New Yorkers and other backers of the 9/11 Health Bill have been scratching their heads about conservative opposition to the bill, since it a.) Does not add to the deficit; b.) Is paid for by closing a tax loophole and c.) It is moral and just to look after the health care of those who risked their lives in the recovery after the World Trade Center attacks.
Right-wingers however back Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Senator who has tried to derail the bill, for two reasons: That the sick can get compensation without proving that they became ill from 9/11, and because police and firefighters who helped with the clean-up are already amply rewarded.
On Monday, for example, Charles Krauthammer took to Fox News to say:
It’s not a question of cost, it’s a question of the absence of hearings, the absence of oversight, and also the absence of scientific evidence conclusively showing a link between the illnesses and the activity at the 9/11 site.
If America wants to say you are heroes, we want to recognize your service, and we are grateful, and as a result we’re going to generously offer you health care for the rest of your lives, that’s one thing. But this bill is called compensation, which assumes that we have scientific evidence of the relationship between the illness and the activity, which has not been established.
So if you want to do it as a gift, a grateful nation says you can have this as a result of your service, perhaps. But compensation, we don’t know if there is a relationship.
And National Review contributor John Derbyshire took to the conservative magazine’s blog, “The Corner” and ripped into Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, “New York’s whiniest,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other “lefty scam artists.”
Yet more news from our nation’s legislature. Another trial lawyers’ scam against the public fisc, in fact. It sometimes seems as though the entire business of Washington, D.C. consists of lawyers looting the Treasury. Here they are at it again.
This is the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, advertised as, quote, “giving federal medical benefits to first-responders sick from Ground Zero dust.” I think we all know now by instinct that any congressional bill whose title contains a person’s name is deeply suspect. This one is a ripoff in so many ways I don’t have time to enumerate them all.
You can start with the eponymous James Zadroga. Who he? Well, he was a New York City police detective who spent some time at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan following 9/11. He developed a cough, so in 2004 the Police Department put him on permanent disability status. With Zadroga’s twelve years’ service, that means benefits around ninety thousand a year, inflation-proofed, all medical expenses covered free of charge. For life, Officer Zadroga being 33 years old at this point. This kind of thing is routine in big-city police departments, one of the reasons that the finances of our states are in such an unholy mess.
That same year, 2004, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund also gave him a cash award. At this point Zadroga was set up very nicely for life, with all the medical attention he could want, all paid for by other people - i.e. by you and me - and a handsome income for doing no work at all. Fair enough, you may say: he was a first responder, and I won’t argue the point.
Then in 2006 James Zadroga died. What did he die from? According to an autopsy report signed off on by New York City’s two chief medical examiners, he died after injecting himself with ground-up prescription drugs in solution - nothing to do with 9/11 at all.
Once the Trial Lawyers Association see a big pile of taxpayer gold glittering on the horizon, though, there is no stopping them. Obviously they goofed by not stuffing those Chief Examiners’ pockets with cash before they wrote their report, but they came back with this James Zadroga Act.
Now look: We should all be grateful to those first responders who showed up at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 crash site. Face this fact, though: We live in a nation where any widespread sympathetic emotion will be milked for cold cash by unscrupulous attorneys. These first responders all belong to well-funded public-sector unions with extravagant benefit packages. There are people here in New York City retired on disability from the Fire Department, nothing to do with 9/11, pulling down $200,000 retirement packages in their fities, with full medical coverage on top. Nobody’s going short of anything here. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund added cream on the pie, as James Zadroga’s own case illustrates.
The James Zadroga Act is a trial lawyer’s scam, just like the Pigford rackets. Oh, would you like to know how many people will get payouts from the James Zadroga Act? Answer: at least71,000. You didn’t know there were that many first responders, did you? That’s a major-league baseball stadium full of first responders, all with their hands out. Twenty-four of them are from Wyoming, which is a long way from Ground Zero. We know this because we heard it from Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who has been leading opposition to this shameful scheme.
Well, on Thursday this week the Senate filibustered down the James Zadroga Bill. Good for them. You can tell it was good by all the lefty scam artists who were bleating about it: Both New York’s lefty senators, Schumer and Gillibrand, and the egregious Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and of course New York’s whiniest, Michael Bloomberg.
Oh, and James Zadroga’s father Joseph. Waking from his dreams of an endless supply of taxpayer money sluicing in through his mailbox, the outraged Mr. Zadroga said the Senate vote made him, quote, “embarrassed for his country.” Fiddlesticks. Citizens who do their duty in our police and fire services are already very amply rewarded, so much so their rewards are helping put our nation in fiscal peril.
The real embarrassment here is that a raft of trial lawyers should play on public sympathies to enrich themselves from the public fisc. That’s the embarrassment, Mr. Zadroga … and Senator Schumer, and Mayor Bloomberg, and all the rest of you who think our public resources are infinite, or who have been bought and paid for by the Trial Lawyers’ Association.