Domestic Weekly Update October 4, 2011
Easy . . . and lunch is ready.
— RESULTS Chicago volunteer Cindy Changyit Levin (and daughter Summer) demonstrating on YouTube that calls to Congress are as easy as making a sandwich
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Advocates from around the country are spending today and tomorrow making their voices heard in the halls of Congress. The congressional Super Committee created to find over $1 trillion in savings in the federal budget is meeting to try and find a deal. We do not want a repeat of the Budget Control Act passed in August, which relied exclusively on budget cuts to achieve deficit reduction. Essential programs for low-income and vulnerable people are threatened with cuts: Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP (food stamps), tax credits like the EITC and CTC, unemployment benefits, and more. Cutting these programs, which have been essential in supporting millions of Americans in the economic downturn (which is not over by any means), will make things much worse. More jobs will be lost and millions of people will fall into or deeper into poverty.
RESULTS staff has been active in this process, working with ally organizations in scheduling and attending meetings on Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to enact a balanced deficit reduction plan that protects the poor. We will continue to do so in the coming weeks, but we need your help. Congress needs to hear from people back home. They need to hear that only a balanced approach to deficit reduction that protects America’s most vulnerable people will be acceptable. Pick up the phone this week and send a clear message to elected officials — don’t balance the budget on the backs of the poor.
TAKE ACTION: Join anti-poverty advocates, faith communities, national and local organizations today and tomorrow by calling members of Congress and urging them to support only a balanced approach to deficit reduction that protects the poor. Use this toll free number (888) 907-1485 to be connected to your House and Senate offices. Once connected, say:
Hi, my name is _____________ and I am constituent from __________________ and also a RESULTS volunteer. I know that the Super Committee is working on a plan to reduce the federal deficit. I am very concerned that Congress will try to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. This is wrong. Any deficit reduction plan must do three things:
- It must protect America’s most vulnerable and not increase poverty. That means protecting Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance and other basic safety net programs from reckless cuts.
- It must be balanced. All Americans must pay their fair share to solve this problem. That means ending tax cuts and tax loopholes that only benefit America’s wealthy and big corporations.
- It must create jobs. Creating good jobs the surest and most sustainable way to reduce the deficit. Congress must enact a plan that gets Americans back to work.
I urge Representative/Senator ______________ to work with the Super Committee and with House/Senate leadership to develop a plan based on these principles, and to reject proposals that harm the poor and stall economic recovery.
Once you have made your call, contact others in your local networks and urge them to call as well. This is an ideal time to reach out to allies in your community and have them make their voices heard as well. This means folks you have connected with over the years, including friends and family, faith communities, food banks, local anti-poverty organizations, health care advocates, etc. Another group to reach out to is your local Head Start and child care centers you connected with last spring. Meet with them again and urge them to tell Congress to pass a fiscally and morally responsible deficit reduction plan. Use the October Action sheet to help with talking points as well as points on reaching out to local allies. You can also send a letter to the editor to your local paper urging Congress to pass a balanced deficit reduction plan.
Finally, there will be a conference call this evening at 8:00 pm ET sponsored by Health Care for America Now to help you with your actions. The call will review the work of the Super Committee, messaging tips, and action steps. To join, sign up on the call registration page.
On the heels of last week’s good news of the Senate’s proposal for funding Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the House Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee released its proposed bill last week. There is good news. Head Start/Early Head Start got a funding increase of $540 million over FY 2011, putting total funding at the level RESULTS has been requesting of $8.1 billion for FY 2012. This is $200 million more than the Senate proposal. In addition, the House matched the Senate’s proposal for CCDBG by flat-funding it for FY 2012 (same funding as FY 2011). These levels were certainly a welcomed surprise from the far more conservative House and are a tribute to the hard work RESULTS volunteers and our allies have done making early childhood funding a priority this year.
But there is also bad news. The House Labor-HHS proposal also “defunds” important programs as well. Here are some of the cuts Labor-HHS Subcommittee chairman Denny Rehberg (R-MT-AL) is proposing:
- Eliminating Affordable Care Act (ACA, i.e. health reform) funding for community health centers; RESULTS volunteers fought hard for this funding in 2009
- Prohibiting funds to be used for implementation of the ACA until 90 days after all legal challenges have been exhausted
- Cutting funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by 28 percent; LIHEAP helps low-income households pay their heating and cooling bills
- Cutting job training programs
- Placing tighter restrictions on Pell Grant recipients
The bill also places strict funding restrictions on National Public Radio, AmeriCorps and Planned Parenthood. Congressional Democrats have already stated that the bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. This means that the battle between the House and Senate priorities will heat up in the coming weeks. The 2012 fiscal year began on October 1 but Congress has agreed to a continuing resolution to keep the government running until November 18. It is unlikely that a stand-alone Labor-HHS bill will passed by that time; Congress is more likely to pass the remaining appropriations bills (including Labor-HHS) in one, large “omnibus” funding bill later this fall.
RESULTS is certainly pleased that both House and Senate leaders see the merit of Head Start and child care assistance through their funding requests. We urge leaders to allocate the highest funding levels possible for these programs in FY 2012. However, we do not condone slashing funding for other important services that benefit low-income Americans. The recent poverty data proves that we are in a crisis of poverty in America and need more investment in services that protect the poor.
TAKE ACTION: Tell your senators and representatives to put the needs of struggling American families first. Use our updated September Action sheet to send letters urging your senators and representatives to support Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant. Urge representatives and senators to fund Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG at the highest levels possible. Tell them you are pleased with the strong funding levels from both the House and Senate Labor-HHS committees and urge leaders to continue this strong support for Head Start and child care as they finalize the FY 2012 budget. You can also use our online e-mail action to contact your members of Congress.
Also, don’t forget to reach out to Head Start and child care staff and parents you met with earlier this spring. Use our new guide to reaching out to early learning providers to help you. Also, see this resource from the Early Childhood Consortium to help you in your Head Start and child care advocacy.
Issue Spotlight: the Importance of Paid Leave, including Parental Leave and Sick Days to Low-Income Families
Did you know that over 44 million people do not have access to a single paid sick day? And that includes over 75 percent of restaurant workers? While it has not been a primary focus of RESULTS early childhood development campaign, RESULTS supports paid leave policies because they provide critical supports for children and parents through sick days (for children and parents), maternity leave, and paternity leave. Paid leave helps foster healthy development for newborns in low-income families and to protect low-income workers from losing their job when they or a child get sick. It also protects co-workers and business productivity by allowing sick workers to stay home and recover and prevent the spread of infection (to see this example taken to a plausible extreme, see the film Contagion or view video on the real life issues on which the film is based). Estimates are that “presenteeism” (attending work while sick) costs the U.S. economy $180 billion annually.
The United States is one of only three countries (US, Canada, Japan) that have no national policy requiring employers to provide paid sick days. However, that could change if the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876/ S. 984) is enacted. Reintroduced into this Congressional session by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT, 3), the bill would guarantee workers in businesses with over 15 employees up to seven paid sick days a year to recover from illness or to care for a sick family member. RESULTS has signed on to a coalition letter to support passage of the bill, and you also can take action to show your support too by visiting the Paidsickdays.org action site.
You can learn more about the issue of paid sick leave and successful efforts by local jurisdictions by visiting our Paid Family Leave page.
RESULTS groups have been holding fundraising events this fall with great success. Last month, Tacoma, WA volunteers held a fundraiser for the first time in twelve years and raised over $10,000. Last week, Austin, TX volunteers held a benefit concert for RESULTS which had 300 attendees (mostly young folks) and raised over $6,000. Then on Sunday, Columbus volunteers held their fundraiser and raised another $6,000 for RESULTS, and netted some new group members as well. Congratulations to Tacoma, Austin, and Columbus and the other groups out there who are working hard to secure financial support for our work. Thank you!
TAKE ACTION: If you are planning a RESULTS fundraiser for this fall, RESULTS Grassroots Development Associate Cindy Changyit Levin is here to help you. Also, even though we have moved our annual Friends and Family fundraising campaign to early spring, we can still support you if you want to continue your local Friends and Family efforts this fall. You can contact Cindy at (773) 236-7758 or [email protected] for questions and support.
Join the “Make an Impact with Social Media” Webinar. Social media provides an innovative way to stay informed, raise awareness, share information and communicate with various stakeholders on early childhood issues. Join “Ounce of Prevention” for a webinar tomorrow on how you can you use social media tools and networks for early learning advocacy. The webinar is tomorrow Wednesday, October 5 at noon ET. Register today at the Ounce website. For a preview, see the great quick explanation of how to use Facebook and Twitter to more effectively work with legislators from longtime RESULTS volunteer Ireta Gasner at http://youtu.be/jSayrFv0m-0.
Join “Cost of Hunger” Webinar on Thursday. Tomorrow, the Center for American Progress (CAP) will release a new report that analyzes the cost of hunger in America. We often hear politicians talk about the cost of anti-poverty programs but we rarely hear about the financial cost poverty has on society, through poor health, lack of education, and lost productivity. This paper will highlight these costs. A day later, Half in Ten and CAP will host a webinar for advocates going over the report and action steps you can take. The webinar is this Thursday, October 6 at 12:30 pm ET; you can register for the webinar at the Half in Ten website.
Join NWLC Call on Health Reform and the Budget. Our friends and The National Women’s Law Center hold monthly conference calls that provide a collaborative forum for women’s advocates to focus on health reform at the state and federal level. This month’s call will provide a general federal update, focusing on the ongoing Super Committee meetings and the president’s deficit proposal and how these may impact vital health programs. The call is next Thursday, October 13 at 1:00 pm. To RSVP, go the NWLC website.
RESULTS Faith in Action: Join Prayer Vigils to Protect the Poor. To help push the new Super Committee to protect the poor in their deliberations, our friends at Faithful Reform and Health Care (FRHC) are helping organize prayer vigils this fall in support of a moral and compassionate approach to deficit reduction. The 20-minute vigils will be on October 12 and November 9 at 12:00 pm ET. To learn more and to RSVP for the next vigil (required), visit the Faithful Reform website. See our What’s New in Faith in Action page for details about this and other faith-based advocacy resources from RESULTS.
REMINDER: October Conference Call is on October 15. Our October 2011 RESULTS Domestic national conference call will now be on Saturday, October 15 at 12:30 pm ET so as not to conflict with the Yom Kippur holiday on October 8. Our guest speaker in October will be our great friend and ally Debbie Weinstein of the Coalition on Human Needs. Please adjust your schedules accordingly and let your local groups know that the call will now be on October 15.
Schedule Face-to-Face Meetings for Fall Recesses. Members of Congress will be heading back home in October for various recess weeks. 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.
Sign Up for New Activist Orientation. Last week, we started our next New Activist Orientation series. This is a two-session conference call series designed to give people a more in-depth overview of RESULTS’ work. It is perfect for new members of your local RESULTS group or anyone interested in learning more about us. You can still join in if you missed the first call. The next call will be Thursday, October 13 at 9:00 pm ET. If you or someone you know would like to participate, RSVP to Meredith Dodson at [email protected]. We will start a new round of NAO calls in November.
Invite New People to Our RESULTS Introductory Call. If you know someone who would thrive in RESULTS or is passionate about social justice and poverty, please invite them to our new monthly “Meet and Greet” calls. These 30-minute calls are a great place to send new activists in your group, curious friends and family members, acquaintances you meet, and people you’d like to recruit to join our organization. The next call is Wednesday, October 12 at 9:00 pm ET. Anyone interested can RSVP to http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.
(See a complete calendar)
Wednesday, October 5: Ounce of Prevention Social Media webinar, 12:00 pm ET. Register at the Ounce website.
Thursday, October 6: “Cost of Hunger” webinar, 12:30 pm ET. Register at the Half in Ten website.
Wednesday, October 12: Faithful Budget Prayer Vigil, 12:00 pm ET. Register (required) at the Faithful Reform in Health Care website.
Wednesday, October 12: RESULTS Introductory “Meet and Greet” call, 9:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.
Thursday, October 13: New Activist Orientation conference call (session 2), 9:00 pm ET. RSVP to Meredith Dodson at [email protected].
Saturday, October 15: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET (rescheduled date!). Listen to previous conference calls on the RESULTS website.
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, 4th Floor, 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:
- Meredith Dodson, Director of Domestic Campaigns, (202) 783-7100 x116, [email protected]
- Jos Linn, Domestic Outreach Organizer, (515) 288-3622, [email protected]
- Ann Beltran, Domestic Volunteer Lobbyist, [email protected]
- Cindy Changyit Levin, Grassroots Development Associate, (773) 236-7758, [email protected]
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.