U.S. Poverty Weekly Update July 1, 2014

Given many members of Congress use deficit concerns to oppose even small increases in funding for anti-poverty programs that help millions of struggling Americans, it is unfathomable that they would now approve hundreds of billions in tax cuts for some of the wealthiest corporations.

— RESULTS Santa Fe volunteer Lydia Pendley in a June 22 op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican

The most insidious thing about trickle-down economics isn’t believing that if the rich get richer, it’s good for the economy. It’s believing that if the poor get richer, it’s bad for the economy.

— Entrepreneur Nick Hanauer in the July/August 2014 Politico Magazine

New and Urgent in This Week's Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Give Us Your Feedback about the RESULTS International Conference (even if you didn’t come)

Thank you to everyone who traveled to Washington, DC last week for the RESULTS International Conference, as well as those back home who supported our DC travelers these last few months. We had a great conference this year with wonderful speakers, helpful trainings, and an exciting and rewarding Lobby Day (see more below). You – our volunteers – are the reason we do the conference each year. Without your commitment, energy, and passion, each year’s conference would not continue to exceed the success of the last. This year was no different. With over 400 attendees, including 100 REAL Change Fellows, the conference was a tremendous success. But we always are looking to improve it. You can help us do that.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to fill out the 2014 RESULTS International Conference evaluation. This evaluation provides us important feedback from you about the conference – what you liked, what you didn’t like, and how we can make it better. Even if you didn’t attend this year’s conference, please fill out the evaluation. There are questions about why you did not attend that can help us better plan for next year. You can find the evaluation at: http://tinyurl.com/IC2014Eval.


Got Ten Minutes? Use New CTC Developments to Follow Up on Your Recent Lobby Meetings

At this year’s RESULTS International Conference, RESULTS volunteers had over 300 lobby meetings on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and their staff. Volunteers talked about protecting and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), and urged members of Congress to support the creation of the Financial Security Credit. Many more volunteers also discussed support for our global poverty campaigns around Education for All and life-saving vaccines for children around the world.

But our lobby meetings were only the start. Now it’s time to follow up on our requests to make sure action is taken on them. Follow-up is the only way we have to make sure our members of Congress and their staff do what they said they would do – it’s how we hold people accountable.

There is a development in our tax policy work that makes your follow up very timely. Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up a bill that would significantly expand the CTC. Unfortunately, it would expand it in the wrong direction. Instead of helping low-income families by making the 2009 CTC improvements permanent (which will expire at the end of 2017), the committee chose instead to allow more affluent families to claim the CTC. It would essentially allow married couples making between $150,000 and $205,000 to benefit from the credit.[1] The bill would also index the $1,000 per child credit amount and the phase-out level to inflation, making wealthier families eligible for a larger credit from year to year. It was bad enough when the House chose corporate tax cuts over the needs of working families; to now expand the CTC to only to wealthier families while again ignoring the needs of low-income families is mind-boggling. This graph from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows just how skewed their priorities are.

http://www.offthechartsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/6-25-14CTC.jpg

The new development is exactly this kind of information you want to send to tax aides in your follow-up. It provides helpful, new information to them and helps build your credibility as a resource for their office.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to follow up on your recent lobby meetings in Washington, DC or back home. Call, write, or e-mail the aides in each office you met with. If more than one of you attended the meeting, divide up the responsibilities among the group as to which aide each person will contact (only one person need follow up with an aide). Here is what you can include in your correspondence:

  1. Say thank you. Thank the aide for their time and for meeting with you. Be sure to include a thank you to your member of Congress if he/she met with you face-to-face.
  2. Reiterate your request. Restate the lobby requests you made during your meeting and what they said they would do (if anything). If you’re following up with tax aides, tell them about the House Ways and Means new CTC proposal and urge them to reject efforts to expand the CTC to wealthy families while ignoring the needs of working parents.
  3. Include supplemental material. If you said you would send more information about the issues you discussed or if you want to provide additional info based on your conversations, include it here, e.g. the CBPP analysis of the new CTC bill or the RESULTS Blog post on the Save USA program.
  4. Schedule a time to talk again. Set up a time to contact the aide again to check on the status of your request.

If you need a refresher on our requests or to review the campaign materials presented at the conference, see the RESULTS Conference Lobby Resources page (www.tinyurl.com/2014RIC) on our website. Also, if you have any questions about following up with congressional offices, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) for help.

Also, if you have done so already, please take a few minutes to fill out the Lobby Report form at: http://tinyurl.com/LobbyReportForm so we know what happened at your lobby meetings.


Got Twenty Minutes? Prepare for August Recess Lobby Meetings with “Real Experts” on Poverty

With the RESULS conference over, our next best opportunity to push Congress on our 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaign priorities will be in August when members of Congress are home for the summer recess (although there may be opportunities this week as well). Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be on recess from August 5 through September 5. This is a perfect time to meet with them face-to-face and push them to expand economic mobility in America, especially before election season gears up. Ensure that you get an opportunity to meet with them in August by putting in your face-to-face meeting requests now. Their schedules fill up quickly so don’t wait until mid-to-late July to put in your requests.

As you prepare for lobby meetings in August, work to include new allies in your meetings to really hit the message home with legislators. At this year’s RESULTS conference, we once again had a session where “real experts” on poverty, i.e. those who have experienced poverty firsthand, told us their stories. Panelists included RESULTS Albuquerque volunteer and former Circles Leader LaNae Havens, Witness to Hunger Bonita Cuff, and Randi Schmidt of the Children’s Leadership Council. It was again one of our most powerful sessions and made it abundantly clear that sharing these stories in lobby meetings can make a real difference. Many other RESULTS conference participants also shared their firsthand experience of poverty during lobby meetings on Capitol Hill to great effect. As highlighted in anti-poverty publications recently, politicians writing anti-poverty legislation many times have no experience with poverty and it’s high time they stop making assumptions about poverty and start listening to the truth about it.

Up your advocacy game this August by including “real experts” and coalition allies in your lobby meetings. Use the August recess to educate lawmakers about the realities of poverty in America and solutions that will actually make a difference in people’s lives.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to start preparing for lobby meetings during the August recess. Submit face-to-face meeting requests for all your House and Senate members using our downloadable meeting request letter or our online meeting request. In addition, reach out to individuals or groups in your area to have them share their stories in your lobby meetings. If you already have connections in your community, talk to those allies to see if anyone they know would be willing to share their story in a lobby meeting. If you don’t have those connections, here are some potential allies to contact: Circles USA affiliates, Witnesses to Hunger, Community Action agencies, local Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs, food banks and food pantries, Head Start programs, faith communities, etc. The July Action will be available early next week which will include tips and advice for making the most of lobby meetings during the August recess.


Talk to Members of Congress during This Week’s July 4 Recess

In addition to getting ready for the August recess, remember that Congress is also on recess this week for the Independence Day holiday. This gives you a great opportunity to follow up on recent lobby meetings or get face time with legislators you could not meet with in DC. Note that this is an election year and many members of Congress and candidates will be out in full force, appearing in Independence Day parades and events this week. Contact your House and Senate schedulers to see if your representatives or senators will be at any events and plan to attend. If they plan to be in a parade, here is a helpful tip: Go to the parade staging area or end point of the parade and look for legislators and candidates. Many times they are just waiting around and have time to talk.

TAKE ACTION: Call schedulers for your members of Congress to see if they are holding any town halls or appearing at any events this week. If so, plan to attend and ask a question. You can find DC scheduler names, local contact information, and website links on our Elected Officials page. You can also check their congressional websites to see if they have any events listed there. To know what to discuss, see our Sample Town Hall Questions or review our recent lobby meeting requests.


RESULTS International Conference Another Great Success

The 2014 RESULTS International Conference is now part of history but it was another great success in our work to create the political will to end poverty. More than 400 advocates traveled to DC to spend three days hearing from amazing speakers such as Tavis Smiley, Dr. Jim Kim, Marian Wright Edelman, Sam Daley-Harris, Marianne Williamson, David Bornstein, Michael Gerson, Michael Blake, LaNae Havens, Bonita Cuff, Randi Schmidt, Raj Shah, Sean Astin and others, not to mention training sessions facilitated by RESULTS volunteers and staff. The conference was culminated by a powerful Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, with over 300 meetings with members of Congress and their staff. We again thank everyone who could attend this year’s conference. We are especially excited about the 100 REAL Change Fellows – young leaders wanting to make a difference in the world – who energized and inspired us all and have returned home to keep the momentum going.

If you were not at the conference and want to see some of the highlights, or if you were and want to relive them again, check these out:

For those who could not attend, we are also grateful for your support of those who did and for taking action from home during the conference. We thank you for your calls and e-mails to Congress on Lobby Day and for your outreach in getting others to contact Congress as well. The efforts of everyone in DC and back home has made our work to end poverty in America and around the world easier. We look forward to all of you joining us for the 2015 RESULTS International Conference next summer (details soon).


Quick News

Food Integrity Advocates Get Temporary Reprieve. Three Appropriations bills have stalled in the Senate - Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD. Included in these bills, along with proposed amendments to them, are changes to the food menu for WIC and school lunches. As we’ve noted the last few months, these changes would let politicians and lobbyists, instead of nutrition and health experts, prescribe what low-income infants, pregnant mothers, and school children should eat. Similar bills in the House have also stalled. It is unclear if and when, and in what form, these bills will move forward but many expect it not to take place until after the November elections.

New Bill Would Expand Summer Meals for Children. Last week, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Summer Meals Act, S. 2527, a bipartisan bill that would enhance efforts to expand the reach of the Summer Food Program to low-income children and significantly simplify the administration of the program for sponsors. Rep. Don Young (R-AK-At Large) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA-2) are leading the effort in the House of Representatives. RESULTS strongly supports expanding access to food for at-risk children.

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


Fundraising Update

We want to thank the more than 50 runners/walkers that supported the Everyday Hero Dash hosted by the development team at the RESULTS conference last week! Our heroes set out on a 5k or 1 Mile run/walk on Sunday evening, but even more exciting, they helped us reach our goal we set for the event, selling out ALL our medals this year!

This week and next are packed full of fundraising house parties, some featuring a number of our ACTION partners as speakers - links are provided to their websites for those who would like to offer support:

Still don't have your fundraising event on the calendar for 2014? Contact Jen DeFranco at [email protected] to schedule your event today. Our "Fundraiser To Go" materials make planning stress free and easy to do!


Announcements

Vote for Grassroots Board Members. The nominees for the two open Grassroots Board positions have been announced and voting has started. You can read about each nominee on the RESULTS website and then cast your vote at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RESULTS2014 or sending your vote to Jack McLaughlin at [email protected]. All active RESULTS volunteers are eligible to vote. Also, the four current RESULTS Grassroots Board Members (Heide Craig, Lydia Pendley, Ginnie Vogts, and Beth Wilson) would like to hear from you if you have questions or ideas about RESULTS and our work. Send your questions or suggestions to Heide at: [email protected].


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: June 30 – July 4, August 4 – September 5. Request face-to-face meetings.

Friday, July 4: Happy Independence Day! (All RESULTS offices closed)

Wednesday, July 9: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00pm CT. Register for this or another Intro Call at: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Tuesday, June 15: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, 1:00 pm ET and 9:00 pm ET. (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.

Saturday, July 12: RESULTS Joint U.S. and Global Poverty National Conference Call, 2:00 pm ET. Note different time for the call. Listen to previous conference calls online.


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.


[1] Currently, married couples earning up to $110,000 per year can claim the full CTC. Above $110,000, the CTC gradually phases out, much like the EITC, until it disappears completely at around $130,000 per year. The new proposal would start the CTC phase-out at $150,000 per year until it disappears at around $205,000 per year. It would also allow this threshold to rise each year with inflation, this allowing even wealthier families to claim it.