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Joseph A. Palermo Headshot

An Extraordinary Achievement

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The corporate media (and NPR) have pumped up the Tea Bagger opponents of the health care reform bill with about the same intensity they used to diminish those who marched against George W. Bush's $3 trillion war in Iraq. From the corporate media's take on this whole health care debate you'd think Republicans never get sick, and that every Republican in every Red State has access to wonderful, low-cost, quality health care. No worries, no cares.

But if you turn on C-SPAN and get away from the media filter what you see is not a "socialistic" takeover of "one-sixth" of the economy "rammed through" with "totalitarian tactics," but a moderate, cost-effective attempt to rein in soaring health care costs and to bring some protection to millions of Americans who are being preyed upon constantly by some of the meanest, greediest, most blood thirsty and sociopathic corporations in the world. Corporations that have no problem denying sick children health care, dropping sick people off their coverage when they need it most, or bankrupting them with outrageous out-of-pocket expenses.

President Barack Obama this morning gave Democrats a blueprint for what to do in November: back in your districts surround yourself with ordinary Americans who would be denied care if the federal government did not step in to bend the corporate imperatives of profits and share prices to fit the human needs of people who pay their taxes, play by the rules, and whose only "crime" is to have gotten sick.

President Obama acknowledged in his remarks before signing the bill that members of Congress "took their lumps" in moving the legislation forward. He called Nancy Pelosi (the bane of the corporate media): "One of the best Speakers the House has ever had." And with the passage of this bill she has proven him to be correct. President Obama said he's signing this bill for his mother who argued with insurance companies when she had cancer.

Obama did today what Democrats should do all over the country: Cut through the misinformation and propaganda of the Republican talking points, and right-wing talk radio, and FOX News, and remind people why this reform was needed in the first place and the millions of Americans it is going to help.

Finally the American people are going to see their government do something for them for a change instead of for the rich and the corporations. For the first time in about 40 years the Democrats have shown some spine. President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are about to show the American people that their government can work for them and they're about to find out that when Democrats accomplish things, when they act and act boldly, instead of being afraid of their own shadows, they will be rewarded. As President Obama said the other day to the Democratic caucus: "good policy is good politics." And this health care bill is good policy. It has a lot of room to be improved, but it's a significant start.

President Obama is about to put to rest the Democratic Leadership Council's philosophy of trying to turn the Democratic Party into a shallow imitation of the Republican Party. The DLC strategy failed miserably in the 1990s and only gave us 8 long years of the worst president in U.S. history, and 12 lost years when Newt Gingrich, Bill Frist and the gang's misrule brought the United States to its knees. The party in power when the economy collapses should be punished for a much longer period than a couple of election cycles - and the Democrats' bold action today in signing into law the health reform bill adds to this deserved punishment.

Let the Republicans jump up and down and scream and hold their breath until they turn blue. Let them show up in November at town hall meetings beating their chests and exposing their party to consist of what Hunter S. Thompson wrote 25 years ago: "Dumb Brutes and Rich People." Let the Tea Baggers wave their "Don't Tread On Me" flags and spit on African-American Congressmen. Let them confront their fellow citizens who have cancer or diabetes or heart disease who will no longer be bankrupted trying to pay for health care to save their own lives.