Domestic Weekly Update August 30, 2011

The government gets it right on Head Start. We are providing opportunities for children in underserved areas where parents may not be able to afford preschool so they can begin their schooling with a running or Head Start.

— Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA-51)

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


RESULTS Volunteers Making Most of the Recess — Keep Up the Pressure (August Action)

This month’s RESULTS U.S. Poverty Action focuses on meeting with legislators during the August recess to talk to them about protecting anti-poverty programs like Head Start and child care from reckless budget cuts. While getting in front of legislators is hard in some areas, RESULTS volunteers remain undeterred. Here are just a few examples of the actions they have taken this month:

  • RESULTS Houston members attended a town hall with Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX-22). When their question was not selected during the event, they quickly moved to the "rope line" to talk to him as he was shaking hands. They were able to tell him about the importance of investing tax dollars wisely on early childhood programs, as well as a pitch for a national health program.
  • RESULTS Denver volunteers attended a town hall with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6). They had a prepared question ready to go and sat in front to be conspicuous when the questions began. However, as they sat down, they realized they had forgotten to bring the question with them. In a feat of techno-creativity, they pulled the question up on a smartphone. Among a crowd of several hundred, they were able to ask the question about choices — investing in families who rely on Head Start and child care programs or protect tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. After they posed the question, they got applause from the audience.
  • RESULTS Des Moines volunteers called into a local NPR call-in show featuring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets funding levels for Head Start and child care. One of our volunteers asked him about the importance of investing in Head Start and child care, and cited some of the statistics from the recent KIDS COUNT data report. Sen. Harkin said that investing in early childhood programs is essential, citing recent meetings with an Iowa police chief talking about the importance of early childhood programs in fighting crime. He reiterated his support for these programs.
  • RESULTS San Fernando Valley (CA) volunteers attended a town hall with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA-27). Our volunteers thanked him for his support of early childhood programs like Head Start and child care and urged him to speak to House Labor-HHS Chair Denny Rehberg (R-MT-AL) and ranking member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3). They also talked to him about government spending priorities and the need to find savings in the defense budget and use the money to create jobs fight poverty.
  • RESULTS Boise volunteers attended a town hall meeting last night with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). Although they did not get to ask a question, Sen. Crapo did get questions from others about Head Start, Medicaid, SNAP, and taxes on the wealthy and our Boise folks took good notes so as to follow up with his office. Once the event was over (which ran two hours), two of our volunteers went up and introduced themselves to the Senator and told him about RESULTS. They also met one of his aides who told them how to set up a face-to-face meeting with him. Afterward, one volunteer said "All in all for me it was an energizing experience and I feel much more confident in this advocacy process."

These contacts are very important at this time. When Congress returns to Washington next week, they will turn to the FY 2012, which must be completed by September 30. Funding for programs like Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care programs could be decided in the next few weeks. Also, the new Super Committee will begin meeting to find another $1.2 trillion in budget savings by Thanksgiving.

Congratulations to everyone who has already talked to members of Congress this month in face-to-face meetings and town halls. We appreciate your dedication and persistence. Once you have attended a town hall meeting, even if you did not get to ask a question, please let us know how it went. Perhaps they mentioned something about anti-poverty funding or the budget or taxes that is important. This not only helps us in our legislative work; it also demonstrates to our allies (and even potential donors) the commitment and energy RESULTS volunteers bring to grassroots advocacy. In other words, it once again confirms what we already know — RESULTS volunteers get things done.

TAKE ACTION: Let’s keep up the pressure in the last week of the recess. Take the August Action by requesting face-to-face meetings with members of Congress or attend public appearances and town halls. Some communities will be having Labor Day events and parades this weekend, which may include legislators. Speak to them about funding for Head Start and child care programs in the FY 2012 budget. Urge 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. And don’t forget the KIDS COUNT Data Book we highlighted last week for child well-being statistics for your state.

Once you get a meeting scheduled (or town hall date and time confirmed), please contact the RESULTS Domestic Staff to help you prepare. All of the groups highlighted above were in touch with RESULTS staff before their event to get talking points and coaching.


Super Committee Member Profiles; Jobs Messaging

This is a continuation of our profiles of the Budget Control Act (BCA) Super Committee members (see our August 16 and August 23 Weekly Updates for previous profiles). This week, we look at three of the Senate members on the committee:

Sen. John Kerry (D) represents state of Massachusetts. He was first elected to the Senate in 1984. Before being elected to Congress, he served as the Lt. Governor of Massachusetts. He had previously served in the Navy in Vietnam and later as a prosecutor and private practice attorney. In 2004, he ran for President of the United States and was defeated by incumbent George W. Bush. He is Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a member of the Commerce, Finance and Small Business Committees. He is a moderate Democrat, an expert on foreign policy, and a strong supporter of child care assistance for low-income families. In April, he voted in favor of the FY2011 budget but voted against the House FY 2012 budget (the Ryan Budget). He supported the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which extended EITC and CTC improvements, and also the Affordable Care Act (health care reform). He also voted for the Budget Control Act on August 2. Senator Kerry is married (his second) with two daughters from his first marriage; he is 67 years old. He is up for reelection in 2014.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R) represents the state of Arizona. He was first elected to Congress in 1986 as a member of the House of Representatives and later to the Senate in 1994. Before coming to Congress, he was an attorney in Arizona. Sen. Kyl serves as the Minority Whip in the Senate, the number two leadership position in the Republican caucus. He is also a member of the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees. A strong conservative, he is often outspoken on tax issues, being a strong proponent of low taxes on investment income and eliminating the federal estate tax. 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 (as well as tax cuts for the wealthy), and opposed the Affordable Care Act. Finally, he voted in favor of the Budget Control Act on August 2. Sen. Kyl is married with two children and seven grandchildren; he is 69 years old. In 2011, Sen. Kyl announced that he would not seek reelection in 2012.

Sen. Rob Portman (R) represents the state of Ohio. He was first elected to the Senate in 2010. Prior to the Senate, he served as U.S Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. From 1992 -2005, he represented Ohio’s 2nd congressional district. He practiced as a private practice and government attorney before being elected to Congress. He is known as a strong conservative, but has also indicated willingness to compromise. He sees the Super Committee in part as an opportunity to reform the tax code and may be open to raising revenue by closing certain tax loopholes. 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 has said he supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He also voted in favor of the Budget Control Act on August 2. Sen. Portman is married with three children; he is 55 years old. He is up for reelection in 2016.

You can learn more about these and other members of the Super Committee on the RESULTS Elected Officials page.

One thing to note in our work around the Super Committee. Although our primary focus is to protect low-income programs like Medicaid, SNAP, the EITC, Head Start, and child care from reckless cuts, as well as raising revenue as part of any deal, there is also another important issue — jobs. A big factor in our current budget deficits (in addition to the Bush tax cuts and wars in the Middle East) is high unemployment. When people are unemployed, they pay less or no federal income tax and with less tax revenue and increased spending because more people rely on safety programs, deficits become larger. Therefore, an important part of deficit reduction —perhaps the most important part — is getting people back to work.

Unfortunately, Congress has been far too timid and close-minded on this front. Cutting Medicaid or SNAP or Medicare will not create jobs. Cutting education funding does not create jobs. Cutting taxes on businesses or the wealthy does not create jobs (as proven by the Bush tax cuts). What creates jobs is investing in our people. Rebuilding our infrastructure creates jobs. Rebuilding our crumbling public schools creates jobs. Putting money in the hands of people who spend it (middle class and low-income families) instead of those who save it (the wealthy) creates jobs. By helping millions of Americans get back to work — many who are not working from no fault of their own — will not only strengthen our economy, it will also put a big dent in the budget deficit.

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 protecting low-income Americans. They must also include new revenue that makes up at least half of the savings in any plan they devise. Finally, remind them that the best way to reduce the deficit is to get people back to work — invest in job creation now. 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.


Reconnect with Local Head Start Contacts (September Action Preview)

After a month of relative silence in Washington, expect a big change after Labor Day. As mentioned above, FY 2012 budget must be completed by October 1, when the new fiscal year begins. It is doubtful they will make this deadline, so in all likelihood they will pass a temporary extension of current funding (a continuing resolution or CR) until the budget is done. Regardless of when the budget gets done, this means after months of talking about it, FY 2012 funding levels for Head Start and child care programs will finally be resolved.

This means we need to have as many advocates as possible pushing Congress to protect these vital programs. Fortunately, RESULTS volunteers have already begun that process. Back in May, you reached out to Head Start and child care centers in your communities to do site visits of their programs. Many of you completed these site visits and found a wealth of information you were later able to share with members of Congress about the value of early childhood investments in your community. Many of you also met with Head Start staff and parents during the process. As many of these preschool programs resume this week, it is time to reach out to them again.

Head Start and child care parents and providers are the best advocates for these programs. They live the benefits each day and bring a unique perspective to this work that cannot be found elsewhere. Therefore, engaging their voices in this debate in September and beyond is a powerful tool we must use. Doing advocacy trainings with these parents (at local Head Start Policy Council meetings) and getting them to take action of early childhood funding could make the difference between protecting existing services and service cuts.

TAKE ACTION: Reach out to your local Head Start and/or child care center. Tell them that Congress is about to decide FY 2012 funding and your group would like to help protect these programs from cuts. Ask if you may meet with local parents at an upcoming Head Start policy council meeting or other event to talk about this issue and to help them write letters in support of these services. Also, if you got personal contact information from staff or parents during your recent site visit, contact them and invite them to you your next RESULTS group meeting to take action. Our September 2011 U.S. Poverty Action will be available online later this week. We will also have an outreach action sheet available to use in your meetings with local Head Start contacts.


Quick News

Join CHN Poverty Data Webinar Next Week. On September 13, the federal government will release the 2010 statistics on poverty, income and health coverage in the U.S., followed by new census data on September 22. This information is very important in understanding the status of low-income America and the success (or lack thereof) in reducing poverty, increasing income, and achieving health care for all. To help interpret and use this data effectively when it is released, our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs are hosting a webinar to help you "be an educator and an alarm-sounder. You’ll learn the best predictions about what the data will show. You’ll get a practical guide to finding and using the data quickly and accurately. And you’ll learn how the stories the data tell can help us fight the cuts threatened in Washington and in state capitals." The webinar is Thursday, September 8 at 1:00 pm ET. To register, fill out the form on the CHN website.

Use New Twitter Tools to Protect Low-Income Americans. For you Twitter users out there, our friends at Families USA have created a new tool to help you "tweet" your members of Congress about protecting low-income health programs like Medicaid and CHIP. Go to the Stand Up for Health Care Twitter page to find out how you can use this new tool. In addition, you can follow the latest RESULTS tweets at @DodsonAdvocate (Twitter page for RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson) and @RESULTS_Tweets (Twitter page for RESULTS). In fact, you can join a "Twitter chat" today at 2:30 pm ET on children and the recession at #KCChat (sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and KIDS COUNT). Use these new media tools to help protect low-income Americans.

"To Catch a Dollar" Screenings this Fall. Back in March, RESULTS volunteers participated in the nationwide screening of "To Catch a Dollar," which focused on microfinance programs in the U.S. Our volunteers helped turn out hundreds of people for these screenings all across the nation. The "To Catch a Dollar" (TCAD) campaign continues and new screenings will be held this fall, including New York City and Los Angeles in late September. Learn more about these events at http://www.tocatchadollar.com/ and invite people you know in these areas to attend. Also, you can find additional TCAD information and resource on our "To Catch a Dollar" Resources page.


Announcements

Reminder: RESULTS "Meet and Greet" Call Tonight. 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 call is tonight, August 30 2011 at 9:00 pm ET. Anyone interested can RSVP to http://tinyurl.com/64krwpn. Our next call will be on Wednesday, September 15. If you have questions, please email Jos Linn 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. 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. 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 tomorrow, August 31 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Sunday, August 7Tuesday, 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. Call in number is (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

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.

Wednesday, September 21: RESULTS Group Start presentation in Kansas City, 7:00 pm CT. All Souls Unitarian Church, 4501 Walnut St, KCMO. Contact Jos Linn for details.


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.