Janine Jackson interviewed the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative Rebecca Vallas On the economics of disability in the December 16, 2022 episode counter spinThis is a lightly edited transcript.
Janine Jackson: Hey, have you heard of the “Medicaid Divorce”? It’s this trendy thing for people to divorce because if they’re married, they’re too rich and it’s the only way one partner can qualify for the Medicaid they need to live their lives.
Needless to say, in a country where you forget how many houses you own, it’s a nightmare. But the corporate media reaction seems to be nothing more than a series of articles about the possibility of you personally manipulating the system. kiplinger“How to Rebuild Your Assets to Eligible for Medicaid.”
And the “well, do you see that” sort of thing about the phenomenon. Newsweek“The Internet Supports Wife’s Plans to Divorce Husband After Cancer Diagnosis.”
Of course, there are many who have failed to grasp the idea that having a disability, or that a partner with a disability means choosing between marriage and health care. , didn’t even know it was happening. In part, media suggesting that only people with disabilities care about disability policy in the same way that only black people care about racism. Thanks for the press.Poor people care about poverty.
It’s an inaccurate and inappropriate approach to the day’s central issue that makes us seem more divided than we really are and makes change more difficult to effect.
Our next guest’s project, therefore, is not to connect disability and economic issues, but to shed light on how they are always connected, even when those links are obscured.
Rebecca Vallas is a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Century Foundation-based Disability Economic Justice Collaborative. She is now joining by phone from Virginia.welcome to counter spinRebecca Vallas.
Rebecca Vallas: Janine, I always enjoy talking to you. I feel strongly that this show plays an important role in the larger conversation. Talking with you is always, always fun.
JJ: Thank you very much.
I was thinking about this project when I overheard a woman, feeling angry and tired, telling a friend: he needs two. “
And I thought of this woman’s time in life. She was waiting outside her office, on her way to work, which was apparently her other job, trying to get hearing aids for her husband and children. bottom.
But the point is, if you don’t have to familiarize yourself with this system, then don’t. I hope you are lucky. But the obstacle is he’s one of the communities that everyone can join tomorrow. So I can’t really understand what kind of media apathy is in general.
But this project fills this void. So I would like you to talk about the need for that and, in part, the information gap that this project is trying to fill.
RVs: Janine, you are so right that, incredibly often, at least to me, for a surprising amount of time, disability has been viewed as more of an afterthought to a larger conversation than just a conversation. rice field. As well as the media, there are conversations about public policy in this country taking place in Washington, DC.
And you know, I spend a lot of my time on public policy, trying to make things more equitable for people who have historically been marginalized. centered.
Going back a bit, people might hear this and think: Didn’t we solve the disability problem in America?”
That’s right, it’s been over 32 years since the ADA was introduced. But more than 32 years after the ADA was enacted into law, people with disabilities in the United States still face a poverty rate twice as high as those without disabilities. And that’s because of still-pervasive discrimination and, frankly, a series of structural barriers to economic stability and upward mobility that have plunged America’s disabled community into a permanent recession.
While this is an economic crisis that long predates Covid-19, it is also very important to recognize that the impact of the pandemic, which has itself been a massive disabling event, has only made it more visible. . People with disabilities in our policy making.
We at the Century Foundation actually conducted a poll on this issue. We partnered with Data for Progress, a Washington, DC and New York poll company. Earlier this year, only three in his 10 voters with disabilities were found to believe Washington’s leaders care about people with disabilities.
And that’s exactly what came out of the idea to start the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative. Here we are living through a pandemic — it can’t help but repeat itself. We are in the middle of a pandemic that is not over yet. This is the pandemic that has spurred the largest influx of new entrants into America’s disability community in modern history.
Nonetheless, we want public policies that work for people with disabilities and, frankly, consider handicapped.
And you will find that, from a human perspective, public policies that do not consider the lives of disabled people are either an afterthought or, frankly, ‘them’ rather than part of ‘us’.
This is the story behind the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative. The Century Foundation worked with our friends at the Ford Foundation. In particular, my dear friend and sister, Rebecca Cochrie, served as the first-ever Disability Rights Program Officer for a major US foundation. Together, there are now more than 40 organizations.
It is, along with the Disability Rights and Justice Group, a series of major think tanks that have tremendous power in shaping the economic policy conversation in the United States, working together, learning from each other, and most importantly, In addition, Americans include a disability lens in their economic policy debates. This is the actual conclusion, and the theory of change in this community, is that all problems are disabled people’s problems.
Given that 1 in 4 Americans lives with a disability, we can’t continue the conversation that takes place once a year in July to acknowledge the unfinished business of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was a long time ago to understand. This should be a central daily conversation, including the impact of the pandemic.
But we understand that people with disabilities are part of ‘we’ and need to participate in shaping public policies that have a profound impact on our everyday lives.
And yes, we see a lot of media reports trying to say, “Oh, look at the lifeboats.” This is, for example, programs like Social Security Disability Insurance or SSI. Let’s put the spotlight on it and give it a try. And I say that it is wrong for people to seek or claim life-saving and life-sustaining benefits, but what we really need is a Pay more attention to closed doors. For many, the door to employment is a pathway to economic security and mobility, as millions of people with disabilities can and do work.
And the story I’d like to see as a headline washington postwhat about the coverage of the fact that workers with disabilities were paid an average of 74 cents on the dollar in 2020 compared to workers without disabilities?
What about the press coverage highlighting the fact that people with disabilities are three times more likely to face food insecurity than people without disabilities?
What about reports highlighting that about half of American adults who need to turn to homeless shelters have a disability?
This is a situation that I really cannot explain other than to say that the economy is not working for disabled people. And disabled people, we are the economy, we are part of the economy, and we want to contribute to the economy in the form of both workers and consumers.
And this is a story that the Covid pandemic may be presenting us with an opportunity, given the growing awareness that the disability community is one in which all of us can always be a part. It’s inside out.
And with millions of people now newly disabled by the long Covid, I hope it’s a change in conversation that we as a society are about to start.
JJ: Alright then. We are talking to Rebecca Vallas. She is a Senior Her Fellow and Co-Director of the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative. The work of this project can be found at TCF.org.Rebecca Vallas, thank you for joining us this week. counter spin.
RVs: Thank you, Janine, for shining a spotlight on Collaborative’s work. I really appreciate your show.
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