U.S. Poverty Weekly Update February 21, 2012

I did it!

— RESULTS Albuquerque volunteer Roxanne Allen on speaking face-to-face with Vice President Joe Biden about the importance of funding anti-poverty programs

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 Your Local House and Senate Offices about Town Hall Meetings This Week

Both the House and Senate are on recess this week. Some of them will be holding town hall meetings during this time. This is a great opportunity to get in front of legislators and get them to take a position in public on our issues.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and contact your local House and Senate offices to ask if your representatives and senators are holding any town hall meetings during this weeks recess. You can use our Elected Officials page to find contact information for local offices. Also ask the local scheduler if there is e-mail list announcing upcoming meetings and ask to be added to it.

If you plan to attend a town hall, use these resources to help you prepare:

In addition, the RESULTS staff is here to help you as well. If you are attending an upcoming town hall meeting, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff. We are here to help you.


Set Up Face-to-Face Meetings (February Action)

This week’s recess is another opportunity to request face-to-face meetings with them while they are in their home districts. RESULTS advocacy work is built on the premise that relationships matter. Through relationships, we make a difference. Face-to-face meetings are vital to establishing relationships with lawmakers. Those first encounters create an impression and repeated meetings build the trust needed to create champions for the end of poverty. If we never meet face-to-face, it makes our task all that much harder. Nor can members of Congress speak for their constituents when they don’t meet them in person.

Some congressional offices are a hard nut to crack and try as you might, sometimes you never can get that meeting. Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA-51), who spoke on this month’s national conference call, said that in those instances, you need to think outside the box. He reminded us that members of Congress do not like bad press so if your member of Congress is unresponsive to your requests, get creative (sit-ins, theatrics) and include the media in your actions. 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.

While not everyone will follow Rep. Filner’s specific recommendations, his underlying point is important. We need to be persistent. We need to make those requests for meetings and then follow up, follow up, and follow up again until we get an answer. If that answer is always no, we need to be creative in getting our elected leaders’ attention. Finally, while we wait for that meeting, we need to be talking to congressional offices and the key aides on our issues, developing relationships to make champions of them as well.

TAKE ACTION: Take the February Action. Request a face-to-face meeting with House and Senate members when they are home. They will be on recess this week and again in early April (the House will also be on recess March 9-18). 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).

In your meetings, be sure to take our 2012 Request and Background sheets. These one-page “leave behinds” are summaries of our 2012 requests and background on each issue. We have sheets covering low-income tax credits, the Saver’s Bonus, and Head Start and child care.


Kick Off Your Friends & Family Fundraising Efforts

Today is the official launch of our Friends & Family fundraising campaign! We are very excited about this campaign. Your work to help raise money for RESULTS and our work helps us to continue to provide you the support and resources needed to create a world free of poverty. We thank you for your generosity of time and effort. So let’s this party started!

TAKE ACTION: From now until March 31, plan to reach out to everyone in your circles, from your parents to your high school classmates to your butcher to your drycleaner. Sing the praises of our unique and powerful organization and ask them to give to RESULTS or RESULTS Educational Fund. Whether you are sending letters through the mail or using the online fundraising webpage, we encourage you to start today. Send out those solicitations now so as to give yourself plenty of time to make personal follow-up calls. We’ve providedhelpful tips letter writing.

Also, it is not too late to set up your personal online fundraising page. See the last week’s update for step-by-step instructions on how to set up your page. And for those of you who will not set up a webpage, you can still direct your friends to go to this site to make a donation to another team or partner. You can find out how at: http://www.results.org/support_results/fundraisers/

This is your chance to shine and tell everyone how important RESULTS and ending poverty is in your life. Thank you for your participation and we look forward, with your help, to reaching our $30,000 goal by March 31.


Register for NWLC and CHN Budget Webinars Tomorrow

Last week, we highlighted some important provisions of President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal, particularly those related to our 2012 U.S. Poverty Campaigns. While the president’s budget is only a proposal that Congress is free to ignore, it sets the tone for Congress’ legislative work over the next year (as well as framing the message for the election) and is a very powerful document. In fact, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted on its blog that, despite cautious optimism about the President’s budget in progressive circles last week, there are provisions in it that could still lead to deep cuts to domestic programs. To help us better understand how the budget impacts the overall legislative agenda this year, several of RESULTS’ key allies are holding trainings this week on the budget.

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) is hosting a "Post-Budget Update: What to Expect for Early Childhood in 2012" training call. The call will include an overview of the early learning landscape in Congress this year. This information will be valuable in our work to once again protect funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care. Speakers will include Helen Blank (NWLC), Adele Robinson (NAEYC), and Hannah Matthews (CLASP) . The conference call is tomorrow, February 22 at 3:00 pm ET. You can register for the call on the NWLC website.

Right after that call, the Coalition on Human Needs will be hosting a webinar on the budget. From CHN: “President Obama’s budget includes a balance of new revenues and spending cuts, while leaving room for investments to spur economic growth. Some in Congress will propose big spending cuts alone. The debate over these choices will have a huge impact on service providers’ ability to meet human needs, and on the state of the economy for years to come. And all these federal choices will roll into a battle over spending, taxes, and services before, during, and after the election.” Speakers will include Ellen Teller of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), James R. Horney of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and Debbie Weinstein of CHN. CHN always puts on informative, interesting and fun webinars. The webinar is tomorrow, February 22 at 4:00 pm ET. You register for the webinar at the CHN website.


Thank You for Your Calls about UI and the Child Tax Credit

Thanks to all of you who made calls last week urging Congress to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for America’s unemployed without cutting the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to pay for it. As a reminder, unemployment benefits, along with the payroll tax cut, were set to expire on February 29. With Congress on recess this week, lawmakers were eager to resolve the issue before leaving for home.

Last week, House Republicans agreed to extend the payroll tax cut without any offsets, but were still demanding that UI, an extension of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, the federal welfare program), Medicare payments to doctors, and other provisions be paid for. One proposal to pay for some of these items was to change the eligibility of the CTC by requiring claimants have a Social Security number. This 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. Fortunately, due in part to your efforts, the CTC change was dropped. On Friday, the House (by a vote of 293-132) and the Senate (by a vote of 60-36) passed the extensions and sent the bill to the president for signature.

Thank you to all of you who made calls urging Congress to protect unemployed workers without punishing low-income families at the same time. Here are some details of the final agreement:

  • The 2 percent payroll tax cut is extended until December 31, 2012.
  • Unemployment benefits are extended but the bill reduces the maximum number of weeks a person can claim benefits from 99 weeks to around 63 weeks.
  • TANF benefits extended through FY 2012 (September 30, 2011)
  • Current Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors extended through 2012. This is the “doc fix”; in 1997 Congress created a new reimbursement rate formula for doctors serving Medicare patients. Under the new formula, a 27 percent cut in payments was scheduled for this year. This agreement postpones that cut until 2013 (Congress postpones it every year).
  • To pay for some of these provisions, Congress will auction off part of the broadband spectrum, require federal employees to contribute more toward their pensions, cut prevention programs enacted under health reform, and make other cuts to health reform.

TAKE ACTION: Now that the payroll tax cut/UI extension is resolved, Congress has to turn its attention to this year’s budget. The resolution of this issue and the release of the President’s Budget are getting a lot of press coverage. This is a great opportunity to use these events as a “hook” to get letters to the editor printed. Use our online LTE actions to send letters to the editor to your local paper urging Congress to get to work on protecting tax credits for low-income working families and investing in early childhood development programs.


Quick News

RESULTS Des Moines Gets EITC Op-ed Published. Last week, RESULTS Des Moines volunteer and RESULTS staff person Jos Linn got an op-ed published in the Des Moines Register. The op-ed talked about the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit and urged members of Congress to make sure recent improvements to the EITC do not expire at the end of this year. The piece received positive feedback, including one mother who wrote that, when her children were young, she would not have made it without the EITC. She was living check to check, sometimes with only a few dollars left over each month after the bills were paid. Now, her children have graduated from college and they all are doing well. It is stories like that that make the work to end poverty all that more meaningful and important. Congratulations, Des Moines!


RESULTS International Conference Update

The RESULTS International Conference 2012 begins five months from today. That time will pass quickly so start making plans to attend today. RESULTS activists from around the globe will gather together in Washington, D.C. July 21-24, 2012 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Crystal City. The conference offers inspiring, 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. If that weren’t enough to get you there, here are some more exciting reasons to attend:

  • Peter Daou has been confirmed as a speaker for a session entitled “Using Social Media to Strengthen our Activism and Increase our Numbers”. Named by the New York Times as “one of the most prominent political bloggers in the nation” and by the Washington Post as one of a handful of online experts pioneering “a whole new way of campaigning,” Peter has advised leading organizations, companies and campaigns, including the United Nations Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, AARP, and Intel, among many others. At the conference, Peter will show you how to bring your use of social media to the next level. It is not to be missed.
  • Registration is only $150 until April 16. Be sure to register TODAY!
  • Remember that individual and team that raise the most money online with our Friends and Family Campaign each win one free IC registration.

Announcements

Send in Your 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 ([email protected]) as soon as possible. If you have not had your meeting yet, be sure to get it on your schedule. 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.

Join the New Activist Orientation Call Next Monday. Our NAO series began last week. 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 this first call) Please contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]) for details.

Register for the Next RESULTS Intro Call. If you know anyone interested in learning more about RESULTS (or you’re interested yourself), 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. Our next RESULTS Intro Call is Wednesday, March 7 at 9:00 pm ET. People can register at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.

RESULTS Outreach. We’re 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.


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 recesses, Feb. 20-24, April 2-13. Request face-to-face meetings!

Tuesday, February 21: RESULTS Friends & Family Fundraising Campaign begins! Campaign runs through March 31.

Monday, February 27: RESULTS’ New Activist Orientation series, 9:00 pm ET. Contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]) for details.

Wednesday, March 7: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.

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.