In laying out his vision for the next four years, President Barack Obama didn’t forget about Americans with disabilities.
Obama made specific mention of parents raising children with disabilities in his inaugural address on Monday. He also spoke of the need to protect entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid, which many people with disabilities rely on, indicating that such programs are part of what “make this country great.”
“We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity,” Obama said.
Though noting that there would be “hard choices” ahead to address the size of the nation’s budget deficit, the president indicated that he would not be willing to compromise one group of Americans for another.
“We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn,” Obama said.
Despite the upbeat talk within the president’s speech, however, disability advocates have warned that the coming months could be treacherous as Congress heads into budget negotiations.
Lawmakers are still working to sort out this year’s federal budget. At the same time, a deal reached early this year delayed a series of deep spending cuts for nearly all government programs under a process known as sequestration until March. That leaves funding for everything from special education to housing programs for people with disabilities hanging in the balance.
“Everything is on the table,” Marty Ford, director of public policy for The Arc, told Disability Scoop earlier this month. “The next three months will make a huge difference in the way our federal government addresses people with disabilities for years to come.”