A letter from Senate Republicans to 9/11 First Responders

December 22, 2010

Dear First Responder,

We thank you for your heroism on September 11th. We thank you for running toward the burning buildings and smoldering rubble while everyone else was running away. We thank you for your bravery, your sacrifice, your patriotism, your selfless devotion to your duty to help your fellow man in desperate need. You stand for the best of America, the best of humanity, and we all owe you a debt of gratitude.

But it appears that, from a political point of view, we don’t owe you govt-funded health care. This is unfortunate for you, because now you are dying. We told you it was safe to work in “the pile”, but of course it wasn’t. And now you are suffering from numerous diseases, all directly related to the toxic exposure you suffered while working at ground zero.

I hope you understand. We can’t fund your health care for several reasons, one of which, as Republican Representative Lamar Smith puts it, “This legislation as written creates a huge $8.4 billion slush fund paid by taxpayers that is open to abuse, fraud and waste.” How can we in good faith pass legislation that one day might be abused?

Nevermind that the current tax code is so complex at the top end that it’s abused every day by savvy moneymen who find unintended loopholes to swipe millions if not billions of dollars of tax revenue. And nevermind that the financial deregulation the Republican party strongly supports would undoubtedly allow financiers to deftly abuse and manipulate markets, steering massive amounts of wealth their way in bubbly speculative schemes using opaque unregulated “financially innovative” instruments, before walking away with the loot and leaving the rest of society to deal with the crash. (Oh, and if for some reason they’re unable to get away before the roof caves in, then I hope you don’t mind if we fund their bailout, to the tune of $850 billion dollars or so. Yes, this is a bit more than the $8.4 billion slush fund we refuse to give 9/11 first responders for health care, but, you see, well, it’s finance. It’s very complicated. We MUST bail them out. You, on the other hand…).

The legislation also creates a bad precedent. If we pay for your health care, what’s to stop the next group of first responders, who bravely perform their duty after (God forbid) the next terrible devastating attack, from seeking the same kind of govt-paid health services? By helping you, we open the door to helping all of our brave and patriotic service men and women. And that just can’t happen.

As I said before, we really do appreciate your service. In fact, we will continue to exploit the patriotic services of men and women like yourself when it suits us, for example, when we pass legislation that subverts the rights of privacy and due process that are protected by our Bill of Rights (don’t worry, we called it the PATRIOT Act, evoking images of true patriots like yourself, to throw off all the Republicans who would normally be 100% against such legislation).

But as for making your life longer, or your inevitable death less painful, I’m sorry, but the govt just can’t afford it. We’ve got tax cuts for super-rich wall-street wizards to pay for (you may remember them — they were running past you the other way on 9/11).

Yours sincerely and respectfully,
Senate Republicans.

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