The decision by Senate Republicans on Thursday morning to filibuster legislation that would provide improved healthcare benefits for 9/11 responders is a glaring example of the troubled state of politics in this country.
Republicans stuck to their default sound bites about taking actions to guarantee that Americans do not face tax raises, but there should be no doubt that their actions represent nothing more than protecting the financial interests of their extremely wealthy financial supporters at the expense of the lives of countless 9/11 responders.
Too often political debates seem to exist solely in the abstract. There is nothing abstract about the plight of thousands of 9/11 responders. People such as James Zadroga, for whom the bill was named after, are dying. James was only 34 when he died from lung issues attributed to toxins he inhaled while conducting rescue operations at the World Trade Center site. He left behind a 4 year old daughter.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 calls for spending approximately 7.4 billion dollars over the next decade to provide more comprehensive screening and treatment for 9/11 responders. The spending would be covered by closing a current loop hole in the tax code that allows foreign corporations to shelter themselves from having to pay taxes on income earned in the U.S. These corporations tend to donate heavily to Senate campaigns and the political calculation being made is that it is worth risking a few hundred or even thousand people dying in order to ensure the maximum political benefit.
9/11 responders did not pause to calculate whether or not running into the burning World Trade Center Towers would be in their best self interest. They did not make an exodus from the debris pile despite knowing the dangers they faced. On 9/11, thousands of first responders ran into the fires raging at the World Trade Center because they adhere to that most sacred of American values, selfless service. Now they are in need and it is moral responsibility of this country to come to their aid. Politics should not even be taken into consideration when addressing this issue.
Every American should pause tonight to contemplate the future consequences for a country that fails to take care of its heroes. What kind of America will we be if we produce more Mitch McConnell’s than we do Ronnie Bucca’s? If you do not know who Ronnie Bucca is, you are in the same boat as 99% of Americans and I would dare to bet a very similar percentage of elected officials around the country. I urge you to learn his story.
Republican senators are banking on the fact that Americans are too apathetic when it comes to the political process. They are banking on the fact that not enough people will stand up to them with the same level of determination that the 9/11 responder’s displayed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
The heroes of 9/11 deserve infinitely better than being treated as if their sacrifices warrant nothing more than the lip service politicians often give them when it is politically beneficial. Those amongst us whom run into the fire are owed a much greater honor then being relegated to political pawns.