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Domestic Weekly Update November 8, 2011

We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

— former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Join Us for the November National Conference Call This Saturday at 12:30 pm ET

Join us this Saturday, November at 12:30 pm ET for the RESULTS National Conference Call. Our guest speaker this month will be Marge Clark from NETWORK, a Catholic Social Justice Lobby. Marge is NETWORK’s chief lobbyist in Washington, DC, focusing on domestic human needs. This month’s action is focused on urging Congress to address the growing wealth gap between rich America and low-income America. NETWORK’s Mind the Gap campaign was created to raise awareness about growing inequality and urge all Americans to get involved and narrowing the wealth gap. We will also review the November Action and have a speaking exercise to help you communicate with lawmakers about the wealth gap. We look forward to you joining us for a great call.

TAKE ACTION: Coordinate and gather with your group this Saturday, November 12 at 12:30 pm 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 pm ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call.


New Census Data Highlights Importance of Government Programs in Fighting Poverty (November Action)

This month’s action continues our work with the congressional Super Committee tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in savings in the federal budget, focusing on the long-term implications of the Super Committee’s work (and Congress in general) around the wealth gap. Thanks to the “Occupy” movement, the wealth gap in the U.S. is getting more attention now than it has in years. Because of this and new poverty data from the Census, now is the perfect time to bring it to the fore with lawmakers, as the Super Committee struggles to reach a deal (which some say is unlikely).

As you know, the U.S. Census released its annual poverty data back in September, which listed 46.2 million Americans living in poverty in 2010. Unfortunately, the official poverty measure, which was developed in the 1960s and is based primarily of food costs, does not provide an up-to-date picture of poverty in the U.S. It also does not take into account certain federal benefits low-income Americans receive and the impact they have on poverty. Therefore, an alternative measure has been created to factor in some of these conditions.

This alternative measure shows the U.S. poverty picture to be worse than thought. This new Supplemental Poverty Measure shows a record 49 million Americans living in poverty in 2010 (16 percent of the population), almost 3 million more than the official measure. This mainly comes from an increase in poverty among the elderly because this new measure factors in out-of-pocket medical costs. Also, the poverty rate for Hispanics jumped past African-Americans for the first time (28.2 percent to 25.4 percent).

Fortunately, the new measure also gives a picture of how some federal benefits are impacting poverty in America. According to the data, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), SNAP, and unemployment insurance (UI) made a significant dent in poverty in 2010. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has done an in depth analysis of the data and it shows that in 2010, the EITC and CTC kept 9.3 million people out of poverty in 2010 (this analysis includes the expansions of the EITC and CTC made in 2009’s America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)). SNAP kept 4.4 million above the poverty line and UI, 4.6 million. It is estimated that had the EITC not been in place, the poverty rate in 2010 would have grown to 18 percent.

Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution said on PBS’ Newshour last night that this new poverty data shows that government supports work. He feels the most effective solution is “for folks to work, even at low wages, and then for the government to support them . . . with the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, child care, lots of programs that help low-income families.”

RESULTS spent a great deal of time urging Congress to expand funding and access to the EITC, SNAP, Head Start, and child care services during the debate over ARRA. Now you can see the result of your effective advocacy. 1.6 million people kept out of poverty because of the tax credit expansions and 1 million kept out of poverty because of increased SNAP benefits. Each of you who made a call, sent an e-mail, wrote a letter, scheduled a meeting should feel proud for what you helped do. Anyone who discounts the importance of anti-poverty advocacy need only look at these numbers to realize that our voices do matter.

However, our work is not done. This new poverty data shows that the gap between wealthy and low-income America is getting worse. When Wall Street, investors, and big corporations continue to rake in record profits while at the same time one-sixth of the population lives in poverty, something is seriously wrong with the system. And if the trend continues, we can only expect more economic turmoil, more unrest, and more poverty. This new data is a stark reminder than the status quo is not working.

Congress has ignored the problem of inequality long enough. We have a golden opportunity to make things right. The Occupy movement has helped reshape the conversation from one focused on deficits to one focused on justice. Let’s build on their success by taking the message straight to Congress — close the wealth gap and helped rebuild the American dream.

TAKE ACTION: Take the November Action. Contact members of Congress 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. Specifically, write and tell them to start by:

  1. Preserving and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for low-income working Americans that lift millions of American 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.

Use the new poverty data to highlight that too many Americans are falling behind and not getting a fair chance at the American dream.

Also, for those of you interested in how the defense budget factors into the deficit reduction debate, see the “Debt, Deficits, and Defense: A Way Forward” report. You can also find links to a recent webinar about this report and presentation slides at the Coalition on Human Needs website.


Thank You for Social Media Actions Last Week

Thanks to all of you who participated in the Social Media Day of Action last week. Many of you used social media site like Facebook and Twitter to talk about protecting low-income Americans in budget talks. People sent at least 450 “tweets” educating the public and Congress about the need to protect anti-poverty programs in the Super Committee.

TAKE ACTION: It’s not too late to act. On Facebook, go to your senators’ Facebook pages (see this 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.

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.” 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.


Join Half in Ten Webinar Tomorrow at 1:00 pm ET

Last week, we highlighted some new resources from our partners at the Half in Ten campaign. These included their newly released a strategy report “Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth,” the Top 10 Findings from the report and Half in Ten’s interactive map with state-by-state fact sheets. These resources are invaluable as you make the case for Congress protecting and investing in strategies that help reduce poverty in the U.S.

To help us better understand and use these tools in our advocacy, Half in Ten is hosting a webinar this Wednesday, November 9 at 1:00 pm ET. Speakers include:

  • Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-9), Co-chair, Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus
  • Brett Kincaid, Outreach Director, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
  • Desmond Brown, Consultant, Half in Ten
  • Melissa Boteach, Half in Ten Manager (moderator)

These speakers will “share top-level findings from the report, connect the report’s key findings to current policy debates, and highlight resources and opportunities that advocates can use to keep our policymakers accountable in their efforts to cut poverty and expand economic opportunity.”

Take Action: Register for Half in Ten’s “A Time for Action: New Tools to Cut Poverty and Restore Shared Prosperity” webinar this Wednesday, November 9 at 1:00 pm ET. Use the Half in Ten registration page to sign up today.


RESULTS Outreach Update

Last week, RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson attended the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness conference at the University of Maryland. RESULTS did three presentations at the conference. As a result, 20 students signed up to get more information about RESULTS, including a number of them interested in possibly starting RESULTS groups in their campuses.

Meredith will continue her travels, this time to New England as she works to start groups in the Northeast. She travels there today and tomorrow will be meeting with students from Springfield College (MA) interested in starting a RESULTS chapter on campus. On Thursday, November 10, she will be meeting with staff from the National Priorities Project during the day and then doing a group start presentation in Northampton, MA that evening at 7:00 pm ET. Meredith will return to New England later this month, participating in the Boston fundraiser on November 27 and meeting with advocates and allies in Massachusetts and Maine as well. If you know people in these areas Meredith should meet with, or who would like to attend one of our events there, please contact Meredith at Dodson@results.org as soon as possible.

Finally, we want to officially welcome our newest RESULTS group in St. Louis, MO. RESULTS Domestic Outreach Organizer Jos Linn and Global Grassroots Associate Lisa Marchal traveled to St. Louis in October 24 to do a group start meeting. Ten people attended the meeting and five of them signed up to restart the RESULTS group in St. Louis. Jos is currently doing new group training with the group. Jos also met with allies during his trip that might foster more interest in RESULTS in eastern Missouri. If you know anyone in the St. Louis area who might be interested in getting involved, please contact Jos at jlinn@results.org. Welcome St. Louis!


Quick News

Head Start and Child Care Decisions May Get Postponed to December. 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 last, which includes funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Because that is unlikely to happen by the November 18 expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR), it is expected that another CR will pass this week or next pushing the deadline into December. We will keep you updated on how things progress. In the meantime, 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.

Members of Congress Take Food Stamp Challenge. To draw attention to the harm reckless budget cuts would do to low-income Americans, advocacy groups and members of Congress are again taking the “food stamp challenge.” In the challenge, people agree to live on the average SNAP benefit of $4.50 per day. Doing so is proving to be enlightening. “It’d be nice if members of the committee tried to eat for $4.50 a day,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-12) said. “We can’t take the most vulnerable in our population and stick the cuts to them. We members of Congress live in a bubble. We get fed all the time around here, so eating like this for me has been a real eye-opener.” SNAP is a prime targets for cuts from the Super Committee; 45 million people rely on SNAP benefits each month, half of them children. Urge Congress to take the food stamp challenge and to oppose cuts to SNAP in budget negotiations using our online e-mail alert.

Surprise! Single Payer System Saves Money. A new study by the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office shows that Vermont’s new universal health system, modeled along the single-payer model, will create system-wide savings between 5.5 percent and 18.5 percent by 2020 (compared to not doing reform). This could save the state up to $1.8 billion. RESULTS supports a national health program (single-payer) for the United States. Use our updated outreach action sheet to tell elected officials you support a national health program and urge them to actively work toward that goal.


Announcements

Fundraising Update: Santa Fe Does It Again. Three cheers for RESULTS Santa Fe for last Friday’s fundraiser. This group took a big step as they moved up from holding private brunches in their homes last year to holding their first public dinner with speakers. The group hosted 72 people at a harvest dinner with a Head Start focus. Speakers included a Head Start grad who is now a staffperson for Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM-3) and a grandmother who grandchildren are in Head Start. As a result of this great work, the Santa Fe group has raised $10.441 and still counting. Congratulations, Santa Fe! We also wish groups in Washington DC, Boston, Indianapolis, and Bremerton (WA) on their upcoming fundraisers (see dates and local contacts below). Contact Cindy Changyit Levin at clevin@results.org for support in holding a RESULTS fundraising event.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Monday, November 7 – Friday, November 11: House recess.

Wednesday, November 9: RESULTS Presentation at Springfield College (MA). Contact Meredith Dodson (dodson@results.org) 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 (stacy@buylocalfood.org).

Saturday, November 12: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. (888) 409-6709.

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 lmarchal@results.org.

Thursday, November 17: RESULTS Washington DC Fundraiser. Contact Lisa Peters at lmtreu@gmail.com 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 tschampl@yahoo.com for details.

Monday, November 28: RESULTS Indianapolis Fundraiser. Contact Deanna Roberts-Blair at DeannaR@childrensmuseum.org 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 olallawoman@yahoo.com for details.

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.