Republicans in Congress have finally backed down and have stopped blocking a bill to provide health care to 9/11 first responders.
It seems that one factor in the GOP’s giving in on the bill is that the right-wing media for once did not unquestioningly buy its talking points. The New York Times reports:
Headlines in normally conservative news outlets blasted Republicans. Newsmaxx.com wrote, “Giuliani Raps Fellow Republicans for Holding Up 9/11 Heroes Money.” The Fox News host Shepard Smith drew attention to Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who has said he will try to block the legislation.
“He is the man who is vowing to slow this down or block it, so the necessary funding for the illnesses of the first responders who made it to ground zero to try to save lives on the day that America changed — remember?” Mr. Smith said during his broadcast Tuesday. “This is the senator who is vowing to block it so that it doesn’t make it through.”
On Wednesday morning, the MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, called the G.O.P.’s opposition to the bill “a terrible mistake” for the party.
“It’s a terrible, terrible mistake to be seen as opposing relief for 9/11 heroes,” he said. “This is one of those times when you get so wrapped up in the game that you forget to look and see what’s happening. Here, the Republicans, whether they know it or not, look horrible.”
Think Progress reported last week that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had lobbied against the bill because it opposed the method of funding it—closing a tax loophole for foreign corporations. When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand changed the mechanism for funding the bill to a 2% excise tax on some foreign companies, the Chamber still opposed it.
The debate over the 9/11 bill may be so stunning because it perfectly crystallizes the choice that the far right wing of the GOP makes again and again—given the choice between the profits of corporations and the welfare of individuals, they fight for the corporations. It’s no surprise that people across the political spectrum were upset by the GOP’s opposition to a bill that should have been a no-brainer. But the logical pattern that their opposition to the bill took is nothing new.
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