A bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust fell short in the House on Thursday, raising the possibility that the bulk of compensation for the ill will come from a legal settlement hammered out in the federal courts.
The bill would have provided free health care and compensation payments to 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who fell ill after working in the trade center ruins.
Their services are no longer required. They performed well as symbols of American heroism and virtue at a time when we needed them. They were a civilized contrast to the dark, pitiless, fanatical evil that had attacked us. They gave the American tribe a reason to hoist the flag and pat each other on the back. They convinced us that, at the end of the day, there is something in this country worth fighting for and defending.
It was a nice thought, but just as false and disposable as everything else in the grotesque reality TV show that is American life and culture. Besides, there is something more sacred in America than patriotic self-sacrifice:
GOP critics branded the bill as yet another big-government “massive new entitlement program” that would have increased taxes and possibly kill jobs.
To pay the bill’s estimated $7.4 billion cost over 10 years, the legislation would have prevented foreign multinational corporations incorporated in tax haven countries from avoiding tax on income earned in the U.S.
Bill supporters said that would close a tax loophole. Republicans branded it a corporate tax increase.
The people’s repesentatives in Congress assembled have decreed that the health of 9/11 first responders is not as important as a corporate tax break.
Meanwhile, July was the bloodiest month in the Afghan war, surpassing the previous most deadly month, June, which was distinguished by another noteworthy fact: suicides in the Army averaged one a day.
Face it, Uncle Sam just doesn’t dig us.
“Life is strange,” wrote Hunter S. Thompson. “Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.”