July 2016 U.S. Poverty Action

Set Up Face-to-Face Meetings in July and August to Urge Members of Congress and Candidates to Prioritize Economic Mobility

Schedule meetings with members of Congress and Congressional candidates during the August recess to urge them to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), prioritize efforts to reduce wealth inequality and the racial wealth gap, and strengthen nutrition programs.   

  1. Coordinate with your group to assign a specific person to request a meeting with each member of Congress (and candidates).
  2. Find contact information for the district office of your member of Congress through the RESULTS website (under “Staff” tab). You can also call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your representative’s/senator’s office.
  3. Call and ask for the scheduler (be ready to leave a short voicemail).
  4. Use the following conversation as a template for the conversation with the scheduler. Hi, my name is _________________, and I am a constituent of Rep./Sen. _________________ from _________________. I am also a volunteer with RESULTS, a grassroots group working to end poverty. I know that Rep./Sen. _________________ values input from constituents on the issues that matter to us. With that in mind, our local RESULTS group would like to schedule a meeting with him/her while he/she is home for the August recess. There will be at least ____ of us at the meeting, and we would like to discuss how we can create economic mobility by ensuring no American is taxed into poverty via the Earned Income Tax Credit and ways we can work together to support innovative approaches to helping families move out of poverty. May I set that up today? What times would he/she be available to meet?
  5. You may be asked for a written request. Use the above conversation or our online template to create a request letter/e-mail.
  6. If the member of Congress has no time to meet this summer, ask to schedule a meeting the next time he/she is back home. Also ask if he/she is holding any town hall meetings during the August recess.
  7. Be sure to note the name of the scheduler and thank that person for their assistance. If you don’t get a firm answer when you call, mention when you’ll follow up.

Once you confirm a meeting, please contact RESULTS Director of US Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for coaching, materials, and tailored requests for your meeting. For additional tips on how to schedule your face-to-face meeting, check out our Activist Milestone: Meet Face-to-Face with Your Member of Congress and our accompanying PowerPoint. And tailor and practice the laser talks below so you are ready!

Use these EPIC Laser Talks in your meetings and town halls this summer. If you have personal stories on any of these issues, please be sure to share them when speaking with lawmakers.

Expanding EITC Laser Talk

Engage: I'd like to discuss with you a bipartisan proposal to address poverty that both House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Obama support.

Problem: There is one group of workers that the tax code actually taxes into or deeper into poverty: low-wage workers without children.

Inform/Illustrate: On a bipartisan level, Congress moved to make critical provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) permanent in December – these pro-work tax credits lifted 9.8 million people out of poverty in 2014. Speaker Ryan and President Obama have proposed to expand the EITC for low-wage workers who don’t claim dependents -- ______ childless workers in our state (13 million the U.S.) would benefit in 2017 under the Obama and Ryan proposals. And Senator Brown and Representative Neal have a proposal that would benefit __ in our state (16 million nationally), basically ensuring no American would be taxed into poverty.

Senate Call to Action: Will you speak and/or write directly to Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) / House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Ways and Means Committee leaders Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Sander Levin (D-MI), urging them to ensure no American is taxed into poverty by expanding the EITC for childless workers along the lines of the Brown/Neal proposal?  

Prioritize Racial Wealth Gap Laser Talk

Engage: 44 percent of American households don’t have enough savings to stay out of poverty for more than three months if they lose their income.

Problem: Millions of Americans are just one job loss or one medical crisis away from financial disaster.

Inform: We must reduce wealth inequality and in particular, the racial wealth gap. Right now, African American households have 6 cents for every dollar of wealth white households have (Latinos have 7 cents). One strategy to remedy this and build financial stability is to use tax time as a moment to build emergency savings. Tax policy should make it easy for all taxpayers to save at tax time, provide incentives for those savings to accumulate quickly through matched funds, and ensure consumers are protected.

Call to Action: Will you urge key tax leaders to make reducing wealth inequality and the racial wealth gap a top priority, using tax time as key moment to accelerate economic mobility?

Strengthen Nutrition Programs Laser Talk

Engage: One in five children in the U.S. were at risk of going to bed hungry every night.

Problem:  Studies show that children who are regularly hungry suffer from weakened immune systems, slowed and abnormal growth, and anemia.

Inform/Illustrate: SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) is America’s first line of defense against hunger. The Census Bureau reports that SNAP lifted 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2014 – and safety net programs overall reduce poverty by about half. Despite this success, some in Congress are pushing policies restructure SNAP and other nutrition programs in the form of a block grant, which would undermine the ability of these programs to respond to local needs and economic downturns.

Call to Action: Will you oppose cuts to SNAP or efforts to shift the administration and oversight of nutrition programs to states?