Fifteen dozen House Republicans listened to President Obama's speech on the deficit and heard him speak the magic word. On Thursday, they voted for the compromise 2011 budget and against the radicals who Obama says threaten Our American Way of Life.
Obama's word is "patriotism."
"This sense of responsibility -- to each other and to our country -- isn't a partisan feeling," Obama said soothingly. "It's patriotism."
Thanks to the reckless budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, even National Public Radio are identified as patriotism in Democratic eyes.
Obama sees the plan of Budget Chairman Ryan as a gift that will keep on giving, perhaps a bestowal of the Hawaiian supreme god Io, right through his re-election campaign.
Ryan would kill Medicare, and block grant Medicaid. Like-minded House Republicans brag they will eliminate Social Security. For New York, the Ryan budget means cutting in half the $21 billion the state and its counties receive each year for Medicaid.
The loss of Medicare and Medicaid money puts at grave risk graduate medical education programs and residencies, at all teaching hospitals.
Now that ultra right extremism of hate radio has found expression in destructive legislation, Obama and Democratic congressional candidates can play this GOP nihilism the way the Republicans exploited the Red Menace in the 1940s and '50s.
Nobody knows how far Obama will carry this theme of togetherness or even if he is sincere. What matters is the steel cable of historic truth underlying Obama's credo of economic patriotism.
Broadcasters Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity, and their acolytes like Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., behave as though they would eliminate all government except that dedicated to warfare and homeland security.
Their dangerous platform denies the fundamentals of what made this nation powerful and a land of lawful opportunity. Central to this, as Obama said, was sharing the good and the bad of what comes, financially. The Constitution's Preamble urged the promotion of "the general Welfare." This was a political statement, not law.
Yet it gave rise to the progressive income tax, along with balanced and prudent regulation and support of business, mining, farming and prescriptions. Government built highways, subways, airports and financed hospitals and universities, set a minimum wage, worker safety standards, a safety net, health care and vaccinations and lunch for poor kids.
Starting 65 years ago, government financed millions of college degrees and put families into their own houses. All of this sharing and regulation made America deeply wealthy. All of this is under attack by billionaire radicals who are the main force behind the tea partyers newly in office.
The Democratic House Whip organization let Reps. Louise Slaughter of Fairport and Brian Higgins of Buffalo vote against the 2011 budget that was reluctantly backed by the president. Higgins released a laundry list of GOP cuts in education, research, public health and redevelopment. Slaughter said it undercut high-speed rail. It's only the beginning for the Republicans.
Yet when November 2012 comes, the bet here is that most Americans will vote their own well being and not worry about abstracts like the federal deficit.