- Make it less about need and material scarcity, and more about how hard America's poor are having to work to get by. Increasingly, hard work and holding down multiple jobs is a sign someone is poor, not wealthy.
- Make it about Americans who are working hard jobs and long hours to make a better life for their families.
It's hard work being poor in America.
Connect: There is no shame in having less money than others when you're working harder.
Define: These days, many of America's hardest workers are those with the least. They're skipping sleep to work long hours at multiple jobs, but they keep falling further behind.
Align: People just want the same shot and same opportunities as everyone else, even if they didn't get the same start in life.
Claim values: In America, we've always valued how hard a person works over what they have.
Offer solutions: Our government should reward hard work by increasing opportunities for vulnerable families striving to gain financial security -- not cutting them off from education and health care.
Apply values: Working hard should mean getting ahead -- not having to choose between losing a second job that pays the rent or taking your kid to the doctor.
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ATTACKS AND RESPONSES
MYTH: "Poverty exists because people are too lazy to work."
- People living in poverty include seniors who've retired from a lifetime of work, new moms, students, and job searchers still pounding the pavement. They're calling them lazy?
- Poor people can't afford to be lazy. They're skipping sleep to work long hours at multiple jobs and still falling further behind.
- Like any hardworking parent, they're more than willing to take that extra shift so they can put food on the table.
- But the less money you have, the less time you have to get ahead. Without a reliable car, taking the bus to work can take hours. No reliable child care means less time to find a better paying job.
- And when you have less money, every day is full of hard choices with harder consequences: which basic needs will you meet today -- food, winter clothes, medicine -- and which ones will you just have to go without?
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Low-income working families, contrary to popular myth, work hard:
- Adults in low-income working families worked on average 2,500 hours per year in 2006, the equivalent of almost one and a quarter full-time workers.
- One out of four working families in the U.S. is low-income, and virtually all of those families, or 96%, work at least half-time and over 70% work full-time or more.
- They're also eager to acquire new skills and improve their jobs and work conditions.
- Nowadays, more than 7 million Americans are working two or more jobs just to make ends meet.
- One out of five American adults who have jobs are earning only $10.65 an hour or less. Even at 40 hours a week, that's less than $22,000 per year -- the poverty level for a family of four.
- Over 80% of Americans believe it's almost impossible to survive on minimum wage, which is only $7.25 per hour (federal) right now.
- It's expensive and time-consuming to be poor in America, too. The less money you make, the more you are probably paying extra banking, credit card, and lending fees, living in "food deserts" without accessible supermarkets that sell cheap fresh food, paying jacked-up health care prices, and paying as much as 40% of your income on child care while you're at work.
- Poor people do not have weaker work ethics or levels of motivation than wealthier people. Poor and rich poor parents also have the same attitudes about education.
- All Americans pay taxes. Even those who don't make enough money to pay taxes on their income still pay taxes like payroll, property or sales tax, or taxes on everyday things like gasoline.
- The Republican budget pending in Congress -- drafted by the GOP budget chief Rep. Ryan and endorsed by Mitt Romney -- would take from poor working families to give more to the wealthiest few. So would Romney's tax plan and economic policies.
We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.
Posted in - Budget - Economy - Poverty - Jobs