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Domestic Weekly Update September 6, 2011

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection:
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is lead forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action —
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

— Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


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

Join us this Saturday, September 10 at 12:30 pm ET for the RESULTS National Conference Call. On this call, we’ll talk about Congress’ return to Washington this week and their work on completing the

2012 budget. We’ll update you on the status of Head Start and child care funding and actions you can take to ensure these programs are protected from cuts. We look forward to a great call so please plan to join us!

TAKE ACTION: Coordinate and gather with your group this Saturday, September 10 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.


Contact Senators about Protecting Head Start and Child Care Funding (September Action)

Congress returns to Washington this week and already the leisurely pace of August is gone. Last week, we previewed the September Action sheet that was to focus on reconnecting with Head Start and child care centers and engage them in action this month on funding Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) (see below). However, we’ve since learned that we may only have a short window in September to influence the Senate on these funding issues. Because the Senate plays such a pivotal role in this process, we are refocusing our action this month on contacting senators about Head Start and child care funding.

As a review, here is a review of our early childhood work in 2011. As you well know, RESULTS’ Early Childhood Development campaign has for years focused on expanding access to early learning programs. These programs have proven successful time and again at helping vulnerable children receive the foundation they need to succeed in school and beyond. Unfortunately, 2011 has once again proven a challenge. In February, the new House leadership sought to enact substantial cuts to Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance. This would have resulted in 368,000 low-income children losing services, not to mention tens of thousands of jobs lost. Fortunately, that budget was rejected in the Senate. In April, Congress finally passed the FY 2011 budget, which did include significant budget cuts. Fortunately, because of your hard work and the hard work of our allies, Head Start and Early Head Start services were spared these draconian cuts (CCDBG did see a small cut, but nothing close to the House proposal). This victory helped us protect the gains made in expanding early learning access in 2009 and 2010. We must now build on this success.

This month, House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittees (Labor-HHS) Congress will meet to set funding levels for these and other programs for 2012. The debt ceiling deal passed in August reduces federal discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next decade. For 2012, that means around $3 billion to non-security programs must be cut, thus threatening Head Start, Early Head Start and CCDBG (as one consolation; these cuts to domestic spending this year are not as severe as those included in the House-passed Ryan budget).

The Senate could draft, edit (“mark up”), and vote on its Labor-HHS appropriations bill as early as next week and reports are that when they do take up the bill, it will move quickly through the Subcommittee and full Appropriations Committee. The Senate bill is of particular importance because it is our best chance of securing adequate resources for early childhood programs. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chair of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee is a strong supporter of early childhood programs, as are many other on that subcommittee. The House, however, has become far more conservative in 2011 and is unlikely to be friendly to many of these programs, including Head Start and child care. Because the House and Senate Labor-HHS bills are likely to be different and requiring a compromise, we need the Senate bill to be as strong as it can be.

TAKE ACTION: Take the September Action. Tell senators that America’s children are our most important investment. Urge them to protect their future and the jobs they represent by providing the necessary funding to maintain existing services for Head Start, Early Head Start and CCDBG in FY 2012. Specifically, they should talk to Senate Labor-HHS Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) and urge them to:

  • Allocate $8.1 billion total for Head Start/Early Head Start in FY 2012;
  • Allocate a $1.2 billion increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant in FY 2012.

Given how quickly the Senate may move to mark up the spending bill that funds Head Start and child care, we suggest each RESULTS group coordinate so that one member talks directly to the aide who handles funding for early childhood development programs in Washington ASAP. In addition, generate additional letters, e-mails, and phone calls to Senate offices (see below). To find contact information for congressional offices and the name of the early childhood aide, visit our Elected Officials page.


Engage Head Start and Child Care Contacts in Early Learning Advocacy

As mentioned above, we switched the focus of our September Action to contact senators about Head Start and child care funding. However, reconnecting with Head Start and child care contacts you made last spring can still play an important role in this action.

We need as many powerful and effective voices telling Congress to do what’s right — protect low-income children and families in Head Start and child care programs. We know the best spokespersons for these programs are the Head Start/child care families and staff who work and rely on them each day. They live the benefits each day and bring a unique voice to this debate that cannot be found elsewhere. Therefore, engaging their voices in this debate in September and beyond is a powerful tool we must use.

Back in May, RESULTS volunteers reached out to these people by setting up site visits of their programs. Many of you completed these cite visits and found a wealth of information you were later able to share with members of Congress about the value of early childhood investments in your community. Many of you also met with Head Start staff and parents during the process. There is no time better to reengage these folks and urge them to take action on these important issues. Their voices could make the difference between protecting existing services and seeing those services cut.

TAKE ACTION: Reconnect with the Head Start and child care centers you contacted last spring. Explain that Congress is making final decision about Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding and we need their voices in this process. Once connected, you could suggest setting up a site visit with your member of Congress, do an advocacy training or letter-writing meeting with staff and parents, or set up a face-to-face meeting with your member of Congress and have them participate. Use our new guide to reaching out to early learning providers to help you.

You can also reach out to others in your community who may be willing to take action on these issues. Just like during the health care debate, use your local action network to create a groundswell of support for protecting low-income families from Head Start and child care cuts.


Super Committee Member Profiles; President Making Big Jobs Speech

This is a continuation of our profiles of the Budget Control Act (BCA) Super Committee members (see our August 16, August 23, and August 30 Weekly Updates for previous profiles). This week, we look at the final three members of the committee:

Sen. Pay Toomey (R) represents state of Pennsylvania. He was first elected to the Senate in 2010. He served in the House from 1999-2005, representing Pennsylvania’s 15th congressional district. From 2005 to 2009, he was president of the Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative “527 organization” that advocates for lower taxes and lower government spending. Prior to that, he worked in the private sector in banking and as a restaurant owner. He is a member of the Senate Budget, Banking, and Commerce Committees. He is known as a staunch conservative and strong supporter of cutting taxes. In April, he voted against the FY 2011 budget that preserved funding for Head Start and child care programs and in favor the House FY 2012 budget (the Ryan Budget) which would dramatically cut low-income programs. He also against the Budget Control Act on August 2. Senator Toomey is married with three children; he is 49 years old. He is up for reelection in 2014.

Rep. Fred Upton (R) represents the 6th district of Michigan, which is in the southwest corner of the state (Lower Peninsula). He was first elected to Congress in 1986. Prior to that, he served as a congressional aide and later in Ronald Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget. He is chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which overseas many public health programs like Medicaid, Medicare and CHIP. He is known for being a strong conservative, but more moderate than other members of the House Republican caucus. He voted in favor of the FY 2011 budget that preserved funding for Head Start and child care programs, but also in favor of the FY 2012 Ryan budget, which would dramatically cut low-income programs. He also supported the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which preserved the expansions of the EITC and CTC (as well as tax cuts for the wealthy), and opposed the Affordable Care Act and supports its repeal. Finally, he voted in favor of the Budget Control Act on August 2. Congressman Upton is married with two children; he is 58 years old. He is up for reelection in 2012.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) represents the 8th district of Maryland, which borders Washington, D.C. to the west and Virginia to the north. He was first elected to Congress in 2002. Prior to Congress, he served in the Maryland Legislature for 12 years and as a congressional aide and attorney before that. Born in Pakistan and living overseas until high school (his father served in the State Department and his mother in the CIA and State Department), he has shown an interest and expertise in foreign policy. In the Maryland Legislature, he also gained expertise in budget and tax issues. He voted in favor of the FY 2011 budget that preserved funding for Head Start and child care programs and against the FY 2012 Ryan budget, which would dramatically cut low-income programs. He also opposed the Tax Relief Act of 2010, which preserved the expansions of the EITC and CTC (as well as tax cuts for the wealthy), but supported the Affordable Care Act, i.e. health reform. Finally, he voted in favor of the Budget Control Act on August 2. Congressman Van Hollen is married with three children; he is 52 years old. He is up for reelection in 2012.

You can learn more about these and other members of the Super Committee on the RESULTS Elected Officials page. In addition, read fact sheets about poverty in the districts of Super Committee members from our friends at Half in Ten.

As noted last week, creating jobs is part of the message when pushing lawmakers on the Super Committee. The jobs crisis (current U.S. unemployment is 9.1 percent) will take center stage this week as President Obama delivers his long-awaited job proposal to a joint session of Congress on Thursday evening. There are little details as to what will be proposed but one thing is for sure — the longer Congress and the White House take to enact a bold plan for job growth, the longer our budget deficits will persist and the longer low and middle-income Americans will suffer. And low-income programs like Head Start and child care are directly related to the jobs crisis. These programs make it possible for low-income parents to work while their children are in a safe and nurturing environment. Therefore, these programs make it easier for people to look for and keep a job.

TAKE ACTION: When contacting your members of Congress, tell them to stop balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. Urge them to talk to members of the Super Committee about protecting low-income Americans. They must also include new revenue that makes up at least half of the savings in any plan they devise. Finally, remind them that the best way to reduce the deficit is to get people back to work — invest in job creation now. Use our updated online call-in alert for messaging to members of Congress about the final debt ceiling bill and using a balanced approach going forward.


Quick News

Join DEMOS Webinar on Public Solutions to Poverty Tomorrow. Messaging experts DEMOS are conducting a webinar to talk about “the dominant narratives that typically drive discussions about poverty, the economy and inequality and explore ways to tell a more effective story about poverty and the role of government in promoting economic security and opportunity.” DEMOS has done extensive research on the best messaging for government’s role in helping low-income and middle class America. The webinar is tomorrow, September 7 at 12:00 pm ET. You can register at the DEMOS website.

Join CHN Poverty Data Webinar This Thursday. On September 13, the federal government will release the 2010 statistics on poverty, income and health coverage in the U.S., followed by new census data on September 22. To help interpret and use this data effectively when it is released, our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs are hosting a webinar to help you “be an educator and an alarm-sounder. You’ll learn the best predictions about what the data will show. You’ll get a practical guide to finding and using the data quickly and accurately. And you’ll learn how the stories the data tell can help us fight the cuts threatened in Washington and in state capitals.” The webinar is Thursday, September 8 at 1:00 pm ET. To register, fill out the form on the CHN website.

New Health Insurance Tool for College Students. The advocacy group, Young Invincibles has created a new Back-To-School Toolkit (http://www.gettingcovered.org/) to help students get health coverage and stay healthy. The Getting Covered campaign is designed to inform young adults and their families about dependent coverage, the provision in the new health care law that allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan until age 26. Students can download the toolkit, which is state-specific, at www.YoungInvincibles.org/Back2School. If you have or know college students who need help getting health coverage this fall, please forward this information to them. For questions about the campaign, contact Aaron Smith at aaron.smith@younginvincibles.org

NY Times Decries Attacks on the Poor: Last week, the New York Times printed an editorial pushing back against politicians who are more and more frequently attacking poor Americans in their political rhetoric, particularly on the issue of taxes. The piece does a very good job pointing out the hypocrisy of these arguments (attacking the poor for not paying income tax while arguing for even more tax cuts for the wealthy) and demonstrating that the “real problem is that so many Americans are struggling on such a small income, not whether they pay taxes.”

Shriver Center Pushes Back Against “Poor Aren’t Poor” Arguments. The non-profit Shriver Center, which provides national leadership in efforts to increase justice and opportunity for low-income people, recently published a very good rebuttal to a report by the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation on the status of the poor in America. The Heritage paper argued that because many poor families have refrigerators, microwaves, TVs, cordless phones, etc., poor Americans are better-off than people think. The Shriver Center pokes huge holes in this argument, which are too numerous to highlight here. Check out the entire rebuttal; it is well worth the read and could come in handy with members of Congress who rely on Heritage’s research for their policy decisions.


Announcements

Vote for RESULTS Grassroots Board Members. The RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board has two grassroots board member positions to fill. Grassroots board members are an important part of our board, providing a unique voice to the oversight of RESULTS/REF. We have seven persons running for those two positions. Balloting is open to all current active volunteers. If you are an active volunteer, you should have received an e-mail last week with a unique link to the voting survey tied to your specific e-mail. Simply follow that link to vote. The deadline to vote is THIS Saturday, September 10. If you have any questions or you did not receive the e-mail, please contact Jamila White-Bandah, jwhite-bandah@results.org or 202.783.4800.

Invite Folks to the September 14 RESULTS “Meet and Greet” 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 Tuesday, September 14 at 9:00 pm ET. Anyone interested can RSVP to http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet. If you have questions, please email Meredith Dodson on the RESULTS staff.

Need Help Planning your RESULTS Fundraising Event? Last week we highlighted the amazing fundraising events RESULTS groups will be hosting this fall to build financial support for our work. It is not too late to plan your own event for 2011. If you’d like help organizing a RESULTS fundraiser, please contact RESULTS Grassroots Development Associate, Cindy Changyit Levin, at clevin@results.org. Also, if you know people in the cities where we already have events planned, please invite them to attend the local event. Reach out to the event contact person (listed in last week’s update) to help them connect with the folks you know.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Wednesday, September 7: DEMOS Webinar on Public Solutions to Poverty Tomorrow, 12:00 pm ET. Register at the DEMOS website.

Thursday, September 8: CHN Poverty Data Webinar, 1:00 pm ET. Register at the CHN website.

Saturday, September 10: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. (888) 409-6709. Listen to previous conference calls on the RESULTS website. This is also the deadline to vote on RESULTS Grassroots Board members.

Tuesday, September 14: RESULTS Introductory “Meet and Greet” call, 9:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.

Wednesday, September 21: RESULTS Group Start presentation in Kansas City, 7:00 pm CT. All Souls Unitarian Church, 4501 Walnut St, KCMO. Contact Jos Linn for details.

Thursday, September 29: New Activist Orientation conference call, 9:00 pm ET. This is a great opportunity for people new to RESULTS to learn more about our work in this two-session series. Please RSVP to Meredith Dodson at dodson@results.org for details and call-in information.


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.