Domestic Weekly Update August 31, 2010

Not only has the EITC helped families in Iowa keep their heads above water, it has helped keep families out of poverty. This is the sort of tax credit that is spent and, therefore, is helpful to main streets. It seems that keeping those low- and middle-class tax cuts at their present levels produces valuable results.

— RESULTS volunteer Judy Zobel in the August 30 Des Moines Register

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Set Up Meetings with Members of Congress and Their Staff as Tax Debate Begins (September Action Preview)

We are less than two weeks away from the end of the congressional summer recess. The House and Senate will return to Washington DC on September 13 and it is expected that the Senate will begin debate on tax legislation the following week. Considering that Congress is only expected to be in session for three weeks before leaving again in early October for the elections, things could move very fast.

As you know, our primary goal is for Congress to make the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provisions from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) permanent — specifically, the $3,000 income threshold for the CTC and the EITC expansion for married couples and larger families.

Here is what is likely to happen in September. First, the House is not going to act on taxes until the Senate does first, so the focus will be on the Senate starting off. Sometime the week of September 20, the Senate will bring to the floor a tax bill that includes an extension of the low-income and middle class tax cuts. The bill will have been written by key members of the Senate Finance Committee, particularly Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), with input from Senate leadership and others. The exact make up of this bill is unknown, but as of right now, it is not expected to include an extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy.

The key for RESULTS and our allies is to make sure the EITC and CTC provisions from ARRA are included in this bill that is brought to the floor. The reason is an important strategic one.

Because of the increased use of the filibuster (some would call abuse of the filibuster), any changes to the base bill that comes to the Senate floor will likely require 60 votes in the Senate to pass. That includes adding provisions in or taking them out. Therefore, if the EITC and CTC provisions are already in the bill, it would take 60 votes to remove them, which would be difficult to reach. However, if they are not included in the base bill, it will likely take 60 votes to add them in, which would also be difficult. Therefore, they must be in that base bill.

This is why over the last few months we have been pushing the following:

SENATE GOAL: At least six confirmed direct conversations between senators and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and/or Ranking Members Charles Grassley (R-IA) and at last fifteen letters sent to Sens. Baucus and Grassley or staff to staff contacts between your MoC’s tax staff and Senate Finance Committee staff.

HOUSE GOAL: At least ten confirmed direct conversations between representatives and House Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI-12) and/or Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI-4) and at least twenty letters sent to Reps. Levin and Camp or staff to staff contacts between your Member of Congress (MoC)’s tax staff and House Ways and Means Committee staff.

These contacts will significantly increase our chances that the EITC and CTC ARRA provisions are included in the base bills that House and Senate leadership bring to the floor. To ensure this happens, it is time to step up our efforts.

In September, we want to be pushing for the EITC and CTC provisions as hard as we can. To do this, our September action will focus on setting up meetings with members of Congress (MoCs) and their tax aides. This includes face-to-face meetings this week and next, like members of the RESULTS San Fernando group will have with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA-27) today in California (congratulations, SF Valley!). It also includes contacts with tax aides but with a slight twist. Set up a conference call where your entire group can be on the call with your members of Congress and/or their aides together. Having a group of strong advocates pushing for these changes in concert will have a significant impact.

TAKE ACTION: The September Action will be available early next week with more details. Get started now by requesting face-to-face meetings with members of Congress for the remainder of the recess and requesting conference call meetings between your group and your MoCs and/or their tax aides. Urge them to speak with the House and Senate tax committee members listed above about making the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent in the tax bill they bring to the floor in September. Be strategic by focusing on members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees and then members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, or Congressional Hispanic Caucus for support.

Use the July Action for talking points and the EITC and CTC data in this online chart to show how many children and workers will be affected in your state if these provisions expire. You can find the names of aides on our Elected Officials page.

Contact the RESULTS Domestic staff for questions and coaching for meetings and calls. Once you’ve had a meeting or conversation, please use our online lobby report form to let us know what happened.

Continue Generating Media on Tax Credits with Help from CHN (August Action)

In addition to our direct contacts with members of Congress and their staff, we have spent the last month generating media for protecting working families via the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. So far this month we have had four letters to the editor published (and many more submitted). The latest, from Des Moines, IA group leader Judy Zobel, was published yesterday. Congratulations, Des Moines! Thank you to all of you who have submitted letters and op-eds this month.

But there is no need to stop . . . and we have a little help from our friends. The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is helping groups get the word out in the local media about tax credits for low-income working families in September. CHN is looking to partner with local advocates to get op-eds placed in local papers in response to the release of the Census 2009 poverty data — set to be released on September 16. To make it easy, CHN will provide a template op-ed and communications assistance to work with ‘authors’ to customize the op-eds. This is a great opportunity to create more momentum for low-income families while also working closely with one of our invaluable partners.

TAKE ACTION: Take the August Action. Draft and submit an op-ed or letter to the editor (LTE) to your local paper highlighting the importance of working families in our society. Use information and stories from your VITA outreach to paint a picture of these families for readers, as well as data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities about the cost of doing nothing. Be sure to call on members of Congress by name to take action to support families.

In addition, if you are willing to work with RESULTS and CHN on an op-ed in your local paper, contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or CHN’s Maricela Donahue directly at [email protected] or (202) 223-2532 x112. Please make contact asap as time is of the essence.

Record Number of Americans Using Anti-poverty Programs — Take Action to Protect Them

This week, USA Today reported that a staggering 1 in 6 Americans (52 million) are now enrolled in anti-poverty programs, and the number continues to increase. These include:

  • More than 50 million Americans on Medicaid. This is a 17 percent increase since the recession began in late 2007.
  • More than 40 million receive SNAP benefits (food stamps). This is nearly double the enrollment since the economic downturn began (half of SNAP recipients are children).
  • More than 10 million people currently receive unemployment benefits, down from the peak of 12 million in January.
  • 4.4 million people receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), up 18 percent.

The article does not mention that in addition to these programs, 31.5 million children are receiving free or reduced cost school lunches; school food programs are part of child nutrition reauthorization this year. These numbers not only highlight that our economy is far from healed, but that in time of economic stress this civic foundation of support is critical. Unfortunately, when legislators prioritize tax cuts for the rich or cut funding from SNAP to pay for child nutrition programs, this foundation begins to crack.

Our work at RESULTS comes down to one thing — priorities. What is most important to us as a society? Do we choose to be caring or selfish? Do we choose to help or ignore? Contrary to political rhetoric, individuals and families living in poverty are human beings worthy of dignity and respect. They are our relatives, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends. And until the day comes when poverty is found only in history books, we have a responsibility to care and to act.

TAKE ACTION: Do you part reinforcing our civic foundation by telling members of Congress to make sure kids don’t go hungry. Urge them to pass a robust child nutrition bill without taking precious resources from other anti-poverty programs. You can contact Congress using our online e-mail alert and get others involved using our Outreach Action Sheet: Help Feed Children through a Strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization.

Send Us Your Ideas on Our 2011 U.S. Poverty Campaigns

As noted above, this fall promises to be a busy time as we work to finalize legislation on tax credits and child nutrition, as well as appropriations for early childhood development programs. However, as Labor Day approaches, we are also starting look ahead to our 2011 domestic campaigns. When the New Year begins, which will include a new Congress, we want to hit the ground running on doing what we can to make the biggest impact on ending U.S. poverty. We would like to hear your ideas on what you think RESULTS Domestic should focus on in 2011. Your input is always important to us in this process and we welcome your suggestions.

Send your ideas to our Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson ([email protected]). As the process moves forward, we will keep you updated on our progress.

Quick News

RESULTS Presents at Asset Building Conference. RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson will be presenting this week at The Common Cents Conference in Maryland. The conference is led by free tax preparation and asset building coalitions from Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia and West Virginia and is an opportunity for people to learn about the financial problems facing low-income individuals and families and innovative program models to help them achieve all their financial dreams. Meredith will be co-leading advocacy training at the conference designed to help attendees learn about policies that affect their clients, basic policy process and how to engage legislators, volunteers and clients.

Sign Your RESULTS Group onto Deficit Commission Letter. Send a strong message to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. There is a real risk that the Commission could come up with recommendations that could hurt low-income Americans (e.g. cutting Social Security and/or Medicare). The Coalition on Human Needs is circulating the letter for state and local groups to show support as well. Show your support for maintaining programs like Medicaid, Head Start, SNAP (food stamps), etc. by signing your local RESULTS group onto the letter (ex. “RESULTS Twin Cities”). The deadline to sign is September 8. The more groups we get, the stronger our voice will be. It only takes a few minutes but it could make a big difference. Note: Where the questionnaire says Are you authorized to sign on behalf of your organization?, please choose YES.

Urge House and Senate Aides to Attend Medicare Briefing. RESULTS is proud to co-sponsor a congressional briefing with Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) on Medicare and a national health program. The briefing is designed to educate members of Congress, staff, and the public about the proposed changes from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission that will further weaken Medicare, the strengths of Medicare, and the impact of a national improved Medicare for all health system on the health of the nation’s economy and population. The briefing will be held on Thursday, September 23 at 2:30 pm in Room 1334 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Invited speakers include: Michele Evermore of National Nurses United, Ted Marmor of the Yale School of Management, Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo of the Miller School at the University of Miami, and Joseph Stiglitz who is a Nobel Laureate and economist at Columbia University. Do your part by encouraging the health care aides in your congressional offices to attend this important briefing. You can find the names of aides on our Elected Officials page.


Last Days to Vote for Grassroots Board Positions. If you haven’t already, please be sure to cast your vote for our open grassroots board position. We have three persons running for the open seat on the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board. Use our online voting ballot on the RESULTS website to vote today because the voting period will end at the close of business tomorrow, September 1. All current RESULTS volunteers are eligible to vote.

New Resources on the RESULTS Website. We’d also like to let you know about new resources on the RESULTS website:

  • A slide-show version of the 30 Years of RESULTS brochure.
  • Video and transcripts from the 2010 International Conference are still being posted on the “International Conference” page.
  • Event Photos houses photos of our international conferences and fundraising events. Please forward the best photos from your events to Lesley Reed, RESULTS’ publications manager, at [email protected].
  • RESULTS Awardees has a history of recipients of our annual Seeds of Hope and Cameron Duncan Media awards.
  • A large size, high resolution version of the RESULTS logo is in the Newsroom section under Downloadable Logos, Badges, and Widgets.
  • In Group Resources & Admin (under Skills Center) you’ll find tri-fold brochures and business card templates that you can personalize. Look for the link to this page under “Group Building & Leadership” in the “Skills Center.”
  • Find new table tents with information and photos related to our various campaigns, as well as thank you notes and donor forms on the Fundraising page (also under “Group Building & Leadership”), under “Fundraising Materials and Forms” link.
  • In Publications, you’ll find links to the enclosed reports as well as the RESULTS Advocate newsletter and our annual reports.
  • Don’t forget to visit the RESULTS Blog where you can read inspiring stories of what other RESULTS volunteers and staff are up to.

Campaigns Summary Page Available. For a summary of RESULTS’ 2010 U.S. poverty campaigns, see our Campaigns Summary page on the RESULTS website.

Upcoming Events

(Click to see a complete calendar)

Now – September 12: House and Senate on summer recess.

September 1: End of voting period for open RESULTS grassroots Board member position.

September 6: Labor Day holiday. All RESULTS offices closed.

September 11: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.

June 18–21, 2011: RESULTS International Conference at the Four Points Sheraton in Washington, DC (Note: start date subject to change)

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: Meredith Dodson, (202) 783-7100, x116 ([email protected]); Jos Linn, (515) 288-3622 ([email protected]), and Ann Beltran ([email protected]).

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.