Domestic Weekly Update June 28, 2011

The issue we are facing is not a budget deficit, it is a values deficit.

— Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman at the 2011 RESULTS International Conference

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


The 2011 RESULTS International Conference Recap

It’s been a week and the success of the 2011 RESULTS International Conference for RESULTS and the cause of ending poverty in our world is still palpable. We are so glad all those who attended the conference and were a part of this memorable experience were able to be there. We also greatly appreciate all the support those back home gave to those who did attend. Our annual conference is most definitely a team effort with everyone in the RESULTS family playing an important role. We thank everyone for their participation and support.

For those who could not attend, we want to give you some highlights of the festivities.

  • On Sunday, former Ambassador Mark Green told our volunteers that what we were doing — lobbying members of Congress on anti-poverty funding — was absolutely necessary, even in this harsh budget climate. He said that no one should be afraid to ask for what they want of their members of Congress; you might not get it but it is very important to keep asking.
  • On Monday, after an informative presentation on Head Start and child care programs in the morning, Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman inspired conference attendees about the urgency of our work right now. She did not pain a rosy picture of the current debate in Washington and reminded everyone that the real deficit in Washington is a moral one. She said that our work in protecting children and families from reckless budget cuts was needed now more than ever. People walked away sobered yet inspired by her words.
  • On Tuesday morning, RESULTS held a Lobby Day kick-off reception on Capitol Hill with Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Michael Bennett (D-CO). They both praised the work of RESULTS and stressed the importance of protecting low-income children and families in the current budget negotiations. You can watch Sen. Bennett’s speech on YouTube. They provided the perfect beginning to a fruitful and busy day on Capitol Hill.
  • On Tuesday (and Wednesday), RESULTS volunteers conducted over 200 hundred meetings with members of Congress and their staff. Some had breakthroughs, some had setbacks, but everyone was proud of the effort they made. We shall see in the coming weeks as we follow up from our meetings the successes we created during Lobby Day 2011.
  • On Tuesday evening, volunteers attended the Lobby Day reception on Capitol Hill to regale the events of Lobby Day and to hear from our allies in this work. Celebrated actress and RESULTS Board Member Valarie Harper hosted the reception ceremonies. Reps. Hanson Clark (D-MI-13), Barbara Lee (D-CA-9), Brad Miller (D-NC-13) and Gerald Connolly (D-VA-11) were in attendance and thanked RESULTS for the work we were doing in engaging every citizens in the work to end poverty.

We have photos and videos from the conference already available online. You can see pictures from the conference taken by volunteer Bruce Underhill, as well as videos from the conference on YouTube. You can also see all of our Twitter posts from the conference on our RESULTS Conference Twitter page. In addition, read blog posts from Isabelle D’Arcy and Taryn Peacock, student attendees at the conference, about their experience. We have more resources from the conference on our International Conference page on the RESULTS website and will add more resources in the coming days.

However, we still have work to do to complete this year’s conference experience. We must follow up with members of Congress and our groups back home about the actions we took and next steps if we want to have the impact we desire. Take a few minutes this week to take the following actions:

CONFERENCE FOLLOW-UP ACTIONS:

  1. Follow up from your conference lobby meetings. Send a thank you note or e-mail to the aides you met with last week and be sure to briefly reiterate the requests you made in your meeting. Also tell them you will follow up in a week or two to see what action has been taken on your requests. Remember, this follow up is absolutely essential in achieving our goals. It holds our members of Congress, and ourselves, accountable for the work we do and the commitments we make.
  2. Let us know how your lobby meetings went by completing our online Lobby Report form. This quick and easy form helps us know what happened in your lobby meetings so we can help you track the progress of our requests in the coming weeks and months. This is very important information so please take time this week to complete the form for each meeting you had. We would like to see all the information entered by our July 9 national conference call. And please use this form whenever you meet with members of Congress and/or their staff, be it in Washington or back home.
  3. Write up a quick summary of your experience and send it out to your local network. Let your fellow RESULT group members, as well as others in your community, k now about your trip. Briefly summarize your experience, including details about your lobby meetings, and then urge them to take our online budget and early childhood actions as part of the follow-up (e.g. send a letter/e-mail or make a phone call), then send it as an e-mail to your local action network. This is a great way to share your DC experience with your community and a great opportunity to get others to take action.
  4. Use the Conference resources. Remember that we have a litany of resources on our International Conference page for your use, including background packets, PowerPoint presentations, request letters, and links to our online lobby scheduling and reporting forms. Please use these resources going forward to help you in your follow-up and actions in the coming weeks and months.

As always, if you have any questions or need any assistance with follow-up or actions, please don’t hesitate to contact the RESULTS Domestic Staff.

Finally, we want to thank all of our great speakers at the conference for doing such a wonderful job at educating and inspiring our volunteers. We also thank RESULTS volunteers who contributed to Half in Ten’s awesome interactive storymap during our conference (http://halfinten.org/stories).


Budget Negotiations Reach Critical Stage (June Action)

One of the requests RESULTS volunteers made during their lobby meetings last week was for members of Congress to protect low-income programs in any deficit reduction agreement and to ensure that any such agreement be balanced by including new revenue alongside thoughtful strategic spending cuts (per the June Action). It seems that our request could not have been timelier.

Just a few days after Lobby Day, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA-7) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) withdrew from budget talks with Vice President Biden over the issue of revenue. They insist that any deficit reduction must come from spending cuts alone. They object to any new revenue being created, even though lack of revenue is the primary driver of our debt. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reiterated that stance yesterday. Because the debt ceiling deadline is only a month away (August 2), President Obama is now personally involved in the negotiations. He continues to argue that a balanced approach to deficit reduction (new revenues and cuts) is necessary. While there eventually will be a deal to raise the debt ceiling, with talks so far at an impasse, no one knows what it will look like. It could very well be a short-term extension that gives the parties more time to reach agreement. It could also mean that the either the President or Republicans relent in order to avoid default. At this stage, it is anyone’s guess what will happen.

What we do know is that our voices are needed now if we want a decent outcome from this process. With critical services like Head Start, Medicaid, SNAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and other priorities hanging in the balance, now is the time to act. Unless we as citizens stand up and demand Congress and the President do the right thing, it won’t happen. That is why we understand that if we want government to respond to our most pressing needs, we have to ask and ask and ask again. Just like a boss correcting an unruly employee, it is our responsibility as citizens to exercise our sovereignty over our government and those we elect to represent us. Only then we will have fulfilled our obligation as citizens.

TAKE ACTION: Take the June Action. Write letters or call House and Senate members and urge them to tell deficit and budget negotiators that we cannot balance the budget on the back of America’s most vulnerable. We especially need calls into Senate offices for the following states: MT, VA, IL, MD, ME, HI, NV, CA, SC and ND. Use our online call-in alert to help you. To ensure a fair deal is reached, tell member of Congress that any deficit reduction agreement must abide by the following principles:

  1. Any deficit reduction agreement must protect low-income Americans and not increase poverty.
  2. Any agreement must reject structural changes to Medicaid and SNAP, such as block grants that would hurt millions of vulnerable Americans.
  3. Any agreement must have a balanced approach, relying at least as much on new revenue as it does on spending cuts.
  4. Congress must reject spending caps and any balanced budget amendment.

If you made a budget request at the International Conference last week, follow-up with those offices and reiterate that request. Be sure to ask them if they have weighed in with budget negotiators. You can use our June Laser Talk for phone calls and conversations.

Once you have taken the June Action and/or followed up from your lobby meetings last week, contact the White House and tell President Obama to stand up for low-income Americans in deficit talks. Call toll-free (888) 245-0215 to be connected to the White House comment line and say:

"Please tell the President and the Vice President to hold firm and prevent harmful cuts or caps to low-income programs in the negotiations to reduce the deficit. Please insist on fair increases in revenues to prevent reckless cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, Head Start, and other essential services.”

We will have more about the budget debate on the July RESULTS Domestic national conference call, which is Saturday, July 9 at 12:30 pm ET. If you missed Ambassador Tony Hall’s impassioned plea for a “circle of protection” around America’s most vulnerable on our June conference call, you can listen to a recording of it on the RESULTS conference call page.


Use Recesses This Week and Next to Talk with Members of Congress Back Home

As mentioned above, the next few weeks will be critical in the resolution of the budget debate going on in Congress. Fortunately, these weeks also give us the opportunity to weigh in with House and Senate members back in our home states and districts. This week, the House is on recess and next week the Senate is. Use these times to set up face-to-face meetings with members of Congress about the budget and funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

You can also look for opportunities to talk to members of Congress at public events. This weekend provides a unique opportunity. Most communities hold Independence Day parades this weekend and typically elected officials will participate. Contact your local House and Senate offices and ask if your representative or senator will be participating in any Independence Day parades. If so, plan to attend. Go early and go to the staging area for the parade and walk around. It is likely you’ll find him/her there waiting for the parade to begin, which gives you a few minutes to talk to them. It is a great way to connect with them in a relaxed setting and briefly talk with them about our issues. What better way to honor Independence Day than exercising your right as a citizen to “petition” your government for change.

TAKE ACTION: Set up face-to-face meetings with members of Congress during recesses this week and next and/or attend a local town hall event and ask a question. Also, try to talk to them at local holiday parades. Urge them to tell the House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee members to allocate $1.2 billion in new funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and a total allotment of $8.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start in FY 2012. Also, tell them to protect low-income programs from budget cuts and spending caps in any deficit reduction deal. Any deal must be balanced with new revenue alongside thoughtful, strategic spending cuts.

Use the April Action and June Action sheets for background and talking points. Also, see our April and June U.S. Poverty Laser Talks for help with conversations with members of Congress.


Quick News

Attend Medicaid Messaging Call This Week. As we all know, Medicaid is under threat of budget cuts and block grants as part of efforts to reduce the deficit. To address the threats to Medicaid and discuss how to effectively talk about the program, Wider Opportunities for Women is hosting a webinar, Budget Battles: Threats to Medicaid, this Thursday, June 30 at 3:00 pm ET. This is an opportunity to learn how to protect Medicaid during the current budget debate. Register today to reserve your spot!

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.


Announcements

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.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Monday, June 27 Tuesday, July 5: House of Representatives is on recess.

Monday, July 4: Independent Day holiday. All RESULTS offices closed. Have a great 4th of July!

Monday, July 4 Sunday, July 10: Senate is on recess.

Saturday, July 9: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.

Sunday, July 10: Deadline to submit nominees for RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Grassroots Board members.

Monday, July 18 Sunday, July 24: House of Representatives is on recess.

Monday, August 8 Monday, September 5: House and Senate are on recess.


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:

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.