Domestic Weekly Update January 17, 2012
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
New and Urgent in This Weeks Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Thank you to all who attended the RESULTS Domestic January 2012 national conference call last Saturday. The call focused on our January Action: group planning. We’ll get to the details of the call below, but first we want to let you know about a new tool we used after Saturday’s call to help with group planning.
RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson facilitated a Skype video conference call with the RESULTS Columbus (OH) group right after the national conference call. Columbus has scheduled their group planning for that time. Meredith met virtually with the group for about 45 minutes to provide them a “DC view” of how best to draft their plan, particularly with respect to their members of Congress. Meredith has a great deal of institutional knowledge about Congress, based on her work with congressional offices and coalition partners, that can better inform groups on effective strategies for moving their specific representatives and senators on our issues. In addition to providing this insight to Columbus, she also discussed media strategies with the group. This staff assistance to a local group was very helpful for the Columbus group planning process. We hope other groups will take advantage of this unique opportunity as well.
2012 will be an interesting year. Because many of our legislative goals will not be decided until after the election (see more below), we have the opportunity to spend time strengthening our local groups and expanding our reach and impact in our communities this year. As Kathleen Duncan from Houston, TX reviewed on Saturday’s call, we have some goals we’ll be working with groups to accomplish by the end of the year. They are:
- Net gain of at least one new activist per group
- Recruit grasstop(s) your group can work with – the kind of local bigwigs that can help you get deeper access to a senator or get a key op-ed in your local paper
- Each group create a system and designate someone to manage your local action network – that critical broader list of folks in your community you can call on several times per year to come to events or join you on a big call-in day push
- Hold a fundraising event or have at least one activist per group participate in the Spring 2012 Family and Friends Campaign
- Double participation at the 2012 International Conference (July 21-24)
- Make sure everyone has a meaningful role in your group – there are lots of “jobs” to share, including who will be the point person for each of your senators and representatives, a liaison with your local newspaper, someone who coordinates your Facebook page, etc.
TAKE ACTION: Please set your 2012 group planning meeting ASAP. Our goal is to complete group planning by January 31. Once your group planning date is set, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) to schedule time to meet with her about your group plan. If you cannot meet with her as a group, schedule a time for Meredith and your local group leader to help you strategize for 2012. In addition, review the January Action sheet to help with your planning. When meeting with your group, be sure to have the resources available:
You can find these and other helpful tools on our Group Resources and Administration page.
Finally, the experience Meredith and the RESULTS Columbus group had on Saturday doing a Skype video call made the meeting much more meaningful (versus a regular conference call). As a result, we are going to try an experiment for the February 11 national conference call. We are working on creating a Skype video link where any group can call in during the conference call and at least see the DC office managing the call. We will still use the regular conference call number, but those groups interested can also dial in via Skype and watch it as well. We’ll have more details about this in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you are interested doing this on February 11, be sure to add the RESULTS DC office to your Skype contacts list (Skype name: Results.cf).
As we discussed on Saturday’s conference call, one of the first things RESULTS volunteers should do at the beginning of each year is put in those requests for face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress. These can sometimes be hard to come by, so getting them in early and often and then following up on your request is key. This week, the House returns to Washington to begin work, followed by the Senate next week. However, there will be upcoming recesses where members of Congress will be home. Put in your request now to get on their schedule now.
TAKE ACTION: Request a face-to-face meeting with your representatives and senators. Get in early to meet with members of Congress to push them early on these important issues. If you cannot get a meeting now, ask for a time to meet the next time your representative or senator is home. You can also contact your representative’s and senators’ local office or their websites to see if they have any public events scheduled (see our Elected Officials page for contact and website info). Use our online e-mail to contact their offices about setting up a meeting. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you prepare.
See our January 2012 U.S. Poverty Laser Talk for a sample conversation with a scheduler to set up a meeting. You can also listen to this Laser Talk modeled on last Saturday’s conference call (beginning at about the 46:00 minute mark).
The 2012 RESULTS International Conference registration page is open. Register today! This year, we are planning on an exciting and inspiring conference. This year’s conference is a little later than usual, July 21-24, so that we can take advantage of the International AIDS Conference that will take place at the same time. The AIDS conference will attracts thousands of domestic and global poverty advocates to DC and give the opportunity to connect with potential new allies from all over the world. We are also going back to a four-day conference this year, so we can maximize our time in DC to cultivate new people we will all bring to the conference. Because we are always sensitive to the costs involved to attend a conference in Washington, DC, we have lowered the costs to attend this year. First, conference registration is only $150, if you register before April 15. In addition, the hotel rooms are $155 per room plus tax. The conference hotel is located very close to Washington National Airport, making it very convenient for arrival and departure.
The first three days of our conference will be spent on education, training and socializing with each other in preparation for the coup de gras, Lobby Day on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 22nd. Speaking of Lobby Day, as you make your plans, consider staying until Wednesday, July 25th to make sure you can get all your lobby meetings in. Many advocates last year, especially those with large congressional delegations, found that by staying at least part of the day on Wednesday, they could get all of their lobby meetings done without feeling rushed and overwhelmed to get them all done on Tuesday.
TAKE ACTION: Plan to attend the 2012 RESULTS International Conference, July 21-24. Register today to take advantage of the lower registration fee and to secure your hotel room in advance. We have an ambitious goal to double our attendance this year, from 200 to 400 registrants. During your group planning this month, be sure to discuss how many members of our group will attend the conference so we can not only meet, but shatter our goal. We’ll have more details about the conference in the coming weeks and months. We look forward to you helping us meet that goal and creating the best RESULTS conference yet.
We very much thank Indivar Dutta-Gupta from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for being our guest speaker on Saturday’s national conference call. Indivar provided us a comprehensive overview of what the 2012 congressional agenda will likely play out on anti-poverty issues. As you know, RESULTS primary U.S. Poverty campaign in 2012 is Economic Opportunity for All. This campaign will have both short-term and long-term goals. On this short-term, our focus will be on protecting and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Both of these credits are essential to helping low-income working families stay out of poverty. We are working to ensure that the recent improvements to the EITC and CTC (passed in 2009) are preserved. On Saturday’s call, Indivar reminded us of some important facts to help us in our advocacy this year:
- In 2010 (latest data available), the EITC and CTC helped lift 9.3 million people out of poverty; 1.6 million of these were helped by the 2009 improvements.
- The EITC has a wide reach — one-half of all American families with children claim the EITC at least once during an 18-year period.
- Large share of those who receive the EITC only do so 1-2 years at a time.
- Looking at EITC taxpayers over 18 year period, people end up paying more in federal taxes than they receive in EITC benefits. This is because the EITC moves people up the economic ladder, allowing them to put more into the system than they receive.
Looking ahead to this year, Indivar confirmed that much of the substantive legislative work in 2012 will not take place until after the 2012 November elections, i.e. the “lame duck” session. This includes taking up whether to extend the Bush tax cuts, as well as the 2009 expansions of the EITC and CTC. It will also include finalizing the 2013 budget. However, this does not mean that our work will be delayed as well. Being an election year, there will be a lot of activity and rhetoric about tax policy and spending priorities. As Indivar noted, it is imperative that we push forward in urging Congress to protect low-income working families via the EITC and CTC, and doing so in the context of the larger economy, i.e. touting how these credits help protect and strengthen our economic recovery.
Indivar also noted that advocate will also need to urge members of Congress to oppose “symbolic votes” on bad policy, such as votes to extend tax cuts for the wealthy. These votes will be taken to help candidates for election more than enact policy but could later be used to box legislators in a corner when the actual policy decisions are made.
He also said the primary issue in 2012 will be the economy and the economic recovery. Politicians will look to blame each other and policies for the recovery or lack thereof. We need to be vigilant in reminding people that while the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, which included the EITC and CTC improvements) may not have been as big as we wanted or needed, it also did more to address poverty in America than any other piece of legislation in a generation. With income inequality likely also being a big campaign issue, this information and the expertise RESULTS volunteers bring to the issue of inequality, the wealth gap, and poverty will be important.
Finally, Indivar provided us some great insight on working with legislative staff in Washington. Indivar worked for the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy, before joining the Center on Budget. Based on his experience, he told us that when working with committee staff, understand where staff and their bosses are coming from. If you are meeting with a sympathetic legislator, recognize that they are playing a lot of defense these days and need help. Find ways to work together to move our agenda forward, knowing that it may be slower than we would like. When meeting with those less sympathetic, know that they will be more focused on deficit reduction and plan accordingly. He also reminded us not to expect expertise on our issues with everyone we meet with; they are very busy and are not as focused on our issues as we are. They may need to rely on our analysis of the issues and, more importantly, our grassroots and grasstops mobilization, media work, and representing people in our communities. Finally, he said that we will make more progress when we can find common ground with our members of Congress and their staff.
TAKE ACTION: If you did not hear the January 2012 national conference call, please listen to it online through the RESULTS website. Indivar provided a wealth of information, which cannot all be summarized here. We also preview in more detail the 2012 RESULTS U.S. Poverty Campaigns, including our work on asset development and the Saver’s Bonus (part of our Economic Opportunity campaign), as well as our continued vigilance in protecting Head Start and child care services. You can read about all of our 2012 U.S. Poverty work on our Campaign Summary page. Be sure to review this page as your do you 2012 group planning this month.
Looking forward to fundraising in 2012, we want to build on our success in 2011. The best thing your group can do right now is to make room for Fundraising in your group planning meetings. Truth be told, fundraising can even help you achieve your expansion goals and reach out to your community.
Events certainly raise money for us, but with a little strategy they can be so much more. A fundraising event is a great way to bring our message to new people in our communities. Presenting powerful speakers – whether it’s a member of Congress or simply local RESULTS partners – is inspirational for guests. Most groups who do annual events find they help maintain a connection to local donors and expand their local action network. In fact, some of our valuable RESULTS partners listening today first heard about us from attending a fundraiser. Whatever kind of event you’re thinking of, the key is to get it on the calendar now.
Whether your group is planning an event or participating in the Friends and Family Campaign (beginning February 20) where you ask your friends and family directly for donations, we’ll be rolling out new options for online tools this year. You’ll be able to have a personal website where your friends can donate to RESULTS from the comfort of their keyboards. After we set up these personal pages, we’ll also roll out a template for an event webpage where you can accept credit card donations or ticket payments before you even open your doors. We’ll have more soon. In the meantime, please contact Cindy Levin ([email protected]) with any questions.
Thank you again for all your work to secure financial resources for RESULTS’s work to end poverty. We look forward to a great 2012!
To help kick the year off right on our 2012 Economic Opportunity for All campaign, EITC advocates from around the country are working to promote EITC Awareness Day on Friday, January 27. This day is designed to raise awareness of the EITC and its life-changing impact for recipients and policymakers. RESULTS is working in partnership with the National Community Tax Coalition to promote events around EITC Awareness Day both in Washington, DC and around the country. This includes a policy briefing on Thursday, January 26. This briefing will be an excellent opportunity for congressional staff to learn more about the importance of the EITC for low-income working families.
TAKE ACTION: Invite House and Senate tax staffers and urge them the EITC policy briefing Promoting the Security of America’s Working Families: A Review of the EITC’s Value and Discussion of 2012 Policy Implications. The event will be held on Thursday, January 26, 10:00-11:30 a.m. ET. It will be held on room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building. You can download a PDF of the briefing invitation from the RESULTS website. Use our Elected Officials page to find the name of your representative’s and senators’ tax staffers so you can contact them.
Also, take a few minutes to educate your communities about low-income tax credits with our online tax credit media action. Send a letter to the editor today about the importance of the EITC and CTC and urging lawmakers to protect and expand them.
State of the Union Speech Scheduled for January 24. Next Tuesday, President Obama will give his annual State of the Union speech to both chambers of Congress and the nation. The speech will outline his agenda for 2012, including his priorities for the 2013 federal budget (he will release his proposed budget in early February). The president is expected to make income inequality a large part of his re-election campaign message, yet is also signaling that his FY 2013 budget will be very tight. As inequality and tight budgets become big issues this year, this SOTU address could be an interesting preview of the 2012 national debate on our priorities as a country. The speech will be at 9:00 pm ET and carried by most major networks.
Invite People to the RESULTS Intro Call This Friday. Our next RESULTS Introductory Calls is this Friday, January 20 at 1:00 pm ET. These bi-monthly calls are great call for people wanting to get a basic understanding of RESULTS and our work. Take a few minutes this week to invite a friend or family member to register for the next call (or sign up yourself). In particular, if you know people in Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, or New Orleans, please invite them to participate. People can register at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet. Contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) if you have questions about the call.
New Activist Orientation Calls Begin in February. RESULTS will begin the next New Activist Orientation series in early November. This is a two-session series of conference calls designed to give people a more in depth overview of RESULTS’s work. It is perfect for new members of your local RESULTS group or anyone interested in learning more about us (beyond the RESULTS Intro Call). The calls are February 13 and 27 at 9:00 pm ET. Urge your new members or others you know to attend. To RSVP, please contact Lisa Marchal at [email protected].
(See a complete calendar)
Tuesday, January 17: House returns to Washington from holiday recess.
Friday, January 20: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.
Monday, January 23: Senate returns to Washington from holiday recess.
Thursday, January 26: EITC Awareness Day event in Washington DC. Invite staffers to attend.
Friday, January 27: National EITC Awareness Day.
Tuesday, January 31: CHN Election Year Activities webinar, 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET. Details coming soon.
Tuesday, January 31: Target date to complete 2012 Group Planning (please send a copy of your plan to your Regional Coordinator or Meredith Dodson).
Saturday, February 11: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.
Monday, February 13 and 27: RESULTS’ New Activist Orientation series, 9:00 pm ET. Contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]) for details.
Saturday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 24, 2012: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. Start planning today to attend our 2012 conference!
Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 1730 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.
RESULTS Domestic Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:
- Meredith Dodson, Director of Domestic Campaigns, (202) 783-7100, x116, [email protected]
- Jos Linn, Domestic Outreach Organizer, (515) 288-3622, [email protected]
- Ann Beltran, Domestic Volunteer Lobbyist, [email protected]
- Cindy Changyit Levin, Grassroots Development Associate, (773) 236-7758, [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.