Now that we have a new Supreme Court Justice, it is time to worry about his opinion regarding disabled children and their rights to a free and appropriate education under the IDEA. You may recall that during Gorsuch's congressional hearings, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his decision in the Luke P. case, in which he held that a school district complies with the law to educate disabled children, so long as they provide educational benefits that “must merely be ‘more than de minimis.’” “De minimis” is a Latin phrase meaning “so minor as to merit disregard, ” and when this phrase is used in the law it mean the lowest possible standard. In his decision, Gorsuch essentially concluded that school districts comply with their obligation to educate disabled students so long as they give disabled students little more than nothing. Thank goodness the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected Gorsuch’s approach. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the standard for educating children with disabilities under the IDEA “is markedly more demanding than the de minimis test applied by the Tenth Circuit.” Roberts also stated that Gorsuch’s approach would effectively strip disabled students of an appropriate education. The IDEA was designed to help educators teach disabled students on an individual basis and help them learn the skills they need to become contributing members to society. It remains to be seen whether or not Grosuch will respect the disabled community in his future decisions.
Trump promised he was going to “save Social Security without any cuts” during his campaign and he, and the Republican party, are looking at a proposal that might sound good, but is potentially devastating for the program.
The Social Security program, which the majority of Americans rely on for retirement and disability benefits, is currently funded by a 12.4 percent payroll tax that is shared between the employer and employee. Trump wants to eliminate the 12.4 percent payroll tax and replace it with a new tax which is similar to a Value Added Tax. The tax money raised by the new tax would be used to fund the Social Security program. The Republicans and Trump will present it as if it is a tax cut - where a worker earning $60,000 a year would take home an additional $3,720 in pay. While that may sound good to the average worker, this kind of tax impacts lower income workers more than higher income workers. Why? Because income earned in excess of $127,200 is not taxed for Social Security benefits. Since middle and lower-income workers use a greater share of their paycheck for daily expenses, they will bear the burden of the the “new” tax.
There is, however, another serious problem with Trump’s proposal. Because the money used to fund the Social Security program will no longer be coming from a worker’s paycheck, it can be argued that the worker is no longer entitled to benefits. In essence, because you are not paying for it, it is not yours. This kind of proposal, if accepted and promoted by Trump, will destroy the Social Security program, which over half of American over age 65 rely on almost exclusively for retirement. The Republicans have longed to eliminate or change the Social Security program and Trump appears to be their ticket to do so. If accepted, this proposal will be carried on the backs of the average working American and negatively affect our future. Further information about Social Security disability benefits and retirement can be found at www.cannondisability.blogspot.com.
DIANNA CANNON, J.D.