Friday, October 24, 2008

11 Days Before Election, Palin Endorses Obama's Call to Fully Fund IDEA

In Pittsburgh this morning, Gov. Palin gave a speech on special needs. A big focus of her speech was fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It took a long time, but I'm pleased that 11 days before the election, Palin has endorsed a position that Sen. Obama took more than a year ago, when he issued his policy position on disabilities. His first recommendation is to fund IDEA, a position he has advocated since he was first elected to Congress.

Here's what she didn't say:

In no part of her speech did Palin criticize the Obama-Biden plan for children and adults with special needs, or even draw contrasts between the positions.

She neglected to mention that the McCain-Palin health plan would tax employer-provided health benefits and allow people with special needs to be denied health coverage. Down Syndrome, autism, and other conditions would considered pre-existing conditions that insurers could refuse to provide coverage for.

She didn't explain why -- in all of her speeches and interviews about special needs, even when pressed for details -- she hasn't mentioned IDEA in the two months since she was nominated.

She chose not to mention the government-wide spending freeze she and McCain support, which will make it nearly impossible to fill the huge gap needed to fund IDEA. And she contradicted McCain's comment in the last debate, that no more funds are needed to meet the needs of families raising children with autism and special needs. McCain's solution was not funding, but "transparency, accountability, and reform" of government agencies.

Despite the fact that Palin has had a nephew with autism for 13 years, and claimed today that she and her sister Heather Bruce talk regularly about these issues, this Alaskan parent says, "The only 'special school' that received significant increases to its budget this year is the Alaska Youth Challenge Academy, which is a military youth academy for youth with behavioral challenges. There have been no significant increases to early intervention services (children have to wait for months to get therapy, clearly violating IDEA)."

The campaign has added a policy position to its website. As I promised the day I started this blog, now that they have created a position (11 days before the election), I will add it to my links.
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