Ken's Project Blog

December 22, 2010

9/11 First Responders Healthcare and GOP opposition

Filed under: Health Care,Politics — Ken @ 9:41 am

Here in another of my too-long to ignore Facebook responses – when time permits, I’ll come back and footnote/link assertions to supporting documents, reports, but for now, here is my response to a friend’s assertion that the GOP wants to deny coverage for the so-called 9/11 First Responders… Enjoy!

Ken, don’t confuse the issues – let’s deal with this one bill which, I hasten to add before I proceed, we both agree that, to varying degrees, BOTH Dems & GOP are acting poorly, that you and I are defending what we to be the less odious of the two sides of this debate – both stink.

Now, a bill to pay for medical care for so-called ‘first responders’ would ordinarily be a no-brainer, can we agree that the GOP wouldn’t take a position against this bill, at this time, for a trivial reason? It would make no sense – on the surface, a bill to provide medical care to those heroes of 9/11 must have something like 75-85% approval by Americans – so why would the GOP oppose it?

Can you articulate the GOP position and respond with anything other than an emotional argument?

Briefly, the GOP issues (as i understand them) are as follows:

1) There is no scientific study correlating the illnesses & symptoms to involvement in 9/11 efforts. It’s been almost ten years since 9/11, why hasn’t this basic question been answered? We require nothing less for smoking cases & global warming issues, why the lower standard here? It’s not a dodge to avoid responsibility, but we shouldn’t be spending $6.2 BN on a hunch, this correlation should have been established long ago…

2) The bill is poorly written, it includes too wide a pool of possible claimants – all you need to say in order to be included in this bill is that you were in lower Manhattan on 9/11/2001, so while we are all debating firemen and construction workers, this also includes the hot dog cart vendor who was three blocks away who pooped his pants and ran to Queens when the first plane hit… The GOP wants to tighten up the language.

3) Where did the $6.2BN number come from? How do we know it will cost that much? How do we know it won’t cost more?

4) Funding. This act of generosity on behalf of a grateful nation to these suffering heroes is NOT being funded by the American people, as I understand it the funding source was found by increasing taxes on foreign companies that choose to do business in the US. Congress just ‘found’ $6.2BN in estimated tax revenue by making it more expensive for foreign companies to do work in America… I wonder if there could POSSIBLY be any negative impact to such a move by the government, like, could foreign firms pull out of America, causing US employees of those firms to lose their jobs? Could it stifle foreign investment in the United States? Could these foreign firms find a way around the increased taxes, leaving the healthcare of these 9/11 first-responders and by-standers under-funded?

We currently have about $400BN in approved, yet unspent, stimulus funds – why not take the money to fund this health care from that existing pile of unaffordable debt?

5) Timing. Democrats have controlled both the House and Senate for the last four years, why was this issue saved until after the election, for the lame-duck session? I suggest the Dems were (again) playing politics with a suffering constituency – I suspect that if a popular bill like this were to hit the floors of the House and Senate it would have enjoyed broad-based support from both sides of the aisle (the GOP would have swallowed hard and passed a bill they didn’t like to win votes). But Dems, I think, wanted to own the issue and play politics with it. If the Dems only interest was providing for the needs of the suffering first responders, why wouldn’t they play the politics of this issue for the benefit if those suffering?

If consideration of this bill can’t wait until after the holidays for the 112th Congress, how could it wait until after the election? Remember, Congress shut down in the middle of the summer, but raced back to rob money from food stamps to fund teachers, fire fighters, and police positions – why couldn’t they have also considered this bill then?

6) Why not just declare ailments from 9/11 a pre-existing condition and offer to underwrite/subsidize health care coverage under Obamacare? We’ve already committed billions to fund uninsurable people, but only a dew thousand have enrolled so far – why not simply use the existing programs, rather than define a whole new program – they could be covered tomorrow, have all their future needs met while the Gov’t considers what to do about paying for previous care.

Ken, you don’t have to agree with any or all of the above concerns or questions, buy you owe it to yourself to take a moment and consider the arguments put forth by the other side. I can imagine a reasoned response to most of the above arguments, but that’s not what I’m hearing from the Dems – what I hear is the Dems playing ‘chicken’ with the GOP, daring them to vote against “puppy dogs and rainbows”, I mean “healthcare for 9/11responders (paid for by taxing foreign investments in the US)”…

I don’t hear Dems responding to rational points, reasonable concerns from the GOP – instead I hear the Dems tugging at heart-strings and trying to bludgeon GOP into voting for the bill by rattling off names of GOP politicians who are out of office and support this bill. And now, to underscore the importance of this bill, they’ve turned to Comedy Central to get their message out (like they did with migrant workers & Stephen Colbert). Did you know that POTUS has not, and will not, call Senator to rally support for this bill? Why not? Is he more interested in the ability of this bill to define Dems vs GOP instead of caring for the 9/11 first responders?

Last I heard, about 80 congressmen have already left Washington, putting House re-approval of the bill in doubt, even if it were to pass the Senate (the bill was changed in Senate, requiring the House to vote on the amended bill before it can proceed to the President).

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