Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Former Clinton Officials Endorse Obama

Several former Clinton Administration officials who worked on disability policy issues endorsed Barack Obama and issued an open letter on Wednesday discussing Senator Obama's deep understanding of the barriers and discrimination faced by people with disabilities and his plan to create change and empowerment.

They are asking readers who agree that Barack Obama is the best candidate on disability issues to pass this open letter on to others. Please feel free to copy and post it elsewhere.


“Barack Obama is the disability community’s best choice for change.”

February 6, 2008

Dear Friends:

We were privileged to work for President Bill Clinton in senior appointed positions related to disability policy and programs. We are proud of the progress made during the 1990s on behalf of the disability community and all Americans.

Yet, in 2008, we believe that Barack Obama is the disability community’s best choice for change. We support Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. We urge you to join us in voting or caucusing for Barack Obama.

Every day, people with disabilities face unimaginable barriers and blatant prejudice that most Americans never encounter. As a result, people with disabilities are employed at a much lower rate than other Americans. They have a higher poverty rate and a lower home ownership rate. Students with disabilities are less likely to earn a high school diploma and even less likely to get a four-year college degree. The number of people with disabilities who depend on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income is rising while fewer and fewer are able to live independently and support themselves.

These challenges did not arise for the first time when George W. Bush entered the White House. The problems are stubborn and long-lasting. Certainly, the empty rhetoric and lackluster policies of the past seven years have made a difficult road more difficult for Americans with disabilities. We believe change --- dramatic change --- is necessary and possible. We deeply believe that Barack Obama is the best candidate to lead our nation and to help us change our world.

Barack Obama’s goal is our goal --- a world free of barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination. He has proposed a Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities that sets the right agenda for achieving that goal. We urge you to read his Plan by going to
www.BarackObama.com, clicking on the “Issues” tab, and then clicking on “Disabilities,” or going directly to http://www.BarackObama.com/issues/disabilities. Even more important than the specific details of the plan is the fact that he has a plan. He has focus.

Barack Obama’s understanding of the hopes and dreams of Americans with disabilities and their families, and his knowledge of the barriers they face, run deep. He knows what it means to be denied health insurance because of one’s pre-existing condition: his own mother worried about whether her new health insurance policy would deny her coverage as she lay dying from cancer. He learned about the every-day barriers people with disabilities face from his father-in-law, Frasier Robinson, who lived with multiple sclerosis. From his wife Michelle, he learned what families must overcome when supporting a loved one with a disability. Barack Obama has faced down and helped others topple bigotry all of his life. As a community organizer, a civil rights attorney, a state legislator, and a U.S. Senator, he has constantly reached beyond what divides us to forge a working majority for hope. He believes our nation’s best days lay ahead of us --- not behind us. He helps us believe in the most powerful American dream --- that together we can build a more just and perfect union, that together we can change the world. For Americans with disabilities, this is the kind of leader we need. Barack Obama has the experience we must have in the next President of the United States of America.

As President, he will bring us together --- all of us --- to build a society in which every person can feel that they belong, each person can achieve to the limits of his or her abilities, and all people can make a difference. We hope you will join us in supporting Barack Obama for President of the United States. Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Seth Harris, Former Counselor to the U.S. Secretary of Labor, and Former Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy

Paul Steven Miller, Former Commissioner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Former White House Liaison to the Disability Community

Sue Swenson, Former Commissioner, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Robert R. Williams, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

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  • http://www.BarackObama.com/issues/disabilities states that "Barack Obama supported the combatting autism act of 2006". He certainly sounds better than any of the other candidates when it comes to disability, and closer to the social model than the medical model. But still, there are things I dislike about his policies.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:49 PM  

  • Woah. That's an about face.

    By Blogger Val, at 11:38 PM  

  • Anon: The senators unanimously supported the Combating Autism Act. The politics of what's been happening with those research funds is rather complicated, but to sum it up briefly: At first, Autism Speaks was gleeful, thinking that they would get huge amounts of money to create a prenatal test. But we lobbied to have that money put toward research that would actually benefit autistics instead, such as developing better and more affordable communication devices, etc., and there are now some pro-neurodiversity people in a position to influence how the money is allocated. So it could end up turning out for the best. We'll see.

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:53 AM  

  • I hope you're right, abfh.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:48 PM  

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