Domestic Weekly Update December 14, 2010

In this [tax] agreement we have an extension of the earned-income tax credit for working Americans, and the child and college tax credit are also in there. Every one of these agreements is very important. These programs will keep millions of Americans from slipping out of the middle class and into poverty. They will allow millions of Americans to send their kids to college... [W]e have to fight to make sure all of those programs remain in the final package when it is passed... But when we look at the overall agreement, we must put it in a broader context; that is, what will the passage of this legislation mean for the future of our country?

— Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a speech on the Senate floor, December 10, 2010

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

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Organizational Updates

President’s Tax Deal Moves Forward — Remind Congress What Tax Provisions Are Important (December Action)

As we reported last week, after the Senate failed to pass an extension of only the low-income and middle-class cuts, President Obama announced a compromise with congressional Republicans. This “deal” would include the following:

  • The 2009 improvements to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be extended for two years. This includes the $3,000 eligibility threshold for the CTC and the expanded EITC for married couples and families with 3 or more children.
  • The Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 would be extended for two years, including those cuts for the wealthy.
  • A two-percent reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for one year; employers would still pay 6.2 percent.
  • Unemployment benefits would be extended for the long-term unemployed for 13 months.
  • Taxes on capital gains and dividends will continue at the reduced rate of 15 percent for two years.
  • The estate tax would be cut for two years by exempting the first $5 million per person and taxing assets above that amount at a 35 percent rate (in 2009, the exemption was $3.5 million with a 45 percent rate).

Yesterday, the Senate came one step closer to passing the deal. By a vote of 83-15, the Senate invoked “cloture” thus agreeing to limit debate and move forward. A final vote to pass the bill, H.R.4853, is expected tonight or tomorrow. Once the Senate passes it, it will then go to the House for a vote. The House has expressed serious objections to the plan, particularly the estate tax cut which will benefit only the top 0.25 percent wealthiest estates in the U.S. The House may vote to amend the provision in the deal and possibly other provisions. Details are still unknown on the House’s strategy moving forward, however, many expect that the bill will pass in its current or a modified form, perhaps by the end of the week.

RESULTS is pleased that the Senate bill extends the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC. As you know, these credits are critical for working families, especially in a struggling economy. However, the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy, which will do little for the economy and increase the deficit, are reckless and irresponsible. These cuts add billions to our deficit and put social service programs in greater jeopardy down the road as Congress starts crafting its next budget. For these reasons, RESULTS cannot endorse this bill. It is true that in the short run, this will do a great deal for working families and the unemployed, which is the primary reason we are not actively seeking its defeat. However, the high-end tax cuts and the payroll tax holiday will likely have a long-tern negative effect on the budget and social service programs. We cannot in good conscience stand behind these policies.

Congress should be focusing its efforts on doing what is right by enacting tax policy that helps those who truly need it. Therefore, our message is clear and remains the same — extend the 2009 EITC and CTC improvements for working families beyond 2010.

TAKE ACTION: Take the December Action. The next few days will decide the fate of tax policies that help millions of low-income families. So, make one more phone call, talk to your tax aide, write a letter, send an e-mail, set up a conference call — whatever ways you can best get a final message to your representatives and senators in support of extending the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC. These families are counting on Congress to do the right thing; let’s make sure they do. See our Elected Officials page for contact information.

Fall Fundraising Update: Look at What You’ve Done So Far

We are fast approaching the end of the year and we want to thank all of you for the wonderful work and support you have provided in our 2010 Fall Fundraising Campaign. As reported on Saturday’s RESULTS National Conference Call, you the RESULTS volunteers have exceeded expectations once again. Of our $50,000 organizational goal for this year, we have so far raised $59,000! This money is integral in our efforts to end poverty in the U.S. and around the world. Thank you.

We also want to honor our RESULTS Domestic volunteers who have really stepped it up in 2010. As you know, RESULTS Domestic was charged with raising an additional $50,000 this year to maintain existing capacity, on top of our normal fall fundraising goal, for a total goal of $64,000 for 2010. Our Domestic volunteers (and some Global ones too) responded to the challenge with zeal. As of today, RESULTS Domestic has raised over $58,000 in 2010 through grassroots fundraising, major donations, and grants. Of that amount, over $26,000 has been raised by you the volunteers through events and letter-writing appeals. That’s nearly double what the Domestic grassroots has raised in previous years! Congratulations to you all!

We still have a few weeks left to meet our goal. We are not far from our Domestic goal for the year. The next few weeks are generally a heavy time for charitable donations. Organizations are looking for support and individuals are eager to find worthy ones to give to, either for humanitarian or tax purposes (or both). If you still have people who might be willing to donate to our work, no matter the amount, please go ahead and send a Friends and Family Letter or call them on the phone and ask for a donation. Furthermore, if you have already sent letters and have not heard back from the recipient, please call to follow up. It can make a big difference. See our Fundraising page for resources to help you.

Once your donations arrive, be sure to collect remittance envelopes and record donations on your donations tracking form. Once you have them all, carefully review checks and remittance envelopes for accuracy and for omissions such as expiration dates on credit cards, failure to check one of the gift designation boxes, or unsigned checks, etc. Also, be sure “Friend and Family” or “Events” is circled and that your group name is written on each envelope. Finally, once all your donations are ready to go, please bundle the checks and remittance envelopes together and send them directly to the New York address on the remittance envelope:

RESULTS Educational Fund, Inc.
P.O. Box 10413
Uniondale, NY 11555-10413

Also, in addition to mailing your checks to the bank, be sure to send your donation tracking form to the DC office ([email protected]).

Once you have sent in your donations, please acknowledge your donors’ support by sending a thank you note promptly after you receive their donation. RESULTS has created thank you notes that you can download from our website and print. A quick handwritten note expressing your appreciation at the bottom of the note card adds extra recognition for the donor. If you have been unable to confirm that one of your potential donors has made a contribution, thank them for considering a gift to RESULTS and remind them to send in their donation if they haven’t already done so.

Finally, remember that anyone can donate online at anytime and some of your potential donors may prefer this option. If so, just send them to our Donate page for more information. Be sure to tell them to write RESULTS Domestic, F&F, and your group name in the comment box. For example, a donor solicited by someone in Buffalo would write “RESULTS Domestic, F&F: Buffalo” in the comment box. This will allow us to better track by whom donations were generated (if they give online as a result of an event, just substitute the word “Event” for “F&F”).

Thank you all again to everyone for supporting RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund during our annual 2010 Fall Fundraising Campaign. Your work in garnering these resources is critical to our organization! If you have questions or need more information, please contact our Development Director Donna Howard at (202) 783-4800 or [email protected].

Urge Congress to Increase Head Start and Child Care Funding before Leaving Washington

With precious time ticking away, Congress still has to decide what it will do for the hundreds of thousands of young children who are currently enrolled in Head Start, Early Head Start and child care programs.

As you know, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $2 billion in additional funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and $2.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start for 2009 and 2010 — the largest single increase in funding in the programs’ history. These new funds have helped low-income parents, who are struggling to get and keep a job in this tough economy, afford child care and have given more children the early learning opportunities they need to succeed in school. But as the National Women’s Law Center points out, these ARRA funds are running out, leaving children and families at risk of losing these critical supports unless Congress provides additional funding for child care and Head Start for 2011.

Last week, the House took the first step in helping by including a $374 million funding increase for CCDBG and $300 million increase for Head Start in its continuing resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2011; this bill will keep the government open for the next year at 2010 funding levels. We applaud these efforts, but there is an opportunity to do more in the Senate.

Rather than passing a basic continuing resolution like the House, which may restrict any attempts to increase funding, the Senate may instead vote on an “omnibus” appropriations bill for FY 2011. This may give us the room we need to increase funding for CCDBG and Head Start over the House levels. We urge the Senate to pass an omnibus bill that funds Head Start and child care at the levels needed to ensure that no child gets left behind.

TAKE ACTION: Use our online e-mail alert to send a message to Congress urging members to put kids first. Tell them to pass the highest funding levels possible for Head Start and child care so that children currently enrolled in these programs are not forced out next year.

President Obama Signs Child Nutrition Bill into Law; Use Media Coverage to Push for SNAP Cut Restoration

As reported last week, on December 2 the House passed the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (S.3307) by a vote of 264-157. This bill will invest $4.5 billion in new money over the next ten years to improve access, administration, and resources for child nutrition programs. Yesterday at a signing ceremony at a local elementary school, the President, alongside Mrs. Obama, signed the bill into law. Mrs. Obama said at the event, “We can agree that in the wealthiest nation on earth all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing.”

RESULTS applauds Congress for getting a child nutrition bill passed before adjourning this year. However, there is still work to be done. The cuts to future Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are now part of the law and will go into effect in two years if action is not taken. A recent poll from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) shows overwhelming support for federal anti-hunger programs. For example, over 70 percent of respondents said that SNAP was important for the United States and oppose cutting SNAP to pay for child nutrition programs or to reduce the deficit. These findings bolster efforts to make the President and Democratic leaders honor their pledge to restore the SNAP cuts as soon as possible.

TAKE ACTION: Send an e-mail to both Congress and the President urging them to make sure these important SNAP benefits are restored immediately. In your correspondence, be sure to point out the recent hunger data showing that hunger is still a pressing problem in America and we don’t risk more falling into hunger because of cuts to SNAP.

In addition, use the media coverage of President Obama signing the child nutrition bill to generate more media on this issue. Thank members of Congress who voted for the bill and urge all our leaders in Washington to finish the job by restoring the SNAP cuts used to pay for it. Use our online media alert to send a letter to the editor to newspapers today.

National Conference Call Highlights Need to Reach Out to New Members of Congress — Use Power Mapping to Help (December Action)

As 2010 winds down, it’s time to start planning for 2011. In the coming weeks, we will be outlining our 2011 Domestic legislative campaigns, as well as discuss and provide resources to you for the group planning process traditionally done in January. In the meantime, we want to start getting ready now for the incoming 112th Congress. Because many new members of Congress will be coming to Washington and the political balance of power will be different, we want to get started on how best to move members of Congress to make ending domestic poverty a priority.

On last Saturday’s RESULTS National Conference Call, we heard from RESULTS founder Sam Daley Harris about the importance of reaching out to new members of Congress now. In January, our monthly action will specifically focus on setting up meetings between your local groups and members of Congress. This month, we are looking to also find new and creative ways to influence our legislators, through a process called “power mapping.”

Power mapping is an exercise designed to maximize your connection and influence around a particular person, issue or group. By identifying the key players around a specific target you want to influence, you can find the common connections that will help create that influence. Our goal in this exercise is to “power map” a member of Congress. Perhaps it is a newly elected representative or senator that you want to influence on a particular poverty issue. Or perhaps it is a returning member of Congress that you have not had success in influencing in the past and you want to try new ways of doing so. Regardless of your target, you want to find as many of those leverage points you can that have the potential to move him/her to your side on an issue. The process is fairly simple but will require creative thinking and some research.

TAKE ACTION: Take the December Action. Use the steps outlined in the action sheet to start the process of “mapping” your members of Congress. This process will help you think creatively about how to best leverage legislators into making poverty-reduction a priority. Be sure to download our Power Mapping Worksheet to help make the process easy. Also, the RESULTS staff is more than happy to help you with this process, so please feel free to contact us. You can also read more about power mapping from our friends at the Bonner Foundation at: mapping.pdf. You can find out more about your members of Congress on our Elected Officials page.

If you missed the conference call, you can listen to it and calls from previous months on the Conference Calls page of the RESULTS website. Also, please see the December 2010 Laser Talk about reaching out to new members of Congress that was reviewed on the call.

Quick News

Federal Judge Rules Part of Health Reform Unconstitutional. Yesterday, a federal judge in Virginia ruled that the individual mandate contained Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”) was unconstitutional. The individual mandate requires all Americans to purchase health coverage beginning in 2014. Similar attempts to attack the law have failed, but others are pending. Despite this setback, the Obama Administration is moving forward on implementation of reform. In addition, legal experts believe the ruling is flawed and that it will be overturned on appeal.

Upcoming Events

(Click to see a complete calendar)

December 24 (beginning at noon)–January 2: All RESULTS offices closed.

January 8, 2011: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.

June 19–21, 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]), Ann Beltran ([email protected]), and Ann Racuya-Robbins ([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.