Domestic Weekly Update August 3, 2010
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Build Public Support for Working Families through the Media (August Action)
The August recess has begun for the House. Senate members will leave in August 16. This recess is a great opportunity to generate support for our campaign to expand economic opportunity for low-income families.
September is gearing up to be a pivotal month on tax issues. It is expected that the House and Senate will return on September 13 and address what to do with the expiring Bush tax cuts. Some members are pushing for middle and low-income tax provisions to be extended or made permanent. Others want all the Bush tax cuts, even those for the wealthy, to be extended. Despite this division, American people are clear what they want. A new Pew Center/National Journal poll shows that 58 percent of Americans support letting all the Bush tax cuts or those for the wealthy expire, versus 30 percent who favor extending all the Bush tax cuts. In addition, a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that extending the tax cuts for the top 2 percent would cost $1 trillion over the first ten years.
While not in the forefront of discussion, our work on extending the 2009 changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are an important part of this process. If Congress extends these improvements, they will be part of a package to extend the middle-class tax cuts (individuals earning less than $200,000 per year, couples earning less than $250,000 per year). We must remind members of Congress that working families are an important part of our society and our economy, and they suffer just as greatly (if not greater) in times of national economic stress. The 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC, which were long overdue, have helped 7 million low-income working families. We cannot now remove these economic security measures; they serve as a backstop against current and future financial hardships.
The media can be an excellent way to get members of Congress attention, as well as build public support for our goals. This month’s action focuses on generating letters to the editor and op-eds in your local papers about the importance of supporting working families. The messaging for this action is a little different from what we are normally accustomed to. A recent study from Demos has shown that emphasizing the values our society holds dear and making the connection between public structures (government policies) and fulfillment of those values can be very effective. Therefore, in this action, we are focusing on a basic American and human value — support for and by the family. By connecting government policies (the EITC and CTC) with that value, we begin to show others that our public structures to play an important role in supporting families and that we are right to enact those policies.
TAKE ACTION: Take the August Action. Draft and submit a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local paper highlighting the importance of working families in our society. Use the messaging form the action to link the value we want to strengthen (supporting the family) to the public structures that help do that (tax credits for low-income workers). Call on members of Congress by name to take action to support families. Once you get a letter published, be sure to send it to the offices of your members of Congress so they know that your group got it published.
You can use our Media page on the RESULTS website to find media outlets in your city and state.
Use August Recess to Follow Up with Members of Congress and Staff about Tax Credits (July Action)
Be sure to use the fact that members of Congress will be at home this month to set up face-to-face meetings. We want to be sure that they are speaking with the key committee members in the House and Senate on low-income tax credits, per our goals:
strong>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 MoC’s tax staff and House Ways and Means Committee staff.
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.
This is an election year so members of Congress should be looking for chances to connect with constituents. Use this recess time to meet with them to talk about our priorities. Call the local scheduler today and ask for a time to meet — be creative! You can meet at their office, at a local coffee shop, or a community event. And don’t forget to sign up for their e-mail lists on their websites to find out when they will be holding town hall meetings and other events in your area.
Also, be strategic in your work. Use various caucuses in the House and Senate to magnify your influence with tax writing committee members. Generally, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus are supportive of poverty reduction programs like the EITC and CTC. If your member of Congress is on one of these caucuses, urge him/her to ask caucus leadership to weigh in with the tax committee leaders in support of extending the 2009 EITC and CTC provisions. Their support will carry a lot of weight with leadership.
TAKE ACTION: Use the July Action for meetings with members of Congress back home and ask if they have spoken or written to key committee members about making the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent. If you cannot get a meeting, please call their tax aides in Washington DC and politely push them until you get confirmation that your representative or senator has weighed in his or her support with the key committee members. You can call Congress toll free at (800) 826-3688.
Here are some resources to help you:
And please let the RESULTS office know ([email protected]) what you find out from your meetings and calls; we want to keep track of your successes.
We again thank Bread for the World for allowing us to use their toll free number.
On July 29, RESULTS staff appeared at a press conference headlined by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee in support of passing a strong child nutrition bill in 2010. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also attended. “[The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (S.3307)] will put us on a path to end childhood hunger and obesity and improve the health of the next generation of Americans. If we miss the opportunity to pass this bill and improve these programs, it will be our children who pay the price for our inaction. This bill is bipartisan, completely paid for and provides common-sense solutions to addressing childhood hunger and obesity. Congress should pass this bill before August and make an investment in our children that will last a lifetime," said Lincoln. You can see her remarks here http://www.youtube.com/senatorlincoln.
S.3307 makes important investments that will make children’s meals healthier and will expand low-income children’s access to nutritious food. RESULTS and our allies want to see the new funding in S.3307 ($4.5 billion) at least match the level in the House’s Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010 (H.R.5504) ($8 billion). First and foremost, however, we need a vote on the Senate bill.
TAKE ACTION: Keep the press on. Urge your representatives and senators to pressure leadership to bring the child nutrition bills to floor votes before the August recess. You can use FRAC’s toll-free number (866) 277-7617 for your calls. When calling you can say:
“My name is ____________ and I am a constituent from ________________ and also a RESULTS volunteer. I believe that no child should ever have to struggle to get food to eat. A strong reauthorization of child nutrition programs will help millions of American children get access to healthy, nutritious food all year round. Please urge Senator _____________ to support S.3307, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 with funding levels that at least match the House bill and offsets that do not take away from other poverty reduction programs. Please also urge him/her to tell Senate leadership to bring this bill to a vote before the August recess. Thank you for your time.”
Good news! On July 29, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriation bill (Labor-HHS) out of committee with significant investments in early child hood programs. The bill includes a $1 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and a $990.3 million increase for Head Start/Early Head Start. As you know, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) made significant investments in Head Start and CCDGB in 2009-10. This new funding will help maintain those investments and prevent services from being cut once the ARRA money runs out. In addition, the appropriations bill added $300 million for the Early Learning Challenge Fund, signaling a greater recognition in Congress of the need to raise the quality of early learning programs.
The House Labor-HHS subcommittee approved its bill on July 15, which included an $866 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start and a $700 million increase for CCDBG. The full House Appropriations Committee did not vote on its Labor-HHS bill before leaving for the summer recess, nor is the full Senate expected to vote on Labor-HHS funding before their recess.
TAKE ACTION: Use our Head Start and child care online alert to contact House and Senate offices urging them to support increased funding for Head Start and child care services.
Even though the dog days of summer are upon us, that has not stopped your RESULTS Domestic staff and volunteers from working to expand our activist and funding base. For the last several months, RESULTS Domestic staff have been working with various individuals and groups around the country to start new RESULTS groups or revive old ones. Those efforts are now paying off.
Last week, RESULTS Domestic Outreach Organizer Jos Linn hosted a conference call with a group in Boise, ID about starting a new RESULTS group there. The call went very well, the people who participated are excited, and we are happy to report that Jos will travel to Boise to for a RESULTS group start workshop on October 2. We look forward to a great meeting. Jos has also been working with and existing volunteers in Aurora, CO to restart the group there, which until recently included only one active volunteer. Fortunately, that has now changed. Last week, a small group of them met with an aide for Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) to talk about both domestic and global poverty issues and then over the weekend, 11 people attended a group orientation meeting. Congratulations, Aurora! Jos is also working with leads in Washington state, Portland, OR and New Orleans, LA for possible new groups. In addition, RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson will be traveling to Maine next week, which will include exploring for leads in New England. If you know people in any of these areas, please contact Jos ([email protected]) for details on how to connect them with our outreach efforts.
We are also proud to announce that over the weekend, the RESULTS Santa Fe, NM group held a Belgian Waffle Fundraiser with about 20 people that raised over $3,100. Way to go, Santa Fe! Thanks to all of your who have contributed to RESULTS work to end poverty and have helped get other donors to our work. If you have not donated to RESULTS and would like to, you can do so from our donation page on the RESULTS website. Be sure to write “RESULTS Domestic” in the comment box on the form if you want to support our U.S. poverty work.
Study Shows Health Reform Greatly Benefits Women. A new study from the Commonwealth Fund says that 30 million women will benefit from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enacted by Congress in March. Currently, many insurance companies consider women higher health risks than men. Therefore, they have a much tougher time buying affordable insurance on the individual market and are charged higher premiums than men for the same coverage. Because of the health reform law, that will change. The study states that health reform will help cover up to 15 million women who currently have no health insurance (8.2 million through Medicaid and 7 million through subsidized premiums in the health insurance exchanges). In addition, 14.5 million women who have coverage will benefit from provisions that improve coverage or reduce premiums.
Sanders Pledges to Introduce State Single Payer Bill. A little know aspect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is that it allows states to apply for waivers to create their own state-based health systems. This could include creating a statewide single-payer health system. Unfortunately, they have to wait until 2017, three years after creating the state health insurance exchanges mandated in the bill. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says that he, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10), and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI-14) plan to co-sponsor legislation that will move waiver application date up to 2014. He has also pledged to make the case directly to the President to grant his home state of Vermont a waiver if the legislature passes a state single-payer system next year. It is unknown when Sen. Sanders and House members will introduce their waiver date bill. Voice your support for a national health program, i.e. Medicare for All, by taking out online action.
Senate Poised to Vote on Medicaid Funding This Week. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill extending Medicaid funding from the 2009 economic recovery bill. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act temporarily increased the federal reimbursement for state Medicaid programs so as to prevent cuts to the program. That funding will expire in December. Because states are still facing severe budget shortfalls, an extension of this funding was expected to pass earlier this year. However, it has failed to garner 60 votes in the Senate to date because of objections that the funding was not offset. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has now brought up that fully pays for the $16.1 billion in new Medicaid funding. If not passed, states will be forced to cuts jobs and services to countless people around the country. The vote could come as soon as tomorrow, August 4.
Vote for Grassroots Board Positions. We have three persons running for the open seat on the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board. All current RESULTS volunteers are eligible to vote. Cast your vote by using our online voting ballot on the RESULTS website. The voting period will end on September 1.
New Outreach Action Sheet Available. Use our August 2010 Outreach Action Sheet to urge your members of Congress to pass a strong child nutrition reauthorization bill.
(Click to see a complete calendar)
August 2–September 10: House on summer recess.
August 14: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.
August 16–September 10: 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.
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]). Note: Jos will be on vacation July 19–25, and Meredith will be on vacation July 22–August 2. We apologize for any delay in returning calls and e-mails.
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.