One important area that Senator Barack Obama is devoted to that has received little press attention is his strong commitment to disabled workers. There are currently as many as fifty four million Americans who suffer from disabling medical or physical condition that severely limit their full employment potential or ability to earn a decent living. And the average household income level for households with non-disabled workers is $65,400 a year compared to a lagging average household income for disabled workers of just $36,300, with millions falling below the federal poverty line, despite the fact that congress passed The Americans With Disabilities Act back seventeen years ago to promote more employment opportunities for the disabled.
While John McCain's economics and budget priorities continue to support huge corporate tax breaks for oil companies and other wealthy industries and cuts in social service programs to offset this massive corporate welfare giveaway to the big corporations, Obama's economic policies are aimed at investment in America's middle class, creating new employment opportunities and improving the employment opportunities for persons like the disabled whose income and lifestyles often lag with increased costs of living and increased energy costs.
Unfortunately, it is often wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan that are also increasing the number of American workers with serious employment disabilities. And Barack Obama's policy goals are aimed at providing critical employment programs and opportunities for these workers who have suffered disabling injuries as a result of their military service.
Another critical area of improving the living conditions for disabled workers is providing educational opportunities for disabled persons so that they can find employment opportunities. Barack Obama is a strong supporter of full funding for IDEAL (Individuals With Disabilities Education Act). Although the bill faced significant Republican opposition in the house with 171 votes against the bill, it still passed both the house and senate and was signed by President Bush. But it will take a strong president like Barack Obama to ensure that the legislation is fully funded and implemented.
Many high school students with disabilities face significant financial problems affording a college education along with many other students from homes with modest means. Barack Obama supports a new proposal to allow a new $4,000 dollar college education tax credit proposal that would help all students afford an education, not just those with a disabling condition.
Barack Obama also strongly supports increased funding for community colleges and plans a new federal support partnership to improve the expansion of community colleges to provide more educational opportunities for more disabled students including veterans wounded in war.
In addition, Barack Obama supports many more new proposals and new programs to aid those with autism, mental illness and in need of health care funds regardless of their ability to earn an income. With his background as a civil rights attorney, Barack Obama has a proven record of fighting on behalf of those with disabilities or other victims of workplace discrimination.
In some cases, John McCain may have supported some of the same legislation as Barack Obama. However, Obama's commitment to the disabled is a major part of his plans as president and his website contains a lengthy explanation of his commitment as being a president who will seriously address the employment opportunity roadblocks that hinder the ability of the disabled to earn a decent living. In an Obama Administration, all Americans will move ahead, not just a few corporations like John McCain seems to strongly advocate tax breaks or other special benefits for.
Make no mistake about it, handicapped persons still face substantial challenges when applying for a college admission or submitting a job application. But Senator Barack Obama might be the strongest advocate that disabled Americans ever had in a race for the White House and make some of the biggest reforms to ending employment an opportunity discrimination in this important area.
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