Election 2020: Policy contributions to political platforms

November 30, 2020

Throughout the long 2020 presidential election campaign, Heller researchers made social policy contributions to various candidates' platforms, addressing issues from disability rights to student loan debt.

Lurie Institute researchers engage, critique and consult on presidential disability policy plans

  • April 1, 2019: Before any candidate released a disability plan, Research Associate Robyn Powell, PhD’20, first raised the issue of establishing a disability policy adviser with Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez during his visit to Heller.
  • Nov. 14, 2019: Research Associate Sandy Ho hosted a Twitter Town Hall with Julián Castro. Disability rights activist Rebecca Cokley called it a first — a forum moderated by a person with a disability that gave people with disabilities across the country an opportunity to connect directly with a presidential candidate.
  • March 3, 2020: Visiting Scholar Ari Ne’eman, who served on President Obama’s National Council on Disability and consulted with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on their presidential campaigns, said in Spectrum, “In this [election] cycle, I think we’ve probably come further than we have ever before” on disability policy.

IASP research informs Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s student loan plan

Sen. Warren’s bold student loan forgiveness plan, which would have canceled student loans for 42 million Americans and significantly reduced racial disparities in student debt, drew extensively from an Institute on Assets and Social Policy study called “Stalling Dreams: How Student Debt Is Disrupting Life Chances and Widening the Racial Wealth Gap.” She cited critical statistics from the IASP report, including:

  • Half of Black borrowers and a third of Latinx borrowers default on their loans within 20 years
  • Twenty years after starting college, the median white borrower owes just $1,000, while the median Black borrower owes an average of $18,500