On Wednesday, December 22nd, a bill originally sponsored by Hillary Clinton in 2006 finally got through congress to help 9/11 first responders with health ailments that they suffer due to paid and unpaid work they did at ground zero. The reason it got through is Jon Stewart. The folks who almost killed it were Republicans and Big Standard Media.
The “party of no” gambled and lost on fighting these heroes. Let’s review the embarrassments the Republican party has heaped upon itself, with some help from the networks.
1. Back in July, Republicans threatened to tack on a “poison pill” amendment to block illegal immigrants from getting any 9/11 healthcare help even if they helped to clear the twin towers wreckage. I am pretty disgusted with any representatives of any party affiliation when they use this status of “illegal immigrant” to try to make heroes less than human. I think if you can verify that you got elbow deep into ground zero and inhaled the toxic dust and cleared the rubble, you get a free pass on something in this life. Who gives a rip if the hero is or is not a legal immigrant at that point? End of story.
2. In the bill that was in front of the Republicans on December 9th, multiple protections against fraud, multiple options for pay-out, were put on the table. One crucial matter I see in few write-ups: Coverage for health conditions was already limited to certain 9/11 illnesses only, for example, granulomatous pulmonary diseases which result from a swirling pattern of dust matter in the lungs
3. So much for the media being “liberal”. December 9th, every single Republican senator voted against the Zadronga health bill AND the big media giants ignored it:NBC, CBS, and ABC. But Jon Stewart did not ignore it. But Jon Stewart is a comedian. Working on a COMEDY CHANNEL. It was Jon’s last show on the 17th that finally ensured that a unilateral push would be made to pass this bill.
4. Number two Republican in the Senate, Jon Kyl, on Monday the 20th said he had no idea what was in the bill because there were no hearings. THERE WAS A HEARING IN JUNE 29th. Tom Coburn also had the same line. Even though he was on the same committee that discussed the matter on June 29th-though he did not bother to show up. And according to Robert Livingston, over 20 hearings have been conducted on the matter of 9/11 responder health over the past 9 years.
5. It wasn’t about making sure the bill was “right”. It was about putting priority on tax cuts for the rich, or as Republicans said “tax cuts for ALL Americans”. Senate Republicans on December 9th said they would refuse to deal with anything related to 9/11 responders until the Bush tax cuts & government funding were dealt with. Meaning: we can’t discuss heroes getting a few billion when our richest friends are waiting to get hundreds of billions of dollars.
6. Pataki and Giuliani remained silent when their help was needed on this bill. Giuliani only opened his mouth in the last few days when pressure from both conservative and liberal press was building. Pataki is a Republican and former Governor of New York. Giuliani’s silence is most galling, since every other syllable out of his mouth spoke “9/11” when he was running for President. For the record, Republican Rudolph Giuliani was mayor of New York City January 1, 1994 – December 31, 2001.
7. I usually don’t even point out how dark are the workings of FOX. But in this case, it seems unavoidable. FOX blew off the 9/11 responders health bill as “sentimental” as late as December 21st. And Media Matters points out HERE that Peter Johnson Jr. of Fox whitewashed the failure of the bill in the house, assigning equal blame to the GOP as to the Dems. Plus their set of talking heads dismissed Democrat Weiner’s anger in the House.
Whatever is out there to heap blessings upon 1 human being-be it a god or an audience, an executive or Santa-I hope it notices Jon Stewart’s good works this month, and richly rewards him.
Cenk Uygur gives the play-by-play on how comedian Jon Stewart’s actions snowballed into actual political support for 9/11 responders’ healthcare.