Federal Debt Reduction Advocacy Toolkit

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1 Federal Debt Reduction Advocacy Toolkit The Nation Must Not Balance the Budget at the Expense, Safety and Health of Racial and Ethnic Communities 2011

2 Table of Contents ACTION ALERT TEMPLATE... 2 TEMPLATE FOR MEMBER OF CONGRESS Error! Bookmark not defined.3 TEMPLATE SCRIPTS FOR JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS... 4 TEMPLATE FACEBOOK MESSAGES FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS... 5 TEMPLATE TWITTER MESSAGE FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS... 6 TEMPLATE OP-ED ARTICLE FOR JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBERS' LOCAL NEWSPAPERS.7 BRIEF OVERVIEW OF JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBERS.9 1 P a g e

3 PROMOTE HEALTH EQUITY ACTION ALERT ELIMINATE HEATLH DISPARITIES & MOVE AMERICA BACK ON THE PATH OF PROSPERITY Dear Friends, THE SAFETY NET IS AT RISK! By November 23 rd, the bi-partisan Joint Select Committee of 12 congressional representatives must eliminate at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next ten years. Safety net programs that have been essential to addressing health disparities among underserved communities of color and lowincome populations may be subject to severe cuts by the committee. The joint committee s deficit solution must not have a disproportionately adverse impact on racial and ethnic minorities. The committee s policy must help improve the health status of our communities, reduce the costs to our health care system and reduce unemployment. To support these ideals, we must urge our Senators and Representatives to: 1. Take a Balanced Approach that Includes Revenue and Eliminates Costly Tax Entitlements: The committee s plan should eliminate tax entitlements which undermine our nation s economic viability and fail to generate jobs, and include no less than 50% in new revenue. 2. Invest in Strategies that Lift Children and Families out of Poverty: More than 16 million US children live in poverty. Millions of Americans rely on safety net programs to prevent them from slipping further into poverty. The committee must invest in our nation s social infrastructure and prohibit cuts and caps to social programs. 3. Create Job Growth and Prevent Further Job Loss: The committee should reinvest in America and stimulate job creation through strategies such as funding public infrastructure projects, and providing tax credits for small businesses that diversify the workforce 4. Protect the Health of Communities: Chronic disease and preventable illnesses account for 75 percent of each healthcare dollar spent in the U.S. and are inextricably linked to conditions in which Americans live, work and play. The committee can help build healthy communities and lower healthcare cost by investing in prevention, economic development, sustainable communities and health equity. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO PROTECT THE FISCAL STABILITY OF AMERICA S WORKING FAMILIES! ACTION NOW: Please make your voice heard now by calling, ing, or using your social networks. Tell Congress to Protect Medicaid! 2 P a g e

4 Please join the National Health Equity Coalition and other national organizations to tell Congress to defend against devastating cuts to social programs and to support revenue increases. 3 P a g e

5 JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS! FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS: 1) Find your Representative or Senator to find your Representative and enter your zip code into the Find Your Representative widget at the top of the page. to find your Senators and enter your zip code into the Find Your Senator widget at the top of the page. 2) Click the name of the Member of Congress and you will be re-directed to their website. Please note that some members will have electronic forms where you will simply paste your message and others will provide an which will require you to send the message through your internet provider. SAMPLE MESSAGE (PLEASE ADD A PERSONAL STORY OR SHARE DATA FROM YOUR STATE, REGION, OR ORGANIZATION) Dear Member of Congress, I strongly urge you to reject a cuts only approach to solving our nation s debt. Low income families and communities of color are suffering higher unemployment, financial instability and have been disproportionately impacted by the economic recession and cuts to vital safety net programs. Cuts to social programs also have far-reaching economic impact on local and state economies, the private sector, small businesses, and contributed the foreclosure crisis across the country. We ask you to ensure the national debt is not balanced at the expense of the financial security, health and safety of racial and ethnic communities and urge you to: 1. Take a Balanced Approach that Includes Revenue and Eliminates Costly Tax Entitlements: The committee s plan should eliminate tax entitlements which undermine our nation s economic viability and fail to generate jobs, and include no less than 50% in new revenue. 2. Invest in Strategies that Lift Children and Families out of Poverty: More than 16 million US children live in poverty. Millions of Americans rely on safety net programs to prevent them from slipping further into poverty. The committee must invest in our nation s social infrastructure and prohibit cuts and caps to social programs. 3. Create Job Growth and Prevent Further Job Loss: The committee should reinvest in America and stimulate job creation through strategies such as funding public infrastructure projects, and providing tax credits for small businesses that diversify the workforce 4. Protect the Health of Communities: Chronic disease and preventable illnesses account for 75 percent of each healthcare dollar spent in the U.S. and are inextricably linked to conditions in which Americans live, work and play. The committee can help build healthy communities and lower healthcare cost by investing in prevention, economic development, sustainable communities and health equity. Please support a balanced approach to reducing the nation s deficit by increasing revenue and supporting policies that reduce poverty, create jobs, and protect the health of Americans. 4 P a g e

6 CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS! FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS: It s important that your congressional representatives hear from you. Call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) It is best to call in the morning Eastern Time to avoid problems because of different time zones between your state and Washington, D.C. When the switchboard operators answer, ask to be connected to the office of your Representative or Senator or member of the committee. In order to speak with your Senator/ Representative s office, you will need to give the operator your zip code. In some cases, there is more than one congressional district within a zip code, so you may need to give the operator your full address to connect you to the correct office. The operator will then connect you to your congressmember s office. SAMPLE PHONE SCRIPTS: 1. I am a constituent calling from [YOUR CITY AND STATE]. Here in [YOUR CITY], people are struggling to stay afloat and meet their basic needs in this recession. Billions have already been cut from vital safety net programs while protecting tax entitlements for corporations and the wealthiest in our nation. We need a plan that creates jobs, lifts families out of poverty and protects the safety net system. Thank you for taking my call and for representing the people of [YOUR CITY] in Washington. 2. I am a constituent calling from [YOUR CITY AND STATE]. Here in [YOUR CITY], we believe that the best way to put our country back on the path to prosperity is to: 1) increase revenues and eliminate costly tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest, 2) invest in strategies that lift families out of poverty, 3) create jobs and prevent further job loss, and 4) protect the health of our communities! I urge your support of these solutions to reduce the deficit. Thank you for taking my call and for representing the people of [YOUR CITY] in Washington. **If you have a personal story that highlights how cuts to public programs could hurt you or your community, make sure to say that in your message. Personal stories are more powerful. 5 P a g e

7 SEND JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS A MESSAGE ON FACEBOOK: REPRESENTATIVES: 1. Find your Representative at by entering your zip code into the Find Your Representative widget at the top left hand side of the page. When the search results page loads, pay attention to your Representative s name and district number. 2. Visit to find Facebook information for your Representative. Representatives are listed in alphabetical order by state and listed by district number. Scroll down to your state and look for your Representative by your district number. 3. If your Representative has a Facebook page, click on the Facebook icon to visit the page. 4. Log in to your Facebook account. In order to interact with your Representative you will need to like his or her fan page. SENATORS: Find your Senators at by entering your zip code into the Find Your Senator widget at the top left hand side of the page. Visit to find Facebook information for your Senators. Senators are listed in alphabetical order by state. If your Senators have a Facebook page, click on the Facebook icon to visit the page. Log in to your Facebook account. In order to interact with your Senators you will need to like their fan pages. SAMPLE MESSAGES (USUALLY LIMITED TO 420 CHARACTERS INCLUDING SPACES) Millions of people living in poverty and many struggling to find work, I urge you to raise revenue and protect the social safety net. Billions of dollars have already been cut adding to the financial instability of families and seniors. It s time we cut tax entitlements for the wealthiest and corporations to promote job growth and lift families out of poverty. or To put our country back on the path to prosperity, I urge you to support a balanced approach to reducing the nation s deficit by increasing revenue and supporting policies that reduce poverty, create jobs, and protect the health of Americans. POST A MESSAGE ON YOUR OWN PROFILE AND TAG YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS. 1. To tag your Representative or Senator in a Facebook post, in the message box, 2. A drop-down box will appear populating names as you enter it in. 3. Select the name and it will be highlighted in your status update 4. Complete the message and click share. 6 P a g e

8 SEND JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS A MESSAGE ON TWITTER: FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS: (USUALLY LIMITED TO 140 CHARACTERS INCLUDING SPACES) 1) Copy your member s Twitter handle 2) Log in to your Twitter account and post a Twitter message: Important: Please use the hashtag #BalancedApproach or #RaiseRevenue or #PromoteEquity in all of your Twitter messages. Using hashtags helps to aggregate data on what people are talking about on Twitter. You can also include hashtags for your city and state, such as #SF (San Francisco), #DC (Washington, DC), and #DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) [Twitter Handle] Don t balance the debt at the expense of the financial security, health and safety of racial and ethnic communities. #BalancedApproach [Twitter Handle] Eliminate tax entitlements #PromoteEquity to put our country back on the path to prosperity. Take action now! (link to action alert) [Twitter Handle] Promote equity! Tell #SuperCommittee to #RaiseRevenue and invest in strategies that lift children and families out of poverty. (link) [Twitter Handle] Invest in prevention, jobs and protect the health of our communities, #RaiseRevenue (link) [Twitter Handle] #RaiseRevenue and create jobs to protect our nation and put all Americans on the path to financial security. Take action now! (link) Joint Select House and Senate The Honorable John Boehner Speaker of the The Honorable Eric Cantor House Majority The Honorable Nancy Pelosi House Minority The Honorable James Clyburn House Assistant Democratic Leader 7 P a g e ** Twitter handles could not be located for Senator Baucus and Congressman The Honorable Harry Reid Senate Majority The Honorable Richard Durbin Assistant Majority Leader of the The Honorable Jon Kyl Assistant Minority Leader of the Senate

9 SEND AN OP-ED ARTICLE TO MAJOR NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR REPRESENTATIVE S DISTRICTS OR STATES. FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS: 8 P a g e

10 MAJOR NEWSPAPER OUTLETS MEMBER & AREA TOP NEWSPAPERS DAILY CIRCULATION Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas 5 th District (Republican and committee co-chair) Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State (Democrat and committee co-chair) Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland 8 th District (Democrat) Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona State (Republican) Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts (Democrat) EDITORIAL STAFF/ LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LINK Dallas Morning News 404, 951 ctus/ The Seattle Times 253,742 m/html/home/index.html Tacoma News Tribune 83,199 letters/submit/ Baltimore Sun 178,692 Dave Rosenthal The Arizona Republic 389, 701 narepublic/opinions/sendaletter. html Arizona Daily Star 121,399 Garrecht Gassen, Sarah office The Boston Globe 219,214 Editorial/Comments Staff Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania (Republican) The Philadelphia Inquirer 343,710 The Inquirer newsroom (215) Pittsburg-Tribune Review 114, Rodi Road Pittsburgh, PA (412) Sen. Max Baucus of Montana (Democrat) Billings Gazette 38,364 Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio (Republican) Rep. Xavier Becerra of California (Democrat) Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan (Republican) Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina (Democrat) Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan (Republican) The Cleveland Plain Dealer 254,372 Editor: Debra Adams Simmons Los Angeles Times 605,243 Nicholas Goldberg (213) The Saginaw News 25,830 Executive Editor John Hiner, , The State Newspaper 87,384 Editorial Staff (803) Detroit Free Press 252,017 Editorial page: ; fax: Detroit News 149,872 Editorial Page Editor: Nolan Finley (313) P a g e

11 JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBERS: A BRIEF OVERVIEW* Nov. 23rd Deadline for Joint Select Committee to vote on a plan of at least $1.2 trillion. Dec. 2nd Deadline for Joint Select Committee members to submit their report to Congress and the President. Dec. 9th House and Senate Committees of jurisdiction must report a bill without amendments. Dec. 23rd Congress must vote on the Joint Select Committee's proposal. If plan fails, $1.2 trillion trigger cuts take effect in Sen. Patty Murray of Washington (Democrat and committee co-chair) First elected: 1992 Chair, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; Senior member, Senate Budget Committee; Senior member, Senate Appropriations Committee Murray voted for tax cuts to the middle class but remains opposed to continued tax cuts for the wealthy. She is poised to take on senior positions in the Senate, including the Budget Committee. She has supported increases in FMAP and strongly opposes block grants. She has said she would favor replacing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) with a system that more accurately reflects costs and quality of care. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas (Republican and committee co-chair) First elected: 2002 Chair, House Republican Conference (4th ranking member of leadership team); Senior member, Financial Services Committee; Former chair, Republican Study Committee He previously served on President Obama's debt commission but voted against the commission s plan because he was opposed to tax increases. He has called Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security cruel ponzi schemes and believes they are the biggest drivers of the national debt. He co-sponsored the Taxpayer Choice Act, which would create a simplified two-tiered individual tax structure and permanently repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax. He supports family and small business tax incentives. He also has co-sponsored legislation to enact the Balanced Budget Amendment. He supports extending the Bush tax cuts to everyone. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland (Democrat) First elected: 2002 Ranking member, House Budget Committee Van Hollen played a key role in the debt talks led by Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year, and is the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee. He favors eliminating tax breaks and deductions for individuals earning more than $500,000 a year, wealthy corporations, and oil and gas companies. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona (Republican) First elected: 1994 Senate Minority Whip; senior member, Senate Finance Committee Kyl is the No. 2 Republican in the Senate behind Mitch McConnell and a staunch advocate for the military. He is a reliable conservative vote and is opposed to tax increases believing tax increases would stifle job creation. He has said he will not run for re-election and walked out of debt negotiations with Vice President Biden earlier this year after an impasse over increasing revenue. 10 P a g e

12 Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts (Democrat) First elected: 1984 Senior member, Senate Finance Committee; Chair, Foreign Relations Committee Kerry is best known on Capitol Hill for his foreign policy experience. He will lend his expertise on national security matters to the debate over cuts to military funding. He has voiced support for a balanced deal that could include increased tax revenue and deep cuts to entitlement programs. He favors a simplified tax code. He supports middle-class tax cuts and closing corporate tax loopholes. He supported Bush tax cuts for the middle class, and pledged not to raise taxes on those earning less than $200,000 a year. He voted yes on the last extension of the Bush tax cuts for everyone. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania (Republican) First elected: 2010 Member, Senate Budget Committee; Member, Joint Economic Committee Toomey is the former president of the staunchly anti-tax Club for Growth. He voted against the Budget Control Act which established the super committee. Toomey told reporters that the tax code has indefensible special-interest tax breaks that could be considered in the special committee. The senator said he was not interested in any large tax increases, which he said could hurt the economy. He voted to end the ethanol tax subsidy, and he advocates lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate. He wants to repeal the estate tax and favors corporate and individual tax reform. He has said defense cuts should be on the table in deficit reduction talks. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana (Democrat) First elected: 1978 Chair, Senate Finance Committee Baucus played a lead role for Senate Democrats in the spring debt ceiling negotiations led by Vice President Biden. He served on Obama's debt commission and voted against the final Simpson-Bowles recommendations because he said they cut too deeply into farm subsidies and would have changed Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in a way he found unacceptable. As Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, he took a hard line in opposing the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, which he co-authored, to the richest 2 percent of Americans. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio (Republican) First elected: 2010 Deputy Minority Whip; Member, Senate Budget Committee Portman was a White House budget director during the Bush administration. More moderate that some of his colleagues, Portman could be a key player in a compromise. He said he liked the Gang of Six plan because it took on the sacred cow and capped health spending, but he didn t think it went far enough in reforming entitlements. He voted in support of the Ryan budget plan. Portman has said reforming the tax code will be central to generating more revenue and spurring economic growth. He favors eliminating the estate tax and wants to increase IRS accountability. He introduced a bill to cut employers share of payroll taxes by two percent a year. He has said the Pentagon has to be part of the discussion when looking at how to reduce the deficit. 11 P a g e

13 Rep. Xavier Becerra of California (Democrat) First elected: 1992 Vice Chair, House Democratic Caucus; Member, Ways and Means Committee; Member, Progressive Caucus; House s highest-serving Latino Becerra is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and served on the Bowles-Simpson debt commission. He voted against the commission s final plan because he said it cut too deeply into discretionary spending and did not raise revenues to a high enough level. He favors eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for wealthy individuals and oil companies. He opposes renewing the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners in Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan (Republican) First elected: 1990 Chair, House Ways and Means Committee; Chair, Joint Committee on Taxation; Member, Republican Study Committee Camp served on President Obama's debt commission. He voted against the commission s plan because he objected to the plan's tax hikes and said it failed to address rising health care costs. He is an expert on taxes. Rep. Camp would not rule out tax increases if they fostered economic growth, even adding everything is on the table in the super committee deliberations. He supports extending Bush tax cuts to everyone and also would like a major overhaul of the federal tax code. He is in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Camp has already been at work with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) on tax reform issues, and he has placed the goal of comprehensive tax reform high on his agenda. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina (Democrat) First elected: 1992 Assistant Minority Leader; Member, Congressional Black Caucus; House s highest-serving African American Clyburn is the third-ranking Democrat in the House and veteran of the Appropriations Committee. He also participated in the Biden debt reduction talks. He has said government safety-net programs should not be shredded and argues they are not causing the deficit problem. He voted yes on extending the Alternative Minimum Tax exemptions to avoid tax increases for the middle class. He voted against making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He opposed eliminating the estate tax. Clyburn has been a vocal supporter of job creation in low-income neighborhoods. Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan (Republican) First elected: 1986 Chair, Energy and Commerce Committee Upton chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has taken some moderate positions in the past, including attempts to decrease tax cuts in the George W. Bush administration that remain contentious today. He opposes all proposals for raising taxes on consumers and businesses. He also opposes efforts to create a value-added tax. He wants to eliminate the estate tax and opposes taxes on energy companies. He favors a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts for everyone. *Profiles compiled thanks to Families USA The Super Committee Members: Where they Stand on Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act and CNN Money s Super Committee: Who are these guys? 12 P a g e

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