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Domestic Weekly Update June 14, 2011
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
We are less than a week away from the start of the RESULTS International Conference in Washington DC. We welcome all the volunteers who are traveling from across the country and across the globe to attend this year’s event. It promises to be another great event. And for those of you who are not able to make it this year, we have ways you can participate back home and we look forward to you attending the next RESULTS conference.
TAKE ACTION (for those participating in DC):
TAKE ACTION (for those participating back home):
Conference Call Guest Tony Hall Calls On Congress to Protect the Vulnerable in Budget Negotiations (June Action)
RESULTS would like to thank Ambassador Tony Hall for speaking on the RESULTS National Conference Call this past Saturday. Ambassador Hall spoke about his recent 28-day Hunger Fast he undertook to draw attention to severe cuts to human services in the federal budget. Ambassador Hall believes that the Hunger Fast, which had over 40,000 participants, helped stave off many dangerous cuts to vital anti-poverty programs in the FY 2011 budget.
However, as Ambassador Hall stated, our work is far from over. He said addressing poverty was not discussed in recent caucus meetings, which means programs designed to help individuals and families in poverty such as Head Start, Medicaid, SNAP, and the Earned Income Tax Credit are still very vulnerable. As we know, current FY 2012 budget and deficit reduction proposals disproportionately target low-income programs and unless we strongly respond to these efforts, many of these cuts could come to pass. The June Action helps us make that forceful response.
This month’s action asks us to take a broader view of the budget process. The action is designed to impact the budget negotiation process around two important votes coming up in Congress. One will be a vote on the federal debt ceiling, which we explained about last week. Because they know we have to pass an increase in the debt ceiling, Republicans are demanding a global spending cap be included as a condition for raising it. This is an arbitrary cap on spending that would force automatic and across the board cuts when the cap is exceeded. It is nothing more than a Trojan Horse designed to enact the Ryan budget.
The second vote is on a balanced budget amendment (BBA). This is an amendment to the constitution requiring the federal government to balance its budget every year. Not only would a BBA force massive cuts in spending far worse than the Ryan budget, it would be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, making it almost impossible to undo when it disastrous effects come to pass.
The truth is these efforts are not really about balancing budgets — if they were, increasing taxes would be part of the mix. The 2001 Bush tax cuts are the number one cause of our current deficits, yet they’re not even discussed. These efforts are really about cutting, slashing and burning the social safety net. That’s the goal and the Ryan budget, global spending caps, and the balanced budget amendment are just the means to get us there.
The House could vote on the balanced budget amendment at the end of this month. A debt ceiling vote could come up around the same time. We need to take this opportunity to tell Congress what we want from this process. We don’t deny that we need to get our fiscal house in order; we just have to make sure we do it the right way. Here are a set of principles we want to you to convey to members of Congress this month in your letters, phone calls, and meetings.
TAKE ACTION: Take the June Action. Write letters or call House and Senate members and urge them to tell deficit and budget negotiators that they will only support a deficit reduction plan that abides by the above principles. We cannot allow Congress to balance the budget on the back of America’s most vulnerable. As Ambassador Hall pointed out on the conference call, the poor did not cause this problem; we should not now make them pay for it. You can also use our June Laser Talk for phone calls and conversations.
We again thank Ambassador Hall for appearing on last Saturday’s National Conference Call. If you missed the call, you can listen to a recording of it on the RESULTS conference call page.
Also, see the Medicaid section below on how you can take action this week to stop specific cuts to Medicaid in current budget negotiations.
As we all know, Medicaid is one of the cornerstones of America’s social safety net. A new report from First Focus called Medicaid Works highlights the importance of this vital program. The report shows that Medicaid (and CHIP) is critical to helping children and adults with serious health needs while protecting vulnerable families in bad economic times. It also shows that Medicaid is more cost-effective than private insurance and allows states the flexibility to design their program to fit the needs of their populations. Despite this success, some in Congress now want to dismantle Medicaid in the name of deficit reduction. The Ryan budget would not only cut Medicaid by over $700 billion over the next decade, it would also convert it into a block grant (Ryan’s budget would do the same for SNAP).
Medicaid’s structure is one of the reasons for its success. Because anyone who is eligible for the program is must receive benefits, Medicaid is a critical back stop for millions of families in poverty. Without it, the uninsured rates in this country would skyrocket way beyond the current 50 million. Furthermore, in bad economic times, Medicaid provides health coverage for people who have sudden drops in income. This is what happened in the most recent economic crisis, where Medicaid picked up the slack as unemployment went up. Finally, Medicaid provides important nursing home services for low-income seniors, services which Medicare does not pay for.
Block-granting would undo all this. It would provide states a fixed amount of money for health coverage each year, no matter how expensive it is to provide that coverage. When the cost of the program exceeds the block grant amount, states would have to make up the difference or cut enrollment and services. This would force cuts in good economic times (because of rising health care costs) and bad (because of less revenue and increased demand). In fact, the Kaiser Foundation released a study in May saying that the Ryan block grant proposal would result in between 31 and 44 million people losing coverage under Medicaid.
TAKE ACTION: We cannot let Congress sacrifice Medicaid in the name of deficit reduction. Join health care advocates this week for call-in days today, tomorrow and Thursday, urging Congress to reject cuts to Medicaid. Call your House and Senate members toll free at (866) 922-4970 and say:
My name is _________________ and I am a RESULTS volunteer from ___________________. I am frustrated that Congress is targeting Medicaid for major cuts and changes, all in the name of deficit reduction. Cuts to this vital program will only shift costs to states and transfer the burden onto seniors who depend on the program for long-term care, onto people with disabilities, and onto children and their families. Deficit reduction is a serious issue, but this the absolute wrong way to do it. DON’T CUT OR BLOCK GRANT MEDICAID.
If you cannot call, send a message to Congress about protecting Medicaid using our online e-mail action.
The last week has seen a flurry of activity around early childhood issues. On June 9, the Children and Families Subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) held a hearing: Getting the Most Bang for the Buck: Quality Early Education and Care, which highlighted the importance of early learning programs. During the hearing, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) talked about his Child Care Protection Act (S.581), calling for more thorough background checks for childcare providers. He also commented on the need to reauthorize and update the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), something he believes is long overdue.
Also, on June 8, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) held a press conference with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), leaders from Save the Children, Mark Shriver, and actress Jennifer Garner to push for more investment in early childhood education. Sen. Casey also reintroduced the Prepare All Kids Act (S.1156), which focuses on helping states provide one year of high-quality pre-Kindergarten education to children, as well as the Starting Early, Starting Right Act (S.1155), which would provide resources to states to offer child care services to more low-income families. This follows his introduction of S.470 earlier this year, which creates the Early Learning Challenge Fund. In addition, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Ready to Learn Act (S.1170), which would help states establish, or build on, voluntary preschool programs. This follows her re-introduction of the LEARN Act (S.929) in May that helps states improve literacy of children from birth through grade 12.
Finally, the longest follow-up study ever done on early childhood education was released out of the University of Minnesota. The research focused on participants in the Child-Parent Center Education Program (CPCEP), which is a publically funded early childhood development program in Chicago public schools. The study showed that participants had higher levels of educational attainment, socioeconomic status, job skills, and lower rates of substance abuse, felony arrest, and incarceration than children who did not participate in pre-school programs. The release of this study could not be more timely as we continue to remind Congress that early childhood programs like Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG are not just anti-poverty programs, they are investments in our country’s future that more than pay for themselves over time.
TAKE ACTION: Keep the momentum going on early childhood by telling members of Congress to support early learning programs in the FY 2012 budget. Specifically, urge members to tell the House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee members to allocate $1.2 billion in new funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and a total allotment of $8.1 billion for Head Start/Early Head Start in FY 2012. Use the April Action sheet and April 2011 U.S. Poverty Laser Talk for talking points and background. If you cannot get a meeting, fax a letter or use our online e-mail action to send a personal note to Congress about early learning funding.
Request Your Face-to Face Meetings for Upcoming Recesses. Although many of you will be meeting with representatives and senators in Washington next week, we want to keep the pressure by having in district meetings this summer as well. The House and Senate will have recesses in July and August, which is a perfect time to meet with them. Contact your House and Senate offices and request a face-to-face meeting in your home state. Once you get a meeting set, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you and your group prepare.
Set Up Your Head Start Visits (May Action). If you have not done so already, be sure to take the May Action and contact your local Head Start or child care center to request a visit by your local RESULTS group. If you do not know where your closest center is, go to http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/HeadStartOffices and you can search for centers near you. See more about these kinds of stories at http://www.halfinten.org/grassroots/stories.
Now Accepting Grassroots Board Nominations. We are seeking nominations for two RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Grassroots Board Members to serve for a term of three years, and represent the volunteer body on the Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee for the Board. Grassroots board members also provide a particular bridge between the grassroots network and board decisions and organizational priorities. Members meet frequently by teleconference and are in communication via e-mail and telephone calls, must be able to participate at this level, and are expected to chair or serve on a Board Committee. The full Board meets at least yearly face-to-face. We are encouraging participation from diverse populations including youth, young adults and racial and ethnic minorities. Active volunteers may nominate other active volunteers for this position. Please forward names and phone numbers of any nominees to Jamila White-Bandah, by July 10, 2011. Please feel free to contact the RESULTS DC office if you have any questions.
(See a complete calendar)
Sunday, June 19 – Tuesday, June 21: RESULTS International Conference at the Four Points Sheraton in Washington, DC.
Monday, June 27 – Tuesday, July 5: House of Representatives is on recess.
Monday, July 4 – Sunday, July 10: Senate is on recess.
Saturday, July 9: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.
Monday, July 18 – Sunday, July 24: House of Representatives is on recess.
Monday, August 8 – Monday, September 5: House and Senate are on recess.
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.