Romney / Ryan Republicans bad news for people with disabilities

It would be nice to be able to rise above politics. It would be nice to think that empathy and compassion are embedded into the very fabric of our civilized society, and reflected in our government and our politics. It would be nice to think that politicians grasp the vast spectrum of ability as part of the human condition.

But, apparently, it would also be naive.

As part of the more in-depth reporting that occurs because of the impeding US elections, we get to find out more about what exactly our politicians have been up to. We get to find out where there is a disconnect between what is claimed, and what is done.

In reading over a recent article from the Huffington Post, I became aware of targeted cuts to programs for people with disabilities, made by Team Romney when he was governor of Massachusets.

Frankly, I am not impressed. In fact, I was aghast when I read it!

I've extracted the parts of the article that pertain to our community, and highlighted comments that I'd like to draw to your attention...

"A detailed Huffington Post review of Romney's budget proposals from his first year in office, however, reveals that he advocated deep cuts to programs serving the state's most vulnerable -- even when those cuts had little effect on the state's fiscal position. Romney's aggressive reductions to social programs did not earn support across the aisle. The state legislature ended up overriding more than 115 Romney vetoes in his first year as governor...

Romney targeted many programs that had been historically supported by both parties. He pushed to eliminate or gut more than 20 state programs serving veterans, disadvantaged children, and adults with severe physical disabilities. He also sought to cut money for breast cancer screenings, suicide prevention and programs that assisted the blind and the deaf.

These cuts would have totaled $26.8 million -- 2.2 percent of the $1.2 billion state budget deficit that Romney inherited upon taking office. None of these cuts were necessary for balancing the state's budget. All were overriden by the Democratic state legislature, and the state still closed its budget gap with room to spare....

...the Romney administration was seeking to impose spending caps on various programs, including one providing ventilators to sick people at home...

Romney wanted hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts for services for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. The cuts included reductions in funds for agencies that link disabled adults with jobs, day programs and transportation. "Everyone has young adults in their district who need these services," explained Leo V. Sarkissian, executive director of The Arc Of Massachusetts, which advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. "It was an important social need that everyone recognized."

If the cuts had gone through, a number of the young adults would have ended up institutionalized...

On top of the cuts, Romney tried to impose fees on the disabled adults. If they utilized transportation services, it would cost $25 per month. If they went to a day program, that was another $25 per month. For a year, the fees would have added up to one month's social security check...

Massachusetts was institutionalizing huge numbers of poor children on Medicaid for emotional issues -- autism, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, for example -- who may have been treated more effectively through in-house care. Instead of receiving regular therapy, children were sent to an institution during severe breakdowns, a policy that bears similarities to Romney's recent suggestion that the uninsured should rely on hospital emergency rooms. But once these children were stable, psychiatric wards were unable to release them, since the state did not offer other treatment. With these wards charging as much as $800 a day, the state's bills were piling up. The scheme Romney attempted to preserve was wasting $70 million a year on these stuck kids.

"It was about breaking up families and removing kids rather than helping families.," Schwartz said. "Kids shouldn't have to choose between treatment and staying in school, or between treatment and living with their mom."...

Romney's Overriden Cuts Include:

  • Turning 22 -- new clients (helping intellectually and physically disabled young adults live independently) $36,500

  • Medical assistance eligibilty for the blind -- $100,000

  • Commission for the Blind -- $213,456

  • Turning 22 services -- $131,240

  • Veterans' Outreach Centers -- $165,000

  • Ferguson Industries for the Blind -- $200,000

  • Community Services for the Blind -- $250,000

  • Independent living (aid for people with disabilities) -- $220,000

  • Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing -- $128,235

  • Early Intervention Services (for children w/ developmental delays) -- $697,132

  • Turning 22 community services for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities-- $150,155

Listing of Cuts Source:
Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center

It isn't just the callousness and the degree of the cuts that is so worrisome.

First of all, there is no real need to make any cuts at all. Romney is the same guy who still says the rich shouldn't pay any more than what they are paying now - a rate that is much less than the average worker. And Ryan's budget proposals are all about cutting social spending.

But there are two other issues that really stand out for me.

All of the cuts from this article were only kept in check due to strong opposition from the Democrats. What if Romney / Ryan had this kind of heartless control at the larger, federal level - without a humanizing effect from an opposition with power.

If these kind of regressive, repressive Republicans had power of the Presidency, Congress and the Senate, what kind of like would people with disabilities and their families face? Not a good one, based on this kind of history.

The second thing that struck me about the original article was an anecdote about Romney disallowing other parties from using the elevator closest to his office.

If someone goes to that much trouble to distance himself from others, can you really ever see the possibility for understanding - or even caring - about people with disabilities?

Lest you think that I've somehow taken the information out of context here is where you will find the original (very long!) article:
Mitt Romney Massachusetts Budget Targeted Programs For Poor, Disabled"

Now, after reading all that, you're still not worried, I also recommend that you read another in-depth investigative article in Harper's magazine:
How to Rig An Election

What if crooked regressives are successful and scam their way into power? What happens to us then?

Do your bit, while you still can...

Forward this information on to anyone who you think would benefit from knowing..

And use your vote for the safety and security of people with disabilities and their families - not Romney.

Comments for Romney / Ryan Republicans bad news for people with disabilities

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Irrelevant now but important
by: Anonymous

I only happened upon your article as I was researching various options available for my son who was recently diagnosed with ASD and MID.

I will only state that I am astounded that you would publish such an ill informed article. You do realize that "The Huffington Post" is an ultra-liberal cheerleader for the American left and Democratic party? Much as Time, Newsweek, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN to name only a few, HuffPo is never, EVER going to provide a completely unbiased report. They will ever sing the praises of the left and vilify the right. Using a Huffington Post "report" as a scare tactic for parents of disabled children is disgusting.

Don't shoot the messenger...
by: Anonymous

The last comment calls it "disgusting" to use the Huffington Post article - just because it is a Huffington Post article.

Don't see the logic there at all.

If a so-called conservative news source had quoted the same info, would it be acceptable then?

The original story had a lot of data as well as anecdotal detail - and it's important to have a discussion about disability and politics - whatever your politics are.

The facts are the facts, so does it really matter who says it?

I follow the Huffington Post regularly and do not find it to be an "ultra-liberal cheerleader". Quite the opposite in fact.

Throughout the election coverage, this news source carried many many more articles about Republicans. Most of the coverage was supportive or neutral, other than the responses to the obvious bizarre comments like Akin's on rape - where disgust was the response, right across the political spectrum.

But this is about disability and public funding.

Does it make sense to accept cuts to social spending on people with disabilities just because it comes from a political party you identify with?

If the same cuts were to come from the opposite camp, does it THEN become a problem?

I don't align myself with a political party because it makes far more sense to me to take in information as it comes, and judge the doer accordingly - not the messenger.

Shooting the messenger doesn't help at all.

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