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September 2015 U.S. Poverty Action

Use “Poverty Day” to Urge Congress to Save Key EITC and CTC Provisions

On September 16, the Census Bureau released its latest income and poverty data, showing that one in seven Americans and one in five American children still live below the federal poverty line (just over $24,000 for a family of four). The poverty rate in the United States was 14.8 percent in 2014, 46.7 million Americans, not statistically significant than 2013. The child poverty rate in 2014 was 21.1 percent, also not a statistically significant change. Meanwhile, Congress will consider tax legislation in the coming months, and they must prioritize saving key important provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). This month we’ll focus on generating media about the need to address poverty in America and why policymakers should support specific tax policies to protect and expand the EITC and CTC to shape upcoming policy debates. While one person in your contacts a local editorial writer or editor at your local paper, urging them to write a piece linking the poverty data to tax policy decisions in Washington, everyone else will submit an op-ed to additional media outlets.

Steps to Generate Media Linking New Poverty Data to EITC/CTC

Here are the steps you can take to generate media in your local newspaper:

  1. Do your homework and have it ready before you call. Be prepared to share your research with the paper. Newspapers are overworked and understaffed, so the more you can provide the writer up front, the better. Helpful information to compile:

  1. Send a pitch email. Use this editable draft email to craft a compelling local "pitch" to your editorial writer. Find contact information on the paper's website, and then send an email to make a request that they use the new data to editorialize on the need to save pro-work tax credits. Be sure to include the RESULTS editorial memo as background.  

  2. Draft an EPIC Laser Talk of your “pitch” to explain the issue and why the paper should take your position. Use  a “hook” in your argument to increases your chances. Practice your pitch before calling the editorial writer or editor of the op-ed page (please contact RESULTS staff if you need help). Some talking points you may want to include:

  • Introduce yourself as a RESULTS volunteer in the community and ask if they have two minutes to talk.

  • Mention up front that you are calling about an opportunity for an editorial, highlighting the Census Bureau’s poverty data release and how it relates to specific policy debates in Congress (consult our editorial memo for messaging). These “hooks” increase the chances of your piece getting published.

  • Share your specific concern that important provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit– one of the country’s most effective anti-poverty strategies – are set to expire if Congress doesn’t act – and include specific numbers of children and families who will be impacted in your state

  • Share that these programs are effective, a real success story – both the EITC and the CTC generate large decreases in poverty and substantial increases in employment, as well as decreasing the number of single parents receiving cash welfare. A range of studies also demonstrate that credits like the CTC and EITC boost children's test scores, college enrollment, and earnings later in life. [Quickly share 1-2 sentences about the personal impact of these tax policies if you can].

  • Flag for them that the Census data release on September 16 offers a great opportunity to connect the dots between poverty in the local community and specific policy decisions in Washington.

  1. Call up the editor that covers your issue, tell him/her that you sent the e-mail, and ask if they have a few minutes to talk about an editorial or op-ed.

  2. Make your “pitch” to the writer. Have a conversation. The writer may or may not know about your issue so be prepared to answer questions, including counter arguments. If you don’t know the answer to a question, ask the writer if you can get back to him/her with an answer. Be sure to thank the writer for his/her time and that you will follow up. Be sure to send a thank you e-mail with any additional information/research to help the writer.

  3. Follow up in a few days to see if the writer has any questions.

Note: To find contact information for media outlets in your area, including telephone numbers and addresses, visit our Media Guide at http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/media/. In addition, see our Activist Toolkit pieces on generating an editorial in your local paper. If others in your RESULTS group are taking the lead in generating editorials, we urge you to use these talking points to submit an op-ed or write a letter to the editor (you can use our template) to your local papers. Use our sample op-ed to get yourself started and don't heistate to contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for questions or assistance. Be sure to send your published pieces to your members of Congress!

Media Work This Month Can Have Huge Influence on Tax Debate

Media outlets across the country are covering the release of the new Census poverty data, giving us a chance to connect the dots between policy decisions and the struggles of people in our community. This is a chance to urge policymakers to take the first step by saving key provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit (CTC) this fall. These are some of the country’s most effective anti-poverty strategies – the Census’s Supplemental Poverty Measure showed these pro-work tax credits helped to move 9.8 million Americans out of poverty in 2014. In addition, the Census Bureau found that SNAP, formerly “Food Stamps,” lifted 4.7 million Americans above the poverty line last year, and 8.8 million fewer Americans are uninsured in 2014 versus 2013. ​Clearly, smart anti-poverty policies can make a difference, but we need to renew the pressure on policymakers to do the right thing. With Congress working on tax legislation RIGHT NOW, let’s use this opportunity to urge policymakers to save key EITC and CTC provisions. The EITC and CTC moved 9.4 million people out of poverty in 2013, including 5 million children. If Congress doesn’t act, 16 million people, including 8 million children, will slip into poverty or deeper into poverty.

Our best opportunity to save key EITC and CTC provisions this year is in a bigger tax package, which may be combined with a highway funding deal. In early September, the Department of Transportation announced that current highway funding will last into 2016, but House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell want a multi-year highway bill completed this year. Meanwhile, Congress will expected to extend expiring business tax provisions for two years (the so-called “tax extenders’) and some in the Senate and House (including Rep. Paul Ryan) want to make some of business breaks permanent. If and when they proposed a permanent extension of ANY business tax credit, we must respond swiftly by pushing for “parity” with EITC/CTC (i.e. Congress cannot do one without the other).