Americans with disabilities are a part of the “Forgotten Americans” whom President Trump pledged to remember. On the campaign trail, at rallies across America, Candidate Trump repeatedly spoke to the Forgotten American, saying: I am your champion. No longer will you be forgotten. No longer will you be invisible.
In mid-May President Trump, brandishing a one-page document, set forth his proposed FY 2018 budget for America and his vision for our future. It includes massive cuts: income tax cuts for the wealthy and assistance cuts for those in need. These cuts are carried forward in the Senate’s proposed Repeal and Replace Healthcare Bill.
People with disabilities: still forgotten, still invisible in the president’s proposed budget.
One of every five Americans has a disability. People with disabilities are a directly targeted group in President Trump’s proposed budget – but are also a forgotten part of every group targeted for spending cuts: minorities, the elderly, immigrants, LGBT individuals, poor or low income people, mothers, children, youth, post-9/11 veterans, and other vulnerable groups.
The United States budget is actually arrived at through a legislative process, so we can hope that Congress will work towards a more equitable and productive budget.
The president’s budget, however, might be viewed as his wish list. Seen as such, we must wonder: How will people with disabilities fare?
This budget includes proposed cuts in many areas. To name just a few:
· Rehabilitation services in health, vocational training, mental health and substance abuse services, and special education
· Job training programs and employment opportunities
· Health care including rollback of the Affordable Care Act and severe cutbacks to Medicaid
· Food/nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels and SNAP
Americans with disabilities would be negatively and disproportionately impacted across the board by these proposals.
Today, with appropriate opportunities and supports, and the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in July 1990, many people with disabilities are able to work ― and do so in every profession from food service to high finance.
However, approximately 70 percent of Americans with disabilities of working age are still unemployed. This is a huge waste of America’s human resources and economic potential. Millions of people across the country need rehabilitation services, vocational training, medical care and support while they prepare for the workforce. Many are youth whose special education needs make the transition to employment more challenging without targeted training programs. Many are veterans who have returned home from service with disabilities and want to get back into the workforce, but are in need of retraining, medical and mental health support, guidance and good job opportunities.
President Trump and Congress have a duty to keep their promise to all the “Forgotten Americans,” including people with disabilities. We MUST be visible and championed in the planning and in the legislative budget.
Congress: Keep Disability in the concept of Diversity in the workplace, and create an economic future that puts people with disabilities to work!
ICD is a NYC-based non-profit organization celebrating its 100th anniversary of helping people with disabilities transform their lives. ICD was instrumental in the conception and passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, and continues its leadership role in workforce development service, advocacy and education.