U.S. Poverty Weekly Update October 7, 2014

Tax policies will continue to assist those of us in the middle class. Fair tax policies should also help those who are struggling to join us. We all will benefit.

 — RESULTS Lindsborg (KS) volunteers Vic & Kay Streufert in a September 24 letter to the editor in the Salina Journal

Seeking to protect the spending power of these lower-income earners, citizen lobbyists have taken the challenge to advocate making these tax credits permanent.

— RESULTS Salina (KS) volunteer JoAnn Dimmitt in a September 17 letter to the editor in the Salina Journal

New and Urgent in This Week's Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Get Ready for the RESULTS National Conference Call THIS Saturday at 12:30 pm ET

Join us for the RESULTS National Conference Call this Saturday, October 11. This month, we are working to build relationships with congressional candidates in anticipation of the November election. Getting to know candidates before they take office can lay the foundation for productive work when the new Congress begins in January. To help us understand the importance of engaging candidates, we are pleased to welcome Marge Clark of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, as this month’s conference call guest. Marge is one of the Nuns on the Bus and a longtime friend of RESULTS. She will share about the current Nuns on the Bus tour on engaging voters and NETWORK’s Mind the Gap campaign designed to bring attention to growing wealth gap. We’ll also train you on reaching out to candidates and hear what to expect from Congress after the election. Join us for this important call.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to remind your local RESULTS group about the RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call this Saturday, October 11 at 12:30 pm ET. Coordinate with your group where you will meet for the call. To join the call, dial (888) 409-6709 and 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. We will have the October 2014 Conference Call Overview slides available later this week. You will find them on the RESULTS Home Page in the “Take Action” box in the top right-hand corner.

Be sure to check out the Nuns on the Bus website to see if they’ll be holding an event you can attend in your area.


Got Ten Minutes? Contact Campaign Offices to Set Up Meetings with Candidates (October Action)

Campaign season is in full swing, with only four weeks left until Election Day. Candidates across the country are making their best case to voters. Their constant solicitations for support give you an opening to talk to them about poverty in America. Why meet with candidates? RESULTS’ mission is to create the political will to end poverty. Creating political will is not just about what happens in Congress next week, but also next month, next year, and after the next election. By building relationships now before people take office (or return to office), you’re able educate them on issues that may not be on their radar. With their current desire to court votes, they should be willing to listen. Think of the power in create in creating allies (and dispelling myths) before they even take office.

Also, staff people for candidates many times become congressional aides if the candidate gets elected. If you contact a campaign and are not able to meet with the candidate in person, ask to meet with the staff person who deals with poverty/economic/tax policy. Building relationships with staff persons can be almost as important as with the candidate him/herself.

Finally, if you cannot get a meeting or having a conversation with a staffperson, ask the campaign if the candidate will be making any public appearances in your area when you can ask a question. See our Town Hall Activist Milestone and Sample Town Hall Questions to help you prepare.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact congressional campaigns to set up meetings with candidates in October. The October Action has helpful information to help you schedule these meetings. If you cannot get a face-to-face meeting with a candidate, ask to meet with the staffperson who handles anti-poverty or economic/tax policy. You can find candidate information at: http://results.capwiz.com/election/home/. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) immediately to set up a call to prepare you. She will give you personalized coaching on the candidate or member of Congress and what specific requests to make. Once you’ve had a meeting, please fill out our online Lobby Report form at: http://tinyurl.com/LobbyReportForm to let us know how it went.


Got Twenty Minutes? Prepare for Meetings with Candidates (October Action)

After setting up a meeting with a congressional candidate or staffperson, or planning to attend a town hall meeting, you’ll want to start preparing. Just like with a face-to-face meeting, you want to make a good impression and make the most of your meeting. You never know when you’ll get another chance to meet so make it count. Here are some tips and resources to help you get ready for candidate meetings this month.

  1. Form your posse. Talk with your local RESULTS group members about who can attend candidate meetings. Assign candidates to different people in your group. These “point people” will be responsible for setting up the meeting and doing research about the candidate’s position on the issues. You can find candidate information on the Election page of the RESULTS website.
  2. Set up a Lobby Prep call. Once you have a meeting scheduled or plan to attend a town hall, contact Meredith Dodson of RESULTS ([email protected]) to set up a call with your group to get ready for the meeting. She will provide you individualized coaching on the candidate and how best to talk to him/her about our issues.
  3. Do your homework. Use Google and candidate websites to find out their positions on poverty, taxes, and the wealth gap. If they have previous congressional experience, find out how they voted on our issues. You can find candidate websites and other information on the RESULTS Election page. For current members of Congress, find contact information and voting records on our Elected Officials page.
  4. Research the issues. Go to our Issues pages to refresh your memory about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), and Financial Security Credit. Also, go to http://talkpoverty.org/poverty to find new poverty data for your state and congressional district (right hand side of your state’s data page). Find information about the benefits of the EITC and CTC to your state using data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  5. Draft a laser talk on the issues. Use the RESULTS EPIC Laser Talk format to what you’ll say about the issues you want to discuss. If you need help getting started, see our 2014 sample Laser Talks on the EITC/CTC and FSC. On the October National Conference Call this weekend, we’ll do an exercise to help you with laser talks this month. You can also find Sample Town Hall Questions on the RESULTS website.
  6. Gather your materials. Print out our Economic Mobility Lobby Meeting Request Sheet to take to your meeting and give to the candidate.

Make sure to reach out to all the major candidates in your area. Even if you meet with a candidate who does not win in November, you’ve created a potential new ally that might be helpful to your local efforts going forward (and may get elected next time).

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to prepare for your upcoming meetings and town halls with congressional candidates. Build relationships with candidates now and be ahead of the game when the new Congress begins. The October Action has information to help you reach out and prepare for these meetings. You can find candidate information at: http://results.capwiz.com/election/home/ and information on current members of Congress on our Elected Officials page. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) immediately to set up a call to prepare you.

Once you’ve had a meeting, please fill out our online Lobby Report form at: http://tinyurl.com/LobbyReportForm to let us know how it went.


SNAP Update – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the modern-day Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program). SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger in America, providing nutrition assistance to over 46 million people each month. Last year, RESULTS volunteers advocating to protect SNAP from congressional attempts to cut the program. Because of your efforts, Congress rejected nearly $40 billion in House-passed cuts to the program when it passed a new Farm Bill in February.

However, Congress did pass some cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill. Most of them came from 16 state “Heat and Eat” programs. Heat and Eat programs used a provision in the SNAP law that allowed states to give people a minimal heating subsidy (as little as $1) which would then increase their SNAP benefits. These programs benefitted many seniors in cold weather states who had to choose between food and paying the heating bill each month. Congress changed the law so that states had to give at least $20 in heating assistance before SNAP benefit increased, thinking that it the higher amount would deter states from continuing the practice and save money. But never underestimate the goodness of advocates and their state representatives. Since the new law passed, 13 states have stepped up and will pay the $20 heating benefit, allowing low-income people in those states to continue to put food on the table with the higher SNAP benefit.

Unfortunately, not everyone is one board. Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Michigan have refused to pay the $20 minimum heating assistance benefit. Their refusal has serious consequences. As reported in Takepart, 72-year-old New Jersey resident Fred Bruker has seen his SNAP benefit drop from $138 to $15 per month. He’s eating less and lost five pounds in one month. About 20 percent of Heat and Eat participants nationwide live in these three states. Hopefully, leaders in these states will reconsider and change their current stance.

SNAP recipients also face some additional threats. Child Nutrition programs are up for reauthorization next year. Back in 2010, Congress funded the last Child Nutrition reauthorization (they promised to restore the SNAP cuts but never did). RESULTS strongly supports child nutrition programs like the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs, but oppose using SNAP money to fund them. Because Congress used SNAP to pay for child nutrition programs last time, there is now a risk they will do it again. Furthermore, Republicans have said that if they gain control of the Senate in November, they may use reconciliation in next year’s budget to enact tax reform. They could include deep cuts to SNAP in reconciliation as well. Reconciliation cannot be filibustered and needs only 51 votes pass.

These threats are a reminder that we must remain vigilant in showing support for programs like SNAP. Our allies at the Center for Hunger Free Communities and Witnesses to Hunger are working to protect SNAP this month. On October 30, they are taking to social media to celebrate 50 years of SNAP and they want your help. They urge you to post, Tweet, and Instragram that day using the tag #snap4SNAP. SNAP recipients (past and present), community organizations, and political and public figures are all encouraged to take pictures and share their thoughts about and experiences with SNAP. These stories and statements will highlight the importance of SNAP in addressing hunger and poverty. If you are active on social media, sign up for this event and get information on how you can protect SNAP. You can also send a message to your members of Congress telling them to protect hungry families by protecting SNAP (find contact information on our Elected Officials page).


Quick News

Attend Tavis Smiley Town Hall Events in NC and PA Next Week. RESULTS ally Tavis Smiley, who appeared on our national Town Hall meeting and at this year’s RESULTS International Conference, is continuing his Ending Poverty: America’s Silent Spaces tour this month. He is holding town hall meetings around the country to raise awareness of poverty and recruit new people to take up the fight against poverty in America. RESULTS continues our work with the Tavis Smiley Foundation on this and other projects and urge you to join this campaign. If you are in Raleigh, NC (Oct. 17) or Philadelphia, PA (Oct. 18), please plan to attend the Ending Poverty Town Hall there. You can find information about each event at: http://www.endingpoverty.net/town-halls/.

Article Highlights Uncertainty Implicit in Poverty. The website Vox has a new story highlighting how volatile poverty can be for families. Building on the recent U.S. Census poverty data, the article talks about how financial uncertainty among low-income people is a staple of modern American poverty. Quoiting author Linda Tirado, the article says “being poor isn't just about money being tight; it's about an inability to plan for the future. Volatile income wreaks havoc on finances as workers hope each month goes perfectly.” The article provides some valuable insights about poverty from data and stories of people who have lived it that you can use in your advocacy work. It is also a reminder of just how important the work you do is for millions of “uncertain” Americans. Share this story with others you know and ask them to make a difference by sending an e-mail to your members of Congress today urging them to end poverty in America.

For updates on all our U.S. Poverty Campaigns, see our U.S. Poverty Campaigns Summary page on the RESULTS website.


Announcements

Join Tomorrow’s RESULTS Intro Call at 9 pm ET. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about RESULTS and how to get involved in our work, join our RESULTS Introductory Call tomorrow, October 8 at 9:00 pm ET. These 30-45 minute calls provide you an overview of RESULTS and our work. We repeat them twice per month. To participate in tomorrow’s or another upcoming call, register at the RESULTS website.

Save the Date for the 2015 International Conference. The next RESULTS International Conference will be held July 18-21, 2015 at the Washington Court Hotel. Plan to join us in DC next summer for another great conference. We will have more details and registration information for you soon.


Check Out Upcoming RESULTS Fundraisers

Some of our groups have events coming up in the next few months, or have already kicked off their Friends and Family Campaigns for the fall, and we want to thank them for hosting events to support RESULTS. You can click on the links below to offer your own support if you choose - or simply use them as a guide on how to kick off your own event or campaign!

If you have questions about doing actual or virtual fundraising event for RESULTS, please contact Jen DeFranco at [email protected].


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: September 22 – November 11. Request face-to-face meetings.

Wednesday, October 8: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. Register at: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/#Introductory%20Call.

Saturday, October 11: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online. (888) 409-6709.

Tuesday, October 21: U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm ET. (857) 232-0476, passcode 703096.

Thursday, November 27 – Friday, November 28: All RESULTS offices closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Saturday, July 18 – Tuesday, July 21, 2015: RESULTS International Conference, Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC. Details coming soon!


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1101 15th St NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Update is sent out every Tuesday via email 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 U.S. poverty campaigns.