Domestic Weekly Update August 23, 2011
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Last week, we highlighted some great resources from the Half in Ten campaign that can help in preparing for your meetings with members of Congress during the August recess. These resources were also discussed on the August 2011 RESULTS Domestic national conference call. This week, we have some new resources to make your advocacy on behalf of low-income children even stronger.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) released its KIDS COUNT Data Book last week, which is designed to measure the well-being of America’s children over time (this book covers the years 2000-2009). AECF looked at ten different measures, such as infant mortality, teen birth rates, child poverty, and unemployment in the household, to assess child well-being. The report concludes that the recent recession has made things much harder for many children living in America, resulting in stagnation of overall child well-being since 2000. While there have been decreases in some areas like teen drop-out rates and teen death rates, those gains have been offset by increases in child poverty, unemployment among parents, and children in single-parent households. For example, the child poverty rate has increased 18 percent since 2000, all but wiping out any gains made in the late 1990s (between 1994 and 2000, child poverty dropped 30 percent). This means that 2.4 million more children were living in poverty in 2009 than in 2000. In addition, 31 percent of children live in households where NO parent has full-time, year-round work. When it comes to child well-being, we are clearly going in the wrong direction.
The KIDS COUNT report does not simply stop there. It makes key recommendations on how to best improve child well-being in America. Some of these recommendations may sound familiar:
See more about the report in a recent PBS interview with Casey Foundation CEO Patrick McCarthy.
This information is, quite simply, invaluable. It helps is see how we’re doing in providing for and protecting our children and where we need to go (and how to get there). It is now up to us to put this powerful information in front of our decision makers. Until then, it is only words on a page. Since we know members of Congress are moved more than anything else by how an issue affects their constituents, this information is perfect for our face-to-face meetings. A helpful tool in helping make this information more personal to members of Congress is that the data book provides state-by-state analyses of each measurement, as well as overall rankings. Use these resources, as well as notes from your recent Head Start visits, to push representatives and senators to invest in our future.
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
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D) represents the 31st district of California, which covers a section of Los Angeles. He was first elected to Congress in 2002. Before being elected to Congress, he was an attorney working on mental health issues and also served a term in the California State Assembly. In the House, he serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes and Social Security, with shared jurisdiction over Medicaid and Medicare. He voted against the FY2011 budget because he believed the cuts included were not smart or targeted, nor addressed our fiscal challenges. He also voted against the House FY 2012 budget (the Ryan Budget). He opposed the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which extended EITC and CTC improvements, because it preserved tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting Social Security funding (payroll tax cut). He voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act (health care reform). He also voted against of the Budget Control Act earlier this month because it is “not balanced nor does it ask for shared sacrifice.” Congressman Becerra is married with three children; he is 53 years old. He is up for reelection in 2012.
Rep. Dave Camp (R) represents the 4th district of Michigan, covering the north-central portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. He was first elected to the House in 1990. He spent time as an attorney, congressional aide, and served one term in the Michigan legislature before being elected to Congress. He is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee mentioned above. He is a member of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership caucus as well as the very conservative Republican Study Committee. He is a strong advocate for reforming the tax code. He voted in favor of the FY2011 budget that preserved funding for Head Start and child care programs, but also in favor of the FY 2012 Ryan budget, which would dramatically cut low-income programs. He also supported the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which preserved the expansions of the EITC and CTC, and opposed the Affordable Care Act. Finally, he voted in favor of the Budget Control Act on August 2. Congressman Camp is married with three children; he is 58 years old. He is up for reelection in 2012.
Rep. James Clyburn (D) represents the 6th district of South Carolina, which covers most of the southeast portion of the state. He was first elected to the Senate in 1992. Rep. Clyburn is a former high school teacher and civil rights leader, who later went to work in South Carolina state government, serving as its Human Affairs Commissioner for nearly 20 years. In 2006, he was elected Majority Whip for the House Democrats and later the House Minority Assistant Leader when the Republicans returned to the majority in 2011. Being in leadership, he does not serve on any permanent committees. He voted against the FY2011 budget that preserved funding for Head Start and child care programs (reasons unknown), and against the FY 2012 Ryan budget, which would dramatically cut low-income programs. He also opposed the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which preserved the expansions of the EITC and CTC, but voted for the Affordable Care Act. Finally, he voted in favor of the Budget Control Act on August 2. Congressman Clyburn is married with three children and two grandchildren; he is 71 years old. He is up for reelection in 2012.
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 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.
NOTE: The Budget Control Act mandates that if the Super Committee does not come up with a plan, or if Congress rejects it, automatic across-the-board cuts will be "triggered" beginning in 2013. Many low-income programs are exempt from those cuts. Here is a list of the low-income programs that are exempt from the trigger: child care entitlement to states (this would exempt part but not all of CCDBG funding from cuts); child nutrition entitlement programs Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); Commodity Supplemental Food Program; child support enforcement and family support programs; Pell Grants; Medicaid; foster care and permanency programs; SNAP; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); the EITC and Child Tax Credit; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); Social Security.
The focus of the August Action is to set up face-to-face meetings with members of Congress to talk about early childhood funding and budget priorities. In addition to having private meetings with constituents, members of Congress are also holding town hall events in their area throughout the month. These events are great opportunities to get members of Congress to publicly commit to the actions we seek. These events also give us the chance to educate the public about our issues.
Because town halls generally do not allow you much time in front of legislators, as compared to a sit down face-to-face meeting, it is important to use this limited time to your advantage. Framing an issue properly, i.e. using language that helps build support for your issue, is essential.
As we have seen over the last few months, we are currently in a heated debate about our national priorities. Should we be focusing on jobs or the deficit? Should we cut safety net programs or raise taxes? Do we protect vulnerable children or millionaires and billionaires? Framing the issues like this not only creates a stark contrast over competing priorities, they also help others see what’s really at stake in the budget fights. Therefore, when attending town halls and asking a question, don’t forget to frame your question the right way. Here is an example:
Congresswoman Dodson, thank you for taking time to hold this event. I have a question about investing in our future, namely our children. I believe that it is our moral and fiscal duty to do all we can to give our children the opportunity to succeed, especially children living in poverty. Numerous studies show that when we help children and their families early on through quality, affordable preschool programs like Head Start and Early Head Start, they are more likely to stay in school, stay out of trouble, and become healthy, productive adults. Despite this success, Congress seems bound and determined to cut Head Start and child care funding, while preserving tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. Is this America we want? An America where we tell a poor child with almost nothing to take a back seat to Paris Hilton so she can buy a third Mercedes? Where a preschool teacher must get a pink slip so that a Wall Street CEO can get his bonus? This is not about money; it is about choices, Congresswoman, and we need you to make the right one. Will you choose to put children first by asking your leadership to protect existing Head Start and child care services from cuts, even if it means asking the wealthy to pay their fair share?
TAKE ACTION: When attending town hall events this month, frame your questions the right way. Make the choice clear for your members of Congress and the audience. Point out what is at stake and the stark difference in priorities from which Congress can choose. Use this helpful side-by-side chart from the Center for American Progress to explain these contrasts. You can also use stories from your recent Head Start visits and from the Half in Ten storybank to highlight what’s at stake in the budget debate.
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. 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.
PBS Highlights the Wealth Gap. Last week, PBS’ Newshour began a series looking at the wealth gap in America. The first piece looked at how big the wealth gap is compared to other countries, while the next piece looked at how wealth and income inequality contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown. Both of these stories, which will be part of an ongoing series, provide a vivid picture of why wealth inequality is a problem we need to address. RESULTS has worked to get Congress to enact important policies to narrow the wealth gap, yet Congress has continued to “coddle” the super-rich, using billionaire Warren Buffet’s language from his recent NY Times op-ed. The recent debt deal focusing exclusively on cutting spending that primarily benefits people at the middle and bottom, while including no new revenue, is just one example. RESULTS and our allies are demanding a balanced approach to any future deficit reduction plans. Urge your members of Congress in calls and meetings this month to tell the new deficit-reduction Super Committee members to protect low-income programs and to include substantial new revenue in their plan. You can use our online call-in alert to take action.
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.
Vote for RESULTS Grassroots Board Members. The RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board has two grassroots board member positions to fill. Grassroots board members are an important part of our board, providing a unique voice to the oversight of RESULTS/REF. We have seven persons running for those two positions. Balloting is open to all current active volunteers. The ballot contains essential candidate information including a short biography and statement of intent. If you are an active volunteer, you should have received an e-mail last week with a unique link to the voting survey tied to your specific e-mail. Simply follow that link to vote. The deadline to vote is September 10. Voting information and voter identification is strictly confidential and will not be shared. If you have any questions or you did not receive the e-mail, please contact Jamila White-Bandah, [email protected] or (202) 783-4800.
Need Help Planning your RESULTS Fundraising Event? Last week we highlighted the amazing fundraising events RESULTS groups will be hosting this fall to build financial support for our work. 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 [email protected]. Also, if you know people in the cities where we already have events planned, please invite them to attend the local event. Reach out to the event contact person (listed in last week’s update) to help them connect with the folks you know.
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 – Tuesday, September 6: House and Senate summer recess. Request face-to-face meetings back home.
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.
Monday, September 5: Labor Day holiday. All RESULTS offices closed.
Saturday, September 10: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls on the RESULTS website.
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.