"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else."
Last night the House of Representatives voted on, and rejected, a bill that would have provided up to 7.4 billion dollars in health care aid to 9/11 survivors and first responders. The tally was 255 to 159 in favor and, as usual, the voting fell primarily along party lines. Only 12 Republicans voted for it. Let’s look at those numbers again so that they can properly sink in. 255 votes in favor of providing much needed help to the heroes of the most catastrophic attack in our nation’s history, and only 12 of those positive votes were cast by Republicans. Do the terms heartless, cruel, callous, merciless, cold-blooded, vicious spring to your mind as they do to mine? What about asinine, contemptuous, spineless, foolish, selfish … I guess I could go on forever. And let’s not forget that this is the party that uses 9/11 for campaigning purposes, fund raising activities, attacks on the Democrats and, worst of all, as justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. There is simply no defense for this. No reasonable, rational, sound-minded person could ever possibly vote against helping these amazingly brave people who now suffer as a result of their selfless actions - and yet 155 Republicans did. To quote John Feal, one of those very heroes, "Whoever votes 'No' tomorrow should go to jail for manslaughter." He won’t get an argument from me. Yet as hard as this may be to comprehend, we actually should not be surprised. This is the way of the modern day Republican Party. This is the party whose members refer to unemployed people during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression as, “lazy,” “spoiled,” and “hobos.” This is the party that has repeatedly blocked efforts to increase the level of compensation paid out by BP to the Gulf Coast residents suffering from the oil spill. This is the party who tried to block Obama’s middle class tax cut. A tax cut that has provided the lowest tax rates in over 60 years for 95% of working class Americans. Simultaneously, the Republicans have been fighting to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans which added 1.7 trillion dollars to the deficit. This is the party that has successfully blocked tax breaks for small businesses. Tax breaks which would stimulate the economy and help create jobs. At the same time they've been repeatedly voting against the extension of unemployment benefits. In other words, this is the party who doesn’t give a tinker’s cuss (thank you John Cleese) about the poor, the suffering, the down-trodden or even just your regular old working-class folk trying their best to get by during hard times. Joe the Plumber they really, truthfully, honestly don’t care about you - please believe me. If the first responders were made up of corporate CEOs, oil executives and billionaires that bill would have passed with flying colors. To return to Dickens’ quote, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else,” right now, who is more useless than the Republican party? If you’re not independently wealthy and you vote Republican in November, you’re voting against your own self interests.