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Taking on the Big Guys

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Like many good progressives in DC and around the country (along with the insurance company lobbyists of course), I am working virtually around the clock at the moment on health care reform. As I have written, this fight will almost certainly determine the fate of the rest of the Obama administration, and whether we have a chance to take on and beat the big business special interests on any other issue. But I have to take just a moment to sit back, take note, and calmly reflect on another rather important topic, financial reform. Andrew Cuomo came out with a report that should be noted. In other words:

DID YOU SEE THE FREAKIN' BONUSES WALL ST FIRMS GAVE OUT LAST YEAR, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THE BIGGEST ECONOMIC COLLAPSE SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE TAKING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN GOVERNMENT MONEY? ARE THESE THE GREEDIEST AND MOST IMMORAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE EVER LIVED?

Okay, now that I have been thoughtful and diplomatic, let me tell you how I really feel. A couple of weeks back I wrote a piece on a gritTV panel I was on with Matt Taibibi and Rob Johnson entitled We Don't Care. We Don't Have To Care. We're Goldman Sachs. And that pretty much sums up the situation. Rather than getting fired, going to jail, or even just hanging their head in shame and slinking off to some cave someplace -- as I think would have happened in a more rational society -- they are still the most powerful people on the planet. They are still flying in on their corporate jets to DC every week, and telling Congress what to do. They are still making the same risky deals that ruined the economy in the first place, and paying themselves outrageous bonuses to do it. And they are still utterly puzzled as to why any of the rest of us thinks they show any shame or remorse.

Read this remarkable piece by Rob Johnson. It should be required reading for every lawmaker, and every citizen worried about our country's future. It talks about how the captains of Wall Street and their messaging gurus sold us on the outrageous techniques for greed that they were pursuing, techniques that should be illegal or at least very heavily regulated.

Our number one job today is to take on and beat the health insurance industry, who don't want any changes to a system that lets them allow people to die so that they can make bigger profits, and doesn't give them any real competition even when people are being totally screwed. That's why we need a public option, as good in quality and as affordable as the plan for members of Congress. But even as we are fighting the insurance companies today, we have to get ready to fight the even more powerful Wall St lobby tomorrow, because otherwise our economy, and our very democracy, will be in mortal danger again.