U.S. Poverty Weekly Update August 13, 2013
New and Urgent in This Week's Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)
Latest from Washington, DC
As discussed on last weekend’s RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, the House of Representatives is planning to make drastic changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) when they return to DC in September. As many as 6 million people could lose SNAP benefits as a result of these proposed changes (with more seeing benefits cut), impacting working families, seniors, and those struggling with unemployment. As you work to meet with members of Congress at home this month, reinforce your message by sending a message to your representative urging him/her to reject this radical proposal when Congress returns in September.
TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send an e-mail urging the House to protect and strengthen SNAP and to reject the $40 billion in cuts being proposed by House leaders. Use our online e-mail alert to send your message today. You can also send a message to senators urging them to protect and strengthen SNAP in any final Farm Bill.
After sending your message, send our e-mail link out to your local action networks and post it on Facebook and Twitter to engage your social networks.
Got Ten Minutes? Meet with Members of Congress during August Recess (August Action)
After the success of the RESULTS International Conference, we need to keep our momentum going by meeting face-to-face with our members of Congress while they’re home on recess. Congress is making big decisions about SNAP and the budget in September and this is our last chance to talk to them. These person-to-person encounters make a difference. As guest speaker Roberta Downing mentioned on last weekend’s conference call, we only need to convince less than 20 Republican members of Congress to oppose the House’s $40 billion in SNAP cuts to defeat it (assuming all Democrats vote no as they did on the split Farm Bill). That’s the power you have – so use it.
If you put in your requests for a face-to-face meeting last month but haven’t heard back, contact your House and Senate schedulers this week to confirm a meeting. When doing so, be polite but persistent. Members have a lot of demands on their time and sometimes you have to push a little to get meetings. If you haven’t put your request in yet, it’s not too late. Lawmakers will be home until after Labor Day. To help you, we have an updated Lobby Meeting Request letter you can use to e-mail or fax their schedulers.
Also, remember that many members of Congress hold town hall meetings during the August recess. Asking questions are great way to get members of Congress to take a position on our issues publicly. Also, this is State Fair season and many members of Congress will make appearances, corn dogs in hand. Be sure to ask schedulers about these events as well, and regularly check your congressional websites to see if there are any events listed there. For tips about town halls and public appearances, see our Activist Toolkit. We also have sample town hall questions in the August Action and on our Town Hall Sample Town Hall Questions Page.
TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to call the schedulers for your members of Congress to confirm a meeting or town hall this month. Use the August Action for guidance in taking the action. Here are additional resources to help you prepare for your meetings:
Advocacy is about using all the tools are our disposal. Face-to-face meetings put the issues front and center with legislators and build relationships. E-mails and calls create the numbers needed to make a difference and help us engage others in our community. Site visits help put a face on the issues by helping lawmakers see the local impact. And media gets Congress’ attention and educates the wider public.
While getting face-to-face meetings this month is our first priority, sometimes even the most vigilant volunteer or group has to wait for a meeting. Use these delays to supplement your advocacy by getting media published about SNAP. Think of your members of Congress opening the paper at home and reading your op-ed calling on them to protect and strengthen SNAP. And then imagine walking into a meeting or town hall with your media piece in hand. That will get their attention.
TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to draft and submit a media piece to a local paper. You can use our updated online LTE alert to submit a letter today. You can find helpful information and talking points about SNAP and the current House proposal in our August 2013 Conference Call Slides. If you want to magnify your voice, consider drafting an op-ed or asking your paper to write an editorial. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is willing to help you with drafting media about SNAP; contact Roberta Downing at [email protected] for assistance. You can also contact Jos Linn at RESULTS for help with ideas and editing at [email protected].
Thank you to Roberta Downing of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) for serving as guest speaker on Saturday’s RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call. Roberta provided a detailed and sobering analysis of what the House is now trying to do to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is of immense help as we meet with members of Congress this month.
As she described, the House is now proposing $40 billion in cuts to SNAP (over 10 years), which includes the previous $20.5 billion in cuts from House Farm Bill plus $20 billion more. Part of the new cuts would require states to force unemployed 18-50 year olds with no children off SNAP after 3 months, regardless of their efforts to find work. While SNAP rules mandate that these people can only get SNAP for three months out of every three years, states are allowed to waive this requirement during times of high unemployment. Since the recession began, most states have been using this authority. The House proposal would take it away. As Roberta pointed out, this would force 2-4 million more people off SNAP on top of the 2 million forced off under the original House Farm Bill cuts. Many of these people are in deep, deep poverty, earning on average $2,500 per year (22 percent of the federal poverty line).
If this weren’t bad enough, the proposal would also encourage states to terminate SNAP benefits for any recipient who cannot meet harsh new work requirements, while providing no resources to help people find work (this is the “Southerland Amendment” offered by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL-2) offered during the House Farm Bill debate in June). Worse yet, states get to keep half of the federal savings they create and use the money for anything they choose. In other words, it provides a strong incentive to kick people off SNAP.
But the news is not all bad. The bill is expected on the House floor the week of September 8 and is expected to be a very close vote. Roberta said that Democrats in the House are lining up in opposition to the bill, as they did against the split Farm Bill in July (although we cannot take that for granted). That means if just 18 Republicans oppose the bill, it cannot pass. That’s why our work this month is so important. Advocacy work is not about changing everyone’s mind – it’s about changing enough of them.
Here are some tips Roberta mentioned to help persuade lawmakers to oppose the House proposal:
TAKE ACTION: Push for meetings this month to urge representatives and senators to protect and strengthen SNAP. For representatives, urge them to oppose the new House SNAP proposal and to tell House leadership of their intention to vote no. You can also shore up support for SNAP by asking your representative to sign a sign-on letter urging Congress to protect SNAP. Keep up with the latest on SNAP and all of our issues on our U.S. Poverty Campaigns Summary page.
Again, we deeply thank Roberta for her time on last weekend’s conference call. We appreciate her and CBPP for their impeccable work and look forward to a continued partnership with them. You can listen to a recording of the call and download the call summary and call slides on our national conference calls page.
The recent RESULTS International Conference was our biggest ever. We had 500 people come to DC to help end poverty around the world. Among that crowd were a number of new people who were inspired to get RESULTS going back at home. Coupled with outreach already in progress, we are looking forward to an active fall in expanding the reach and impact of RESULTS’ work to end poverty in America. And we can always use your help. If you know people in the following areas, please invite them to attend an upcoming event or contact the appropriate staff member to connect them with our local efforts.
We are also working with people in Boston (Jenny), Louisville (Myrdin), Cincinnati (Myrdin), and Oklahoma (Myrdin). If you know people in these or other areas, please contact us. Help us grow RESULTS!
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about RESULTS, invite them to attend our next RESULTS Introductory Call. These 30-45 minute calls include a brief overview of RESULTS and how you can get involved. If you know someone who would be a great advocate for the end of poverty, invite them to register for the call tomorrow, August 14 at 9:00 pm ET. People can register for this or another upcoming Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.
Volunteer leaders will be hosting their next RESULTS Media Training Call on August 20 at 8:00 pm ET. Join them to discuss tips for taking your media work to the next level, including getting editorial writers to listen to you, finding the right person for an op-ed, or just to celebrate your latest success. All are welcomed who want to improve their media skills. To participate, dial (218) 862-1300, passcode 682494#.
Finally, if would like support in taking action on our U.S. poverty issues but have no active RESULTS U.S. Poverty group in your area, plan to join the next RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call next Tuesday, August 20 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #). Contact Jos at [email protected] for more information.
Build Support for the Financial Security Act. As noted last week, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY-15) has introduced the Financial Security Credit Act of 2013, H.R. 2917. This bill creates the Financial Security Credit (FSC, formerly the Saver’s Bonus) which would allow low-income tax payers to allocate part or all of their tax refund (usually from the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit) into a savings account on their tax form and the government would provide a match to these deposits up to $500 per year. The FSC is a little different from the Saver’s Bonus introduced a few years ago in that the match is fifty cents per dollar deposited (not dollar-for-dollar), meaning one would have to deposit $1,000 to receive the full match. Also, if the saver chooses to deposit the money into a traditional savings account (instead of an account that restricts withdrawals such as IRAs, 401Ks, savings bonds, etc), the saver must wait eight months before receiving the match. You can read more about the FSC on our Financial Security Credit page. H.R. 2917 has 22 co-sponsors – urge your representatives to support low-income asset building and the FSC using our online e-mail alert.
Check out Greg Kaufmann’s Latest Blog. Read the latest “This Week in Poverty” blog post from RESULTS 2013 Cameron Duncan Media Award winner Greg Kaufmann. Greg brings much needed media attention to the issue of poverty in America, pushing back against efforts to demonize low-income families and the programs that help them.
How do you bring a spectacular presentation to your fundraiser event attendees without the expense and coordination of travel? You can bring them in virtually. We have great video presentations already developed that you can utilize in lieu of an actual speaker. Visit our blog post to check out great videos of Prof. Muhammad Yunus, former Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT), actress and activist Valerie Harper, and RESULTS founder Sam Daley Harris speaking directly about RESULTS. They are ideal for small house parties and banquet dinners alike. Contact Cindy Levin [email protected] support and we'll help you get your next RESULTS fundraiser on the calendar.
Please Fill Out Lobby Meeting Report Form. For meetings at the RESULTS International Conference, during the August recess, or any other time, please fill out Lobby Meeting Report Form (www.tinyurl.com/2013lobbyreportform). Recording your lobby visits are important parts of the advocacy process and helps the RESULTS staff better support you in your follow-up. Please contact RESULTS staff members Jos Linn ([email protected]) and Ann Beltran ([email protected]) if you need help.
RESULTS is Moving! This weekend, the RESULTS DC office will be moving to a new location. The new address is 1101 15th St NW, Ste 1200, Washington, DC 20005. For the move, the RESULTS DC office phone and fax numbers will be offline on Monday, August 19. However, most staff will be working and still available via e-mail. We expect to be fully moved with phones up and running on Tuesday, August 20.
(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)
Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: August 5 – September 6. Request face-to-face meetings.
Wednesday, August 14: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.
Friday, August 16: RESULTS Lexington Informational Meeting, 10:00 – 11:30 am ET. Lexington Public Library, Central location. 140 E. Main St, Lexington, KY. Contact Myrdin Thompson ([email protected]) for details.
Saturday, August 17: RESULTS Vermont Outreach Meeting, 10:00am – Noon ET. Burlington Unitarian Universalist Society, Parlor Room, 152 Pearl Street, Burlington, VT. Contact Jenny Martin ([email protected]) for details.
Tuesday, August 20: RESULTS Media Group Training Call, 8:00 pm ET. (218) 862-1300, passcode 682494.
Tuesday, August 20: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #).
Friday, August 23: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.
Saturday, September 7: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online. Note: the September call has been moved to the first Saturday of the month because of Yom Kippur.
Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1730 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil. Please note that RESULTS Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson is on maternity leave until Labor Day 2013.
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.