Monday, September 15, 2008

The Candidates on Disability - Part II

Disability issues are not a new interest for me. During the primary season, I checked out candidates' websites to see what (if anything) they had to say about the issues. As you might recall, I posted a quiz from Minnesota Public Radio that ranked the candidates according to how closely their platforms matched respondents' values. I focused on the candidates most closely aligned with my views overall, and Obama was one of the top candidates - though HRC was number 1 - and was pleased with what I found.

Disability issues are not new to Barack Obama, either. On his campaign website, under the "Issues" tab, there's a whole page for Disabilities. On that page there's a mission statement (copied below) a video, and a plan. Within the plan there are supporting documents, including one about autism spectrum disorders.

Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities

“We must build a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination .... policies must be developed, attitudes must be shaped, and buildings and organizations must be designed to ensure that everyone has a chance to get the education they need and live independently as full citizens in their communities.”

— Barack Obama


Under the "People" tab, there's also a page for Americans with Disabilities. Note: this site has information of interest about Obama's specific legislative efforts to support people with disabilities.

If you search for "Disability" on Obama's campaign website using a Google search (disability site:barackobama.com) you get 7,950 results. Many of those results are from "MyBarackObama" pages, where individuals with disabilities and their advocates talk about why they're supporting Barack Obama in this election.

Among other legislative efforts, Obama is a supporter of IDEA and the ADA Restoration Act. He also discusses universal health care and health care for disabled veterans. "Barack Obama is a cosponsor of the Genetic Information
Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information by Printed in House Paid for by Obama for America employers and health insurers. The Act also applies health information privacy regulations to the use and disclosure of genetic information." There's a lot of information on his web site, and it's great reading if you're interested in disability related issues.

It is clear that disability issues are important to Obama the candidate and Obama the legislator.

As for Obama the man, on the video mentioned above (which, by the way, is close captioned) he talks about his father-in-law's experience with muscular dystrophy. In his 2007 tax return, Obama lists charitable donations to 33 organizations, including Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Head Start, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National MS Society, St. Leo's Residence for Veterans, and other groups that impact the lives of people with disabilities.

Disability issues are important to me. And looking at the two candidates' platforms, it's clear to me that one of the candidates places a lot more importance on this issue than does the other.

Speaking of charitable giving by the way, in case you're interested, here are some statistics: "Obama gave $240,000 to charity last year and McCain gave $105,000. Both of them are millionaires. Obama made his money from royalties on two books he wrote. McCain's money comes primarily from the beer distributorship his wife inherited from her father. Sarah Palin has not released her tax returns." Joe Biden is not a millionaire. In fact, while far from poor, he is the second poorest senator in the nation (he was the poorest in 2006). He gives, on average, $369 to charity per year.

19 comments:

Stushie said...

I'm presuming then that Biden only makes about $3690 per annum to account for his tithe...

Sarahlynn said...

As far as I can tell, none of the 3 candidates who have disclosed their financial information have regularly made a 10% annual tithe.

Sarahlynn said...

This is an area in which I also fail.

Orange said...

Okay, Biden could do better! I give more than he does, and he makes more than my family.

Obama rocks.

Tracey said...

Thank you so much for this information. I have been bogged down in my researching of the candidates and this has helped substantially.

We don't tithe, and could do more. I make sure we do 'extras' when we can (blanket drive, food drives, etc at church).

Laurie said...

Thanks for these two really informative posts! I am going to link to them so my readers can have the info as well. You are awesome!

Sarahlynn said...

Orange, yeah, absolutely. Granted, he has a lot of expenses I don't have, too, but still.

Tracey, you're welcome! I do the same thing, and count some of my non-monetary contributions (like teaching Sunday School and giving to the church in other ways) as part of my contribution, if only to make myself feel a little better.

Laurie, thank you! Both for the compliment and for the link.

Anne said...

Lovely, measured, passionate posts, Sarahlynn. I admire your patience in setting this information out there.

Sarahlynn said...

It's sort of shocking to see it laid out side-by-side like this, isn't it? The differences are so huge, it's like they're playing two different games.

Then I remember that it's not actually a game, and that many people with disabilities and their advocates are voting for McCain simply because of the existence of Sarah Palin's youngest son, without any evidence whatsoever that this would be a good thing for access to services for people with disabilities. Quite to the contrary.

Tre said...

I am not a troll and I did not read the article on the side before commenting. I do want to say I have never seen an article more off the mark in trying to say the bible doesn't approve nor condemn abortion. I am a special education teacher and that is why I read this blog.

Sarahlynn said...

Welcome! But this is not the place to debate abortion. Comments on the issue at hand (in this case, the Presidential candidates' platforms as they relate to disability issues) are always appreciated.

Tre said...

thank you...your daughters are beautiful!!

Tre said...

PS..as a single mom of three I do tithe 10 percent. I know I am blessed to do so (not rich, just blessed). So sad people who make so much money do not even hit the 100 percent mark.

Sarahlynn said...

Thank you! I can't help but agree about my wonderful girls. They are a delight. : )

Anne said...

To be fair the McCains file separately, so the McCains as a couple gave about $211K. McCain's AGI was abotu $390K, Cindy hasn't released her 2007 return but in 2006 her AGI was $6M.

If you're bored http://www.taxhistory.org/ has pdfs off all the candidates tax returns, except for the Palins. One estimate I read put her income in the $300K range, governor's salary of $200K and Todd's about $100K. And Biden did give $595 in cash and $400 in non cash charitable contributions.

Sarahlynn said...

Anne, you're absolutely right about the McCains. I spent a lot of time looking at tax returns for these pieces. And, to be fair, I didn't know how much to include about Cindy McCain's finances. Yes, they're married and John McCain definitely benefits from his wife's financial situation. But it makes his percentage of giving look worse when add in her AGI, even though it doubles their giving. And I don't know how "fair" that is, since I don't really understand their arrangement.

They've said that they live separately, vacationing together twice a year. And they've also explained that adopting their youngest child was a decision she made on her own. So . . . it's just not a model of marriage partnership that's familiar to me. I'm still figuring out how to treat it.

And I hadn't seen those estimates about the Palins, so thanks for that! I haven't gotten too specific about the VP candidates yet, focusing primarily on the tops of the tickets for now.

Tre said...

oops sorry I meant 10 percent in my above comment. Also, I have taught many children that have Down's Syndrome as well as Autism etc... My job is a joy everyday and I think the blogging community will assist in helping many people understand the abilities of those that are labeled with disabilities.

Sarahlynn said...

Yeah, I guess even the rich need to eat. :) (I just figured that you meant 100% of 10%.)

I think you're right about blogging, and in fact I have experienced some of that personally. I've had several people tell me that reading what I've written about Ellie has changed the way they see people with disabilities, especially Down syndrome. I know that reading other blogs by moms of kids with various diagnoses - especially autism - has done the same for me.

I believe that increasing awareness in this way is a big part of what I'm called to do as a parent of a child with Down syndrome.

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