Domestic Weekly Update November 15, 2011

For some people this is their life, and I think we need to have a little more compassion and remember that a budget is a moral document, and in that document we specify who matters and who doesn’t, what matters and what doesn’t...

— Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN-5) after completing the week-long Food Stamp Challenge

New and Urgent in This Weeks Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


TAKE ACTION: If You Only Have 2 Minutes This Week, Call Congress

We are only 8 days from the Super Committee’s deadline for a deal. Therefore, this week and next are our only remaining opportunities to influence this process. With potential cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SNAP (among others) still on the table, we cannot to stay silent.

Beginning Wednesday, RESULTS, the Coalition on Human Needs, the SAVE for All campaign, and other allies will be urging everyone to call Senate offices telling them that any Super Committee deal must be balanced and not increase poverty. You can bet members of Congress are getting an earful from lobbyists and other special interests during this process. Let’s make sure they hear from the people who should matter most — their constituents.

There, pick up your phone tomorrow and dial toll free (888) 907-1485 and ask for your senator’s office. Once connected, tell them this:

My name is _______________ and I am a constituent from _______________ and also a RESULTS volunteer. Tell the Super Committee to reject plans that require everyday Americans pay higher taxes and sacrifice important services like Medicare, Medicaid and SNAP so that millionaires and big corporations can keep their tax cuts. I urge Sen. _______________ to tell Super Committee members and Senate leadership that he will oppose any plan that hurts low-income Americans and increases poverty AND any plan that does not end tax cuts and close tax loopholes for the wealthy and big corporations. Thank you for your time.

Once you’ve made that call, hang up and call again and ask to be connected to your other senator’s office. Give them the same message.

Also, as we did in October, be sure to share the love. Copy and paste this alert and send it to your friends, family, and colleagues and urge them to call as well. Be sure to share the fact you called on your Facebook and Twitter pages and urge others to call as well. You can include a link to this section if they want more information: http://www.results.org/take_action/domestic_weekly_update_november_15_2011/#section1.


TAKE ACTION: If You Have 10 Minutes This Week, Call Your Tax Aide to Talk about the Wealth Gap (November Action)

If you have a few more minutes this week, make an even bigger impact on the budget debate in Washington by calling up your senators’ tax aides and talking to them about the importance of closing the wealth gap. Explain to them that the gap between the rich and everyone else has become dangerously large; in 2009, the wealthiest ten percent owned 75 percent of all U.S. wealth. This not only makes it harder to middle and low-income Americans to get ahead, it also hurts our entire society. Studies show that societies with a large wealth gap have higher rates of violent crime, poor health, obesity, drug use, as well as poor social mobility and poor societal trust.

Tell the aide that Congress can do something to fix the wealth gap. By taking steps now, either via the Super Committee or overall tax reform, we can start moving to a more balanced and just society. Tell the aide that protecting and expanding low-income tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and closing tax loopholes for big corporations, and (long-term) investing in asset development strategies like the Savers Bonus would be an excellent start.

Use the November Action sheet and our updated November 2011 U.S. Poverty Laser Talk to help you prepare and get the conversation started. You can also use our Elected Officials page to find out the name of your senators’ tax aides (be sure to call both Senate offices). Also, see our Super Committee section below for more details. These calls are a great way to educate senate staff about the wealth gap and also strengthen your relationship with them. Be sure to call today and urge others to do the same.


TAKE ACTION: If You Have 20 Minutes This Week, Join the Conference Call with Sen. Franken Tomorrow at 4 pm ET

As the Super Committee deadline approaches (see update below), pressure will build to accept any deal over a good deal. Details are starting to surface about plans to reduce tax rates for millionaires, while cutting Medicaid, other essential programs, and making people wait till they are 67 to get Medicare. We have to push back against these efforts, which is why RESULTS and our allies are doing a big call-in push this week (see first section above). To help us better understand what’s at stake, please join Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Debbie Weinstein of the Coalition on Human Needs for a conference call tomorrow afternoon to hear about some of these proposals. The call will only last 20 minutes so that afterward, people can immediately call their members of Congress urging them to accept a good plan or no plan at all.

The call is tomorrow, November 16 at 4:00 pm ET. To participate, register now at the CHN website.


Super Committee Update and Conference Call Recap

We want to sincerely thank Marge Clark from NETWORK for being the guest speaker on Saturday’s RESULTS Domestic national conference call. Marge shared some great information with us from NETWORK’s Mind the Gap campaign, which is designed to raise awareness of the enormous wealth gap in the U.S. Marge reminded us that right now, the top 10 percent wealthiest households own 75 percent of all wealth (2009 numbers) with the top 1 percent owning nearly half of that (35% of all U.S. wealth). She pointed out that in the 2009 book The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, researchers found that nations with a large income inequality (like the U.S.) experienced a lower quality of life compared to countries with less inequality. Problems like violent crime, mental health issues, drug addiction, poor social mobility, obesity, poor educational performance were worse in less equal countries..

Marge also pointed out that the new Super Committee could have a profound impact on the wealth gap, depending on what recommendations it comes up with. Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP could have devastating effects on low-income and middle class households. For example, cuts to Medicaid would not only jeopardize health care for low-income children and families, it would impact seniors who rely on nursing home services and special needs children who receive transportation services, both of which are funded through Medicaid. Meanwhile, tax breaks for the wealthy, like preferential treatment of capital gains (taxed at only 15 percent) and recent cuts to the estate tax (which only impacts the super-rich), are treated as almost sacrosanct. To see just how costly the Bush tax cuts have been, visit the Cost of Tax Cuts website sponsored by the National Priorities Project. For example, in 2011 the Bush tax cuts provided the top 1 percent an average tax cut of over $66,000, while the bottom 20 percent received a cut of only $107.

Americans want Congress to do something about this problem. See this chart showing the misperceptions about the wealth gap and what people think it should be. This coincides with new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 6 in 10 Americans see a widening wealth gap in America and the same number want Congress to take action to reduce these disparities.

The Super Committee is only 8 days away from its deadline to find its $1.2 trillion in budget savings. Rumors abound about possible deals, although both sides still seem to be far apart. One possible plan being floated would identify specific and significant cuts to entitlement programs coupled with instructions to tax writing committees to reform the tax code and raise revenue by the end of 2012. If the tax reform is not enacted, the cuts to entitlements would not take place. While we cannot carefully evaluate this proposal since no details have been released, any proposal that again delays decisions on raising new revenue must be approached with extreme caution.

As next week’s deadline approaches, there will be tremendous pressure to salvage something out of this effort, no matter how good or bad it is. That is why it is so important for us to weigh in again this week.

TAKE ACTION: Take the November Action. Contact members of Congress by letter or with a phone call with the aide who handles tax policy and urge them to talk to House and Senate leadership, urging them to enact policies (via the Super Committee or otherwise) designed to close the rising wealth gap. Here are some short and long-term actions Congress can take to do so:

  1. Preserve and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for low-income working Americans that lift millions of Americans out of poverty each year.
  2. Ensure that the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share by ending tax cuts and closing tax loopholes that concentrate wealth rather than create it.
  3. Support innovative asset-building policies like the Saver’s Bonus that help low-income Americans build the wealth they need to stay out of poverty.

Again, many thanks to Marge and NETWORK for speaking on our call this month and for the great work they do in helping close the wealth gap. If you missed the November national conference call with Marge Clark or would like to listen to it again, you can listen to a recording of it on the RESULTS website.


President Proposes New Rules for Head Start; Funding Levels Not Yet Resolved

Last week, President Obama visited a Head Start program in Pennsylvania and announced new Administration measures to improve Head Start’s quality. Most Head Start programs, including many that you visited last spring, offer high-quality comprehensive services for low-income children and their entire families. Previous rules, however, made it unusual for lower- or inconsistent-quality programs to lose their federal funding. Under the new guidelines, Head Start programs will be measured using an assessment tool called CLASS. Programs that do not score well will have to reapply in order to continue getting funded. The White House estimates that about one-third of programs will be reviewed and ultimately recompete for funding at least every five years. For more information about the president’s announcement, see the New America Foundation’s blogpost or this blogpost from EdWeek. You can also watch the President’s speech on the White House website.

Meanwhile, Congress continues to inch along on finalizing the FY 2012 budget. It appears that the House and Senate will try to pass the Labor-HHS funding bill, which includes funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), in December as one of the last 2012 funding bills. We will keep you updated on how things progress. In the meantime, you can remind representative and senators to fund Head Start and child care programs at the highest possible levels. Use our updated Outreach Action Sheet or our online e-mail action to contact your members of Congress.


RESULTS Outreach Update

We continue to work to start new RESULTS groups. In the last month, we presented at both the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness conference and the 2011 Fall Bonner Congress meeting, where many students signed up to get more information about RESULTS, including a number of them interested in possibly starting RESULTS groups in their campuses.

Last week RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns met with people interested in building RESULTS up in western, MA. She will be retuning there after Thanksgiving and will be doing RESULTS presentation on Monday, November 28 in Northampton MA to formally get a group started. In addition, she’ll be participating in the Boston fundraiser on November 27 and meeting with advocates and allies in Massachusetts and Maine that following week. If you know people in these areas Meredith should meet with, or who would like to attend one of our events there, please contact her ASAP at [email protected] or (202) 783-7100, x.116.

Help us grow RESULTS in more communities around the country.


RESULTS Fundraising – Transforming Lives One Dollar at a Time

A huge congratulations to all our fundraisers so far this year. We’ve held events in Miami, Denver, NC Triangle, Albuquerque, Inland Empire (CA), New York, Sitka (AK), San Diego, Columbus, Seattle, Tacoma, Houston, Chicago, Austin, and Santa Fe. These events have raised $174,000 so far! This exceeds our accomplishments of last year and we’re not even finished yet. But this is not just about raising money, it’s about changing lives. Remember that your fundraising efforts help more children get into Head Start, help more families get access to life-saving medications, and help more low-income entrepreneurs take out microloans. In other words, these efforts transform countless lives around the world.

Help us finish 2011 with a strong flourish. The RESULTS Washington DC group is hosting its fundraiser this Thursday, November 17 at 7:00 pm ET. If you know anyone in the DC area, please invite them to attend. Send them this online invitation or contact Grassroots Development Associate Cindy Levin ASAP ([email protected]) for details. We also have fundraisers scheduled in Boston (11/27), Indianapolis (11/28), Bremerton, WA (12/4) and San Jose, CA (12/6). If you know people in these areas, please plan to invite them to attend; simply contact Cindy for details.

Thank you all again for your fundraising (translation: life-changing) efforts in 2011.


Quick News

Balanced Budget Amendment Vote This Week.  The House of Representatives will be voting this week to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution. Make no mistake; a BBA would be a disaster for America. According to a recent analysis from Macroeconomic Advisors, if a BBA were in effect in 2012, the cuts it would require would force 15 million people out of work and double the unemployment rate. Over time, it would make recessions deeper, create more uncertainty in the economy, and hamper economic growth. The outcome of the House vote is uncertain, as there are some conservative Democrats who have indicated support for a BBA in the past. After contacting senators about the Super Committee this week, make a quick call to your House members and urge them to vote NO on the balanced budget amendment. See some messaging tips from the Message Matters website.

Join National “Budget” Prayer Vigil This Sunday. With the Super Committee just ten days away from completing its work, people of faith across the country continue to pray together. For our elected leaders and moral discernment as they make decisions about the use of our abundant financial resources. For those who have the most to lose if our safety net programs are cut or dismantled. For faith-inspired advocates as we raise our voices on behalf of vulnerable persons in our society. For our nation and a renewed commitment to civil discourse. Join our friends at Faithful Reform and Health Care for an Interfaith Prayer Vigil via teleconference this Sunday, November 20 at 3:00 pm ET. This phone vigil will coincide with the gathering of people at a vigil in Washington, DC. RSVP for call by Friday, November 18.

Supreme Court to Review Health Reform Law. Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear oral argument on the Affordable Care Act, the health reform law passed in 2010. The Court will look at all aspects of the law, in particular the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which requires individuals to have health coverage or face a penalty. Oral argument will be heard in March 2012 with a ruling anticipated sometime the following June.


Announcements

Invite People to Upcoming RESULTS Orientation Calls. The next installment of RESULTS’ New Activist Orientation series takes place tomorrow night. This two-session series of conference calls is 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. The call is tomorrow, November 16 at 9:00 pm ET. Urge your new members or others you know to attend, even if they missed the first call. To RSVP, please contact Lisa Marchal at [email protected]. Also, don’t forget to invite people you know to our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls. These 30 minutes “Meet and Greet” calls are a perfect introduction to RESULTS for people unfamiliar with our work. Our next call will be Wednesday, November 30 at 9:00 pm ET. If you know people who might be interested, please encourage them to sign up using the registration page. Please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for more information.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Wednesday, November 16: RESULTS New Activist Orientation Call, 9:00 pm ET. This is session 2 in the series. For more information, contact Lisa Marchal at [email protected].

Thursday, November 17: RESULTS Washington DC Fundraiser. Contact Lisa Peters at [email protected] for details.

Monday, November 21 – Monday, November 28: House recess.

Thursday, November 24 – Friday, November 25: RESULTS offices closed for Thanksgiving holiday.

Sunday, November 27: RESULTS Boston Fundraiser. Contact Cynthia Tscahmpl at [email protected] for details.

Monday, November 28: RESULTS Indianapolis Fundraiser. Contact Deanna Roberts-Blair at [email protected] for details.

Wednesday, November 30: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.

Sunday, December 4: RESULTS Bremerton, WA Fundraiser. Contact Beth Wilson at [email protected] for details.

Saturday, December 10: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Saturday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 24, 2012: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC (more details to come).


RESULTS Contact Information

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:

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.