Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Zadroga/Stewart Bill finally passes

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‘The Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart
The literal hero’s hero

And thus, we all (especially 9/11 first responders) have yet one more reason to adore Jon Stewart, as the Zadroga Bill, aka the 9/11 healthcare bill that’s been repeatedly blocked by game-playing Senate Republicans, has finally been approved:

The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers and others who became sick from breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The vote, passed by unanimous consent, came soon after a deal was reached between conservative Republicans and Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The New York Democrats agreed to changes demanded by the conservative lawmakers, who raised concerns about the measure’s cost and prevented the bill from advancing in the Senate. After drawing criticism in recent days from Democrats and Republicans alike, the Republican senators backed down.

Under the new agreement, the bill provides $4.3 billion over five years for health coverage to the 9/11 workers, instead of the original $7.4 billion over eight years.

Of course, what the above report apparently forgot to mention is the reason why the Republicans’ filibuster has “[drawn] criticism in recent days” from both sides of the political aisle. It’s now pretty much clear as day that the bill would have effectively died under Republican obstructionism had it not been for Jon Stewart, and Jon Stewart alone, who took it upon himself to campaign for public awareness of this bill, for the heroes of 9/11 who were being stabbed in the back, and to show just who it was holding the knife. As The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur put it, this might as well be named the Jon Stewart Bill in order to credit the guy for single-handedly bringing the issue back to the spotlight in its most dire hour.

So, really, if 9/11 first responders want to thank anyone, let it not be the heartless Republican ghouls who’re so willing to use them for political gain and then abandon them the next second, or the media, who’ve been just as neglectful as always in letting this crucial issue die. Let them thank that comparatively obscure funnyman who hosts a “fake news” show on Comedy Central, the comedian who’s shown time and time again why he deserves, more than nearly anyone else in the media industry, the title of the most trusted journalist in America.