHN website.
We have overviewed the details of the Budget Control Act (BCA) the last few weeks, which you can find summarized on the RESULTS blog. As you know, the BCA creates a “Super Committee” of members of Congress which is tasked with finding $1.2&ndash1.5 trillion in addition budget savings by Thanksgiving. Last week, House and Senate leaders named their choices for this committee. They are: Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX-5) (co-chair), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (co-chair), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-31), Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI-4), Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC-6), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI-6), and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8).
This committee will have tremendous power over the programs we support for the next few months. As such, we feel it prudent to learn more about each one as they begin their work in September. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight several members of the Super Committee each week in this Update so you can get to know them better, and more importantly, devise strategies to influence the decisions they make in the next few months.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) represents the 5th district of Texas, which covers parts of Dallas and areas to the south and east. He was first elected to Congress in 2002. Prior to that he had served as the Texas state director for former Sen. Phil Gramm and later as an owner and/or executive of an investment firm, a data management company, and an electricity retail company. In the House, he serves on the Financial Services Committee and the Republican Study Committee. The latter is a caucus of 170 House Republicans that consistently pushes for dramatic cuts to non-defense programs, as well as various other conservative policy positions. The RSC is generally considered as one of the most conservative caucuses in Congress. He voted in favor of the FY2011 budget that preserved funding for Head Start and child care programs, but also in favor of the House FY 2012 budget (the Ryan Budget). He supported the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which preserved the expansions of the EITC and CTC, but opposed the Affordable Care Act (health care reform). He also voted in favor of the Budget Control Act earlier this month. Congressman Hensarling is married with two children; he is 54 years old. He is up for reelection in 2012.
Sen. Patty Murray (D) represents the state of Washington. She was first elected to the Senate in 1992, becoming Washington State’s first female senator. She is known for her advocacy on education issues (among others), having been a preschool teacher early in her career. She currently serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, including the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which overseas Head Start and child care funding. She also serves on the Senate Budget, Rules and Admin, Veterans’ Affairs, Printing, and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees. She voted in favor of the FY2011 budget that preserved funding for Head Start and child care programs and against the FY 2012 Ryan budget. She also supported the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which preserved the expansions of the EITC and CTC, as well as the Affordable Care Act. Finally, she voted in favor of the Budget Control Act on August 2. Sen. Murray is married with two children; she is 60 years old. She is up for reelection in 2016.
Sen. Max Baucus (D) represents the state of Montana. He was first elected to the Senate in 1978. A trained attorney, he served with the SEC in Washington, DC and as a private practice attorney in Montana before being elected to state office in 1973. Sen. Baucus serves on the Senate Agriculture, Environment and Public Works Committees, and the Joint Committee on Taxation. He is also chairman of the very powerful Senate Finance Committee, overseeing the U.S. tax code and entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare. He played a key role in drafting and passing health reform, i.e. the Affordable Care Act, in 2009-10. He is known as a “dealmaker” and someone who tries to work across party lines. Recently, he voted in favor of the FY2011 budget that preserved funding for Head Start and child care programs and against the FY 2012 Ryan budget. He also supported the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which preserved the expansions of the EITC and CTC. Finally, he voted in favor of the Budget Control Act on August 2. Sen. Baucus is married (his third) with one son from his first marriage; he is 69 years old. He is up for reelection in 2014.
You can learn more about these and other members of the Super Committee on the RESULTS Elected Officials page.
TAKE ACTION: When meeting with your members of Congress this month, tell them to stop balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. Urge them to talk to members of the Super Committee about protect low-income programs like Medicaid, SNAP, the EITC, Head Start, and child care from reckless cuts. They must also include new revenue that makes up at least half of the savings in any plan they devise. In talking with legislators and their staff, it is important to highlight the sharp contrasts between cutting important services vs. ending tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. Use this helpful side-by-side chart from the Center for American Progress to explain these contrasts. Use our updated online call-in alert for messaging to members of Congress about the final debt ceiling bill and using a balanced approach going forward.
It is that time of year again when we begin our annual fall fundraising drive. We have some exciting fundraising events planned by both RESULTS Global and Domestic groups in the coming months. Check out the events we have planned so far:
TAKE ACTION: If you know people in any of these cities, plan to invite them to attend the local event. Please feel free to reach out to the event contact so we can get them in touch with the folks you know. Also, it is not too late to plan your own event for 2011. If you’d like help organizing a RESULTS fundraiser, please contact RESULTS Grassroots Development Associate, Cindy Changyit Levin, at firstname.lastname@example.org. These events are also listed on the RESULTS Events Calendar on the RESULTS website.
RESULTS Groups Continue to Generate Media. RESULTS volunteers are still getting great media pieces published about protecting important anti-poverty programs from harsh budget cuts. Last week, RESULTS Southwestern Pennsylvania volunteer Bruce Kessler got an op-ed published on the importance of early childhood program, followed by two budget letters to the editor from RESULTS Boise volunteers Kathleen Moyer and Janet McClenahan. This brings our total up to 18 media pieces published since the end of June, and 36 total for the year so far. Excellent work! If you haven’t submitted a letter yet or yours did not get published, draft and submit a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local paper urging members of Congress to protect low-income children and families by funding Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care Development Block Grant at levels necessary to maintain existing services. You can also find background information in our July Action sheet.
New Report Highlights Hunger in the U.S. Nearly one in four U.S. households with children struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families in 2010, according to a new report (pdf) released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). FRAC’s Food Hardship in America series analyzes survey data complied by the Gallup organization since 2008. The analysis shows that food hardship rates are very high both for households with children and for households without children. Nationally in 2010 the food hardship rate for households without children was 14.9 percent, and it was 23.4 percent for families with children. These statistics again show why it is so important to protect programs like SNAP and child nutrition programs from budget cuts. Be sure to use this data in your meetings with members of Congress this month.
Buffet Calls on Congress to Raise Taxes on Wealthy. In an excellent NY Times op-ed yesterday, billionaire investor Warren Buffet called on the “billionaire-friendly” Congress to stop “coddling” the wealthy like him. He highlighted the injustices in the current tax system, the need to protect middle and low-income taxpayers who are falling behind, and dispelled the myth that taxing the rich would deter investment (he should know). He then urged the new Super Committee to immediately raise taxes on people making over $1 million per year and even higher rates for those making more than $10 million per year) and ending tax breaks on capital gains and dividends. The NY Times followed up with a piece today showing that Buffet’s proposal would raise $500 billion in revenue over the next ten years, which is one-third of the savings goal for the Super Committee. Tell Congress to put protecting low-income taxpayers ahead of tax breaks for the rich by taking our online low-income tax credit action alert.
Invite Folks to the August 30 RESULTS “Meet and Greet” Call. If you know someone who would thrive in RESULTS or is passionate about social justice and poverty, please invite them to our new monthly “Meet and Greet” calls. These 30-minute calls are a great place to send new activists in your group, curious friends and family members, acquaintances you meet, and people you’d like to recruit to join our organization. The next call is Tuesday, August 30 2011 at 9:00 pm ET. Anyone interested can RSVP to http://tinyurl.com/64krwpn. If you have questions, please email Mary Peterson on the RESULTS staff.
Join August 31 Training Call on Building Community Partnerships. RESULTS staff will host a training call to examine ways you can partner with others in your community who have a commitment to education and might be interested in working collaboratively with you and your group. While the issue focus will be around Education for All, volunteers from both global and domestic RESULTS groups will find this training valuable in helping create you new community partners. The call is Wednesday, August 31 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.
(See a complete calendar)
Sunday, August 7 – Monday, September 5: House and Senate summer recess. Request face-to-face meetings back home.
Tuesday, August 16: Debt Deal Impact on Early Childhood Programs conference call, 2:00 pm ET. Register at the NWLC website.
Thursday, August 18: CHN’s "The Debt Deal Explained" webinar, 1:00 pm ET. Register at the CHN website.
Tuesday, August 30: RESULTS "Meet and Greet" call, 9:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/64krwpn.
Wednesday, August 31: RESULTS Training Call on Building Community Partnerships, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.
Saturday, September 10: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.
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.