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Main | Op Ed- "Ten Years Is A Long Time Making Choices Based On Flawed Info" »
Wednesday
May222019

OpEd- NYC Police Commissioner is Right – We Must Keep 9/11 Fund Permanent 

NYC Police Commissioner is Right – We Must Keep 9/11 Fund Permanent 

By Perry Gershon

Every American should pause, as we approach Memorial Day, to think about first responders we lost and those who stepped up – into a fiery breach for America –on 9/11.  We needed them on that horrible, infamous day; and they need us now.  Let’s not disappoint ourselves or them by forgetting their compassion and heroism, or debt owned through after-the-fact compensation.  That is a moral duty that rests on all of us. 

The 9/11 responders did not ask themselves, when entering those burning buildings, if they would come out alive.  That is not how first responders think.  Many did not.  

They did not ask whether we would remember their families if they did not make it out alive.  And they did not conduct a cost-benefit analysis to assess whether life-changing damage to their health would ever be paid for. They just went in.  We owe them everything for doing that. 

Today, we are at a big moment. The 9/11 compensation fund is in free fall, repeatedly leading to 50 percent health benefit cuts, and on a trajectory to producing 70 percent cuts until it is gone.  These heroic families need oxygen, as they needed the real thing that day. 

No wonder, then, that New York City’s Police commissioner made another direct appeal last week to Washington.  He argued that the fund for injured first responders, those who incurred life-changing health impacts “as a result of the terror attacks on 9/11,” needs to be kept solvent.  And he is right. 

May 17th represented Peace Officers Memorial Day.  This remembrance is purposely close to another day on which we remember our Nation’s fallen – Memorial Day.  This is precisely the right time to put aside partisan disagreements, rhetorical clashes and lesser disputes to remember fallen Americans – and those injured in selfless service. 

As the New York City Police commissioner noted, when adding names to the memorial, at One Police Plaza, “These names are a reminder that the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, has not ended for us, for our families or for our great city.”  His words lie heavy on warn spring air:  “We lost so much that day and it’s not over,” adding “They represent something else, too — the very real risk cops face when they put on their uniforms and go to work.”

So, what can Congress and President who calls New York home actually do?  They can make our rapidly disappearing 9/11 compensation fund again real, immediately passing bipartisan legislation to assure that these hurting families –families of those who put it all on the line that sunny day turned black – are properly equipped to face the future. 

As public reports confirm, the fund is nearing insolvency, leading to deep cuts in compensation; it is about “to run out for funding for the sick,” which is what has led to a unified call for Congress and the President to act.  

In a time when agreement seems to be a bad word, when political success seems calibrated by what we are against, maybe this is a moment when we can be – as one Nation under God – for something.  Because this something matters.  

Specifically needed is a firm, timeless commitment to honor the sacrifice of the first responders suffering from 9/11-related ailments.  We need to rally and make an unstinting commitment to assisting them, without reservation or cost-saving at the forefront, the way they made an unreserved, open-ended commitment to us.  

On that day, as on many days since, the law enforcement and first responder community makes an open-ended commitment to our health and safety.  They sign up to do that, the way combat veterans sign up to serve – come what may.  For that reason, we need to be equally unflinching.  

Let’s get the bipartisan congressional bill assuring compensation to 9/11 responders passed – before another month of falling benefits, quiet suffering and unmet obligations passes.  We can do this, and we should do this. 

 Politics has its place.  But love of neighbor, gratitude for unfailing selflessness, and honoring those who honored us creates a binding, unshrinking obligation.  That is what is before us now.  Let’s step into the breach, and make them whole – as whole as life and law allow.  This is the time. 

Perry Gershon is a business leader and national commentator on business, trade, policy and politics. A congressional candidate for New York’s first district, he holds a BA from Yale and an MBA from Univ. of California.

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