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U.S. Poverty Weekly Update February 14, 2012

Justice is what love looks like in public.

— Cornel West

New and Urgent in This Weeks Update (2-10-20 Actions)

Each week, we highlight specific actions you can take based on what time you have available. We call them our 2-10-20 Actions (if you have two minutes, ten minutes or twenty minutes available). Click on the links below for details about each action.

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Call Congress TODAY to Protect Child Tax Credit and Extend Unemployment Insurance

Congress is in the midst of negotiating a deal to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and several other programs past the end of February. Unfortunately, some members of Congress are demanding a change in the Child Tax Credit that could hurt millions of low-income children to help pay for a larger deal.

TAKE ACTION: Call Congress TODAY toll free at (888) 245-3381 (or use the National Employment Law Project’s easy Click-to-Call page to connect with your members of Congress) and tell your representative and senators:

“Please fully renew unemployment insurance without denying the Child Tax Credit to millions of working poor families — no cuts, no barriers to benefits! Do not go home for the recess without continuing federal unemployment insurance while protecting tax credits for low-income working families.”

Can't get through? Use our website to look up their local office number and give them a ring there instead. Then, pass this email along to friends urging them to call, and see our blog post about how to amplify your calls to Congress using social media. If you cannot call, send an email today urging members of Congress to oppose cuts to the Child Tax Credit using this online action alert from the National Council of La Raza.

BACKGROUND: The change to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) being proposed by the House would change the CTC eligibility rules. Currently, tax filers with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) can claim the Child Tax Credit (CTC). ITINs are used by millions of immigrant families to pay their taxes because they cannot get a Social Security Number. The House plan would require claimants to now have an SSN to claim the CTC, even though many families request an ITIN so they can do their duty and pay their taxes. The change would affect 5.5 million children in families earning an average of $21,000 per year, resulting in a loss of $1,800 in income. This not only hurts them and risks them falling further into poverty, but is also hurts the communities they live in where that money gets spent.

Until yesterday, the House Republican leadership insisted that any deal to extend the payroll tax cut and UI be offset with other reductions in spending. However, the House leadership just announced that they will support a payroll tax cut without requiring offsets, and will separate that package from an unemployment insurance extension, extending Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, the federal welfare program), Transitional Medicaid Assistance, Medicare doctor reimbursement rates, and other programs that are all due to expire at the end of February. This second package would still require offsets, which means the Child Tax Credit is still under threat now and in the future.

If Congress enacts the payroll tax cut without offsets, this lowers the total dollar amount for offsets. That should make it easier to find other offsets for these bills while leaving the Child Tax Credit untouched. More broadly, if Congress does not act on a full extension or another short-term extension by February 29, 1.3 million unemployed workers would lose unemployment benefits by the end of March and also put in jeopardy programs like (TANF) and Transitional Medicaid Assistance.


Set Up Face-to-Face Meetings for Upcoming Recesses (February Action)

Our Action this month is focused on getting those face-to-face with legislators in the coming weeks and months when members of Congress are home. Our work on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), educate lawmakers on the Saver’s Bonus, and maintaining momentum for protecting Head Start and child care services are all dependent on advocates bringing these issues before our elected officials. Face-to-face meetings are a way to ensure that that happens.

On last Saturday’s RESULTS U.S. Poverty national conference call, we were honored to have Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA-51) as our guest speaker. Congressman Filner has been a member of Congress for two decades and this has vast experience meeting with constituents. In our discussion with him, he provided great advice on setting up meetings with member of Congress. He reminded us that face-to-face meetings, both in Washington, DC and at home, are a reminder to elected officials that we the people really have the power because we have a vote. Unfortunately, he said, Congress has become very partisan and it is becoming harder and harder to change members of Congress’ minds. As a result, constituents need to be more vigilant about holding their leaders accountable.

He also told us that members of Congress work for us and we have a right to meet with them about our issues. He told us that if an office is repeatedly obstinate about meeting with you, take it to the next level—call members out in the media via letters to the editor, be more theatrical (e.g. when PBS funding was threatened, he urged groups to bring hundreds of kids to DC dressed as Elmo to protect PBS), and if necessary, sit in their offices until you get a meeting (and make sure the media knows about it). He reminded members of Congress don’t like to be embarrassed in an election year and being called out for not meeting with constituents can be embarrassing.

Congressman Filner also makes a strong point that if we want to change Congress, we have to change public opinion. Many people out there, both in and outside of Congress, do not see that we are all in this together and that we have to look out for each other. Instead, they focus only on their individual interests, regardless of the cost to others. To combat this thinking and build support a more community-minded approach to policy, we need to get out there and talk to people. Meet with the PTA, the Kiwanis club, service clubs, and talk to them about anti-poverty policy. Reaching out to people, especially those who don’t agree with us, is very important if we want to change public opinion.

We are very grateful for Congressman Filner’s insights and will miss his leadership in Congress (he is retiring this year to run for mayor of San Diego). If you were not able to hear the Congressman on our conference call, we recommend you listen to a recording of the call on the RESULTS website. He offered other valuable advice that is well worth a listen.

TAKE ACTION: Take the February Action. Request a face-to-face meeting with House and Senate members when they are home. Contact their schedulers now to get a jump on this month’s action. Find scheduler and staff names and contact info on our Elected Officials page. Here is a script you can use when calling them:

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 hunger and poverty. RESULTS has a proven track record of working with legislators from all backgrounds to support smart and cost-effective policies to break the cycle of 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 meeting with Rep./Sen.______________ while he/she is still home this month. Would it be possible to set that up today? There will be at least ____ of us at the meeting and we would like to discuss tax policies that break the cycle of poverty and investments in early childhood development programs. What times would he be available to meet?

The February Action also has tips on scheduling a meeting, as well as talking points for each of our major issues. Also see our Laser Talk for a sample conversation with a scheduler to set up a meeting and/or use our online email tool to contact them. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you and your group prepare for your meeting(s). We’ll have more about the February Action in next week’s update.


Create Your Friends & Family Fundraising Page

As mentioned on Saturday’s national conference call, the RESULTS Friends & Family Fundraising Campaign (F&F) begins next week! The campaign will run from February 21 through March 31. We are excited about this drive and are confident that we can meet our $30,000 organizational goal. We’ve mailed a Friends & Family Toolkit to each Group Leader and posted it on the RESULTS website. In it, you will find materials you will need including instructions, sample letters, follow-up call scripts, tips for using social media, and donor envelopes (Note: if you have old donor envelopes, please recycle them as the remittance address has changed).

In addition, to help make this year’s campaign more creative, interactive, digital, we are offering a new online tool for groups and individuals to use during the campaign. Groups will be able to create and customize the F&F webpage they can then use to promote and track their fundraising success. We already have about a dozen folks who have registered and getting ready for our launch next week. We hope all of you participating will register as well.

To help you, here are the instructions to get started:

  1. Go to www.results.org/support_results/fundraisers/
  2. Click on the red “Friends & Family webpage registration for RESULTS partners”
  3. Click on the blue link under the picture of smiling RESULTS partners. It says “Volunteers: register here.”
  4. Carefully fill out your information (it isn't easy to correct this info!)
  5. If you need to create your groups’ team, don’t select anything! Leave the choice on “select” and fill out your information for your team on the next page, giving it a name like “RESULTS Dallas”
  6. If your group already has a team, choose it from the drop down list to join.
  7. If you are an activist without a group, choose the “Individuals in Action” team
  8. If you are creating a team page, do that first. Then, go to your individual site and fill out your information for your personal page, including your goal, personal story or reasons why you’re asking your loved ones to donate.
  9. Go to the “Services” box on the left on your page and click “Edit Campaign” to easily change text, your picture, your fundraising goal, etc. Team leaders (who created the team page) can do the same for team pages. DO NOT CLICK "END CAMPAIGN"!
  10. Visit http://www.results.org/skills_center/fundraising_support_tools_-_friends_and_family_letter_writing_materials/ for tips and help writing your message and sharing your webpage.
  11. On February 21, share this link with everyone! You can share it to Facebook or Twitter directly from your page. Or, you can put in emails, blogs or any other internet media you can think of. Don’t forget to follow up your online requests with personal phone calls.

We also have scheduled some training calls this week to help you in your F&F fundraising efforts. Here are the details:

  • Wednesday, February 15: Letter-writing Training Call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.
  • Thursday, February 16: Friends & Family Online Tool Webinar Training, 1:30 pm ET. (800) 741-4032, passcode 796141. To join from your computer, copy this URL into your browser: https://www.fuzemeeting.com/fuze/f2988286/15715137.
  • Saturday, February 18: Friends & Family Online Tool Webinar Training, 12:00 pm ET (800) 741-4032, passcode 796141. To join from your computer, copy this URL into your browser: https://www.fuzemeeting.com/fuze/f2988286/15715145.

Thanks to everyone who is participating in this year’s Friends & Family campaign. And remember, the individual and team with the highest fundraising totals using our online tool will each get a free RESULTS International Conference registration (which is also transferable)!


President Obama Releases FY 2013 Budget Proposal

Yesterday, the Obama Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget proposal. In it, President Obama lays out his budget priorities for the next year (the fiscal year begins on October 1). Here are some of the highlights related to RESULTS’ anti-poverty priorities:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The 2009 improvements to the EITC enacted under the Americans Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) would be made permanent. These improvements allow reduces the “marriage penalty” for low-income married couples and increases the credit for families with three or more children (estimated cost: $14 billion over ten years). The President would also expand the EITC by allowing working parents to claim the EITC even if they file an individual return (estimated cost: $5.4 billion over ten years).
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC): The 2009 improvements to the CTC enacted under the ARRA would be made permanent. ARRA lowered in the income eligibility for the CTC from approximately $13,000 to $3,000, thus allowing more low-income families to claim the credit.
  • Head Start: The President requests $8.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start in FY 2013. This is about $85 million more than was allocated in FY 2012 and will help maintain current services, including the new Head Start/Early Head Start slots created under ARRA. Read more about early learning funding in the CLASP 2013 Budget Fact Sheet.
  • Child Care Development Block Grant: The President requests $2.3 billion for CCDBG in FY 2013. This will help an estimated 1.5 million low-income children and their families access child care services.
  • Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): The President’s budget restores benefit cuts to SNAP enacted in 2010 to help pay for child nutrition programs.
  • Other areas: The President also proposes increased investment in infrastructure and provide tax incentives for increasing manufacturing. It was also raise $1.4 trillion in new revenue over the next ten years by changing raising taxes on dividend income for high-income earners, would allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for high income households, and implement the “Buffett Rule” which requires people making $1 million or more to pay no less than a 30 percent effective tax rate.

TAKE ACTION: The release of the President’s Budget is getting a lot of press coverage. This is a great opportunity to use the budget release as a “hook” to get letters to the editor printed. Send a letter to the editor to your local paper urging Congress to protect tax credits for low-income working families including CTC and the Earned Income Tax Credit and invest in early childhood development programs. Use our online LTE actions (links in previous sentence) to send in your letters.


RESULTS Outreach — Invite People to RESULTS Intro Call This Friday; Welcome New Orleans!

If you know anyone interested in learning more about RESULTS, please urge them to register for our next RESULTS Introductory Call. These calls are ideal for people looking for a way to put their passion for justice in action with RESULTS. We do these calls twice per month and all are welcome. Our next RESULTS Intro Call is THIS Friday February 17 at 1 pm ET. We will also have a call on March 7 at 9:00 pm ET. People can register at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet. Contact Jos Linn (jlinn@results.org) if you have questions about the call.

In addition, our New Activist Orientation series began last night. This series of calls is great for new activists in your group or people wanting to learn more about RESULTS beyond the Intro call. The next call will be on February 27 at 9pm ET (and it’s OK I you missed last night’s call) Please contact Lisa Marchal (lmarchal@results.org) for details.

Finally, RESULTS Domestic Outreach Organizer Jos Linn traveled to New Orleans last week with RESULTS Global colleague Katy Windschill to start a new RESULTS group in the Big Easy. The meeting was a great success. Thirty people attended and twelve of them signed up to start a new RESULTS chapter there. They’ll start their new group training next week. If you know anyone in the New Orleans area who might be interested in RESULTS, please contact Jos at jlinn@results.org to get them connected to the new group. We welcome our new friends in Louisiana!

We’re also working to start new groups in Rochester, NY, Montana, Maine and Massachusetts. If you know anyone in these or other places around the U.S. and would like to connect them with RESULTS, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team.


Quick News

New York Times Highlights Contrasts in Accepting Government Help. The New York Times on Sunday ran an excellent article on the dichotomies of those who criticize government spending while accepting government benefits. The article highlights residents of Chisago County, MN, a conservative area near the Twin Cities. It paints an eye-opening picture of how many Americans think and just how much more the middle class has come to rely on government assistance. We highly recommend you read it. As we do more to educate the public about the importance of government’s role in eradicating poverty, this article provides valuable insights into the thinking of people we may encounter. This can only help us better understand their perspective and possibly find common ground in which to move forward.


RESULTS International Conference — Nominate Young Adults for REAL Change Scholarship

Don’t forget to register for the 2012 RESULTS International Conference in Washington, D.C. This year’s conference is July 21-24, 2012 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Crystal City (where they give out chocolate chip cookies at check-in!). This year’s conference will offer high-level speakers; educational workshops on effective poverty solutions; advocacy skills trainings; and the experience of lobbying on Capitol Hill. All of this happens in an atmosphere of passion, collaboration, support, and fun. Here are few items about the conference we wanted to make you aware of: 

  • Registration for the conference is only $150 until April 16. Be sure to register TODAY!
  • We urge each RESULTS group to nominate two 18 to 25 year-olds to build their advocacy skills and put them into practice on Capitol Hill through RESULTS Ed Fund’s Emerging Activist Leaders (REAL) Change Scholarship. The scholarship covers all but $100 of the cost of conference registration, travel to DC, and lodging. You can find the nomination form and APPLY NOW on our website. The application deadline isMay 15for this unique training opportunity!
  • There’s only one day left to submit your video testimonial on why you attend the 2012 RESULTS International Conference. The best video will get a free conference registration. The deadline is tomorrow, February 15. Go to our website to see the contest rules and how to submit your video!
  • AirTran is offering ten percent off fares! Please download the agreement and call to get your discount.Look at the financial assistance section of our IC website for more assistance opportunities.

We look forward to seeing you all in Washington this July!


Announcements

Send in those group plans! Most RESULTS U.S. Poverty Groups have completed their group plan meeting but only a few have submitted their plans. We are eager to see what inspiring goals you have set for yourselves in 2012. If you have conducted your group planning meeting, please set a goal of submitting your final plan to your group members, Regional Coordinator and Meredith Dodson (dodson@results.org) as soon as possible. If you have not had your meeting yet, be sure to get it on your schedule. You also still have time to work with Meredith Dodson on your plan, specifically developing strategies for your members of Congress. You can contact her at (202) 783-7100, x.116 or Dodson@results.org. To help with your planning, use the January Action sheet, 2012 RESULTS U.S. Poverty Campaign Summary, Group Planning Guide, and Group Plan Summary Form.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House recesses, Feb. 18-26; March 9-18, March 30-April 15. Senate recess, Feb. 20-24, April 2-13. Request face-to-face meetings!

Wednesday, February 15: Letter-writing Training Call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

Thursday, February 16: Friends & Family Online Tool Webinar Training, 1:30 pm ET. (800) 741-4032, passcode 796141. To join from your computer, copy this URL into your browser: https://www.fuzemeeting.com/fuze/f2988286/15715137.

Friday, February 17: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.

Saturday, February 18: Friends & Family Online Tool Webinar Training, 12:00 pm ET    (800) 741-4032, passcode 796141. To join from your computer, copy this URL into your browser: https://www.fuzemeeting.com/fuze/f2988286/15715145.

Monday, February 27: RESULTS’ New Activist Orientation series, 9:00 pm ET. Contact Lisa Marchal (lmarchal@results.org) for details.

Saturday, March 10: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Saturday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 24, 2012: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. Start planning today to attend our 2012 conference!


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 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.

RESULTS 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.