The GOP’s Disposable Heroes
Ground Zero responders and survivors living nearby have been dying of ailments caused by exposure to materials at Ground Zero ever since the attacks. They’ve been dying in ever greater numbers, and the proof is indisputable that those working there have been dying of certain cancers at a far higher rate than the general population.
|The South Memorial Pool looking towards 4WTC.|
3,700 of the responders and survivors have cancers. 1,100 members of the FDNY have cancer. 2,134 cops and other responders have cancer. 467 local residents and downtown workers have cancer attributed to the exposures.
More than 2,000 firefighters have had to retire on disability due to WTC related illnesses - lung diseases and cancer.
109 firefighters have already died from WTC related illnesses, including 44 from cancer.
Congress, however, has dragged its feet time and again on making sure that the funds are available to assist these workers who toiled away for months to recover the remains of their colleagues, loved ones, and every last person who was murdered on 9/11 as the towers fell.
It took until 2011 - 10 years after the attacks - for Congress to step up and fund the WTC Health Program, which is part of the James Zadroga Act. The act is named after a NYPD officer who died of respiratory disease associated with service at Ground Zero. In 2013, more than 50 types of cancer were added to the list of diseases eligible for compensation. But the act was not given permanent funding, despite the permanent nature of the exposure to these workers.
So, it comes as no shock that the GOP once again shows its ugly side by blocking passage of the Zadroga Act once again.
The excuse this time is that the cost is too high at $7.4 billion.
The GOP considers these folks disposable heroes. They claim the cost is too high. Thousands of responders were exposed to toxic materials at The Pile. Many of them middle class folks.
This is after President Bush promised to make sure that the nation would do what it took to care for these folks and New York. That promise has been ignored time and again - mostly by the GOP that wants to avoid its responsibilities.
And I love their talk of fiscal responsibility here too. That’s the GOP stock response, but it rings hollow since it will cost the government more in doing nothing here - and it will cause even more financial harms to these responders too.
Not only would letting the Zadroga Act expire mean cutting off compensation to the afflicted, but it would eliminate funding for the research that helped identify those cancers and ailments that are due to exposure.