Federal Money for 9/11 Families

Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thanks for watching us tonight.

Well, one of the most difficult issues I've seen in quite some time is federal compensation for the 9/11 families, and that is the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

As you may know, more than $1.5 billion has been raised privately to help the families, but most of that money is still in bank accounts of charities like the Red Cross and the United Way.

But it seems progress is being made, and that most of the money will eventually reach the people for whom it is intended.

The problem is that some of these families, the 9/11 families, are well off.  Some live very affluent lives.  They don't really need the money because of life insurance policies, pensions, and the like.

So there are difficult ethical questions involved in distributing charitable money.

Enter the federal government, which is also involved in the compensation scenario, primarily because the feds want to avoid lawsuits that could bankrupt the airline industry and even cripple the federal budget.  A good case can be made that the Immigration and Naturalization Service failed to protect the victims of 9/11, since three of the terrorists were in this country illegally and the other 16 were wandering around basically unsupervised.

The INS has been a chaotic department for years.  It continues to be the poster child for negligence.

So the feds know they have a pay -- a major problem on their hands, and they want to settle with the families.  But some of the families are angry that the tax-free payments from the feds are so low.  The more money a victim was making, the higher the payments to his or her family.  And life insurance benefits and pensions would be deducted from the federal pay out, which is tax-free, by the way.

The guy in charge of all this, Kenneth Feinberg, has done a dismal job of selling the program.  He's usually unavailable for comment, like tonight.  A very strange strategy since the taxpayers are picking up his salary and the tab, which could be as high as $6 billion.

Once again, the federal government seems to believe it is not accountable to we the people.

There are some Americans who believe it is not the responsibility of the government to pay tax money to the families, and that these pay outs are unfair because other victims of terror in the past have not been compensated.

Once again, the issue is complicated and emotional, as most Americans want to make things easier for the families.  Talking Points believes that the fed should examine each family individually and not set caps or formulas.  Putting a price on suffering is impossible, but ensuring that the families are not disrupted economically is certainly doable.

Both the federal government and the airlines let all Americans down, and that is the true issue here.  Take it case by case.

And that's the memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."

To watch this feature click here .

Our competitor, CNN, has launched a new series of promos for Paula Zahn saying she is, among other things, sexy.


ANNOUNCER:  Where can you find a morning news anchor who is provocative, super-smart, oh, yeah, and just a little sexy?  CNN.  Yeah, CNN.  Paula Zahn hosts American Morning starting Monday, 7:00 Eastern, that's right, on CNN.


O'REILLY:  All right.  Well, the word "sexy" actually appears in red letters on some of the other spots (UNINTELLIGIBLE) maybe in an hommage to Valentine's Day, I just don't know.

But my question is, if Paula Zahn is getting that kind of copy, why can't your humble correspondent?

Well, wait a minute.  Don't answer that question.  It could be ridiculous.

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