A Washington lawmaker has been drawing thousands of dollars in disability payments each year while leading efforts to eliminate benefits the state provides to others.

Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli gets $601 a month from the federal government, indicating that he is considered 40 percent disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to records obtained by The Associated Press under public records law. He has been receiving the tax-free stipend for years.

Zarelli said the disability payments he gets are far different than the benefits provided in the state programs he's targeting for cuts, in part because he suffered his injury on the job. He said the people in the state system were making poor lifestyle choices - such as drug and alcohol addiction...

People who make "poor lifestyle choices," Joe? Oh, you mean like 50-year-old William Cruz, whose life was saved by Disability Lifeline after finding himself on the street, permanently brain damaged from a black mold infestation.

Republicans love to slander Disability Lifeline as a program that solely serves drunks and drug addicts, but it's just not true. Either Zarelli truly doesn't understand the program, in which case he has no business cutting it, or he's attempting to intentionally mislead the reporters.

But as long as Zarelli is drawing distinctions between his disability and Cruz's, it's worth pointing out that the biggest difference is that if Zarelli lost his disability payment he wouldn't suffer much. He'd still have his legislative pay and the excellent benefit package that comes with it. Whereas when people like Cruz lose their disability, they end up dead on the streets, or costing taxpayers significantly more to treat in the emergency room.