Search This Blog

Monday, April 4, 2011

Politics, Policy, and the Virginia Bill

At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende argues against Governor McDonnell's stand on the Virginia mandate bill:

First, it is bad politics. Autism now affects one in seventy boys in the United States. This means that, should Governor McDonnell or a Virginia legislator ever want to seek higher office, virtually every one of their potential constituents will know a family with a child on the autism spectrum. Many will have a child in their immediate family on the spectrum. In other words, this is no longer an obscure disorder that is highlighted only in award-winning 80s movies. It is mainstream today, and is of critical importance to the families affected by it. Any politician will have to explain to a lot of potential supporters why they would not support increasing the availability of treatment. This is the type of issue that can easily overcome party loyalty for voters.

Second, and quite frankly more importantly, it is bad policy. Children who do not receive ABA therapy don't disappear. They go to public schools, who struggle with them and end up spending large sums of money on personal aides and special education classrooms to live up to their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Act. Many, sadly, go on to institutions. "Investment" is all too often a catch word for "I just want to spend a ton of money," but in this instance it really is an investment that will ultimately pay off with lower tax bills, fewer social services demanded, and smaller government.