Poverty and the 2012 Election – October 18, 2012 Online Training Summary, Action Steps, Tools

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Rev. Michael Livingston, Public Policy Director of Interfaith Worker Justice and past President of the National Council of Churches USA, offered a moving opening reflection and prayer, which you can read in full here.

Erik Stegman of the Half in Ten campaign then shared that more than 46 million Americans lived in poverty in 2011, including one in five children. Yet, the media is barely paying attention to this crisis. Only 17 of the 10,489 studied (.2%) campaign stories addressed poverty in a substantive way.[1] It’s time to #TalkPoverty. He shared tips on how to get the word out about poverty in the election season.

Shantha Ready Alonso of the National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative and Circle of Protection shared a success story about what happens when the candidates do #TalkPoverty. At the request of the Circle of Protection, the presidential candidates shared videos about what they will do to address poverty: http://circleofprotection.usCheck out the next page to take a quiz on who said what.

Amelia Kegan of Bread for the World explained the legislative landscape of the election as well as what we can expect in the lame duck. With the Bush tax cuts set to expire and a mandate to cut $1.2 trillion from the budget in “sequestration,” now is the time to shape the legislative debate around how our nation manages our budget and tax policies. By November 13, the President and “Gang of 8” in the Senate must unveil a plan on how to solve the fiscal problems of our nation. You can put the pressure on right now to make sure the most poor and vulnerable among us are protected from further cuts. See more details about who’s in the Gang of 8 in the

Lastly, Leslie Woods of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shared about action steps you can take to make a difference in the conversation around poverty in the final weeks of the election and into the weeks after the election (the “lame duck” session). The most important one, obviously is: VOTE!

Here are more action steps to fit any schedule.

30 seconds: Send a tweet to the final presidential debate moderator: @BobSchieffer of CBS news by 10/22 at 9:00pm EDT asking him to #TalkPoverty with the presidential candidates. You can find tweeting tips at http://www.halfinten.org/talkpoverty.

 

Two minutes: First, it is most important you write to your Senators and Representative right now and let them know you want a budget deal that does not further jeopardize people living in poverty. Ask your Senators to weigh in with the “Gang of 8” about protecting poor people in any budget deal. Any deal to replace the fiscal cliff must have EXPLICIT protections for the programs that serve the most vulnerable and it must be balanced with responsible spending cuts alongside additional tax revenue.

Three minutes:Then, spread the impact to your local elected officials and send a message asking them to clearly state what they will do to address poverty if reelected.

Ten minutes: Watch the two presidential candidates’ videos about poverty and faith below, and see what church leaders are saying about poverty and the 2012 election. Quote the videos. Use the “Who Said it?” quiz and share the videos with friends.

Fifteen Minutes: Talk to you friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Use your circle of influence to fill the gaping hole the media’s left us. If they don’t talk poverty, we must.

Thirty-Sixty minutes: Use the power of the pen or keyboard.Write a letter to the editor or an Op-ed. Use the talking points in the PowerPoint from this online training. Be sure to mention your elected official by name so his or her staff will flag it for their boss. You can also blog, which will turn up in Google searches. Be sure to tag your blog posts with your elected official’s name.

Attend a candidate forum or town hall meeting: Ask good questions about poverty and reference the facts you learned in this training. You can find more resources about town hall meeting tips and good questions to ask here: http://www.bread.org/ol/2012/elections2012/pdf/town-hall-meeting-tips-2012.pdf

For further election 2012 resources, including important information about making voting accessible to all, check out Operation EMR (Educate, Mobilize, Register) from the African Methodist Episcopal church and Our Faith, Our Vote from the United Church of Christ and Elections Matters handbook from Bread for the World at http://www.bread.org/ol/2012/elections2012/pdf/elections-matter-2012.pdf.

Quiz: Who said it?

When you know what your candidates are saying about poverty, you can hold them to their promises. Take this quiz with quotes from the Circle of Protection and the two Presidential Candidates’ videos to see if you know what the candidates are saying. Watch the videos these quotes were pulled from at http://www.circleofprotection.us

  1. “Our government rightfully provides a safety net for the hungry and the homeless, the sick and the elderly, and we have a responsibility to keep it intact for future generations. I’ve laid out a sensible plan to save and strengthen our nations’ entitlement programs, which now account for more than half of federal spending. Here again, I’m committed to protecting those in or near poverty.”

a) Governor Romney                  b) President Obama                        c) The Circle of Protection

2. “Look at every budget proposal from the bottom up—how it treats those Jesus called “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources.”

a) Governor Romney                  b) President Obama                        c) The Circle of Protection

3.  “Government can’t solve every problem and it shouldn’t try… Not every tax dollar is spent wisely. Not everyone can be helped who refuses to help themselves. But that’s not an excuse to tell our fellow Americans that they’re on their own.”

a)    Governor Romney                b) President Obama                        c) The Circle of Protection

4.  “Nearly one in every six people in America is in poverty. When our economy is weak, lives are shattered, hearts ache, parents wonder how they’ll make ends meet, and how they’ll provide better lives for their children.”

a)    Governor Romney                b) President Obama                        c) The Circle of Protection

5.  “We can pay down our debt in a balanced and responsible way, but we cannot balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. And certainly can’t ask the poor, the sick, or those with disabilities to sacrifice even more, or ask the middle-class to pay more, just so we can offer massive new tax cuts to those who’ve been blessed with the most.  It’s not just bad economics, it’s morally wrong. It’s not in line with our values, and it’s not who we are as a people.”

a) Governor Romney                  b) President Obama                        c) The Circle of Protection

      6. “Give moral priority to programs that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people in these   difficult times, our broken economy, and our wounded world.”

a)    Governor Romney                    b) President Obama                        c) The Circle of Protection

 

 

(“Who Said It?” Answer key:         1 – a          2 – c           3 – b          4 – a          5- b            6 – c)


[1] Source: New study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting looked at 6 months of campaign coverage between 1/1/12-6/23/12 by 8 prominent outlets

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