U.S. Poverty Weekly Update July 22, 2014

The earned income tax credit is not welfare – you must be working to earn it. The more people there are above the poverty line, the lighter the burden on our health care system. More importantly, more people will have access to healthier foods and healthier lives.

— RESULTS Austin volunteer Glenn Ross in a July 15 letter to the editor in the Austin American-Statesman

New and Urgent in This Week's Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Call Congress TODAY Urging Them to Reject Backwards Child Tax Credit Bill

This Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 4935, which extends the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for upper-income taxpayers while ignoring critical improvements to the CTC for low-income families, which will expire in 2017. This long-overdue improvement, passed in 2009 and temporarily extended in 2010 and 2012, lowered the income eligibility threshold for the CTC $3,000; this lower threshold allows low-income earners to claim the credit and get a partial or full refund back. Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) estimated that nearly 9 million families, including 16.5 million children, benefitted from this provision in 2013 and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that nearly one million people were lifted above the poverty line due to this expiring provision. If this improvement expires, CTJ estimates that approximately 3.7 million families would lose their CTC entirely. Yet, House leaders are ignoring these facts and instead working to expand the CTC so wealthier families can claim it. You can learn more about the skewed benefits in H.R. 4953 in this analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

To make things worse, the bill would also deny the CTC to millions of poor children by requiring that at least one parent claiming the CTC have a Social Security number (SSN). Currently, immigrant families can claim the CTC by using an IRS-issued Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). If this provision becomes law, they would be barred from claiming the CTC; as a result, up to 5.5 million children, 4.5 million of whom are U.S. citizens, will lose access to the Child Tax Credit. 

TAKE ACTION: Contact House members, urging them to oppose efforts to take away important tax provisions for low-income and vulnerable children and families, and instead protect and strengthen the Child Tax Credit and EITC. Call your U.S. Representative directly (look up by zip code here: http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/, where you can also view the name of the tax policy aide) or use the toll-free number (888) 245-0215 provided by our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs. When you call, ask for your representative’s office. Once connected, say (and you can tailor these talking points for your calls):

I am a constituent and I’m calling to urge you to vote against H.R. 4935, which extends the Child Tax Credit, or CTC, for upper-income taxpayers while allowing the Child Tax Credit for low-income working families earning less than $13,000 to expire. I'm outraged that this legislation would also deny the CTC to 5.5 million immigrant children, 4.5 million of whom are U.S. citizens. I strongly urge the representative to vote against H.R. 4935.

Thank you for making this important call. If you are unable to call, use our online alert to email Congress today.


Got Ten Minutes? Follow Up with Schedulers about Meetings in August (July Action)

This month, RESULTS is working to set up face-to-face meetings in August to talk to members of Congress about expanding economic mobility in America. Specifically, this means working to protect and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), and helping low-income families prepare for emergencies and build for the future with the Financial Security Credit. Hopefully, you have already contacted your House and Senate schedulers requesting a meeting for the August recess. Now is the time to check in on the status of your meeting requests. Congressional offices receive hundreds of meeting requests each month. The best way to make sure your meeting gets priority is by following up with their offices to politely push for it. If the scheduler doesn’t have an answer for you, ask when you can follow up again. When it comes to getting meetings, it is indeed the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

Also part of this month’s action is working to make your August meetings meaningful by including local “experts” on poverty in your meetings. Including the stories and perspectives of people who have actually experienced poverty educates lawmakers about the real struggles low-income Americans face. And it is clear that many members of Congress need this kind of education. When Witness to Hunger Tianna Gaines-Turner testified before the House Budget Committee a few weeks ago, some of the committee members used her testimony to reinforce false stereotypes about people in poverty and the effectiveness of government assistance. When members of Congress are confronted with the realities of poverty on a regular basis – through the stories of those who live it – they can perhaps get beyond their ideologies and see practical ways to solve these important problems. Help make this happen by reaching out to people in your community to include in your August meetings. Potential allies in your community can include Circles USA affiliatesWitnesses to HungerCommunity Action agencies, local Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs, food banks and food pantries, Head Start programs, faith communities, etc.

RESULTS wants to help you build these bridges by offering a training call to about the importance of stories in lobby meetings. The training will empower you and others to share your expertise on poverty in your community with policymakers. You’ll get trained on the “public narrative” framework and how to create a short version using RESULTS’ EPIC Laser Talk. The training will be co-lead by RESULTS Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson and LaNae Havens of Circles and RESULTS Albuquerque. The call is Tuesday, August 5 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to follow up with your House and Senate offices about your face-to-face meeting requests. Contact the scheduler for each office this week to see if and when you member of Congress can meet with your local RESULTS group during the August recess. If you have not made your meeting requests, use our downloadable meeting request letter or our online meeting request to make your requests today. The July Action has tips to help with scheduling your meetings. In addition, reach out to “real experts” on poverty to include in your lobby meetings. Invite them to lunch or coffee to talk about working together to inform members of Congress about poverty in your community. Remind them of the power they have to educate lawmakers and that you would welcome their contribution to your local efforts. If you need help with scheduling meetings or connecting with allies, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]). Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) to help you get ready.


Got Twenty Minutes? Follow Up Until You Get an Answer

Thank you to everyone who has been following up with members of Congress about recent lobby meetings at the RESULTS International Conference. In 2014, RESULTS U.S. Poverty volunteers have had 24 face-to-face meetings with senators – more than we ever have before (more than half of them were at the conference). We’ve also had 48 face-to-face meetings with House members. Congratulations!

But our work is not finished. Your follow-up with your House and Senate offices are almost as important as your initial meeting with them. Follow-up ensures that your issue gets attention and that action is taken. If you have followed up from your meetings, please do so this week. Use this week’s vote on H.R. 4935 to circle back with the tax policy aides in Washington, including those your group might have met with during the RESULTS/REF International Conference last month. While some in Congress are pushing to pass tax legislation that gives wealthy corporations and individuals large tax cuts, it's important that we remind policymakers that the EITC and CTC are amongst our most effective tools at reducing poverty. The EITC and CTC kept 10.1 million Americans out of poverty in 2012, half of them children. It is imperative that Congress protect and strengthen these credits, including making important provisions that are set to expire in 2017 permanent and increasing the EITC for workers without children in the home. As we follow up with tax aides and mention our concerns about H.R. 4935, urge them to instead support H.R. 769 (House CTC legislation) and H.R. 2116 (House EITC legislation) or S. 836, a Senate bill that protects and expands both the CTC and the EITC. 

We must also use this opportunity to broaden the discussion to address the wealth gap, including the racial wealth gap. The tax code helps millions of Americans increase their wealth each year, yet few of these provisions benefit low-income individuals and families. The Financial Security Credit (FSC) is a policy that would allow low-income tax filers to deposit all or part of their refund into a savings account right on their tax return. As incentive, their deposits would be matched up to $500 per year. Let's urge Congress to help low-income families build assets rather than helping the "haves" accumulate more. Urge your House members co-sponsor H.R.2917, the Financial Security Credit Act of 2013, and let Senate aides know we expect a Senate bill soon. The RESULTS March Action has talking points and background information to help you.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to follow up on your recent lobby meetings in Washington, DC or back home. Contact the aide responsible for the issue you discussed in your meeting to see if they have followed through on your requests. Specifically, push aides to get your members of Congress to co-sponsor EITC, CTC, and FSC legislation.

  • H.R. 769 has 166 co-sponsors as of this morning (see list).
  • H.R. 2116 has 54 co-sponsors as of this morning (see list). Reps. Elijah Cummings and Derek Kilmer joined in the last two weeks.
  • H.R. 2917 has 28 co-sponsors as of this morning (see list).
  • S. 836: 33 co-sponsors as of this morning (see list). Sen. Maria Cantwell joined in June. Top targets for co-sponsorship are Mark Pryor (D-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), John Walsh (D-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Kay Hagan (D-NC).

If they told you in your meetings that they would co-sponsor one of these bills, follow up to see if they have. If they have not, urge them to do so. If they were unsure, follow up to see what their hesitancy is. Use the materials on our RESULTS Conference Lobby Resources page to help you in your follow-up and please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) for help.

Finally, if you have not filled out a report for your recent lobby meetings, please take a few minutes fill out our online Lobby Report form at: http://tinyurl.com/LobbyReportForm. This information is important in keeping track on the progress of our issues.


Action Network Action: Call Congress about the Child Tax Credit

As mentioned on this month’s RESULTS National Conference Call, one of our goals for the rest of 2014 is to help groups grow their local Action Networks. Your Action Network is made up of people in your community who have agreed to take action on our issues. They may not be regular members of your local RESULTS group but are willing to send an e-mail or make a phone call from time to time The easiest way to keep your Action Networks engaged is to send them a steady supply of actions to take. Unless it is an action requiring immediate attention, plan to send them an action at least once per month to take. Urging calls to Congress about the House Child Tax Credit bill (see above) is the perfect action for your Action Networks. Simply copy and paste this message in an e-mail and send it to them today:

The House wants to enact more tax cuts for the wealthy, while ignoring the needs of working families struggling in low-wage jobs. Will you please take a minute to call your representative today and tell him/her to support tax credits for working families? Just dial (888) 245-0215 and ask for your representative’s office. When connected, say this:

“I am a constituent and I’m calling to urge you to vote against H.R. 4935, which extends the Child Tax Credit, or CTC, for upper-income taxpayers while allowing the Child Tax Credit for low-income working families earning less than $13,000 to expire. I'm outraged that this legislation would also deny the CTC to 5.5 million immigrant children, 4.5 million of whom are U.S. citizens. I strongly urge the representative to vote against H.R. 4935.”

If you are unable to call, use our online alert to email Congress instead. For more information you can share on Facebook and Twitter, share this action post from the RESULTS Blog.

Starting in the August RESULTS U.S. Poverty monthly action, we will provide you a quick, easy action you can send to your local Action Network to keep them engaged. You can also find other resources for your Action Networks and for outreach on our Action Archive page.


Join “Growing RESULTS” Training Call Tonight, Intro Call This Friday

Are you looking to expand your RESULTS group so you have more impact? Do you want to recruit new members who cover new congressional districts? Would you like to get training and support for doing better outreach? Join the RESULTS Expansion Team for a “growing RESULTS” training and support call tonight, July 22 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. On tonight’s call, you will learn why expanding into new districts is so important, how to manage the struggles that arise when recruiting new people, and practice what to say when asking someone to get involved. This will be an informative and beneficial call. Anyone is welcomed to call in so plan to join us.

Also, our next RESULTS Introductory Call is this Friday, July 25 at 1:00 pm ET. These 30-45 minute calls provide a good overview of RESULTS and how you and others can get involved. If someone you know wants to learn more about RESULTS and why our voices matters in the movement to end poverty, invite them to join us. To register for the call, go to: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.


Quick News

Paul Ryan to Release His Poverty Plan This Week. This Thursday, July 24 at 9:00 am ET, the American Enterprise Institute will host a conversation with House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) as he unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility in America. The discussion will also include feedback from poverty and economic mobility experts about the policy implications of the plan. Tune in to learn about Ryan’s plan and the pros and cons of his approach. Watch the event at the AEI website.

National Geographic Highlights Hunger in America. National Geographic magazine has released a new report on hunger in America. It shows that hunger in the U.S. is still a serious problem and that no area is immune from its impact. The article also talks about the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and how families struggle to make ends meet when they run out of food money. The article also includes interactive tools to help you get a better understanding of what hungry Americans face each day.

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


Fundraising Update

Many thanks go out to the Bremerton-Kitsap group for hosting a wonderful major donor event last week! Dr. Joanne Carter joined them as the keynote speaker to thank our generous donors in the WA area. This week our Washington DC group will be hosting an event on July 22. To support this event, visit: www.tinyurl.com/RESULTS-DCEvent.

Do you have your group fundraising plans in place for 2014? The development team is looking for a few more groups interested in throwing a fall fundraising event. Anyone interested in hosting a small house party or a mid-size event in your area, please contact Jen DeFranco at [email protected]. We can give you all the resources you need to successfully plan and execute a great event. Contact us and we will help you every step of the way.


Announcements

Welcome Indianapolis! Last week, Myrdin Thompson, RESULTS Grassroots Organizer for U.S. Poverty Campaigns, met with volunteers in Indianapolis, IN for their final “new group” training. This group has formed out of the already existing Circles Indianapolis Big View group, and several members attended the RESULTS International Conference in DC. After sharing about their experiences lobbying members of congress, the group established leadership and set out an exciting plan going forward, therefore successfully completing their training. Their official name is RESULTS Indianapolis and they look forward to working on our U.S. poverty issues and also partnering locally with RESULTS Global volunteers in Indianapolis. If you’d like to get connected to the new Indy group, please contact Myrdin at [email protected]. Welcome and congratulations, RESULTS Indianapolis!

Join Book Discussion with Sam Daley-Harris! Ready to be inspired? Want to get in touch with your personal power? Want to hear more about RESULTS from the beginning? Consider joining the book discussion of Reclaiming Our Democracy by Sam Daley-Harris, founder of RESULTS. Sam will be leading the conversation to help mark the 20th anniversary of this great book. The discussion series will be held August 13, 20, and 27 at 9:00 pm ET. We hope you can come to the entire series, but don't hesitate to attend any one of the sessions. Look for sign-up information later via e-mail and in next week’s U.S. Poverty Update. Once you sign up, we will send you an e-mail confirmation with pertinent reading assignments and the dial-in information. We look forward to a vibrant conversation!

Vote for Grassroots Board Members. Please vote for new Grassroots Members of the RESULTS Board. We have two vacancies to fill this fall. You can read about each nominee on the RESULTS website and then cast your vote at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RESULTS2014. You can also send your vote to Jack McLaughlin at [email protected]. All active RESULTS volunteers are eligible to vote. Voting ends August 5. Also, the four current RESULTS Grassroots Board Members 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].

Learn More about Our REAL Change Fellowship. The REAL Change Fellowship brought nearly 100 young advocates to the RESULTS International Conference this year. These advocates got top-notch training on our issues that they used in DC and will now use in their communities back home. They will connect with existing RESULTS groups (if they live in an area where there is one) and help to start new groups. If you do work with REAL Changers in your area, please welcome them and find ways to help them be active leaders in your group. You can read more about the training schedule for the year on the RESULTS Blog.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

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

Tuesday, July 22: Growing RESULTS Training Call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

Friday, July 25: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Tuesday, August 5: Telling Your Story Training Call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

Saturday, August 9: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Wednesdays August 13, 20, and 27: Reclaiming Our Democracy book discussion with Sam Daley-Harris, 9:00 pm ET. Registration information coming soon.

Tuesday, August 19: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, 1:00 pm ET and 9:00 pm ET. (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.


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.