U.S. Poverty Weekly Update June 12, 2012

By doing things, things get done.

— author Ray Bradbury

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Tell Congress to Protect Tax Credits for Working Families (June Action)

Urge Congress to protect the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). In December, critical improvements to the EITC and CTC will expire, putting millions of low-income working families at risk of falling back or deeper into poverty. Remind Congress that the economy only works right with fewer people in poverty and more people in the middle class. The EITC and CTC are ladders millions of working Americans use to build a better future for themselves and their families. Tell Congress that its time to put working families first.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send an e-mail to Congress urging representatives and senators to protect the EITC and CTC. Send a strong message that our tax code should reward work over wealth. Families that work full time should not be living in poverty; the EITC and CTC are critical supports for low-income working families. When drafting your email using our online email alert, be sure to personalize it. By changing the subject line or sharing personal stories or local statistics, you increase the chance of your email getting read in a quick and timely manner.

For more information and tips on drafting a more powerful letter, see our June Action section below.


Got Ten Minutes? Call Senate Aides about Protecting SNAP in the Farm Bill

Last Thursday, the Senate invoked cloture on the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240), which allows the Senate to proceed with 30 hours of debate and a final vote on the bill. Reauthorization of the Farm Bill includes reauthorization of the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). SNAP helps nearly 50 million people put food on the table each month.

The  Farm Bill coming to the Senate floor cuts over $4 billion from SNAP, targeting the “Heat and Eat” provision. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the Senate bill could mean that 500,000 households a year would lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced an amendment that restores the cuts to SNAP and invests $500 million in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program. RESULTS strongly supports the Gillibrand amendment and thank those senators who have already signed on as co-sponsors (see list below).

RESULTS opposes any amendments that would cut, restructure, or limit eligibility to SNAP or any other anti-poverty program. Unfortunately, there are also some damaging Farm Bill amendments. The Senate Farm Bill debate will begin this week; the Gillibrand, Sessions and others amendments could come up for a vote at any time. Let’s remind Senate offices that SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger in the U.S. and we need to protect and strengthen it.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact agriculture aides from both your Senate offices. You can find their names and contact information on the Elected Officials page of the RESULTS website and can use Feeding America’s toll-free number (877) 698-8228 to call. When calling, tell the aides you want their boss to co-sponsor the Gillibrand amendment (they should contact Kathryn Tanner in Sen. Gillibrand's office ([email protected])). Also ask the aide to tell your senator to oppose any other amendments that would cut or restructure SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs. For additional talking points about SNAP, see our SNAP section from last week’s update.

Note: If you’re in a RESULTS group, assign one person to call the aide and then have other group members call and leave a message with the receptionist urging the senator to support the Gillibrand amendment and oppose any other amendments that would cut or restructure SNAP and other anti-hunger programs.

Gillibrand Amendment Co-Sponsors: Sens. Gillibrand (D-NY), Lautenburg (D-NJ), Schumer (D-NY), Reed (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR), Boxer (D-CA), Menendez (D-NJ), Whitehouse (D-RI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Brown (R-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Murray (D-WA) and Sanders (I-VT). 


Got Twenty Minutes? Use Insights from Saturday’s National Conference Call to Draft a Strong Letter on the EITC and CTC (June Action)

RESULTS would like to thank Debbie Stein for speaking on the June RESULTS National Conference Call last Saturday. She provided us a wealth of insight to help in our work this month to protect the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). As a reminder, Debbie is an executive at the Hatcher Group and also helps coordinate and manage the Tax Credits for Working Families campaign.

On our call, Debbie provided us great information on how to talk about the EITC and CTC with members of Congress. Here are some points she said would be good messages for lawmakers:

  • Talk about promoting work and parental responsibility. Current EITC and CTC policy strengthens incentives for low-income parents to work full time because the more they earn the higher the credit.
  • Only working families receive EITC and CTC. Parents who work full time should be able to support their families and stay out of poverty. This policy will make sure that parents who are willing to work hard are able to achieve a basic standard of living.
  • This policy is pro-work, and pro-parental responsibility. It is built on the basic value that work is much better than welfare.
  • These credits benefit parents from all kinds of backgrounds. This includes people who work as firefighters, police and sheriffs, LPNs and child care workers — people who are working to support their families but are still just getting by in tough economic times.

Debbie also provided an important point to remember when discussing the Child Tax Credit. As you know, the improvement we are trying to preserve for the CTC is the $3,000 income threshold to claim the credit. If this expires in December, families making less than $13,000 per year will no longer be eligible, but families making $100,000 will. When talking about preserving this threshold, phrase you position as “continuing to count earning below $13,000.” The reiterates the fairness aspect of the lower threshold and reminds people lawmakers that the lower threshold is current law and should stay that way.

Finally, you may encounter objections to the EITC and CTC in response to your letters, in calls with staff, and in meetings with members of Congress. Fortunately, Debbie gave us helpful responses to there objections, which you can find on slide 11 of the Conference Call PowerPoint. Again we thank Debbie for all the great information she provided us on Saturday’s call. Now take that information and use it to make the case for protecting tax credits for hard-working American families.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to take the June Action. Write letters to your representative and both senators urging them to protect low-income working families. Remind them that the EITC and CTC are pro-work, pro-family, and pro-responsibility policies that lift millions of people out of poverty each year. Urge them to protect these working families by making the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent. We encourage you to look at the Conference Call PowerPoint, which has a wealth of good information about the EITC and CTC, including the insights from Debbie. Also, if you were not on the conference call, we recommend you listen to a recording of it on the RESULTS website.

Also, Half in Ten’s interactive map features state-by-state data that include poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment rates and percentage of folks without insurance or access to banks. You can also download state-specific fact sheets. In addition, contact 2012 Emerson Hunger Fellow Allison Burket ([email protected]) if you want help reaching out to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in your area for local EITC and CTC data.

 


Getting Face-Time with Legislators — Set Up Lobby Prep Calls and Meetings for the IC, Attend Town Halls This Week

Meeting face-to-face with legislators is a top action for RESULTS every year. We know that these in-person interactions create and strengthen the relationships needed to make ending poverty possible. The RESULTS International Conference is our biggest single lobbying opportunity of the year, with literally hundreds of meetings with members of Congress and staff taking place over the course of one day. RESULTS staff want to make sure that those of you attending the conference have all the tools and preparation you need to create a meaningful and effective conference lobbying experience.

Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson has already begun conducting lobby meetings with RESULTS groups and individuals attending this year’s conference. These calls are designed to help you tap into Meredith’s invaluable DC knowledge and experience about how best to work with your specific members of Congress. Since we began doing these calls in 2010, they have proven very successful in helping people have good face-to-face meetings at the conference while also making lobby prep at the conference itself much easier.

If you are attending the RESULTS International Conference next month, please contact Meredith at [email protected] to set up a lobby prep call. Please choose a time that includes everyone in your group who is attending the conference in your call (other members are welcomed to participate as well).

Also, if you have not requested your face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff for the International Conference, please submit your requests ASAP. The earlier you make your request, the better chance of meeting with your member of Congress in-person. See our Activist Toolkit for tips on requesting meetings. Once you have a meeting scheduled, please fill out our Lobby Meeting report form so we can track all the meetings taking place at the conference.

Finally, remember that House members are on recess this week. Be sure to contact their local offices to ask if your representative is holding any town hall meetings during the recess. If so, plan to attend and ask a question. You can find contact info on our Elected Officials page. Also, be sure to take our 2012 Request and Background sheets covering low-income tax credits, the Saver’s Bonus, and Head Start and child care. If you get a meeting scheduled or plan to attend a town hall, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you and your group prepare. Both the House and Senate will also be on recess the week of July 2.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Bill with Some Funding Increases for Child Care and Head Start

This afternoon the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved their FY 2013 spending proposal. As a part of our Early Childhood Development Campaign: Smart Investments in the Early Years, RESULTS has pushed for increased investments in early childhood programs. As of now:

Thanks to all of those who have taken action! The Senate proposal includes $8.039 billion, a $70 million increase, for Head Start and $2.4 billion, a $160 million increase, for CCDBG. While these levels fall short of our funding requests, it is a good sign that a bill with limited funding increases prioritized early childhood programs for increases. 

TAKE ACTION: Tailor our online alert to urge Congress to protect and strengthen Head Start and child care for millions of low-income children in the U.S. We continue to support a:  

  • $325 million increase in Head Start and Early Head Start funding
  • $825 million increase in CCDBG funding

Don’t forget: Check out our new campaign "Put Child Care on the Map - and let’s get child care on the radar screens for policymakers (and on this map!) And need inspiration before you take action? Watch this: “Change the First Five Years and You Change Everything”. 


Quick News

Don’t Fall for the “Fiscal Cliff” Rhetoric. The hype around the economy in general has been intense for the past couples years. But, recent warnings by Ben Bernanke and the Congressional Budget Office about an impending “fiscal cliff” have been misinterpreted and thus fueled a sense of economic panic. Under the current law, the Bush tax cuts, recent payroll tax cut, and emergency unemployment benefits will expire at the end of this year. Simultaneously, automatic and significant spending cuts from the Budget Control Act will go into effect on January 1. The fear is that this combination and tax increases and spending cuts will immediately push the U.S. economy back into a recession, negating any progress over the last few years. Lawmakers are using these fears to justify making bad policy decisions. But don’t let the “fiscal cliff” hype fool you… Read more in a great RESULTS blog post from our new U.S. Poverty Intern Katja Kleine.

New Book on Poverty Released. Georgetown University Professor Peter Edelman is the author of the new book, So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America (he also the husband of CDF founder and RESULTS Board member Marian Wright Edelman). In this intriguing book, Edelman discusses the disparity of wealth in our country and how there is an increasing number of working poor and unemployed citizens. He delves deeper into the issue of poverty and emphasizes the need to end the cradle to prison pipeline that has continued to plague young people of color. Edelman concludes that in order to truly end poverty, there needs to be civic engagement as well as a national conversation about the many effects of poverty on our economy and our communities. 

Plan to Attend June 27 Training on Using State Data in Lobby Meetings. RESULTS and the National Priorities Project (NPP) are teaming up for a conference call training in June to help you use NPP tools to get state and local data for meetings with members of Congress. This data will be helpful in your meetings at the International Conference or in-district meetings back home. We hope you will join us for this informative call. The call is Wednesday, June 27 at 8:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (866) 503-7713 and enter passcode 4091413579.


Fundraising News

Our gratitude goes out to RESULTS groups in Anchorage, Asheville, Atlanta, Austin, Bernardsville, Bremerton, Chicago, Columbus, D.C., Denver, Houston, Seattle, Tacoma, Santa Fe, and Sitka (AK) who are actively working on fundraising events this year. From house parties to large dinners, these events will help generate donations for our organizations and put RESULTS in the public eye in our groups' local communities. Remember, that a fundraiser can also help you with your outreach goals, too! Contact Cindy Levin at [email protected] for support in putting together your own event this year. 

Also, don’t forget to invite your DC friends, relations, and congressional aides to stop by and have a drink for the end of poverty! For every drink purchased during happy hour tomorrow at Mad Hatter in Washington, DC, Mad Hatter will donate $1 to benefit RESULTS' advocacy work. Invite your DC contacts to attend. The event is tomorrow, June 13, 5:30-7:30 pm ET, at Mad Hatter, 1321 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036. RSVP at: http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSBarNight.


Announcements

Urge People to Register for Friday’s RESULTS Intro Call. These 30-45 minute calls are a fun and easy introduction to RESULTS and our work. Attendees find the calls informative and helpful. If you know anyone interested in learning more about RESULTS (or if you’re interested yourself), please urge them to register for our next RESULTS Introductory Call THIS FRIDAY, June 15 at 1:00 pm ET. You can register at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet

Free Agents Calls Next Week. Our June RESULTS Free Agents calls are coming up next week. The calls are designed to support activists in areas where there is no active RESULT group. Anyone taking action (or who wants to begin doing so) is welcomed to join in. The global poverty Free Agents call is next Monday, June 18 at 8:00 pm ET (contact [email protected] with questions). The U.S. poverty Free Agents call is Tuesday, June 19 at 9:00 pm ET (contact [email protected] with questions). To participate in either call, dial (218) 486-1611, passcode 7378587# (RESULTS#).


RESULTS International Conference — Registration Rates Go Up This Friday!

REGISTER for the 2012 RESULTS International Conference TODAY!

Register for Conference by THIS FRIDAY! If you have not registered for the 2012 RESULTS International Conference, be sure to do so by this Friday! A $75 late registration fee will be added if you register after that day.

Invite Members of Congress to the IC Reception. One of the highlights of the conference is our Lobby Day reception on Capitol Hill. This event wraps up Lobby Day with time for volunteers to socialize and share their experiences. It also gives us a chance to hear from members of Congress about the importance of anti-poverty advocacy and the work of RESULTS. Take a few minutes to invite your members of Congress to attend and speak at the Lobby Day Reception. You can use our customizable invitation letter to invite them. Please contact RESULTS staff if you have any questions.

Check Out the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. As you know, we are thrilled to have renowned author Barbara Ehrenreich speak at this years RESULTS conference. Ms. Ehrenreich is now part of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project to help “force this country’s crisis of poverty and economic insecurity to the center of the national conversation.” Visit their website to learn more about this important endeavor.

Help Send Other to This Year’s Conference. The Karen McQuillan Fund was established to assist RESULTS U.S. partners who need financial assistance to attend the conference. Through your generosity, two star RESULTS volunteers, who otherwise would not be able to attend, will be joining us this July. We have an additional four volunteers who’ve requested funds, but we need $2,300 in donations to bring all of them to the conference. Help us send a few more people to DC this summer making a donation to the Karen McQuillan Fund today! Any dollar amount makes a difference. Visit our Donation page to donate! (please write “Karen McQuillan” in the notes section of the form). Please note: a large portion of that amount is travel expenses, so we would also welcome donations of flight miles as well. For more information, contact Allison Burket at [email protected].

Submit Your Media Award Nominees. We are now accepting nominations for the Cameron Duncan Media Award. This award is given each year to a journalist who has demonstrated outstanding reporting of issues related to poverty and hunger. If you have a journalist you would like to nominate for the award, please submit a one to two paragraph nomination letter/email and relevant clips from the past 12 months that demonstrate the journalist's dedication to our issues to Blair Hinderliter at [email protected]. The deadline to submit nominees is June 22.

REGISTER for the 2012 RESULTS International Conference TODAY!


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House recesses, June 9-17, June 30 – July 8. Senate recess, July 2 – 6. Request face-to-face meetings.

Friday, June 15: Last day to register for the RESULTS International Conference at the regular conference rate ($225). $75 late fee is added after this date.

Monday, June 18: Feeding America Virtual Town Hall with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-3), 1:30 pm ET. Register at the Feeding America website.

Tuesday, June 19: RESULTS Free Agents group (U.S. Poverty) call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). For more information, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Wednesday, June 27: RESULTS-NPP Training Call on Using State Data in Lobby Meetings, 8:00 pm ET. (866) 503-7713, passcode 4091413579.

Saturday, July 14: RESULTS U.S. Poverty 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. Register TODAY!


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 U.S. Poverty Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:

The RESULTS Domestic Update is sent out every Tuesday via 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 U.S. poverty campaigns.