I am disappointed that disability-related issues have not received much attention by candidates and media during this presidential campaign cycle. Perhaps this is about to change. My hat’s off to Hillary Clinton for unveiling a plan to help people with autism and their families (http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/10/opinions/perry-autism-hillary-clinton-plan/index.html). Her website (http://www.hilaryclinton.com) gives details about four initiatives related to – a screening program for the poor, health insurance coverage, employment opportunities, and an adult prevalence study.
From early on, on his website (http://www.jeb2016.com) and in interactions on the campaign trail Jeb Bush addresses his connection to a family with a child with a developmental disability and how that helped him improve and expand services in Florida when he was governor. He plans to use this experience to help him shape what he does for people with disabilities when he becomes president.
Chris Christy comments briefly on the need to reform disability insurance programs on his website (http://www.chrischristie.com). One of my sources indicates that John Kasich (http://www.johnkasich.com) is working on a plan to lessen the disincentives to employment in the Social Security programs. Ben Carson and Ted Cruz have made statements that they know people with disabilities want to work. And, Trump has said that he will work on a plan to help people with autism get jobs and they will like it.
Underlying these several examples are two stone-cold implications – (1) people who represent and advocate for people with autism have been working harder than the rest of us and (2) tackling employment challenges and solutions related to people with disabilities may be the best way to beginning engaging candidates. I think candidates are generally more comfortable with that topic and may be receptive to our ideas.
The next Republican debate is tomorrow night on the Fox Business Network. Its focus is the economy. The moderators are Neil Cavuto (@neilcavuto) and Maria Bartiromo (@MariaBartiroma). Why not tweet them this question to ask candidates – What would you do specifically to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities? Who knows, it might be asked!