No money to treat 9/11 workers, $3 billion a week to fight Iraq?
No money to treat 9/11 workers, $3 billion a week to fight Iraq?
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor
Dec 20, 2006, 03:14
Is this a new 9/11 conspiracy The New York Times is reporting? That “roughly $40 million that was set aside by the federal government to treat rescue workers, volunteers and firefighters who became ill after helping with the 9/11 cleanup and recovery will run out in months, physicians and federal officials said yesterday.” And the fund goes broke while the war meter ticks in Iraq at nearly $3 billion a week?
On top of that, that sanctimonious Contra criminal, Robert Gates, sworn in Monday as defense secretary warns us that failure in Iraq would be a “calamity” that would haunt the United States for years. Well Bobby, we’ve got a “calamity” here in New York (still part of the United States) that has haunted us for five years and won’t go away. So take your “commanders' assessments” “unvarnished and straight from the shoulder” and you know where to put ‘em.
Members of Congress from New York and New Jersey had to fight to secure $75 million a year ago to pay for health expenses, which included $40 million for drugs and medical procedures, for some 32,000 workers who reported a variety of illnesses after working at Ground Zero. You remember GZ, don’t you, where some special ops helpers blew up the Twin Trade Towers?
Yes? No? Well, remember this. The two major monitor/treatment programs, one run by Mount Sinai Medical Center, the other by the Fire Department, said at the present spending rate, treatment money runs out by spring or summer. They told us top federal health officials said that unless more money was forthcoming, they’d have to notify thousands of patients their treatment could end soon. What and just let them be sick or die?
This while you, Mr. Gates, call for a big surge of fresh flesh, blood and cash to feed the Iraq canons, while these 32,000 heroes languish unto death. Your federal officials tell us if all the workers who needed treatment got it, the bill would be $250 million a year; a bill we’re told that “may meet with resistance from lawmakers in Washington, who are facing intense budget pressures.” We’ve got some intense budget pressures right here. So get real, Mr. Gates. You want to play war, try the computer game: SOCOM3 USNavy Seals, it’s a killer.
You want to be human and smart, get those US asses back to the masses. Save yourself the trip to Iraq and the taxpayer money. Adjust your “war strategy” to pay your war bills, first for the first responders. Don’t wave the flag and make speeches like Bush, then turn your back on the wounded and dying. Use your position, make a decision, do something for them.
We’ve got your co-payment: $256.6 million right here. It includes “$163.6 million in direct medical expenses for 19,200: $91.2 million for 9,6000 patients with respiratory or digestive disorders, $58 million for 8,000 patients with 9/11 related mental illnesses and $14.4 million for 1,600 patients with musculoskeletal conditions. Medications account for more than half of the treatment cost.”
The numbers are from The Times, Secretary Gates. I didn’t make it up like Dick Cheney made up Weapons of Mass Destruction and their imminent use to get us into Iraq in the first place, or that Saddam sat on Osama’s lap and hummed al Qaeda in his ear all night. Or like Miss Rice lied, she didn’t want to see a mushroom cloud on the horizon. I have a feeling somebody there is ingesting mushrooms. Let me bring you back to reality, bro, and you, sister Condi.
We’ve got “$49.1 million a year in administrative costs, $6 million for translation services and an as-yet-undetermined figure for ‘emerging issues’ like complicated orthopedic diseases and disorders that may not become evident for many years, including certain lung and autoimmune diseases and cancers,” you know like Gulf War syndrome, where ex-military good guys and girls, and/or members of their families or kids drop like flies over the years.
I hope you don’t think I’m talking apples and oranges here? Like it’s two different things, 9/11 and Iraq? Uh huh! It’s all about sick and dying Americans and making things better not worse. Unfortunately, the Fire Department or Mount Sinai Medical Center are not into drug or gun running or money-laundering like you and the boys were into in Nicaragua and with the Iranians, so we have to rely on our real government, not the shadow government, to pay up.
You need to give that “honest advice” to President Bush. And don’t let him stonewall you with “we simply cannot afford to fail in the Middle East,” because the US is failing miserably in New York, never mind the Middle East. And that is haunting our nation, right now. Like now, this minute, tomorrow.
Even Mrs. Clinton, the ex-first lady -- even Mrs. Clinton thinks what the federal government has done for Ground Zero fighters has been “too little too late.” And she said, “I am not going to say where the money should come from, I’m merely saying that this should be a national priority. It is not just a New York priority.” She’s right.
And if the president is short on cash, maybe he could call a buddy at the Fed and have them pack the $250 million and ship it to his favorite bank, like they usually do when things get tight.
I suggest that because Dr. John O. Agwunobi, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. John Howard, the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which prepared the estimate, are co-chairmen of a task force to examine 9/11 health issues. And they made no promises, no commitments about the funds coming to New York.
Holly Babin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, wasn’t even familiar with the estimate, duh. But she said they were looking at several approaches, options and models. I say cash is best, real money like the kind used to buy weapons, or pay for contractors in Iraq, or for soldiers’ lives and limbs. That’s what we need here in little old war torn New York, five years after the dastardly deed. Remember, Bob? Cash: $250 million.
What’s more, the health folks have to move their bureaucratic butts, because this $250 million has to get into the president’s budget. We can’t sit on it while engaging in studies. Study this: those people are sick and some are going to die. Get one of these wart heads to put the item in the budget, and get a plan to get it sold, because we have felt the stakes in the “War on Terror.” They were driven, like the Twin Towers, right through our hearts. But that’s war, right Mr. Secretary? That’s war.
The question is how sick are you and all the rest of the neocons that you want more and more of it? Remember Vietnam: 58,000 dead. And we went home with our tails between our legs, because it was a no-win, war from the Gulf of Tonkin non-incident. So don’t let this war, contrived from the start, suck us into moral and financial bankruptcy. Speaking of that, our big city mayors and friends have been paying medical disability benefits with retirement money. And now there’s a whole new hole that’s growing.
In fact all over America, you would find cities with holes in them, in their budgets, their schools, their roads, their social services, their families who are going broke from exported jobs, old wars, the new war, and all hell turned loose on them. So be a hero. Tell the president to change his plan. Put America’s pieces back together again. Heal the sick and dying from 9/11. Bring the soldiers home. And stop making that dumb speech, “Failure in Iraq will haunt the U.S.” You and yours have been haunting us for 40 years. Enough is enough.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at email@example.com.