2012 Presidential Candidate Positions on Disability-Related Issues

October 26, 2012 / voting


Romney (R)

Obama (D)

Availability of disability-specific information on candidate’s website

Disability-related information is found within some of the issue areas of the campaign website: www.mittromney.com

See also the 2012 Republican platform: http://www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_home/


Disability-related information is found within some of the issue areas of the campaign website: www.barackobama.com.

Disability-specific information is found within the “Disabilities” section of “Issues” on the White House website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities

See also the 2012 Democratic Platform: http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform



No specific information available on this topic.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is landmark legislation that has done much to protect people with disabilities from discrimination.

President Obama will push for more consistent and effective enforcement of ADA, which can do more to prevent discrimination in employment, public services, and public accommodations.

Too many people who need assistance with the activities of everyday life face a difficult choice: move into a nursing home and face safety and quality of care problems or risk injury or death by staying in the community without adequate services to address personal needs. The President believes that more can be done to show federal leadership toward ending institutional bias and more rigorously enforcing the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, which affirmed that unjustifiable institutionalization of a person with a disability who, with proper support, can live in the community is discrimination.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities


Employment (and ensuring flexibility in public programs to support employment)


No specific information available on this topic; however, Mitt Romney does have a 5 point plan to revive the economy in general.

See: http://www.mittromney.com/jobs


President Obama is committed to expanding access to employment for people with disabilities by ensuring that his administration: hires people with disabilities; enforces existing laws; provides technical assistance and information on reasonable accommodations; removes barriers to work; and identifies and removes barriers to employment encountered by people with public benefits.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities



Mitt Romney did not respond to the AAPD/NCIL 2012 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire.

However, we does have a plan to address the issue of education.

As president, Mitt Romney will pursue genuine education reform that puts the interests of parents and students ahead of special interests and provides a chance for every child. He will take the unprecedented step of tying federal funds directly to dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest in innovation, and reward teachers for their results instead of their tenure. These policies will equip state leaders to achieve the change that can only come from commitment and action at the local level. He will also ensure that students have diverse and affordable options for higher education to give them the skills they need to succeed after graduation and that, when they graduate, they can find jobs that provide a rewarding return on their educational investment.

Mitt Romney’s reforms achieve each of these objectives:

Allow Low Income And Special Needs Students To Choose Which School To Attend By Making Title I and IDEA Funds Portable;

Provide Incentives For States To Increase Choices For Parents And Develop Quality Alternatives;

Build On The Success Of Effective Charter And Digital Schools;

Expand The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program To Serve As A Model For The Nation.

Currently, there is little easily-available data for parents about their children’s schools. Mitt’s reforms will provide better information for parents through straightforward public report cards and will empower them to hold districts and states responsible for results. When combined with increased parental choice, this will give parents more control over their children’s education.

Reform No Child Left Behind By Emphasizing Transparency And Responsibility For Results.

A school is only as strong as its teachers, but the most promising teachers often find it difficult to reach the classroom door or receive recognition for their efforts once inside. Mitt’s reforms smooth the path for talented individuals to join the profession and shape the next generation.

See: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/education


See President Obama’s response to the AAPD/NCIL 2012 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire:

For over 35 years, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has guaranteed students with disabilities their right to a free, appropriate public education and has helped millions of students with disabilities receive an education that prepares them to be full participants in our economy and our communities. My proposed budget will expand opportunities for people with disabilities, by increasing funding for IDEA state grants, and providing a $20 million increase for the IDEA Infants and Families program.

My Administration is working with Congress to reform the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. We will work to ensure that students with disabilities are included in all aspects of the law, including appropriately measuring achievement gaps and working to close them so that every child is on track to succeed. And until Congress acts, we will provide states flexibility from the most burdensome requirements of the law if they are willing to set higher, more honest standards for all students, including students with disabilities.

I also hope that Congress will take action to ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment by passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA). These pieces of legislation are critically important to addressing bullying in our schools and safeguarding our most vulnerable students.

See: http://www.aapd.com/what-we-do/voting/obama-questionnaire-wanswers.pdf

President Obama supports improved educational opportunities for people with disabilities. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal will increase support for the inclusion and improved outcomes of students with disabilities, ensuring that teachers are prepared to meet the needs of diverse learners and that assessments more accurately and appropriately measure the performance of students with disabilities.

President Obama also supports expanded funding and increase enforcement for programs like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that ensure all Americans have access to the tools to succeed.

The U.S. Department of Education allocated more than $19.9 million in grants to help prepare education personnel to improve services and results for children with disabilities;

President Obama celebrated the 35th Anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities

 Health Care


On his first day in office, Mitt Romney will issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible.

In place of Obamacare, Mitt will pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens. The federal government’s role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition.

Will restore state leadership and flexibility; promote free markets and fair competition; and empower consumer choice.

See: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/health-care


President Obama believes that quality, affordable health insurance you can rely on is a key part of middle-class security. By putting a stop to insurance company abuses, Obamacare is giving millions of Americans peace of mind.

President Obama placed comprehensive health reform at the top of his domestic policy agenda. The President signed into law the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides many benefits for people with disabilities.

The President signed into law the reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act, which provides funding for screening, intervention, and research of hearing loss, strengthens language to ensure better services, and requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a postdoctoral fellowship program to foster research and development in the area of early hearing detection and intervention.

The President signed into law the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis.

The President issued an Executive Order repealing the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

See: http://www.barackobama.com/health-care/

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform


Leadership (appointments special advisers on disability policy and individuals with disabilities)


No information available on this topic.


Appointed Kareem Dale as the first Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. The President and his administration have created three new senior level disability positions and offices, including the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the State Department; the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); and the Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation at the Department of Transportation.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities

Long-Term Services and Supports


No specific information available on this topic.

Romney campaign did not respond to the AAPD/NCIL 2012 Questionnaire;

Romney campaign did not respond to the NCOA Questionnaire.


See President Obama’s response to AAPD/NCIL 2012 Candidate Questionnaire:

My administration has made tremendous progress in helping Americans with disabilities live independently in their communities. In 2009, on the 10th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C., we launched “The Year of Community Living” to call new attention to efforts to help individuals with disabilities live independently. Nine months later we passed the Affordable Care Act. The law invested an additional $2.25 billion in the successful Money Follows the Person program that has already helped 12,000 people with disabilities transition from institutional to community settings. The new funding will expand the program to a total of 41 states and improve quality of life for thousands of our fellow Americans.

The health care law also created the new Community First Choice (CFC) option in Medicaid, which helps states offer home and community-based services as a first choice. Starting in October 2011, the CFC option allowed states to receive a 6 percent increase in federal funds for providing community-based attendant services and supports to people with Medicaid. These services will help individuals with activities of daily living such as bathing and eating, and health-related tasks through hands-on assistance or supervision. States may also cover costs related to moving individuals from an institution to the

community, such as security and utility deposits, first month’s rent, and purchasing basic household supplies.


See: http://www.aapd.com/what-we-do/voting/obama-questionnaire-wanswers.pdf


See also, Presidential Response of Questionnaire from NCOA & 14 other national organizations representing the interests of seniors and individuals with disabilities: http://www.ncoa.org/assets/files/pdf/public-policy--action/Obama.pdf


White House website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities



Key Elements of Mitt Romney’s Medicare Plan:

Nothing changes for current seniors or those nearing retirement

Medicare is reformed as a premium support system, meaning that existing spending is repackaged as a fixed-amount benefit to each senior that he or she can use to purchase an insurance plan;

All insurance plans must offer coverage at least comparable to what Medicare provides today;

If seniors choose more expensive plans, they will have to pay the difference between the support amount and the premium price; if they choose less expensive plans, they can use any leftover support to pay other medical expenses like co-pays and deductibles;

“Traditional” fee-for-service Medicare will be offered by the government as an insurance plan, meaning that seniors can purchase that form of coverage if they prefer it; however, if it costs the government more to provide that service than it costs private plans to offer their versions, then the premiums charged by the government will have to be higher and seniors will have to pay the difference to enroll in the traditional Medicare option;

Lower income seniors will receive more generous support to ensure that they can afford coverage; wealthier seniors will receive less support;


Competition among plans to provide high quality service while charging low premiums will hold costs down while also improving the quality of coverage enjoyed by seniors

see: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/medicare


Key Elements of President Obama’s Plan:

Strengthening Medicare:

The Affordable Care Act is helping people with Medicare save on the care they need to stay healthy—from free preventive services to lower costs on prescription drugs and monthly premiums;

Closing the Medicare doughnut hole

The prescription drug coverage gap—the doughnut hole—is being closed. Seniors who fall in the doughnut hole are already saving an average of $600, and the doughnut hole will be closed for good in 2020.

Improving Medicare solvency

President Obama’s health care law added eight years to the solvency of Medicare by getting rid of $716 billion in waste, fraud and needless spending—including $156 billion in wasteful subsidies to insurance companies.

See: http://www.barackobama.com/health-care

See: http://www.barackobama.com/seniors

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform


Mental Health


Mitt Romney opposes the ACA or Obamacare, which includes mental health care as an “essential benefit,” however, Romney does plan to address the health care system by returning states to their proper place in charge of regulating local insurance markets and caring for the poor, uninsured, and chronically ill.

States will have both the incentive and the flexibility to experiment, learn from one another, and craft the approaches best suited to their own citizens.

See: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/health-care

With 18 veterans and service members a day taking their own lives, Gov. Romney recognizes that mental health is a crisis that must be dealt with immediately. He would double the number of mental health care providers overnight by opening the military’s Tricare network to veterans. If a distressed veteran cannot be seen by a qualified mental health provider in a timely fashion, they will be allowed to go to a Tricare facility at the VA’s expense.

See: http://www.stripes.com/where-they-stand-romney-on-foreign-policy-military-and-vets-issues-1.193170    

President Obama supports the ACA or Obamacare, which includes mental health care as an “essential benefit.” The ACA also prohibits insurers from denying patients coverage for pre-existing conditions and ends lifetime caps on insurance coverage, which can impact those struggling with long-term conditions.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/healthcare-overview#access

President Obama is committed to helping our veterans recover from the wounds of war, both seen and unseen. At his direction, the VA has made mental health services for veterans a top priority. Last year, The VA provided specialty mental health services to 1.3 million veterans. Since 2009, the VA has increased the mental health care budget by 39 percent and hired more than 3,500 mental health professionals. To meet this challenge, the VA has launched an effort to hire an additional 1,600 mental health professionals to serve Veterans by June 2013.

See: http://www.stripes.com/where-they-stand-obama-on-foreign-policy-military-and-vets-issues-1.193169

Social Security

Romney is committed to saving Social Security. He will ensure that America honors all of its commitments to today’s seniors and strengthens the program so that it is financially secure for future generations.

First, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that the retirement age should be slowly increased to account for increases in longevity.

Second, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that benefits should continue to grow but that the growth rate should be lower for those with higher incomes.

With just those two simple steps, and no change in benefits for those at or near retirement, America can guarantee the preservation of the Social Security system for the foreseeable future.

See: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/social-security


President Obama is committed to protecting and strengthening Social Security for future generations, without putting current retirees at risk. He won’t accept reform that slashes benefits for future generations or turns Social Security over to Wall Street.

President Obama believes that all seniors should be able to retire with dignity, not just a privileged few. And, he believes that all Americans deserve to know that, if they become disabled or if they lose the breadwinner in the family, Social Security will be there to protect them.

Today, nearly 54 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, including 38 million retirees and their family members, 10 million Americans with disabilities and their dependents, and 6 million survivors of deceased workers.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/seniors-and-social-security

See: http://www.barackobama.com/seniors?source=primary-nav


Technology (mainstream, assistive, and adaptive)


No information available on this topic.


President Obama is committed to winning the future through innovation and access to technology for Americans with disabilities:

The President signed into law the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, regarding the establishment of minimum sound standards related to motor vehicles;

President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act;

The Chief Information Officer Council created its first ever Accessibility Committee in 2010.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities


Transportation (available, affordable, accessible)


No information available on this topic.

Romney campaign did not respond to AAPD/NCIL 2012 Questionnaire.


Established new position and made appointment of a Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation at the Department of Transportation.

Announced new standards requiring new station platform construction to enable those with disabilities to get on and off any car on a train, along with the first federal standards to specifically provide ADA protections to people with disabilities who travel on boats and ships.

Working to make websites and kiosks accessible for air travelers with disabilities.

See response to AAPD/NCIL 2012 Questionnaire: http://www.aapd.com/what-we-do/voting/obama-questionnaire-wanswers.pdf




To ensure the VA lives up to its noble motto, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” Mitt will institute reforms to the VA aimed at unclogging bureaucratic inefficiencies and mismanagement. He will hold VA leaders accountable for poor performance. His economic reforms could create up to 12 million new jobs, ensuring veterans have the dignity of a job. And he will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts, that could cripple our Armed Forces, overwhelm the VA, and have a dire impact on our economy and our national security.

See: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/keeping-faith-americas-veterans

See: http://www.stripes.com/where-they-stand-romney-on-foreign-policy-military-and-vets-issues-1.193170


The President’s message to those who serve is this: when you come home to America, America will be there for you.

This Administration is committed to ensuring that DoD and VA coordinate to provide a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life and help fix the benefit bureaucracy. This Administration has worked towards modernizing the way health care is delivered and benefits are administered for our nation's veterans. The President will make sure the VA provides veterans the best care possible. This means improved care for poly-trauma, vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women's health.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/veterans

See: http://www.stripes.com/where-they-stand-obama-on-foreign-policy-military-and-vets-issues-1.193169http://www.stripes.com/where-they-stand-romney-on-foreign-policy-military-and-vets-issues-1.193170



Mitt Romney believes in the rule of law, and he understands that the next president will make nominations that will shape the Supreme Court and the whole of the judiciary for decades to come. He will therefore appoint wise, experienced, and restrained judges who will take seriously their oath to discharge their duties impartially in accordance with the Constitution and laws — not their own personal policy preferences.

See: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/courts-constitution


No information available on this topic.



On his first day in office, Mitt Romney will issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible.

In place of Obamacare, Mitt will pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens. The federal government’s role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition.

Mitt Romney’s plan would block grant Medicaid and other payments to states, and limit federal standards and requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid coverage

See: http://www.mittromney.com/issues/health-care


President Obama supports Health reform, including Medicaid expansion and opposes any proposal to block grant Medicaid.

President Obama placed comprehensive health reform at the top of his domestic policy agenda. The President signed into law the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides many benefits for people with disabilities.

The ACA advances community living by extending the Money Follows the Person program, improving the Medicaid home-and-community-based services (HCBS) option.

The ACA establishes the Community First Choice Option covering community-based attendant services and supports to help Medicaid beneficiaries with daily activities and health-related tasks.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities


International Disability Rights


No information available on this topic.


Under President Obama’s leadership, the U.S. signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adding America to the then list of 141 countries signing the first new human rights treaty of the 21st Century.

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities


The following are the sources used to compile the comparison chart.

Websites and Reports:

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