In my last post, I mentioned various politicians who are co-sponsoring and supporting the Community Choice Act:
New England has already caught on–MA and NY passed similar legislation years ago. Congressmen from both parties have signed on to the bill, which was formerly named MiCASSA; how can you argue citizens shouldn’t be able to choose where to live? Newt Gingrich even agreed to co-sponsor after ADAPT activists barricaded his nursing home fund raiser in 1996.
Back in 2004, I met with my Congressman, Jo Bonner (R – AL 1st district), and convinced him to co-sponsor (he said he would not have co-sponsored had he not seen my fight).
Gore backed it in 2000, Kerry did in 2004, now Obama in 2008. McCain said he wouldn’t support it, and ducked explaining why in any substantive way.
I wanted to flesh this out.
Here is this moment, immortalized on YouTube.
In this clip, the audience member, an activist in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, asks Senator McCain if he will support the Community Choice Act. She mentions the institutional bias, and the Community Choice Act enabling people to choose where they live. She is also referencing the terrible disparity between states when she says this (apparently Colorado) is one of the best states and that she moved to Colorado from Mississippi and her friend had to move there from Tennessee to get community services. The question is pretty straightforward: “will you support our legislation?” His answer: “I will not.”
In McCain’s reply, he says simply that he will not support the Community Choice Act, and that it’s “not the right kind of legislation.” He doesn’t say WHY, or what would be the right legislation instead. Then he quickly swerves off the topic and picks up on disability legislation he can think of that he supports (the Americans with Disabilities Act) even though this really has nothing to do with the question. This kind of artful dodging of the issue is classic politician tactics 101, and I’ve seen it first-hand countless times when I’ve interacted with legislators. They bob and weave away from the topic and ransack their mind for the the first non-related disability issue they can support. It is pretty lame.
But at least McCain answered the question. And it does takes guts to say “no” to someone on TV. And kudos to McCain for actually holding town hall meetings with free-flowing Q&A that isn’t vetted beforehand. Obama should be doing similar Q&As.
But McCain’s obvious lack of knowledge of the topic asked about is really sad. He only says “not the right kind of legislation” and nothing more. I’m assuming the nursing home industry told him this and he’s not looked further. Sigh.
This is really an uphill battle. We are a handful of unpaid grassroots activists and, being disabled, it’s hard for us to travel to Washington, DC. The industry has teams of highly-paid lobbyists leaning on politicians in DC and all 50 states and are very good at blocking any changes. The idea of home care competing on an even footing is anathema to them. They like the status quo as-is, and do not want anyone rocking the gravy boat. This would be like if, in the age of automobiles, government had a law that they will still only help people buy a horse and buggy and we can’t get progress because the horse and buggy industry backs so many candidates. We just want people to be able to freely choose between a horse and buggy or car, but the industry will go to any length to protect itself from competition. It sucks.
This is the current status of the Community Choice Act.
Thanks for reading!