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Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Transcript: Hillary Clinton's ADA 17th Anniversary Conference Call

July 25, 2007

[Following is the real-time captioning from Hillary's conference call of Wednesday, July 25th, 2007. As with all real-time captioning, there were some typographical errors and missed passages, but those have been cleaned up in this copy.]

Congressman Jim Langevin:

Well, good afternoon everyone.

Senator, it is great to be on the conference call with you today. It is a privilege to participate with you. I also want to thank you all for joining the call today. I know that Hillary is so pleased to have you here, and again it is an honor for me to participate.

I am here today to introduce my friend, Hillary Clinton. I have had the privilege of knowing her for many years now and for those of you who don't know her, I want to say what a strong champion she is for children, families, and for people with disabilities. Hillary sometimes says that she is the most famous person that nobody knows. So, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you one thing you may not know about Hillary, which is her first job was working on a project of the Children's Defense Fund in Massachusetts.

She walked door-to-door to try to understand why the school enrollment figures were so much lower than the census figures of school-age children. She realized the difference was, children with disabilities who were sent the message that they could not be educated but who desperately wanted to go to school.

Hillary helped write a report about the issues and took it to Congress which helped create the political momentum to pass the ADA Act back in 1975. Today, more than thirty years later, she is still advocating on behalf of the children with special needs. She helped write that Act in 2004 and ensured that more resources were dedicated to teacher training. She has aggressively investigated the link between environmental toxins and disabilities and she supports the ADA Restoration Act -- something that is particularly timely today -- which will finally eliminate the institutional bias in our Medicaid and Medicare system. She never stopped fighting for affordable and accessible quality health care for all.

So I endorsed Hillary for President for so many reasons, but one of the most personal is my strong belief in her commitment to the disability community. And I know that, as president, she will be an energetic and trusted advocate for the disability community. So without any hesitation I am happy to turn things over so that you can get with Hillary personally to expand on her economic opportunity agenda for people with disabilities. I want to thank all of you for being on the call. I want to thank you for your commitment on behalf of Americans with disabilities. It is a privilege to be working with you and your campaign and an honor for me to support you.

Senator Hillary Clinton:

Well, Jim, I appreciate that kind introduction. Your endorsement and support and good counsel means so much to me because the hard work you have done in Rhode Island is a real testament to your phenomenal commitment to your job and how you just have made it very clear that you are a man of great ability. I am just delighted to have you on this call and by my side in this campaign, and I want to thank everyone for joining me.

I am looking forward to working with you and wish we had more time to talk today. I hope this is the beginning of a long, on-going dialogue. Today, I am honoring the eve of the 17th anniversary of the ADA Act and unveiling an economic opportunity plan for people with disabilities.

The ADA was a landmark piece of legislation that resulted in almost two decades of significant progress, but we all know there is much more work to be done. I am certainly very strongly in favor of renewing my commitment to the ADA. I have been proud to work with Tom Harkin, who has been an incredibly strong champion for his entire career for people with disabilities, as well as Steny Hoyer and Ted Kennedy, on the ADA Restoration Act. And I want to say if this it is not signed in the next 18 months, I look forward to inviting all of you to the White House when I sign that bill into law when I am President. The ADA is the baseline on which economic on which this economic opportunity agenda builds because it levels the playing field, but I think we have to go even further. It is not only a moral but an economic imperative. Our country will not reach its full potential unless we ensure that people with disabilities have the ability to reach their full potential.

Americans with disabilities have half the employment rate and double the poverty rate of those without disabilities. Even people with disabilities who graduated from college work at only two-thirds the rate of other college graduates. I want a nation where we offer people with disabilities not just the maintenance to survive, but the investment and opportunity to thrive and reach your dreams. So, at the heart of the proposal I am highlighting today is a simple idea: We should help ensure that people with disabilities should do what provides meaning to so many of us, namely, our work.

At the federal level I have a two-part strategy: provide assistance to employers and people with disabilities; and reducing disincentives to work in federal benefits. Specifically as President one of my first actions will be to reinstate the executive order that my husband signed, which committed to hiring 1,000 people with disabilities into Federal employment. President Bush, unfortunately, abandoned this commitment and I look forward to getting it back on track. I will also double our investment and work enabling technologies by providing more low-interest loans to enable people to purchase them and provide real-time support for employers to help them get the tools that they need to make it possible to bring about the accommodations necessary to enable successful work.

I also intend to reduce the disincentives to work in federal programs. One of the greatest accomplishments of the Clinton administration with respect to people with disabilities was to sign the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act into law. As a result, 31 states have enacted policies to reduce the disincentives to work. That represents significant progress, but let's be honest. It is only a start. State policies are uneven. In my presidency I want every person in every state to have the same opportunity to work without penalty. As president, I will work to reduce premiums under Medicaid plans for individuals with disabilities, and eliminate the Medicare eligibility time limit an individual can work, and conduct a review of Medicare and Medicaid to determine where disincentives to work still exist and where we can do better. Finally, I want to enact a $1,000 worker disability tax credit to offset and further lower the expenses that are keeping people from work. I, obviously, strongly believe that by working together we can break down the barriers to employment and empower people with disabilities to find fulfilling jobs and careers.

And I look forward to working with each and every one of you toward that end. I am posting a full description of my policies on my website and I hope you will check it out and I hope you will let me know. I wish I had more time with you. I am sorry. My schedule is jam packed, but I am planning to do this again on another aspect of my disability agenda because this is a part of my conversation with America.

And I want it to be just that: a conversation. I want to hear from you, and I want you to interact with my staff. I want you to be part of my campaign. One person I would like to recognize for a few words is my friend, Tony Coelho. Tony, would you say a few words for us?

Congressman Tony Coelho:

Thank you, Hillary. I appreciate your statement and your announcement and the initiatives that you will put into effect once you are President. But I want to applaud you for all the things that you have done over the years, as First Lady and as a Senator. The respect that you have shown and the recognition that you have shown and the inclusion that you have shown has been outstanding and we appreciated very much. Your willingness to include us in your campaign, I think this is a signal that something that our community is involved not only with those who are running for president, but people who will become president. So we appreciate...your statement today.

And I am looking forward to that first month you are in the White House when you take out your handy-dandy little pen and sign the executive order to start the process of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities in the Federal government. I think that is a signal that employers and everybody would get and it is significant. And we appreciate it very much. The ADA will be -- the ADA Restoration Act will be introduced in the House tomorrow by Steny Hoyer and Jim Sensenbrenner and hopefully in the Senate soon. Hopefully be will end up with over 100 co-sponsors in the house side and the process will begin and we appreciate very much your support and your willingness to help us move that bill in the Senate and hopefully get it signed in this Congress but, if not, then signed when you are President of the United States. So we appreciate your enthusiasm and support for our cause.

And I know that another good friend of yours, Andy, the President of the American Association of People with Disabilities is here. Andy?

Andy Imparato:

Thank you and I want to join you in thinking Senator Clinton for your leadership both as First Lady and as Senator. The American Association of People with Disabilities has been working hard to have this kind of dialogue around where the country is headed, particularly during this time around the ADA anniversary it's very appropriate. You said at the beginning you want this to be beginning of a lot of ongoing dialogue. We have over 100 people on the call from the grass roots of the disability community and want to thank you and your campaign for making it possible for people who are deaf and have hearing loss to be able to follow the call with real-time captioning. And I am wondering if you can tell us what the best way for people who want to be part of the campaign can join in.

Senator Hillary Clinton:

Well, Andy, thank you so much for your leadership and I'm delighted that you're on this call and I'm looking forward to working with you and everyone who has participated today. My disability outreach person is Emily Hawkins and she can be reached at ehawkins@hillaryclinton.com and (703) 875-1285. And Catherine Brown on my policy team is also happy to speak with you about specific policy matters.

We are getting geared up and staffed up, so the contact person may change as we go forward but for now, Emily and Katherine are the two people that I hope you will contact and be in touch with. Of course, Congressman Langevin, Tony, Andy, any of the people on the call, we're all in this together to try and move this agenda forward, so I hope to hear from you. I hope to meet with you, and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

I'm sorry, I'm going to have to sign off right now but I look forward to being in touch with you and again, thank you so much for taking your time, and I hope we're going to be successful in moving these important priorities forward. Thanks so much. Bye-bye.

Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Transcript: Hillary Clinton's ADA 17th Anniversary Conference Call Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/296767

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