Amount sick Ground Zero workers and Lower Manhattan residents have sought from the federal government for medical care related to 9/11 toxin exposure: $1.9 billion.
Amount President Bush has now, with great fanfare, promised to provide: $25 million.
For the math-impaired, that's 1.3% of what was sought.
And it's just a promise. I wonder if there'll be backtracking from even this, as there was not long after 9/11. Recall this Paul Krugman column from 2003:
Immediately after 9/11 there was a great national outpouring of sympathy for New York, and a natural inclination to provide generous help. President Bush quickly promised $20 billion, and everyone expected the federal government to assume the burden of additional security. Yet hard-line Republicans never wanted to help the stricken city. Indeed, according to an article by Michael Tomasky in New York magazine, Senators Phil Gramm and Don Nickles attempted to slash aid to New York within hours of Mr. Bush's promise.
Matters were patched up sufficiently so Mr. Bush could make his triumphant appearance at ground zero the next day. But then the backtracking began. By February 2002, only a fraction of the promised funds had been allocated -- and Mitch Daniels, the White House budget director, accused New York's lawmakers of playing "money-grubbing games."...
In the end, New York seems to have gotten its $20 billion -- barely. As for the additional help everyone expected: don't get me started. There wasn't a penny of federal aid for "first responders" -- like those firefighters and police officers who cheered Mr. Bush at ground zero -- until a few months ago, and much of it went to sparsely populated states....
I don't know if this is going to be much help for sick Ground Zero workers, but it certainly seems to be helping Bush here in New York. The Daily News has a front-page story written by the son of a former NYPD officer who worked at Ground Zero and died of pulmonary fibrosis on the night of the State of the Union address; Ceasar Borja Jr. seems to believe Bush's assurances that "It's only a beginning. It's just a beginning." ("Everything I had hoped for came true," Borja says.) Oh, and the local media is making much of the fact that Bush wrote an absence note for Ceasar's 12-year-old sister, who also met with Bush. Awwwww!
There's no reference in Borja's story to how far short the Bush promise falls. The New York Times story on the Bush meeting relegates the disappointment of other victims and their relatives to the final paragraphs. So this was a PR win for Bush.
Well, no surprise there. The Bushies can't do anything else right, but they still know how to stage a photo op.
And speaking of photos, thumbs up to the White House propagandists for getting a photo of Bush hugging Ed Koch, with David Dinkins looking on, onto the front page of The New York Times. This is aimed straight at New York-based journalists and pundits: See? Unlike those ideologue meanie Pelosista Democrats, Bush is reaching out across party lines, just the way he did in Texas.
Er, no he isn't. He's hugging Democrats. Hugging's easy. Actually working with political opponents is hard.
And Koch, of course, actually endorsed Bush, so his willingness to be used for this photo isn't surprising. I don't know what on earth Dinkins was thinking, but he was always too damn gracious for his own good.
Wonder where Rudy was.