Sunday, April 27, 2008

The 8000 Pound Elephant in the Room

Many people may not agree with me, but I think disability issues are more important than lapel pins. On the surface, you see very little coverage of where the presidential candidates stand on issues affecting people with disabilities, but as Professor Michael Bérubé so eloquently explained, it's the 8000 pound elephant in the room:
Remember that debate about SCHIP? You know, the one we lost on Bush’s veto? What the hell was that about? It was about disability, folks – about children suffering catastrophic illnesses and traumatic injuries for which their parents couldn’t (and their parents’ dastardly, moustache-twirling health-insurance providers wouldn’t) provide. Vets returning from Iraq with PTSD or TBI (post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury) and being warehoused and/or underserved and/or neglected by VA hospitals? Uh, well, once again, here we’re talking about disability. Why in the world do we frame these things as matters of “health” or “employment” or “veterans’ benefits,” when doing so prevents us from realizing that we’re all touching different appendages of the 8000-pound elephant in the room? The subject is disability, people. It’s about our common frailty and vulnerability. Get used to it.
Get used to it, and also, know who you're voting for. You can read Hillary Clinton's Agenda to Expand Economic Opportunity for Individuals with Disabilities. You can also read Barack Obama's Plan to Empower People with Disabilities (PDF document).

Both Democratic candidates mention their support for Executive Order 13163 to hire 100,000 qualified employees with disabilities to federal employment over five years. Both also support the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

John McCain, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have any statement regarding disability policies on his web site. However, he voted in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 and served on the Board of Trustees at Gallaudet University, the only four-year liberal arts university for the Deaf. His Straight Talk on Health Care Reform includes several statements about "controlling health care costs."
Controlling health care costs will take fundamental change - nothing short of a complete reform of the culture of our health system and the way we pay for it will suffice. Reforms to federal policy and programs should focus on enhancing quality while controlling costs:
I think I'll translate that to "business as usual."

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