Palin Promotes Special Needs Agenda

Perhaps the most significant proposal Palin made would mean spending at least $45 billion more in federal money over five years on special education. Palin called for full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, first passed (under a different name) in 1975.

"You're going to see reform and refocus," said Palin, who said cuts in wasteful spending would cover the IDEA funding shortfall. "And we're going to get our federal priorities straight and fulfill our country's commitment to give every child opportunity and hope in life."

That act called for the federal government to pay 40 percent of special education costs for children with disabilities, leaving the remainder to the states. But today, only about 12 percent of special education costs are covered by the federal government, according to the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama has also pledged to provide full funding of the IDEA.

Imparato said members of the community of families who have children with disabilities were pleased with the Palin speech, but disappointed that Palin did not talk about health care reform, as well.

"If you talk to parents of children with disabilities, there are two big issues that they care about, [and they] are education and health care," Imparato said. "If you do education right but you don't do health care right, lots of children aren't going to be able to get to school and stay in school because they're not getting the health care and the long-term services that they need."

Obama Camp Disputes Tax Argument

Palin may be concerned about children with disabilities, but she is also turning her personal story into political fire. Today, she accused Obama of planning to increase taxes on trust funds set up for children with disabilities.

"Many families with special needs children or dependent adults, they're concerned about in this race our opponent in this election who plans to raise taxes on precisely these kinds of financial arrangements," Palin warned.

But the Obama campaign rejected that argument as false and misleading.

"It's not true that the Obama tax plan singles out, or penalizes, or in any way is designed to negatively affect families who have children with disabilities," said Obama deputy economic advisor Brian Deese. "It's just absolutely untrue."

The Obama campaign pledges that, no matter what the source of income, only families who make more than $250,000 a year would face higher taxes under an Obama administration.

Independent estate planners contacted by ABC News and presented with the McCain campaign's argument said only extremely large trusts would have to pay increased taxes under Obama's proposals. Deductions claimed by the trust for care of the beneficiary with special needs, they said, would erase most or all income from the trust for tax purposes.

"The tax is only payable by trusts that have income they don't use that's in excess of $8,000 a year," said Harry Margolis, a Boston attorney and founder of the Academy of Special Needs Planners. "The vast majority of special needs trusts don't produce very much income, and whatever income they do produce, they have to use for the beneficiary."

The Obama campaign also pointed to several votes by Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Senate against funding for special education.

Playing Politics With Special Needs?

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