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Thursday, June 25, 2009

White House Press Release

Three days ago the White released a press release. The press release was titled "President Obama Commemorates Anniversary of Olmstead and Announces New Initiatives to Assist Americans with Disabilities". Like the good scholar that I am, I printed out the release for posterity. I then made the mistake of carefully reading what the White House had to say, got pissed off, balled up the release in my fist and threw it across the room. What did Obama say that got me so mad? The President directed Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to work together "to identify ways to improve access to housing, community services, and independent living". Moreover the President has decided to celebrate the anniversary of the Olmstead decision to launch "The Year of Community Living" as part of the effort to to assist Americans with disabilities.

Great. Mr. President. This is wonderful rhetoric. I am sure plenty of disability rights groups will send supportive emails and post this on their websites. Mr. President I bet you even got some wonderful photos of you and some obviously disabled person published. This may go over well with those unfamiliar with disability rights but it falls hollow with me. Political gamesmanship is all this is, a smokescreen. The reality is you have failed to support the Community Choice Act, the only real chance people with a disability have to escape the disability gulag. Here I refer to Harriet McBryde Johnson's description of the nursing home industry that has a penchant for making giant profits at the cost of human lives. The fact is as of today no real choices or at best very few exist for those that seek to live within the community instead of an institution. People with a disability are needlessly trapped in institutions that still dot the landscape of America. The best chance these people had to escape, to become empowered, was the Community Choice Act, and this is not going to be part of the health care debate. So I see the Year of Community Living as nothing more and nothing less as than rhetoric. The reality is the Community Choice Act is not important enough to rally around and push through the legislative process. This was a chance to help real people and instead the White House chose the easy way out. Mr. President you say all the right things in terms of disability but your lack of real action is deeply depressing. I voted for you because I believed you would act and instead all I hear are words.


FridaWrites said...

Has he changed his mind or is he saying one thing while still sticking with his decision not to support it?

william Peace said...

Frida, That's a hard question to answer as he has gone back and forth in my estimation. During the election he was all for the CCA and since the election he has backed off at a steady pace.