Domestic Weekly Update November 1, 2011
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Participate in Today’s Social Media Action Day to Protect Low-Income Americans in Budget Deal, and Get Others to Join You (October Action)
Start off the month by joining the SAVE for All campaign social media day of action! RESULTS volunteers have already contacted their members of Congress hundreds of times via phone, letters, town halls and face-to-face lobby meetings about protecting vulnerable Americans in deficit reduction talks. With the “Super Committee” meeting today and just a few weeks before their November 23 deadline to produce a package of budget savings, anti-poverty programs like Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP (food stamps), the EITC, the CTC, and others could face serious cuts. So, as you probably read in the action alert we sent out this morning or on the RESULTS blog, we’re trying something new — reinforcing our message via social media to keep the pressure on Congress to do the right thing and not balance the budget on the backs of low-income Americans.
TAKE ACTION: On Facebook, go to your senators’ Facebook pages (see this handy online directory) and click the ‘Like’ button at the top. Then post a message like this to his or her wall: “Please reject any deficit reduction plan that harms low-income people, adds to their number, and stalls our fragile economic recovery.” Remember you can tailor the message — the more personal the story, the better! Then, urge your friends and family to join you in this action by going to the RESULTS Facebook page and hitting “Share” to our blog post about today’s Social Media Action Day, adding a quick note about why you are participating in this effort to protect those living in poverty.
On Twitter, find your senators’ Twitter handle (also in this online directory) or you can use Families USA’s first-of-its-kind tool) and post a message like this: “Dear (@insert your Senator’s handle) Please reject any deficit reduction plan that harms low-income people or stalls economic recovery #SAVE4All.” There are sample Tweets online at: @DodsonAdvocate if you need inspiration, and we urge you to use the hashtag #SAVE4All so we can create more of a “buzz” — see our recent blogpost on Twitter hashtags for more information.
If you do not use social media, you can send emails to Congress through our website on key issues like SNAP and Medicaid or call (toll free at (888) 245-0215) if you haven’t already done so, using the talking points in our October Action Sheet. As we all know, members of Congress sometimes have to hear things over and over again before they take action — this effort simply helps you be persistent and creative in doing that, and hopefully educate and engage others in your community as well.
Of course, you can amplify your message by sending a letter to the editor using our online tool telling Congress to get their priorities straight by creating a balanced deficit reduction plan that protects services for low-income families and creates jobs. See our recent blog post with many of the great new resources and tools to help advocates influence deficit reduction talks.
Super Committee Must Focus on the Real Deficit Problem — Rising Inequality (November Action)
One of the great things about the “Occupy” movement has done for the country is that it has raised the issue of wealth and income inequality to prominence. Whereas media outlets and politicians focused on deficits and debts for months on end, we are now seeing a shift in the public discourse. Issues related to tax fairness and inequality are now being highlighted, analyzed, and debated. With 16 million unemployed, workers being asked to work longer hours for less pay, and millions of Americans relying on safety programs now more than ever, it is time Washington started talking about the devastating impact rising inequality is having on American society. Last week, we got a glimpse of just how bad things have gotten.
Last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new report on U.S. income inequality and the news is not good. The report shows that between 1997 and 2007, the after-tax income of the wealthiest one percent of Americans grew by 275 percent. By contrast, income gains for the bottom fifth of the population grew by a mere 18 percent (see the CBO graph at right). More alarming, the total share of after-tax income in the U.S. going to the top one percent doubled from 8 to 17 percent and went from 43 percent to 53 percent for the top twenty percent. The total income for the bottom fifth dropped from 7 percent to 5 percent.
Remember, this is just income inequality. Wealth inequality is far worse. In 2009, the wealthiest ten percent of Americans owned 75 percent of all U.S. wealth. With the collapse of the housing market (wealth in middle class and low-income households rests mostly in the value of their homes), this gap could last for years, even decades, without corrective action.
The Super Committee in Congress, with its carte blanch over the federal budget (both taxes and spending), could choose to address this problem. Just last week, Democrats on the panel proposed a deficit reduction plan. Unfortunately, it serves to make matters worse. Based on the information we know, the plan would enact over $1.3 trillion in cuts, which would include cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, with only modest increases in revenue (the amount depends on which “baseline” you start with; regardless, it is $800-900 billion less than the Bowles-Simpson or Gang of 6 deficit reduction proposals). Republicans countered with a plan that would cut $3 trillion from the budget, but only one percent of that coming from new revenue. Their plan also makes even deeper cuts to Medicaid and Medicaid than the Democratic plan. Many believe this back-and-forth is just posturing for no agreement being reached. Considering what iis in these proposals (that we know of), no plan is better than what we’ve seen so far.
The Super Committee is meeting today at 1:30 pm ET and you can watch their deliberations via C-SPAN3. Both parties need to focus on solving the root causes of our economic woes, not playing these political charades designed to win re-election. If we want a vibrant and broadly prosperous economy, as well as a functioning democracy, we must address inequality in the U.S. here and now.
TAKE ACTION: Take the November Action. Contact members of Congress and urging 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. Specifically, write and tell them to start by:
Remind representatives and senators that Americans are literally taking to the streets and to ignore this rising anger over rising inequality will only make matters worse.
Thanks for Urging Senators to Sign Gillibrand SNAP Letter; Join Today’s Anti-Hunger Conference Call with Rep. Jim McGovern
Thank you to all of you called senators urging them to sign onto the letter drafted by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urging the Super Committee to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) from reckless cuts. Sixteen senators signed onto the letter, which was sent last Friday (see below for signers).
Protecting SNAP and other nutrition programs is very important and we face a big challenge. The Agriculture Committee is expected to release the details of its recommendations to the Super Committee today, which are expected to include billions in cuts to nutrition programs. To help rally grassroots against these cuts, Feeding America is hosting a call with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-3), one of the strongest anti-hunger champions in Congress. The call will include the latest information about negotiations and the specific threats facing anti-hunger programs, the areas to focus advocacy efforts and messaging to use with members of Congress. The call is Today , Tuesday, November 1 at 2:30 pm ET.Space is limited so go to the registration page now to register.
Finally, you can help create a broader movement by joining thousands of faith advocates this by participating in a “Food Stamp Challenge” with Fighting Poverty with Faith, and urge your members of Congress to do so also. Some have already started the challenge.
TAKE ACTION: Urge lawmakers to protect nutrition assistance programs that literally help families put food on the table. Use our online alert to tell them to oppose cuts to SNAP and other anti-hunger program, and urge them to weigh in with the Agriculture Committees this week as well as House/Senate leadership. If your senator signed onto the Gillibrand letter, be sure to thank him/her.
Here are the Gillibrand letter signers: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Our partners at the Half in Ten campaign, which is working to cut U.S. poverty in half over ten years, have released important new resources to aid us in our anti-poverty advocacy. These tools can help us better inform members of Congress about poverty in their states, as well as strategies for lifting people out and reviving our economy.
In coordination with the Center for American Progress, Half in Ten released a strategy report last week on reducing poverty in the U.S. The reports “establishes the baseline for Half in Ten’s goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years, and starts the clock on meeting the target nationally and in every state across the country. The report also outlines a path for policymakers to reverse these troubling trends and rebuild the middle class.” The report uses a determined set of criteria in measuring how well the U.S. is doing in “creating good jobs, strengthening families, and promoting economic security.” See the Top 10 Findings from the report, which include:
The report ranks each state under the selected criteria, with emphasis on the areas that need improvement. You can see how your state ranks using Half in Ten’s interactive map. You can also download state-specific fact sheets from their website. You can also watch a video of the report’s release last week on the Half in Ten website.
These resources are invaluable in helping inform members of Congress not only about how poverty is affecting people they represent, but proven strategies on how to make things better. When contacting and meeting with your representatives and senators, be sure to incorporate the data available from Half in Ten in your message.
Congress has until November 18 to finish the FY 2012 budget. The Senate is trying to pass a series of bills that would combine various appropriations bills, it is unknown if Congress will make its deadline. Some members are contemplating a much longer continuing resolution, which could freeze funding at current levels for a year. This could result in cuts to services despite both House and Senate leaders supporting increases in Head Start funding in the FY 2012 Labor-HHS proposals (Senate: $340 million increase for Head Start; House: $540 million increase; both maintain current funding for child care).
TAKE ACTION: RESULTS urges Congress to finish the budget and fund Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) at the highest levels possible (certainly no less than the Senate’s Labor-HHS bill). Use our updated Outreach Action Sheet or our online e-mail action to contact your members of Congress. Remind them that 222 business leaders from 34 states sent a letter to Senator Harry Reid and Speaker John Boehner supporting early childhood development funding, including Head Start and child care.
This has been a particularly exciting two weeks for RESULTS grassroots fundraising. Thank you to the Houston and Seattle groups who have put on our gala events this year! Seattle held their dinner on October 19 where Sir Richard Feachem spoke to a crowd of 175 people with a focus on global health. So far, they have raised $54,500! Then this past weekend, Houston hosted 215 guests who heard Marianne Williamson speak about global education. So far, they have raised about $60,000! Both groups were thrilled to have our own executive director, Dr. Joanne Carter, join them as well. We are so honored that these groups have worked tirelessly to raise the RESULTS message before their friends, relations, and communities to ask support for our life-saving work. Thank you.
In addition, good luck to those organizing fundraisers in Santa Fe (November 4), the Washington DC area (November 18), Indianapolis (November 21) and Bremerton, WA (December 4). Contact Cindy Changyit Levin at [email protected] for support in holding a RESULTS fundraising event.
Schedule Face-to-Face Meetings for Fall Recesses. Members of Congress will be heading back home this fallmonth for various recesses(see dates in calendar below). Take advantage of this opportunity by requesting a face-to-face meeting with your representatives and senators to talk about our priorities. 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.
RESULTS Outreach in Northeast. Next week, RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson will be presenting at the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness conference at the University of Maryland. This conference is another great opportunity for us to reach out to college students and engage them in anti-poverty advocacy. Meredith will also be traveling to the northeast in early November to work on starting groups there. She will be there the week of November 7 meeting with potential advocates in southern and mid-coastal Maine, Boston, MA and meeting with Springfield College (MA) students on November 9. She will also be doing a group start presentation in Northampton, MA on November 10. If you know people in these areas, please contact Meredith at [email protected] for details.
Invite People to Upcoming RESULTS Orientation Calls. 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. The calls are November 2 and 16 at 9:00 pm ET. Urge your new members or others you know to attend. 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 designed to introduce new people to RESULTS. Our next call will be Monday, November 7 at 9:00 pm ET. If you know people who might be interested, please encourage them to sign up using the registration page.
(See a complete calendar)
Friday, November 4: RESULTS Santa Fe Fundraiser. Contact Lydia Pendley at [email protected] for details.
Monday, November 7 — Friday, November 11: House recess.
Wednesday, November 9: RESULTS Presentation at Springfield College (MA). Contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for details.
Thursday, November 10: RESULTS Group Start Presentation in Northampton, MA. 7:00 pm ET, 215 Prospect St, Northampton, MA. RSVP to Stacy Carkonen ([email protected]).
Saturday, November 12: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.
Monday, November 21 – Monday, November 28: House recess.
Saturday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 24, 2012: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC (more details to come).
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.
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.