Domestic Weekly Update August 9, 2011

Amidst all the talk of cutting federal spending, here’s the message for Rep. West and for our own central Pennsylvania House members, Bill Shuster and Todd Platts: investing in the young children of our poorest families is one of the most effective expenditures our government can make. They should support Head Start and Early Head Start as essential investments in our country’s most important underdeveloped resource — its children.

— South Central Pennsylvania RESULTS volunteer Bruce Kessler’s opinion piece on how Head Start and other early childhood programs break the cycle of poverty in Saturday’s Chambersburg Public Opinion

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Join Us for the RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call TONIGHT at 8:00 pm ET

The August RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call will take place tonight, August 9, 8:00–9:00 pm ET. This will be a special call which will include an overview of the debt ceiling deal and what lies ahead. It will also include a review of the great resources our friends at the Half in Ten campaign have compiled with Melissa Boteach, and a review of key parts of the RESULTS website. We will also briefly discuss how to broaden your advocacy through social media sites like like Facebook and Twitter.

TAKE ACTION: To join the call tonight, dial (888) 409-6709. Once connected to the operator, ask for the RESULTS National Conference Call. Plan to call in no later than 7:57 pm ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call. In addition, you will need to be in front of a computer with high-speed internet access.


Give Members of Congress a Face-to-Face Performance Review (August Action)

August seems a perfect time for a performance review of our members of Congress. And nothing does this better than a polite and respectful face-to-face meeting. Face-to-face meetings are our opportunity as citizens to tell members of Congress what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and what they must do next. It also gives us the chance to better understand the things that motivate and influence our elected officials. In other words, these interactions also give each side the chance to get to know each other and build relationships. It is easier to understand and empathize with a person or position when people communicate on a personal level. It is also much harder to attack or dismiss a person or position when people sit down and talk to each other.

There is much we have to discuss with our elected officials this month. First and foremost, Congress still has to approve its FY 2012 discretionary spending bills when they return after Labor Day; they’ll have to move quickly to avoid another government shutdown (the new fiscal year begins on October 1). This means our work on protecting Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) again takes center stage. The Budget Control Act (BCA) cuts domestic discretionary spending by $7 billion for FY 2012 so we need to let legislators know now that early learning programs cannot afford to be cut. With so many children and families unable to use these services due to already low funding levels, we cannot make things worse by turning our backs on the ones who fortunately can.

Also, the new “Super Committee” as part of the BCA will start meeting and looking at ways to find another $1.2 trillion in savings. We need to let legislators know that we expect this committee to defend programs that protect the poor (see Medicaid section below). They must abandon this “cuts only” thinking and take a balanced approach to deficit reduction, using new revenue to generate at least half of their proposed savings.

We’ve just witnessed a spectacle (the debt debate) that for the most part brought out the worst in people and produced an outcome few can champion. We’ve also seen one government shutdown averted in April and another one looming for September. Left alone, these events could dishearten even the most ardent optimist. Fortunately, we’ve also seen things to inspire us. We’ve seen a congresswoman go to Congress to do her job only a few months after she was nearly killed by a gunman. We’ve seen legislators stand up and demand justice and fairness in the debt ceiling fight by not balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. And we’ve seen countless leaders and advocates form a “Circle of Protection” around the world’s most vulnerable and demanding Congress do the same. Whether we are motivated by frustration or inspiration (or a little of both), one thing is clear — the change we want to see starts with us.

TAKE ACTION: Take the August Action by scheduling a time to meet with members of Congress in person to discuss our 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). Also tell them that while you are glad that Congress avoided a credit default, you are ashamed of the theatrics that got us here and are very disappointed that the final plan focuses only on spending cuts. Tell them you expect a balanced agreement from the Super Committee that generates at least half of the savings from new revenue. We also have an online letter you can use to request meetings. Once you get a meeting scheduled (or town hall date and time confirmed), please contact the RESULTS Domestic Staff to help you prepare.

To better understand the details of the Budget Control Act, see our debt deal post on the RESULTS Blog. Also, thanks to our friends at Families USA for this handy-dandy flowchart about how the BCA works. When talking with members of Congress about the BCA, you can use messaging such as this:

On the Budget Control Act, while I am glad that we avoided a first-time ever U.S. default, I am very disappointed in the final outcome. To ask middle class and working families to bear the burden of deficit reduction while millionaires, billionaires, and corporations are asked to give up nothing is a disgrace. Millions of American families are still struggling to make ends meet in this tough economy, but Congress thinks the solution is to take away what little help families currently get. As this deficit reduction process moves forward, as your constituent, I want to see a balanced approach to this problem. First, please tell members of the Super Committee to defend America’s most vulnerable by protecting Medicaid, SNAP, the EITC, Head Start, child care, and other low-income services from reckless cuts and restructuring. Next, please tell them that their proposal must include new revenue that equals no less than 50 percent of the savings they find. America is better than that what we saw and got from this last fight. I am looking for your leadership in helping put these political games aside as we try to solve some of our biggest problems.

You can also use our updated online alert call to members of Congress to express your opinion about the final debt ceiling bill and demand a balanced approach going forward. For messaging on our August Action, please see our August Laser Talk


Supplement Your Meetings by Continuing Great Media Work (July Action)

Last week, we chronicled all the great work of RESULTS volunteers in generating media over the last six weeks. Congratulations to South Central Pennsylvania volunteer Bruce Kessler for his powerful opinion piece on Head Start and other early childhood programs to break the cycle of poverty in Saturday’s Chambersburg Public Opinion, our 34th piece of media coverage on our issues helps us influence policymakers as well as educate the public about issues and positions they may not know. Remember that the editorial page of your local paper is one of the most widely-read sections of the paper, so you have the potential to educate a great many people with your letters.

As you meet with members of Congress this month to talk about early learning funding in the FY 2012 budget, as well as the recent debt deal, strengthen your voice by using the media to get your message out. If you have not submitted a letter to the editor recently, or you did but it did not get published, send one today. Remember that if your main paper did not publish a recent submission of yours, look for alternative publications, such as weekly papers, other major papers in your state, or national papers. Our media action page allows you to choose from many different news outlets in your state. When you do get you letter published, be sure to send it to your members of Congress and post a link to it on your personal Facebook page and the RESULTS Facebook page (to educate your friends). Also, please let the RESULTS Domestic Staff know about your published letters!

TAKE ACTION: Supplement your meetings this month by drafting and submitting 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. Use our online letter to the editor action for talking points and background information. Be sure to mention your members of Congress by name when urging them to act, and — once your piece gets published — be sure to fax a copy to your congressional offices. You can also find background information in our July Action sheet.


Take Action to Protect Medicaid from “Super Committee” Cuts

Under the Budget Control Act, Medicaid would be protected from any across-the-board cuts that would trigger if the new “Super Committee” fails to meets its mandate. However, this does not mean that Medicaid is safe. Remember that the Ryan FY 2012 budget called for Medicaid to be cut by $750 billion over ten years and then restructured into a block grant to the states. This would mean drastic cutbacks in enrollment and/or benefits, leaving millions who now have coverage uninsured. Although the Ryan budget failed in the Senate, its legacy is still very much alive. In the recent debt ceiling negotiations, President Obama had proposed $100 billion in Medicaid cuts before talks broke down between him and with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) on July 22, and some lawmakers pushed to remove Medicaid’s exemption from the across-the-board cuts in the final deal. Fortunately, these positions did not win the day . . . yet. The Super Committee itself has authority to cut any program in the budget. Many expect Medicaid to be their first target.

We need to remain vigilant about protecting Medicaid. The new Super Committee must contain appointing legislators who know the intricacies and importance of Medicaid and work to oppose any efforts to recklessly cut or restructure the program.

TAKE ACTION: Let your members of Congress know that you want them to protect the millions of Americans who rely on Medicaid for basic health care. Take our online e-mail action in support of this vital program, and review our updated Medicaid background page for a refresher on the program.


Quick News

Webinar TODAY and New Faith-based Resources on the Debt Deal. The Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs (DHN), a coalition of faith-based advocacy groups, held a webinar What’s the Deal? Budget Experts from the Faith Community Explain What the Debt Ceiling Deal Means for Low-Income Communities about the Budget Control Act last week and messaging on how communities can take action as the deficit reduction process continues. There will be a repeat of the webinar this afternoon, August 9 at 2:00 pm ET. It is not too late to RSVP online. If you cannot make it, you can watch and listen to a recording of it. Also, please join Faithful Reform and Health Care’s next conference call, which will focus on protecting public health programs in the budget cutting climate. FRHC is a great partner to RESULTS in our work to create health care for all. Join the call this Friday, August 12 at 2:00 pm ET; simply RSVP at the Faithful Reform website.

Sign Your RESULTS Group onto SNAP Support Letter. The National Anti-Hunger Organizations, of which RESULTS is a member, and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) have drafted a support letter to members of Congress urging them to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), from budget cuts and restricting it into a state block grant. The letter will be sent to Congress in the coming weeks. If you have not signed your local RESULTS group onto the letter (see the list for current sign-ons), please do so today! You can read and sign onto the letter on the FRAC website.

IRS Data: 1,400 Millionaires Don’t Pay Income Taxes. A new analysis of tax returns by the IRA shows that 1,470 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009. Yet those earning a million dollars or more in income (235,000 people in all) took in over $726 billion that year. In contrast, the average income for American taxpayers fell by $3,500 between 2008 and 2009 and the number of taxpayers fell by 2 million. In addition, the number of 1040EZ returns filed fell by 23 percent, which analysts attribute to low-income workers, who typically use the EZ form, losing their jobs. This new data should provide a good response to members of Congress who argue it is unfair to tax the rich because that 50 percent of taxpayers pay no federal income tax. Urge Congress to create an equitable and just tax code by taking our online e-mail action.


Announcements

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 calls are for people who might want to get involved but need to know more about us. They last about 30 minutes and will allow people to get a short and sweet taste of who RESULTS is, what we do, and why we do it. The call will be 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 about the call, 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.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Sunday, August 7 – Monday, September 5: House and Senate summer recess. Request face-to-face meetings back home.

Tuesday, August 9: RESULTS National Conference Call, 8:00 pm ET. Dial (888) 409-6709 to participate and also be in front of your computer so we can review some internet resources on the call. You can listen to recordings of previous national conference calls on the RESULTS 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.


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.