Reflections on the State of the Union Address

By: T.J. Sutcliffe, Director of Income and Housing Policy for The Arc

Last night, Americans across the nation, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families, tuned in for President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address.

The Arc live Tweeted, and I had the honor of representing The Arc at the White House for the State of the Union Social live-viewing.

Here are five highlights that people with I/DD and their families will want to know about:

  • Remembering San Bernardino — One of President Obama’s guests at ‪SOTU was Ryan Reese, partner to Larry “Daniel” Kaufman who was one of the 14 victims of the December 2 attack at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA. Daniel was a job coach for people with disabilities who lost his life after saving four people. As we tuned in to SOTU, our hearts were with Ryan, Daniel, and all of the victims in San Bernardino, their families, loved ones, and community.
  • Disability affects us all, and we are stronger together — At the White House, Vice President Joe Biden kicked off the SOTU watch party. In his remarks, the Vice President shared an inspiring story about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) highlighting the need for us all to work together. After now-deceased Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) rejected a precursor of the ADA, then-Senator Biden was very angry with Senator Helms and thought the worst of him. But then he learned that Senator Helms and his wife had adopted a child with a disability. The Vice President summed up, “It’s always appropriate to question another man or woman’s judgment, but it’s never appropriate to question their motive,” because you just don’t know.
  • Our lifeline: Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and SSI — We couldn’t agree more with President Obama about this: “That’s why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn’t weaken them, we should strengthen them.”
  • Lois Curtis, a disability rights champion — One of the “voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far” highlighted on video as President Obama spoke was Lois Curtis, one of two named plaintiffs in the landmark ADA case Olmstead v. L.C. It was amazing to see Lois, a fierce advocate for people with disabilities, featured along with civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Alice Paul, and Cesar Chavez.
  • A SOTU for everyone — We thank the White House for making this the most accessible SOTU ever for people with disabilities.

What were your thoughts about the State of the Union? Share them with us on social media (Twitter & Facebook).

One thought on “Reflections on the State of the Union Address

  1. Why is it a silent topic how people with disabilities are stolen from by public officials and in probate courts as they commit perjury and steal from the week & frail only to fill their pockets.. I know of many cases of “theft” how is it that a probate attorney charged a (special persons) 450.00 to change his address and took it from his SS check. This systemic evil continues across this nation, this greed is appalling to say the least. The case I just mentioned is pennies compared to the other cases. I called your (non profit) origination to get help for them your office did nothing. Let’s talk about (real) life for them. As thousands of people collect in the name of their so called mission statement. Lets talk about how there (no-profit) business is fighting for their rights (I haven’t seen it yet). If all these business care so much why are the special people (I call them) “people” not a “need”. Make no mistake many individuals put on a good face however, at the end of the day it’s only a job or a business. How about you address the real issues at hand. How they are treated and how females are raped, by home health aids and a special person has to start a Facebook account to fight back. Many individuals are abused mentally, physically, emotionally and then this so called justice system steals billions of dollars from them. What about the Government offices that are paid by are tax dollars to inform us as to how they can have a quality of life? What about their Federal mandated rights that mean (nothing) if they have a guardian. Come on people talk to me!
    I have been in a two year battle for two special people as I see nothing but cowards who claimed to protect a hidden society as they feel nothing at the end of the day.
    Signed Care without Ceasing TMC

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