U.S. Poverty Weekly Update October 28, 2014

Increasing the minimum wage, creating jobs for those requiring food stamps, and the need for more funding for early education programs… will do much to reduce poverty in New Mexico.

 — Evelyn Cole, RESULTS Santa Fe volunteer, in an October 11 letter to the editor in the Santa Fe New Mexican

New and Urgent in This Week's Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Invite Local Action Network Members to our November 8 Conference Call with Jared Bernstein

RESULTS is excited to announce that Jared Bernstein will be our guest speaker on the November 8 U.S. Poverty National Conference Call. Jared Bernstein has been a Senior Fellow at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities since May 2011. Before that, he was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team (2009-11). Prior to joining the Obama administration, Mr. Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. was deputy chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor in the mid-1990s. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books, including “Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?” and nine editions of "The State of Working America," and has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, and Research in Economics and Statistics.

Mr. Bernstein will talk to us about the outcome of the election and what it means for anti-poverty federal policy, both in the Lame Duck session and the new Congress in 2015.

We are announcing this guest speaker a week and half early because this is a great opportunity to invite others in your community to join you for the conference call. Invite members of your local Action Network (people who take action on our issues from time-to-time), anyone who wants to know about the political and fiscal impact of the election, or anyone else who likes to dig a little deeper into anti-poverty policy to participate in the call with you and your local RESULTS group.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to invite people in your community to join the RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call on Saturday, November 8 at 12:30 pm ET. Here’s a sample e-mail you can cut, paste, and edit to send to people you want to invite:

Dear _____________,

I’m inviting you to an exciting event on November 8. As you know, I volunteer with RESULTS, by taking action to urge our members of Congress to make ending poverty a national priority. As part of my volunteer work, our local RESULTS group meets each month for a national conference call with volunteers from around the country. In November, we have a very exciting call lined up. Jared Bernstein, a nationally known and respected economist who was Vice President Biden’s Chief Economist and Economic Adviser, will be speaking on RESULTS national conference call. He will talk about the November election and what the outcome means for policies that impact low-income Americans. Because I know you follow these issues and are keenly interested in what the results of the election will mean for the future, I’m inviting you to join our local RESULTS group for the call.

The call is Saturday, November 8 at 12:30 pm ET. We will be meeting at ______________________________. The call will last an hour. I think you will find it very informative and interesting. Can you join us?

Sincerely,

[your name]

Be sure to let people know where your meeting will be. If needed, include RSVP information. Also, be sure to have RESULTS information available for your guests, including an EITC/CTC outreach action sheet, sign-in sheet, Action Network forms, and flyers. If you need flyers, please contact Jos Linn at ([email protected]).


Got Ten Minutes? Make One Last Attempt to Attend a Local Campaign Event (October Action)

We’re only one week away from the November 4 election. Candidates will be on whirlwind pace this week, holding events all over their districts and states. Look for a town hall or campaign event in your area (you can find contact information for candidates on our website) and plan to attend. Make ending poverty a part of the campaign conversation by taking action today!

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact your local House and Senate campaign offices to see if the candidates are doing any town hall or campaign events you can attend this week. If so, plan to go and ask a question. Use the October Action for tips to help you find out about events and get ready. Here are some additional resources to help you:

Once you know you plan to attend a candidate event, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) to set up a call to help your prepare. If you do get the chance to talk to a candidate, please fill out our reporting form to let us know how it went.


Got Twenty Minutes? Register to Vote and Urge Others to As Well

Following in the footsteps of the Nuns on the Bus, we want to remind you that the election is in one week and make sure you vote. While at RESULTS, we sometimes kiddingly say that “RESULTS is what you do the day after election” (i.e. lobbying elected officials about what you care about), that in no way demeans the importance of voting itself. Whatever your feelings about the state of politics today or about the choice of candidates, Election Day is your chance to stand up and be heard. And so much is at stake. Look at the state of poverty and wages in your congressional district; the policymakers elected next week will be inheriting big problems that need fixing.

Too often, we take our civic responsibilities for granted, so it is good that every two years, we are reminded that who we are as a country is a choice we get to make. And it starts in that voting booth. Make your voice heard by registering to vote, planning to vote next Tuesday (or vote now if your state allows it), and urge others to do the same.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to make sure you fulfill your civic duty and vote on November 4. Follow these steps to ensure that your voice gets heard:

  1. Confirm that you are registered to vote. If you have not gotten something in the mail confirming your voter registration, go to http://www.canivote.org/ to confirm you are registered. If not, contact your local election office to see what options are available to you (some states allow provisional ballots or Election Day registration).
  2. Find your polling place. If you are registered to vote, go to http://www.canivote.org/ and follow the steps to find your voter registration and voting location. Once you have the address, map it so you know where to go.
  3. Plan to vote or vote now. If you can only vote on Election Day, block out enough time in your schedule to vote on November 4. Remember that before and after work are typically the busiest times at polling places so if you can go during the day, you might find it easier and quicker to vote. If you live in a state that permits early voting, vote now and then help others get to the polls on Tuesday.
  4. Urge others you know to vote. Please share this information with others you know. Urge them to confirm their voter registration and to vote next week (or earlier) as well. If someone needs a ride to the polling place, offer to drive them or put them in contact with someone who can.

Child Care Policies Show Some Improvement, But We Still Need to Do Better

A new report from the National Women’s Law Center shows that in many states, child care assistance for low-income families showed improvement in 2014. In 33 states, policies improved since 2013 but in 13 states, things got worse for families. In determining how states fared in the report, the researchers looked at factors such as income eligibility limits, waiting lists, co-payments for care, reimbursement rates for care, and eligibility for parents looking for work. While there was improvement in some states through increased income eligibility and shorter waiting lists, policies around lowering co-payments and increasing reimbursement rates for providers were mixed at best (for eligibility for parents who seek work, the policies remain unchanged).

This report comes on the heels of new polling data from the Children’s Leadership Council showing overwhelming support for policies that improve the well-being of children. 79 percent of Americans support increased funding for early childhood, health care, and nutrition programs for children. By a margin of 54 to 36 percent, Americans support investing in children’s programs over reducing taxes and Americans are five times more likely to vote for candidates who support expanded investments in on programs that help children. Finally, 61 percent of Americans believe the government should be doing more for children versus 33 percent who say the government should just “get out of the way.” This polling shows clearly and convincingly that Americans want stronger and more robust public policies that help children.

TAKE ACTION: Use the new NWLC report and polling data from CLC to push lawmakers to make new investments in early childhood programs. Congress must finalize the FY 2015 budget by December 11, which includes funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance. Use our online e-mail alert to tell your members to protect and strengthen these programs by:

  • Increasing Head Start and Early Head Start funding by $145 million, including an increase of $65 million for Early Head Start/Child Care partnerships and quality improvements in Head Start.
  • Increasing Child Care and Development Block Grant funding by $100 million to protect access to child care assistance and to improve the quality of child care.

If you engage with candidates this month, ask them their position on funding early childhood programs. Urge them to support Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance if they are elected. Remind them that these are investments in our future.


Quick News

New Report Shows Wealth Inequality Getting Worse. A new report from economists Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman out last week once again highlights the problem of rising wealth inequality in the U.S. Their data shows that while the top 0.1 percent of families has seen their share of national wealth grow from 7 percent in the 1970s to 22 percent in 2012, middle class and low-income families (bottom 90 percent) have seen their share of household wealth drop from 36 percent in the 1980s to 23 percent in 2012. The reason for this shift has been rising indebtedness and little income growth among the bottom 90 percent (while the top has seen significant gains). As a result, the bottom 90 percent has no ability to save to increase their wealth; the top 10 percent of households save 35 percent of their income and the bottom 90 percent save zero. As the authors note, “If income inequality stays high and if the saving rate of the bottom 90 percent of families remains low then wealth disparity will keep increasing. Ten or twenty years from now, all the gains in wealth democratization achieved during the New Deal and the post-war decades could be lost.” Their solution to this problem is more progressive taxation, including higher tax rates on capital gains and a higher estate tax, and new incentives to help people save. You can do your part to combat wealth inequality by urging Congress to protect and strengthen tax credits for working families. Use our online e-mail alert to tell them today.

Organizations Send Letter to Congress about Children’s Health Care. Last week, a letter signed by 1,200 organizations, including the RESULTS national office and a number of local RESULTS groups around the country, was sent to leaders in Congress urging them to continue funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Current CHIP funding will run out at the end of this year, putting health coverage for 10 million children at risk. The letter urges Congress to use the Lame Duck session after the election to pass legislation continuing CHIP funding for another four years.

New Survey on Hunger in America Released. From FRAC: “A new survey finds that Americans believe that hunger is a serious problem in the U.S. and that government, more than individuals or communities, must play a key role in helping solve it. The survey, commissioned by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN), found that 45 percent of Americans say that hunger in the U.S. is a “serious problem." Just 15 percent do not believe hunger is a problem at all in the United States today. According to the survey, two out of five Americans have either experienced hunger in the past year or personally know someone who has – that includes nearly half of people aged 18 to 34. Nearly three in 10 Americans (and half of millennials) say that either they or a member of their immediate family have used government food assistance programs in the past couple of years. That includes at least 25 percent of nearly every major demographic subgroup. While the survey showed widespread awareness of hunger as a regional and national challenge, still only 24 percent of respondents believed it was a problem in their own communities.”

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


Announcements

Farewell to Betty Gallagher. It is with a heavy heart that we announce the death of Betty Gallagher, long-time RESULTS volunteer and former Group Leader from Charlottesville, VA. For years, Betty was a fixture of RESULTS’ U.S. poverty advocacy in central Virginia, and a quiet force to be reckoned with. You can read more about Betty’s extraordinary life here. Farewell, Betty – we will miss you.

Thank You, Myrdin Thompson. RESULTS’ part-time Grassroots Organizer Myrdin Thompson is leaving staff this month. We at RESULTS are sad to see her go. Myrdin came on staff as an organizer in April of 2013 and has helped us with starting new groups in the Midwest and Ohio Rover Valley, including groups in Indianapolis and Louisville. She has also generated numerous leads for new groups, which we are still cultivating, and has helped us grow our Free Agents group. Myrdin reflects on her work with RESULTS and her transition on our blog. Myrdin is a passionate advocate for social justice and one of the most savvy social media users we know of. Myrdin is leaving to focus on some family responsibilities but fortunately for us, she still plans to participate as a RESULTS volunteer and continue to grow the group in her home city of Louisville. We wish Myrdin the very best and look forward to hearing her energetic and tireless voice for the end of poverty in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you, Myrdin!

Join Intro Call This Friday. The next RESULTS Introductory Call is this Friday, October 31 at 1:00 pm ET. Spend a few minutes on Halloween learning how you can “scare” poverty into submission here in the U.S. and around the world. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about RESULTS and how to get involved, join this informative call. To register for Friday’s call (or another upcoming call), go to our RESULTS Intro Call registration page on the RESULTS website.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: September 22 – November 11. Request face-to-face meetings.

Friday, October 31: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register at: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/#Introductory%20Call.

Saturday, November 8: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Tuesday, November 18: U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm ET. (857) 232-0476, passcode 703096.

Thursday, November 27 – Friday, November 28: All RESULTS offices closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Saturday, July 18 – Tuesday, July 21, 2015: RESULTS International Conference, Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC. Details coming soon!


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.