War & Peace
Senate Republicans to 9/11 Heroes: ‘Screw You and Die’
Republican Senators blocked passage of legislation that would have provided medical care to rescue workers and others who were sickened from breathing toxic fumes, dust and smoke during and after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, named after a New York Police Department detective who died from respiratory illness suffered as a result of his heroic 9/11 rescue efforts, went down in a highly partisan procedural vote of 57-42.
Republicans claim they oppose the measure because of its $7.4 billion cost. They’ve also made it very clear that they will not cooperate with Democrats on any legislation until they get their tax cuts that will benefit the wealthiest Americans more than anyone else. What Senate Republicans are saying by this despicable refusal to provide life-saving care for this century’s greatest American heroes is that they place tax cuts for their rich buddies above the lives of the police, the firemen, and the thousands of ordinary citizens who were moved to extraordinary acts of selflessness when total strangers needed them more than they ever needed anything in their lives.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg chided Senate Republicans for their “wrongheaded political strategy.” “The attacks of 9/11,” he said, “were attacks on America, and we have a collective responsibility to care for the heroes, from all 50 states, who answered the call of duty, saved lives, and helped our nation recover.” Some 60,000 people are currently suffering adverse health effects from their participation in 9/11 rescue and cleanup efforts.
Moral Low Ground would feel remiss if we did not point out that the $7.4 billion cost of the proposed legislation is exactly 1% of the Pentagon’s $740 billion annual budget. A reduction of 1/100th in the military budget could pay for the entire bill. But no. The “defense” budget is the sacred cow and the third rail and the 800 pound gorilla in the room; a gorilla with very lucrative connections in the military-industrial complex. Now it’s going to be very difficult to pass another similar bill. Those who wish to do so will have to try again next year, during a Republican-controlled House. And we all know how little Republicans think of 9/11 heroes, especially when there are taxes to be cut and war budgets to be expanded.
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