U.S. Poverty Weekly Update September 18, 2012

[T]his report brings bad news about a predictably bleak future in this the land of opportunity... We don’t care as much as we say we do because some kids matter more than others and some kids matter not at all.

— Ralph Smith, senior vice-president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, speaking at a Brookings Institution event about the 2011 poverty data

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Look Up 2011 Poverty Data for Your State to Include in Your Media Outreach (September Action)

Last week, the U.S. Census released its annual poverty data report. There was a mixed bag with some good news and bad news. The good new is that the poverty rate did not increase in 2011; it remained at 15 percent — still alarmingly high but at least not getting worse. Also, the number of uninsured dropped by 1.3 million. Unfortunately, incomes continued to declines; the median household income dropped by 1.5 percent in 2011 to $50,054. Here are more details from the report:

  • U.S. poverty rate: Just over 1 in 6 people lived in poverty in 2011; 46.2 million people or 15.0 percent of the population
  • U.S. poverty rate for children (under 18): 1 in 5 children lived in poverty (16.1 million children or 21.9 percent, and 1 in 4 children under 6 lived in poverty (24.5 percent, 0.08 percent lower than 2010)
  • The number of uninsured Americans dropped by 1.3 million to 16.4 percent, including 9.4 percent of all children. The drop in the uninsured rate is, in part, the result of the Affordable Care Act’s provision that allows young adults up to the age of 26 to receive health coverage through their parents’ insurance and the continued increase in Medicaid and Medicare enrollment.
  • Income inequality grew as those in the top five percent saw their income grow in 2011 while income for those at the 10th percentile declined 1.9 percent between 2010 and 2011.

Please note that the official poverty rate does not  take into accountanti-poverty programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps), unemployment insurance (UI), and Social Security. The good news is that the Census does calculate an alternative measure looking at the impact of these programs. The measure shows that in 2011:

  • The EITC lifted 5.7 million Americans out of poverty
  • SNAP lifted 3.9 million our of poverty
  • UI kept 2.3 million people out of poverty
  • Social Security kept 21.4 million people out of poverty

See this excellent graph from the Washington Post showing the impact of all these programs on poverty in 2011. CHN also has a handy graph comparing the new data to recent years. These statistics once again prove the effectiveness and importance of anti-poverty programs and why Congress must work to protect and strengthen them.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to look over the poverty data. In particular, look at the state-level data. We have put the Census spreadsheets listing state poverty rates for children under 18 and for all persons on the RESULTS website (find all the state data on the Census website; choose the “weighted person count”). Later this week, the Census will release more detailed state data which will break things down to the local level as well. We’ll send links to this information when it is released. Use the state data in your media pieces this month — having state level data will increase the chances that your letters to the editor, op-eds, and editorials will get published. For more about the poverty data, see our RESULTS Newsroom Press Release and the RESULTS Blog.


Got Ten Minutes? Draft an LTE or Op-ed about New Poverty Data (September Action)

When you want to get something published in your local newspaper, you usually need some kind of “hook” to get the paper’s attention and decide to print your piece. The section above listed one type of hook — using local data to talk about poverty. Many papers want to see how an issue impacts the local community before they decide to publish anything. The state and local Census data being released can help with that.

Another type of hook is to write your letter to the editor or op-ed in response to a recent story. Fortunately, the Census release has provided that opportunity to you as well. Many media outlets around the country covered the release of the report last week. Use stories in your local paper about the report as your “hook” for your media piece. Furthermore, if your paper did not report about the Census release, that can be your hook as well (“Last week, the U.S. Census reported that 46 million people were living in poverty — 4.4 million of them here in Texas — yet our paper said nothing about it.”)

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to draft a letter to the editor or op-ed commenting on the new poverty data (using state statistics if you can) and urging leaders in Washington to make ending poverty in America a priority. Be sure to talk about the data showing that Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) lifted 5.7 million out of poverty in 2011 and SNAP lifted 3.9 million out of poverty, once again showing why we need to protect and strengthen anti-poverty investments.

Use our online LTE action to send your letter to you local newspaper. Also, you can listen to a recording of last week’s RESULTS Media Training call which provided good tips on successfully generating media. Finally, if you were not on the RESULTS National Conference Call last Saturday, which ha, you can listen to a recording of the call on the RESULTS website. You can also download our Conference Call PPT slides which provides helpful information covered on the call.


Got Twenty Minutes? Keep Working to Get an Editorial Published Highlighting Poverty in America (September Action)

Now that the Census poverty data has been released, this is a great time to contact your local editorial writer to ask him/her to write an editorial on poverty in America. Remember that editorials carry a great deal of weight both with members of Congress and the public because it is not simply one person’s opinion on an issue (like an LTE or op-ed), but the paper as an organization getting behind that issue. If you doubt this, consider how hard political candidates are pushing for editorial endorsements for this year’s election. They know the power these endorsements have.

In reaching out to your editorial writers and editorial boards, you are asking them to endorse a position of recognizing the problem of poverty and practical solutions to it. In addition to highlighting the poverty data, you’ll want talk about how public programs designed to reduce poverty are doing exactly that. This is why congressional efforts to cut back on anti-poverty investments are so foolish. If the EITC lifted nearly 5.7 million working Americans out of poverty in 2011, why would we raise taxes on these families by letting the recent improvements to the EITC expire at the end of this year? If SNAP helped 3.9 million people stay out of poverty, why would we cut benefits in both the House and Senate Farm Bills? These are questions the media should be asking our public officials.

If you have already contacted an editorial writer, be sure to follow up this week on the status of your request. On Thursday, the Census will release more state and local data via the American Community Survey. This new data is a great excuse to follow up, offer some more localized information, and to see if they plan to run a piece on poverty.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to take September Action by contacting an editorial writer to urge him/her to write a piece about poverty in the U.S. RESULTS is here to help you. Be sure to listen to the recording of the RESULTS Media Training call from last week. Most of the call focused on working with editorial writers and included some great tips in reaching out to them. Also, be sure to review the September Laser Talk, which is a role play of a call to an editorial writer, as well as last week’s update with helpful tips in preparing for your “pitch” to a local writer.

If you have already contacted a writer, use the release of the state and local poverty data this Thursday to follow up in the status of your piece. Send them the new data and remember to ask if the paper plans to run a piece. If not, ask if you may submit an op-ed as an alternative. Please call or email our U.S. Poverty staff for questions and coaching; we’re happy role plays of a call, give you messaging tips, or answer questions about the Census data. We are here to help. Once you are successful is getting your piece published, please be sure to let us know. We want to celebrate your victory!


Join the RESULTS Free Agent Call Tonight at 9pm ET, Intro Call this Friday at 1pm ET

If you are a RESULTS volunteer taking action (or wanting to take action) but don’t yet have a RESULTS group in your area, join our monthly RESULTS Free Agents group. These monthly support calls are designed to support our “free agent” activists in taking action and staying connected to other RESULTS volunteers and staff. The next RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents call is tonight, September 18 at 9:00 pm ET. The call-in number is (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). If you or someone you know want to become a RESULTS Free Agent, please join us tonight. The U.S. Poverty Free Agents meet every third Tuesday of the month. If you have questions, please contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Also, our next bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Call is this Friday. These calls provide a quick and inspiring overview of RESULTS and how people can get involved. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about RESULTS, please join an upcoming call. The next call is this Friday, September 21 at 1:00 pm ET. You can RSVP for Friday’s call (or another upcoming call) online.


Invite People to an Upcoming RESULTS Outreach Meeting

RESULTS continues our busy outreach schedule with many events coming up. First, we want to welcome a new group in Dover, NH which got started last night! RESULTS Global Grassroots Manager Ken Patterson held an event there and four people expressed interest in working on RESULTS U.S. poverty issues. We thank Ken for his hard work and welcome the new Dover group. They will be starting their new group training in the next few weeks. Here is a list of upcoming events by state — all are open to the public:

NH: Tuesday, September 18 at 7:00 pm ET. Dartmouth College, Dickey Center, Hanover, NH 03755. RSVP to Yesha Maniar at [email protected].

VT: Wednesday, September 19 at 6:30 pm ET. United Church South Royalton, 67 South Winsor Street, South Royalton, VT 05068. RSVP to Connie DeWitt: at [email protected].

MT: Wednesday, September 19 at 8:00 MT. RESULTS Montana informational call. Dial (218) 486-1611, passcode 2883622# to participate. RSVP to Jos Linn at [email protected].

MA: Thursday, September 20, 8:00 pm ET. Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01003. RSVP to Isabelle D'Arcy at [email protected].

NY: Sunday, September 23 at 2:00 pm ET. 4th Universalist Church, 160 Central Park W, New York, NY. RSVP to Carol Huston at [email protected].

LA: Monday, September 24 at 7:00 pm CT. 206 Lavin-Bernick Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA. RSVP to Jessie Baldwin at [email protected].

MA: Sunday, September 30, 1:30 pm ET. First United Methodist Church, 25 Church St, Greenfield, MA 01301. RSVP to Jenny Martin at [email protected].

If you or people you know live near these areas, please plan to attend and invite others to do so. Let’s keep the momentum going to create an even stronger RESULTS!


3.9 Million Americans Lifted Out of Poverty by SNAP – Make Sure Congress Hears About It!

Congress is unlikely to pass anything but a short-term extension of the Farm Bill, which expires on September 30. As part of a new Farm Bill, many in Congress are looking to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). As you know, the Senate passed Farm Bill includes $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP and House leaders want to quadruple that number. This despite the new Census data showing that SNAP lifted 3.9 million above the poverty line last year. That is why RESULTS and our allies strongly support the Sense of the House Resolution introduced over the summer urging House members to strengthen this critical lifeline for families and oppose cuts to SNAP. You can see a current list of co-signers on the FRAC website.

TAKE ACTION: Urge House members to support the Sense of the House Resolution, H.Res. 760 (full text), opposing cuts to SNAP. Call or write your House members and tell them to sign onto H.Res. 760 as a co-sponsor. House offices should contact Keith Stern at Rep. Jim McGovern's office at [email protected] to join as a sponsor. If you can’t make a call or your representative is already a co-sponsor, use our online email alert to tell Congress to protect SNAP from reckless budget cuts.

In addition, we urge you to invite Congressional aides to a Congressional briefing on Child Hunger: The Impact on Education and Health this Wednesday, September 19, 9:30am-10:30am, organized by Feeding America and Share Our Strength in 2253 Rayburn House Office Building. Staff interested in going can send an email to [email protected] to attend and to get an electronic copy of briefing materials.


Early Childhood Update: House Passes Six Month Continuing Resolution but Serious Threats Remain

Last week the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution to fund annually-appropriated programs including Head StartEarly Head Start, and child care until March 2013. This package is expected to pass the Senate later this week and will fit within the spending caps included in the Budget Control Act or BCA (rather than the House Republican Budget).

However, essential jobs and services such as early childhood programs, foreign aid, education, public health, the WIC program, and other services face additional deep cuts this January. In Washington, these programs are collectively referred to as “non-defense discretionary” or simply “NDD” programs. As a component of the BCA, on January 2, 2013 NDD programs will face devastating, across-the-board cuts of 8.2 percent through an arcane budget tool known as "sequestration." NDD programs represent a relatively small and shrinking share of the federal budget and our overall economy — already reduced to levels not seen since President Eisenhower held office. They are not the drivers of the debt. In fact, completely eliminating all NDD programs would not balance the budget, yet NDD programs have borne the brunt of deficit reduction efforts. If Congress fails to create a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction and the sequestration is allowed to take effect, core services upon which Americans have come to rely will be greatly curtailed or even eliminated — approximately 100,000 children would lose Head Start and 80,000 children would lose child care as a result.

RESULTS believes that we need a balanced approach in order to avoid sequestration, balance the budget and restore the nation’s economic stability, which must includes substantial new revenue.

TAKE ACTION: Call Congress or use RESULTS’ online alert to urge Congress to protect and strengthen Head Start and child care for millions of low-income children in 2013 as a part of a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction. We urge those interested to join a conference call being organized by RESULTS’ allies CLASP, NWLC, and NAEYC on Thursday, September 20, at 3:00 pm ET to review the latest on federal developments that will impact early education programs and funding. You can register online for the call.


Quick News

Last Day to Sign CHN Letter to Congress. The deadline to sign your local RESULTS group on to the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) letter urging members of Congress to protect anti-poverty programs from proposed budget cuts is tomorrow, September 19. Thanks to all the groups who have already signed on. As of yesterday, the list included the following RESULTS groups: Albuquerque, Asheville, Boise, Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, Connecticut, Des Moines, DC, Houston, Kitsap (WA), Los Angeles, Louisville, New Jersey, New Orleans, St. Louis, Santa Fe, and South Central Pennsylvania. If your RESULTS group is not on this list, please take 30 seconds and sign onto the letter TODAY. After filling out your contact information, sign the letter as “RESULTS Buffalo” or “RESULTS Santa Fe”, click “Authorized” when asked if you have authorization to sign on, and list your group as a “State/Local” group. Thank you!

Sign the “Keep Bonds Easy” Petition. Beginning in 2009, the U.S. Treasury offered taxpayers the option to bur U.S. Savings Bonds on their tax return. Savings bonds can be one way low-income households can start to build savings and assets. Unfortunately, the Treasury plans to discontinue this option after 2013. Doorways to Dreams (D2D) and the Savings Bond Working Group have launched the “Keep Bonds Easy” advocacy campaign to compel the Treasury to preserve the ability for Americans to purchase U.S. savings bonds on the tax form beyond 2013. Show your support by signing their petition in support of the tax return savings option.

Attend Child Poverty Webinar This Friday. The Carsey Institute will be holding a webinar on Friday on the new poverty data and children. Carsey researchers will discuss the Census data release from the American Community Survey, including state-level changes in poverty over the 2010-2011 year. This webinar will be very helpful in your media outreach this month. The webinar is this Friday, September 21 at 11:00 am ET. To register go to: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/371126726.

Federal Budget Webinar Tomorrow. Our friends at the National Priorities Project are holding a Federal Budget 101 webinar tomorrow, September 19 at 1:00 pm ET. This is a 40-minute presentation that will introduce the audience to the federal budgeting process. It is intended to strengthen people’s understanding of the community-level impact of the federal budget, and how regular people can have a voice in the budgeting process. You can register for the webinar online.

Circle of Protection Videos from Presidential Candidates. Last year, the faith community created the “Circle of Protection” to draw attention to the needs of those in poverty in the United States and to push back at efforts to cut anti-poverty programs and services moving through Congress. Since the, the Circle of Protection has continued to push leaders to protect our most vulnerable. Now, the Circle of Protection has gotten President Obama and Governor Romney to film videos saying that they will do to protect “the least of these.” You can watch these videos at: http://www.bread.org/ol/2012/elections2012/.


Announcements

Submit Your Face-to-Face Requests. Congress will again go on recess this weekend until after the election. Meeting with them this fall will be vital in making sure our message sticks with them through the election and beyond. Take a few minutes to put in your request for face-to-face meetings with your representative and senators this fall. You can find a sample request in the August Action sheet. We also have an online request form you can use. Be sure to follow up within a few days to confirm that your request was received and the status of it. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff to help you plan your agenda and devise the best messaging to use in your meeting.


Fundraising News

Thank you to our wonderful Washington state partners in Seattle and Kitsap. Seattle held a lovely house party with Chris Dunford speaking eloquently and engaging in a lively Q&A with over 20 guests. They raised $5,300 and counting. Kitsap hosted 137 people and have raised $17,500. Congratulations to both groups! Good luck to our Alaska groups in Sitka and Anchorage who will host fundraisers for us this Friday and Saturday!

For a listing of the many cities hosting fundraising events, please visit our Fall Fundraiser Blog and share the word about these great upcoming events. Also, please join our "RESULTS Fundraisers" Facebook group for periodic fundraising suggestions and engage in conversation with other RESULTS fundraisers.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: September 21 – November 12. Request face-to-face meetings.

Tuesday, September 18: 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, September 19: RESULTS Montana informational call, 8:00 pm MT. Dial (218) 486-1611, passcode 2883622# to participate. RSVP to Jos Linn at [email protected].

Friday, September 21: RESULTS Introductory Call. 1:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the call.

Monday, September 24: RESULTS New Orleans Outreach Meeting, 7:00 pm CT. 206 Lavin-Bernick Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA. Contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for more details.

Sunday, September 30: RESULTS Western MA Group Start Meeting, 1:00 pm ET. United Methodist Church, 25 Church Street, Greenfield, MA. Contact Jenny Martin at [email protected] for more details.

Tuesday, November 6: Election Day.


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 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 U.S. Poverty 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.