I finally decided to take some time to better answer some of the questions from people I’ve been involved in political discussions with in the last month or two (or ten). If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. That’s the beauty of a democracy. I’m not trying to change your mind. (I’ll be happy if I do though – I won’t lie!) If, on the other hand, you’re still an undecided voter who is sincerely looking for more information and listening to opinions to help inform your own, I hope that this might help a little bit. The post is long – sorry. All I can say is that I did my best, and it could have been a lot longer. If you want to leave a comment when you’re finished, I welcome healthy and mature discourse. If you digress into childish insults, name-calling or foul language, I reserve the right to click the “delete comment” button. But I’m sure you wouldn’t do that. So, here you go:
A lot of people are asking, “HOW does Obama plan to do all he talks about??” and saying that he’s lacking specifics. I’m wondering if these people have read his Blueprint for Change. It’s on his website, it’s divided into easy to read “issue” sections, and it’s more specific than any politician’s plan I’ve ever seen. Here’s the link.
When you click on each issue heading, you’re taken to an “At-a-Glance” overview of the topic. At the bottom of the page, you can click on “Read the plan” (in blue) to read pages of specific detail.
Because we have a daughter with special medical needs, and because I am acutely aware of the number of families going through things much more medically/chronically serious than our situation, I have to say that healthcare reform is certainly one of the top things I’m listening for. Obama’s healthcare plan makes sense to me.
Directly from his Blueprint for Change regarding children with disabilities:
Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities: Children’s ability to succeed in school relies on the foundation they build in their first three years. Pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds is important, but it is not enough to ensure children arrive at school ready to learn. This is particularly so for children with disabilities and/or special health care needs, who already face challenges in the early years that can set them behind their peers before they ever enter school. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will invest $10 billion per year in early intervention educational and developmental programs for children between zero and five. Their plan will help expand Early Head Start to serve more children with disabilities, and will spur states, through programs like Early Learning Challenge Grants, to expand programs for children with disabilities, such as IDEA Part C, and integrate these programs with other early childhood programs.
Support Universal Screening: Roughly 90 percent of infants in the United States are screened for various potentially disabling or life-threatening conditions, but fewer than half the states screen all infants for the American College of Medical Genetics’ full recommended panel of 29 disorders. Many of these conditions, if caught early, can be treated before they result in permanent impairments or even death. And parents are often unaware that the tests are available. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we should ensure that all states have comprehensive newborn screening programs. In addition, they support setting a national goal to provide re-screening for all two-year-olds – the age at which some conditions, including autism spectrum disorders, begin to appear. Part of Obama’s early childhood intervention plan will be directed at coordinating fragmented community programs to help provide parents with information about screening for disabilities as infants and again as two-year olds. Achieving universal screening is essential so that disabilities can be identified early enough to help children and families get the special supports and resources they need.
I’ve also worked with many children and families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Obama’s plan addresses better services and care for these children and families, including increased funding for research.
Because Jenna will always carry the diagnoses and struggle with issues of Short Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Lung Disease, I worry about her ability to obtain and carry health insurance in the future. Here’s what Obama’s plan says about that:
Guaranteeing Health Care Coverage: Many people with disabilities do not seek work or leave the workforce because they need the guaranteed health insurance that the federal government’s benefit programs provide. As a result, many stay on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which include Medicare or Medicaid coverage, rather than take a job that might jeopardize their health care coverage. Barack Obama has pledged to sign universal health care legislation by the end of his first term in office that will assure that Americans with disabilities will have quality, affordable, portable coverage that will allow them to take a job without fear of losing coverage. People with disabilities who lose their Medicare or Medicaid eligibility by taking a job, but still cannot afford coverage, will be provided a subsidy in order to purchase coverage. Moreover, under the Obama-Biden plan, insurers will not be able to deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions.
This is why McCain’s healthcare plan scares me.
Another great resource is Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope. I wish all Americans would read it (or listen to it – it’s on CD) because it not only explains Obama’s positions and values, it also does a fantastic job of explaining our system of politics and putting things in perspective without being partisan. I thought I knew a lot about our political system until I read this book. I highly recommend it, no matter which side of “the fence” you fall on.
Given the economic situation we’ve gotten ourselves into (we’re over $10 trillion in debt, people), we should probably ALL expect tax increases. BUT, raising taxes for the most wealthy, DOES make sense economically, and will not hurt the economy. We’re constantly fed the propaganda that it would hurt the economy, because, as the rhetoric goes: if we take money from the wealthy, they won’t invest in business and create jobs (trickle-down economics) that help everyone else, but this is simply not true. I think the wealthy are funding the rhetoric, or at least its circulation. Here are some facts from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office:
- Middle class people get a mere 3% of their income from corporate sources (trickled down)
- The top fifth of America’s wealthy get 88% of their income from corporate sources
- The top 1% get about 60% of their income from corporate sources.
Do you know that the most recent data show that 23% of all income in the U.S. is held by the richest 1%?? This is the highest level on record except for in 1928.* History doesn’t bode well for when the gap between the rich and poor becomes too great and the middle class fades away. I believe that Obama outlines economic changes that could actually work, and that he is finally a politician with his focus on the middle class and poor (the majority of our population) instead of the wealthy and privileged.
In summary, I agree with Obama’s plans to help the less fortunate, improve education, provide better pay for teachers, provide affordable healthcare for all, clean up the environment, care for and support the elderly, provide better benefits and services for those who serve in our armed forces, protect civil rights, fight for the rights of the disabled, champion and protect equal rights for women, reward and encourage community service, keep an open dialog about faith in politics, and call to strengthen families. All of those reasons are why he has my vote. You can read about all of them in his Blueprint for Change.
If you’ve heard specific accusations that you’d like to have addressed or to know more about, I suggest fact-checking here or here. For information circulated via email, this is a great fact-checking resource.
Finally, I repeat my earlier request. Read everything you can about the candidates, watch the debates, carefully consider the future of our children and our world, and choose wisely. I trust you’ll make the right choice. And if you DON’T vote?? No griping allowed. About anything. Wanna gripe? VOTE!!
The next debate is Tuesday, October 7th.