Domestic Weekly Update December 7, 2010

In exchange for a temporary extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, we will be able to protect key tax cuts for working families — the Earned Income Tax Credit that helps families climb out of poverty; the Child Tax Credit that makes sure families don’t see their taxes jump up to $1,000 for every child. . . . These are the tax cuts for some of the folks who’ve been hit hardest by this recession, and it would be simply unacceptable if their taxes went up while everybody else’s stayed the same.

— President Barack Obama announcing the tax cut compromise framework, December 6, 2010

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Deal or No Deal? Working Families Must Come First (December Action)

What a difference a week makes. Since last Tuesday’s update, a lot of things have happened on the tax issue. On December 2, the House passed the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010 by a vote of 234-188. This bill extended the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers on their first $200,000 of income ($250,000 for married couples). Because of the hard work of RESULTS activists and many others, the bill includes a permanent extension of the $3,000 income eligibility threshold for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for married couples enacted in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). However, it did not include the expanded EITC for larger families made under ARRA.

On Saturday, the Senate followed the House’s lead and took up two tax bills, both of which failed. The first, introduced by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) would have permanently extended tax cuts for all tax payers under $200,000, including all of the EITC and CTC improvements from ARRA (even the EITC expansion for larger families). The Baucus bill also reinstated the estate tax under 2009 levels and extended unemployment benefits for another year. Unfortunately, it only received 53 of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. The second tax bill was introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and would have raised the cut off for extending tax cuts to $1 million. This bill also included the ARRA provisions for the EITC and CTC. It also fell short 53-37.

During these votes, the White House had been negotiating with Republicans to come up with a deal. Last night, President Obama announced a “framework” for what that deal would look like. Here are some of the details:

  • The 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC 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).

RESULTS is pleased that this tentative deal extends the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC. As you know, these credits are critical for working families, especially in a struggling economy. While we want a permanent extension of these provisions, extending them temporarily is preferable to allowing them to expire on January 1.

That said, there are also parts of this apparent deal that RESULTS is very disappointed with. Extending the tax cuts for income above $200,000 is not that stimulative merely serves as a bonus to the wealthy. Even more troubling is the cut in the estate tax. RESULTS supports a strong and progressive estate tax, as in the Responsible Estate Tax Act. This cut is even more egregious in that 0.3 percent of estates would benefit while doing little for the economy and raising the deficit. These cuts add billions to our deficit and put social service programs in greater jeopardy down the road as Congress looks to cut the budget.

As for next steps, this apparent deal is far from secure. Reactions have been mixed so far. Some Republican leaders have reacted cautiously but positively, while some Democratic members of Congress are threatening to block the deal because of the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy and deficit concerns. Vice President Joe Biden is going to Capitol Hill today to rally support for the deal, where it still faces an uphill battle. Because of this, RESULTS’ position and actions remain the same — we must keep pushing members of Congress to ensure that the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC do not expire on December 31. We must continue the drumbeat until these tax issues are resolved.

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.

Be sure to join us for the RESULTS National Conference Call this Saturday at 2:00 pm ET. We’ll have an update on the latest news on the tax front and actions you can take to preserve the EITC and CTC for working families.

Join Us for the December National Conference Call THIS Saturday at 2:00 p.m. ET (note different time)

Join us this Saturday, December 11 for the RESULTS National Conference Call. The call this month will be a joint call with global and domestic volunteers around the country. There will be lots to report from both RESULTS global and domestic legislative priorities, including the fate of low-income tax credits in the tax bill. We’ll also hear some of you highlighting some of your grassroots successes this year. We look forward to a great call so please plan to join us.

TAKE ACTION: Coordinate and gather with your group this Saturday, December 11 at 2:00 p.m. ET for the national conference call (note the different time for Domestic volunteers). To join the call, dial (888) 409-6709. Once connected to the operator, ask for the RESULTS National Conference call. Plan to call in no later than 12:27 p.m. ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call.

Fall Fundraising Update: There’s Still Time io Make an Impact

We’ve passed our December 1 deadline and gifts are still coming in! Thank you for all that you are doing to help ensure the success of our fall fundraising efforts! Your own financial support coupled with events you’re hosting and the Friends and Family letter writing your conducting is bringing us closer toward our $50,000 goal. Thanks to recent events in Minneapolis and Chicago, our gifts and pledges that have come in during fall fundraising now total over $44,000.

Way to Go Minneapolis and Chicago! RESULTS volunteers in the Twin Cities held their fundraiser last Tuesday on a bitter cold and snowy evening. Despite slick streets, ice and snow, 45 people showed up to the event and even a former member of Congress (Arlen Erdahl). The event included food, fun and a great presentation by the volunteers. By the end of the evening, the group had raised over $1,500 from the silent action and donations. Thanks to the tireless work of the RESULTS Twin Cities volunteers for putting on a great event and supporting our work.

Just five days later and facing similar weather conditions, the RESULTS Chicago volunteers hosted a wine tasting fundraiser in Evanston, IL. Despite several inches of snow on the ground, 20 people showed up and the group raised around $1,000 by selling donated wines and gifts and requesting donations. And if that weren’t success enough, after the event and while the volunteers were cleaning up, the group got an unexpected but welcomed visitor. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) showed up at the event unannounced and made a donation herself. Being the true RESULTS volunteers they are, they quickly switched gears and had an impromptu lobby meeting with her, talking about various issues including the EITC and CTC. What a great experience! Thanks to our Chicago volunteers for the great efforts at supporting our work (remember, this is their SECOND fundraiser this year) and taking advantage of an unexpected advocacy opportunity.

We are also grateful to our vounteers in Washington, DC who are hosting their RESULTS fundraiser this Thursday, December 9. If you know anyone in the DC area who might be interested in attending, please contact Meredith Dodson for details at (202) 783-7100, e.116 or [email protected]

There Is Still Time to Help! Although our December 1 deadline has passed, you can still have an impact. If you still have Friend and Family letters to send, please go ahead and send them, but do so asap. And if you have not made follow up calls for letters already sent, do those as soon as possible too. People will likely want to make their donations before December 31. Once gifts begin to arrive, collect remittance envelopes and record donations on the donations tracking form until you think you have them all. 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 be sure to 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. RESULTS will send an official acknowledgement letter for tax purposes but, the thank you note that you send will be especially valuable because it lets the donor know that you received the gift and appreciate their support. Remember, there’s no such thing as thanking a donor too much. When you see donors out in the community, say the magic words!

Finally, remember that anyone can donate online at anytime. Just go to our Donate page for more information. If donating online, be sure to write Friends and Family or the event and city in the note box. Thanks to everyone for supporting RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund during our annual 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].

Child Nutrition Bill Passes — Tell Congress to Fix SNAP Cuts

Thanks to your efforts, last Thursday the House passed the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (S.3307). The bill passed 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. This is a good step forward in helping hungry kids get the healthy snacks and meals they need for their development. The bill will now go to the President for signature. Many of you made phone calls last week and it made a difference; a number of Republicans joined with most Democrats to pass the bill. Thank you for your commitment to helping America’s children.

However, there is still work to be done. Unfortunately, the bill still cuts future Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to pay for part of the bill, something RESULTS strongly opposes. The President and Democratic leaders have pledged to remedy this and we must hold their feet to the fire.

TAKE ACTION: Send an e-mail to both Congress and the President urging them to make sure these important SNAP benefits are restored before Congress adjourns in December. You can also write letters to your representatives and senators thanking them for passing the child nutrition bill but reminding them that they need restore cuts to SNAP made in the bill. 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.

Start Preparing for the Next Congress — Use Power Mapping to Create your Strategy (December Action)

Once you have taken action to preserve improvements to the EITC and CTC for working families, start planning how you can best influence the 112th Congress being sworn in in January. 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.

Power mapping is a creative way to begin that process. 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. The RESULTS staff is more than happy to help you with this process, as well as provide you materials to use, 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.

Announcements — Welcome Boise to the RESULTS Family!

As you know, RESULTS Domestic started a new advocacy group back in October in Boise, ID. Since that time, these savvy Boiseites have been going through the New Group Training with Domestic Outreach Organizer Jos Linn. This training series is designed to help new groups get up to speed on the Basics of RESULTS. We are happy to announce that the Boise group successfully completed their training last week and are now officially a RESULTS group. Woo-hoo! Their first action as an official group will be to participate in the National Conference Call this Saturday. These folks have some great ideas and goals going forward and we look forward to them being a powerful voice for ending poverty in Idaho. Welcome Boise!

Upcoming Events

(Click to see a complete calendar)

December 11: Joint RESULTS Domestic and Global National Conference Call, 2:00 pm ET (note the different time).

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

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.