525,600 Minutes: How Does CFED’s Government Affairs Team Measure in 2014?
By Emanuel Nieves on 12/17/2014 @ 05:30 PM
Much like RENT: The Musical’s signature song, “Seasons of Love,” our team can measure our year in daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee (a lot!), in laughter and in strife. Though not specifically mentioned in the well-known song, two other important ways to measure a year is through passion and progress. For the Government Affairs team—and CFED as a whole—this year marks a year of passion and progress to help low- and moderate-income communities become more economically stable.
The passion we have for our work, our partners and the people we serve is the reason we’ve created numerous publications, executed countless Hill visits, organized key events and secured meaningful legislative victories over the past year. Below is some of the progress we’ve made over the past year—through advocacy, relationship-building and communications—that continues to move the needle forward towards expanding economic opportunity for all.
Our team has produced a total of 28 federal policy-related publications, including creating two new publication series (Federal Policy Briefs and Federal Policy Proposals). Publications produced over the past year cover topics related to manufactured housing, entrepreneurship, emergency savings, the racial wealth gap, the upside-down tax code, debt, consumer protections and financial capability. These publications take a unique lens by elevating how each of these issues impact low- and moderate-income households’ ability to build assets and achieve financial security.
In 2014, we organized a number of events on Capitol Hill that focused on low-income microenterprise, children’s savings, asset poverty and retirement security. Our “Retirement Security for All: Overcoming Unequal Tax Incentives for Retirement Savings,” was a particular highlight as we co-hosted with the Center for American Progress and featured Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as the keynote speaker.
We’ve continued to elevate CFED’s voice and influence, as well as the voices of the Assets & Opportunity Network, by submitting individual and joint public comment letters to the administration, federal agencies and Congress on various issues, including affordable housing, consumer protections and credit-building products.
While it may look like we’ve spent a considerable amount of time moving the needle via non-legislative action, we did manage to notch a few critical asset-building policy victories this year. These victories, accomplished in partnership with the A&O Network and other partners in the field, include preserving states’ rights to lift or waive SNAP asset limits within the 2014 Farm Bill, the passage of the American Savings Promotion Act, allowing banks to offer Prize-Linked Savings and the passage of the ABLE Act, which will allow people with disabilities to build assets without losing critical benefits.
The 113th Congress also saw the introduction of new asset-building legislation, including the USAccounts Act, introduced by Representative Joe Crowley (D-NY), a progressive universal children’s savings accounts proposal, as well as the CSA Opportunity Act, a bipartisan bill offered by Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI), which would eliminate public benefit asset limits for savings in children’s savings accounts. During the next Congress, CFED will advocate for the re-introduction and passage of these bills.
The legislative victories described above represent a series of small steps in ensuring that all households across the country are able to save their way out of insecurity and into a more stable and resilient economic state. But together, they represent one large stride toward a more inclusive American economy.
If all of the above wasn’t enough for one year, we also organized the largest Assets Learning Conference (ALC) Capitol Hill Day in CFED’s history. This year’s ALC Capitol Hill Day brought together 400 attendees from 45 states and Puerto Rico to meet with over 200 federal policymakers on the vital work happening on the ground in the asset-building field and the role federal policy can play in expanding economic opportunity for millions of Americans.
As we celebrate a year of passion and progress, we look forward to bringing this momentum into the next 525,600 minutes; we’re excited to see what we will be able to accomplish with our partners and policymakers to improve the financial security of American households.