While I love an open letter, there are a few misleading pieces of information in today’s Open Letter to NDSC Members and Friends. Let’s take a look.
“…NDSC has joined with 81 other national disability rights organizations in asking Congress to move all three bills forward together, even though that is more difficult to do.” (from Open letter to NDSC members and friends, October 13, 2016)
Actually, according to the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) letter from the Financial Stability Task Force sent to House leadership on October 3, 2016, there are 34 national organizations which are CCD members, with additional regional, state, and county disability organizations signed on. More impressively, CCD actually has a total of 112 member organizations, which means 30% of their members signed on, and 70% did not. Implying that only two organizations chose not to sign on to this letter is not only inaccurate, it’s damaging to the entire disability community.
Assuming CCD invited all member organizations to sign on to their letter to Congress, there seems to be little if any support for the suggestion that the disability community is united in the request to only pass ABLE Improvement Bills if the Age Adjustment Bill is included.
Here’s another tidbit.
“Advocates were told by lead Congressional staff that the age limit would be addressed in the next Congress.” (from Open letter to NDSC members and friends, October 13, 2016)
It was addressed. ABLE Age Adjustment went to the Senate. It was given a score of $2 billion and is stalled. Addressed? Yes. Finished? Absolutely not. Age adjustment is important, but the scores of the other two ABLE Improvement Bills are negligible. The two other bills (ABLE to Work and ABLE Financial Planning Act) combined cost around $50 million. Compared to $2 billion, this is small potatoes,
which means that the increase in cost per person to ABLE Age Adjustment will, of course, increase, but not as much as NDSC is implying. Not once in NDSC’s Open Letter was the cost of the ABLE Adjustment Bill mentioned. Further, there was no mention of how inexpensive the other two bills are.
Here’s my bigger question.
What is the cost of an ABLE Age Adjustment to 32 years? $500 million?
Would that pass?
What about to 36 years? $1 billion?
Would that pass?
Does our Congress in this unprecedented election year really have the appetite for this? When ABLE passed, did anyone say, “hmm, I wonder if Donald Trump might be running for president that year… I bet that’s the right time to work on ABLE Age Adjustment.” I don’t think so, friends. I don’t think many of us could have predicted this election cycle.
Why isn’t CCD discussing a compromised age adjustment? From where I sit, it looks like the CCD is not interested in compromise. Nor does it appear this consortium actually wants to accomplish anything. It actually appears that this is about ego, and I have no time for that. Our community has no time for that.
Here’s a solution. Let’s unite as a disability and ally community and pass what we can. Immediately. Let’s continue to build and nurture a growing support system on Capitol Hill. Let’s not burn bridges; rather, let’s show the country that we can unite. 30% is not unity.
Let’s pass ABLE to Work Act. Let’s pass the ABLE Financial Planning Act. Then, let’s figure out what we can pass this year with the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. Maybe we can chip into it, and make a dent.
Then, let’s vote for candidates nationally and in our districts who share our values and are interested in continuing to improve ABLE.
*** For links to the ABLE Improvement Bills or to read my first piece “No Permanent Friends, No Permanent Enemies”, visit my post in Chronic Confusion.