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BREAKING NEWS! Rand Paul is a spineless dickweasel who uses 9/11 first responders as props for his kabuki dance on fiscal conservatism. Paul, who was thrilled to vote for the Trump tax cut which blew a trillion dollar hole in the deficit, worries that we can't afford healthcare for emergency personnel who got cancer after rushing into the still-burning Twin Towers back in 2001. Okay, to be fair, his "real" objection is that we aren't cutting food stamps or education funding to offset 9/11 healthcare spending. Because if you can't use one vulnerable constituency to bludgeon another, what is even the point, right?


"We're adding debt at about $1 trillion a year. Therefore any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that is going to have the longevity of 70 or 80 years, should be offset by cutting spending that is less valuable. We should at least be having this debate," said the extremely principled senator from Kentucky.

Indeed, Republicans have been having this debate. Back in 2010, 160 mostly Republican House members, including then-Congressman Mike Pence, current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and current Minority Whip Steve Scalise, voted against increasing the fund to $2.7 billion for healthcare and survivors' benefits. The bill passed anyway, but it wasn't enough, as more and more first responders, who spent months in the wreckage after being assured the airborne debris posed no danger, became sick with cancer.

Congress added $4.6 billion to the fund in 2015, but it will take $11.6 billion to ensure that all claims are covered. Clearly Mitch McConnell wasn't about to release that kind of money without being allowed to kick a bunch of poor kids first. So Jon Stewart and a coalition of first responders were brought in to testify and shame Republicans into doing the right thing. Just this once.

Jon Stewart breaks down in emotional testimony at 9/11 Victims Fund hearing www.youtube.com

Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress.

Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It's an embarrassment to the country and it's a stain on this institution.

And it worked. A bill to permanently shore up the victims' compensation fund passed the House 402-12 last Friday. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand requested that the Senate fast-track the bill, passing it by unanimous consent to ensure it goes through before the August recess. Which it likely would have done, if not for that fucker Rand Paul, although Senator Mike Lee of Utah alerted the Senate cloakroom that he also had deep philosophical objections to funding first responders' healthcare without being able to steal money from some other needy cause, mumbling something about rooting out "fraud." It only takes one senator to block it, but Lee isn't exactly known for his independent thinking.

Here's Jon Stewart tearing Paul a new one on Fox last night.

You'll pardon me if I'm not impressed in any way by Rand Paul's fiscal responsibility virtue signaling. Rand Paul presented tissue paper avoidance of the $1.5 trillion tax cut that added hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit. And now he stands up at the last minute after 15 years of blood, sweat and tears from the 9/11 community to say that it's all over now, now we're going to balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community. Bret, this is about what kind of society we have. At some point, we have to stand up for the people who have always stood up for us.

He also pointed out that Mike Lee's bullshit concerns about "fraud" were why the bill didn't get fully funded on the last go-round, forcing dying men to testify before Congress again, "hat in hand."

And they will get the money. Mitch McConnell's not stupid enough to hold it up with this kind of pressure raining down on him. But Republicans, who are screaming racist slogans at a sitting congresswoman and calling her anti-American, had to be shamed into protecting the actual American heroes.

"Never forget" indeed.

[CNN / CNN, again]

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