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Republicans turn their back on 911 responders

December 10, 2010

For those first responders who went to the World Trade Center on 9/11, some off duty, some on, some retired, some just gravitating to a situation of pure hell to help others, the past nine years since the event have been a battle.

Many are now suffering the effects of inhaling toxic gases and coming into contact with other toxic material at the site. respiratory problems suffered by responders and volunteers have risen dramatically, as the effects of inhaling the pulverized building material, electronic equipment, and furniture have taken their effect.

This despite the government originally trying to downplay the effects.  EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman on 18 September 2011, in a press release said:

“We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air-quality and drinking-water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances” and that “Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York … that their air is safe to breathe and the water is safe to drink.” (Village Voice)

There have been other accusations that the government and other officials, including Former President George W. Bush, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Christine Todd Whitman etc, downplayed the effects in an effort to re-open the area as quickly as possible.

However accusations of who covered up what, who downplayed what, are moot at this time, when those affecting health problems such as cancer, pulmonary fibrosis etc have real and immediate needs. Many responders who were studied at Mount Sinai had no medical insurance.  A study in April 2010 by Dr. David J. Prezant the chief medical officer for the Office of Medical Affairs at the New York City Fire Department, of 5000 rescue workers found that all were sufferingimpaired lung functions.

Philip Landrigan, from the department of community and preventative medicine at Mount Sinai, estimates that as many as “40,000 rescue and recovery workers were exposed to caustic dust and airborne toxic pollutants following 9/11” (Newscientist).  These are people with real and immediate medical needs.

In september 2010, the House passed a $7.9 billion bill package to help the responders, giving them free health care and compensation payments.  However the house needed to pass the Senate.

Last night (9 December) the bill was denied, as the GOP, who have decided to filibuster every Democrat bill, swept this one aside too.  Every Republicanopposed the bill and all Democrats except one supported it. Harry Reid, Majority Leader voted “no” to preserve his right to call a second cloture vote.

Now, aside from the possibility that Congress may be able to give the bill a second chance, the responders only help now is with a court-supervised settlement, that has already been put on the table.  The problem with this, is that the settlement only put $$713 million to be shared by what the Huffington Post says is 10,000 people.  That’s $713,000 for each person – that’s without counting the others who may also be eligible.

Doesn’t it make you angry that the Republicans are holding hostage the health and welfare of heroes, those who put their lives forward at a time of America’s greatest peril, who are now suffering and dying for this, so they can get their tax bill for the rich through?

As Harry Reid said after the vote:

“Republicans denied adequate health care to the heroes who developed illnesses from rushing into burning buildings on 9/11. Yet they will stop at nothing to give tax breaks to millionaires and CEOs, even though they will explode our deficit and fail to create jobs. That tells you everything you need to know about their priorities,”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) went further, calling the actions of the GOP “outrageous and offensive”.

I’ll go further and say that the voting block by the Republicans is beyond the pale and should mean that whenever they go on television, rally their support, claim to be true Americans and the only ones fighting for the heroes, they should be confronted with this, every time.  I understand party divisions, I understand one-upmanship, but this, this is beyond a joke.

The Daily Shows’ Jon Stewart on his show stated “Kind of a no brainer politically, and let’s say morally, kind of the right thing to do.” He is right – this is not the sort of thing mudslinging politics should be played over – this is a true bipartisan bill – at least it should be something that both sides just do. Stewart goes on to say:

“You couldn’t even get 60 Senators to agree to vote on the 9/11 bill because the top 2% of Americans haven’t officially received their engraved notification that their taxes won’t go up 4%.  That’s the principled pledge you want to stand by?  Bros before heroes?”

Thank you again Mr Stewart for putting this to what it is – the right don’t care what they stop just as long as their pal’s get their tax break.  They don’t care that they will be seen as lacking moral fibre because to them the only issue of importance is the Bush Tax Breaks.

As Mr Stewart would say “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you”. I don’t care if people chastise me for swearing here – there are times when a line needs to be drawn in party politics, for the battle lines to be ignored this was one of them.

Mayor Bloomberg  sums this up when he declared this  “a tragic example of partisan politics trumping patriotism.”

I think the Representative of New York Anthony Weiner expressed things pretty well when the House Republicans killed the bill back in July.

9 years after it should be impossible to think that these people are still waiting for help, even though Bush and others classed them as heroes, or people like Gulliani rode on the back of their heroism – billions can be spent on wars, and enabling the rich to get richer by continuing tax breaks but to help those who tried to help others on the day of September 11, seems to be something the GOP are unable to do. The GOP would rather class this as a massive entitlement bill.

It’s outrageous!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. afrankangle permalink
    December 11, 2010 12:26 pm

    The Stewart statement is a great one-sentence summary. Rep Weiner’s rant also speaks volumes of the state of US politics.


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