Domestic Weekly Update January 4, 2011
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Happy New Year, everyone! To celebrate the dawning of 2011, please join us this Saturday for the first RESULTS National Conference Call of the year. This will be an exciting call as we will overview our 2011 RESULTS Domestic Campaigns. Our friends from the New America Foundation will speak to us about our new asset-building campaign, and we’ll also learn more about our 2011 work on early childhood issues. We will also overview the January 2011 monthly action and how your groups can begin the 2011 group planning process. This promises to be an interesting and important call for the start of the New Year. We look forward to you joining us.
TAKE ACTION: Coordinate and gather with your group this Saturday, January 8 at 12:30 p.m. ET for the national conference call. 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.
Set Up Face-to-Face Meetings Before the New Congress Heads to Washington (January Action)
The coming of the New Year brings with it a new Congress. Tomorrow, the new Congress will be sworn in in Washington. However, major legislative activity will not begin for another few weeks. This means that members of Congress will still be home for a good chunk of January and possibly available for face-to-face visits in their districts.
As you well know, the 112th Congress brings with it some big changes. Republicans will again control the House of Representatives and Democrats will control the Senate and the White House. Already members of Congress are talking about the need to cut spending to control rising deficits. While the deficit is a serious issue, we have to ensure that Congress makes the right decisions on deficit reduction. Simply slashing social services that help those at the bottom of the economic ladder are not the answer. Outside Social Security and public health insurance programs, social safety new programs comprise only 14 percent of the federal budget. Yet many members of Congress believe if we simply cut these programs to the bone, without raising any revenues whatsoever, all our fiscal woes will disappear. Not true. What we’ll get is continued deficits with much, much more poverty.
For example, there are major battles ahead to protect early childhood development services for low-income families. In December, Congress was unable to pass an omnibus bill, which included an $840 million funding increase for Head Start/Early Head Start and a $681 million increase for child care. Instead, they passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR), which will extend current funding for discretionary programs through March 4, 2011 (without factoring in the 2009–10 increases for Head Start and child care). The new Republicans House majority will demand further spending cuts before agreeing to pass these critical FY2011 spending bills.
We need to maintain a sustained and powerful voice in support of doing what is right. Remember that the first step in creating the political will to end poverty is not about finding all the right solutions to the problem of poverty. We already know how to end poverty — ideas to do so are replete and RESULTS supports many of them. Rather, the first step in ending poverty is choosing to do it. It’s up to us as advocates and citizens to convince decision-makers to make that choice.
TAKE ACTION: Take the January Action. Set up a face-to-face meeting with returning and new members of Congress in your home state. Contact the office scheduler to see when your House and Senate members can meet before they go to Washington. Use the January Action sheet to help you schedule the meeting, plan it, and execute it. In addition to (re)introducing RESULTS to your members of Congress, focus your meeting on protecting Head Start and child care programs that help break the cycle of poverty. Temporary funding for these programs will run out in March and without adequate increases to these levels, which will simply maintain current enrollment, many low-income children and their families could lose these essential services. See the action sheet for more details.
Once you have a meeting scheduled, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) as soon as possible to help you prepare. We can help you hone your message on the issues that will have the most impact with your particular members of Congress.
RESULTS works to find the “trimtab” campaigns that will make a substantial difference in the lives of the lowest-income Americans while simultaneously ensuring that our small but very engaged grassroots network makes a strategic impact. On December 17, 2010, the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board of Directors approved the following as priority campaigns for 2011:
RESULTS has been a long time advocate of quality early childhood development policies. Research shows that children who participate in a quality program during their preschool years are better prepared to learn, have higher self-esteem, and possess more developed social skills when they start kindergarten. RESULTS strongly supports increased investments in Head Start, a federally funded preschool program that provides comprehensive services to low-income children and their parents, and Early Head Start, a child development program for pregnant women and low-income families with infants and toddlers. We also advocate for investments for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which provides child care assistance to low-income families and provides critical funds to states to help them improve the quality of child care. Unfortunately, Head Start serves less than 50 percent of eligible preschoolers, Early Head Start serves less than 6 percent of all eligible families, and CCDBG serves only one out of seven eligible children.
While RESULTS has a long history of working on early childhood development, we have shifted our focus away from this area for the past few years with our work on health reform and tax policy. However, we have always kept a close eye on early childhood issues and have weighed in when needed. For example, we pushed for more investment in these programs in the 2009 economic recovery bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As a result of our work and the work of our allies, the law included $2.1 billion in temporary funding for Head Start ($1.1 billion of that is for Early Head Start) and an additional $2 billion in CCDBG funds to provide services to an additional 300,000 children and their families.
With the new Congress and many members pushing for drastic and indiscriminate budget cuts, these programs will need RESULTS’ unique voice and grassroots’ strength to push back against these reckless policies. RESULTS groups will urge policymakers to protect and increase funding for CCDBG and Head Start for next year, learning from the expertise our global staff and volunteers have developed in influencing the appropriations process. This campaign will focus on the annual appropriations process, with particular attention on the needs of infants and toddlers.
Building assets and savings helps low-income families to become financially self-reliant. In addition to increasing financial security, assets support low-income families in breaking the cycle of poverty by enabling them to weather emergencies, make investments in property, achieve a higher education, and create small business. In addition, low-income families that are able to save money are more likely to have children who are upwardly mobile when they become adults. In other word, assets help break the cycle of poverty. To achieve this, it is particularly critical to connect low-income Americans with the financial system and with savings products. There are still relatively few organizations engaged in efforts to enact asset building policies, and even less with any grassroots capacity. This gives RESULTS a unique opportunity to make a difference.
In the coming year, we will launch a multi-year campaign to enact federal legislation that creates progressive asset-based programs with a focus on the Saver’s Bonus. The Saver’s Bonus would provide a simple and flexible opportunity for millions of low-income taxpayers to begin saving at tax time. Essentially, the Saver’s Bonus allows low-income taxpayers to create savings accounts, with a dollar-for-dollar match on a portion of their tax refund, right on the tax form. Of all the asset building policies, the Saver’s Bonus stands out because it uses the existing tax system and moment of opportunity to save (while filing taxes), and provides a safe and flexible product to attract families often nervous about their financial future.
Advocacy for the Saver’s Bonus will build on the relationship and expertise our grassroots network has developed in their successful efforts to support low-income working families through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). We anticipate working closely with the New America Foundation as the key partners to enact the Saver’s Bonus in the coming years. For more background on the Saver’s Bonus, see the New America Foundation’s overview.
We will continue to voice our support for other asset building policies, including efforts to address asset limits in federal programs, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), domestic microenterprise, VITA reauthorization, KIDS accounts, and the Saver’s Tax Credit. However, because of its ease and potential scope of use, as of now we will have a concentrated focus on the Saver’s Bonus.
Grassroots Health and Expansion Campaign
We plan to increase the focus on supporting groups to do outreach with several outreach-focused monthly actions and conference calls with our groups, making outreach a priority coordinated action rather than something groups squeeze in during busy legislative work. RESULTS staff will work to expand our network, particularly on college and university campuses (i.e. our Campus for Change program), and in target areas based on key policymakers or strategic alliances.
In addition, we will continue to support our groups to engage in fundraising, building on the success of our grassroots network in rising to the challenge of maintaining our domestic staff capacity. In 2010, RESULTS’ domestic grassroots groups raised over $26,000 outside of the major annual fundraising events – twice as much as they had in previous years. In 2011 we hope to effectively leverage the relationships they have in their local communities to recruit major donors and local foundations to support our work.
Now is the time to tend to some housekeeping. The annual group planning process allows all our RESULTS groups to reflect and celebrate accomplishments over the last year, while also looking forward and setting goals for 2011. Group planning is an important part of RESULTS’ success — it allows us to set goals, track progress, and adjust tactics throughout the year so that we can achieve our objectives in an effective and meaningful way. RESULTS staff is here to support you in this process. Essential group planning materials (planning form, guide to group planning) are available on our website to make this process fulfilling and simple.
TAKE ACTION: After the national conference call on Saturday, set a time with your group to do group planning in the next few weeks. Plan for adequate time to complete the process. Once you have completed your planning, fill out the planning form and send a copy to your regional coordinator as soon as possible. If you have questions about group planning, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff for help.
Join Early Childhood Call on January 13. Next week, the National Women’s Law Center will host a call on the status of early childhood programs such as Head Start and child care. With early childhood being one of our 2011 RESULTS Domestic Campaigns, this will be a great opportunity to learn what’s in store for these programs in the 112th Congress from key allies in Washington. The call is Thursday, January 13 at 3:00 pm ET. To register for this free call go to http://action.nwlc.org/site/Survey?SURVEY_ID=11400&ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&autologin=true to sign up.
House to Adopt New “CUTGO” Rule. House Republicans plan enact their own version of the “PAYGO” rule to drastically reduce spending and enact more tax cuts. Normal “PAYGO” rules enacted in the 1990s required that any increase in spending or cut in taxes had to be offset with corresponding cuts and/or tax increases, so as to not increase the deficit. The incoming Republican leadership in the House has rewritten the rule, referred to as “CUTGO”, requiring only that spending increases be offset, not tax cuts. This means that increases to mandatory programs (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, Medicaid) will require corresponding cuts from other programs to pay for them. Tax cuts, however, will not have to be paid for. Furthermore, under the rule any increases to spending must be paid for with other spending cuts; they cannot be paid for with tax increases.
House Plans Vote on Repeal of Health Reform. The new House leadership has scheduled a vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for next Wednesday, January 12. The Affordable Care Act is the health reform passed by Congress in March 2010. As you know, this bill will expand coverage to millions of uninsured Americans through Medicaid and expand access to services through community health centers. The vote is more political than substantive because even if the repeal passes the House, it faces opposition in the Senate and President Obama. Make a quick call to House and Senate members this week and tell them that you are grateful that Congress passed health reform and to vote NO on repeal.
Thank You for Your Fundraising Efforts! RESULTS/REF would like to thank each and every one of you for your tremendous fundraising efforts in 2010. Your commitment to securing the resources needed to maintain our Domestic capacity and build the political will to end poverty ensures that this important work will continue. We are still tallying the donations received over the holidays and will get you a final total to celebrate in the coming weeks. Also, if you received any addition donations in December, please be sure to send them in as soon as possible. Contact Cynthia Stancil ([email protected]) at the RESULTS DC office with questions. Thank you again for your commitment to this work!
(Click to see a complete calendar)
January 8: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET, (888) 409-6709.
January 12: Power Mapping Training Call. 9 pm ET. Call (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. Join us for this interesting call about leveraging your connections for more effective advocacy. See our December Action for more details about power mapping.
January 17: Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. All RESULTS offices closed.
February 2 and 16, March 2 and 16: New Activist Orientation, 4-session series. 9 pm ET. Call (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. Join us for the series and get better acquainted with RESULTS! To RSVP or to get more information, contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]).
June 19–21: RESULTS International Conference at the Four Points Sheraton in Washington, DC (Note: start date subject to change).
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.