Progressives Suggest Other Ways to Spend Potential Wall Budget
As President Donald Trump continued to throw a temper tantrum and threaten a government shutdown if he didn’t get billions of dollars to build his infamous border wall, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) turned to Twitter on Friday to challenge the GOP trope that the federal government simply doesn’t have the money to implement bold progressive policies such as Medicare for All or a Green New Deal.
Spending legislation advanced by the Republican-controlled House Thursday night would allocate $5.7 billion to the wall, but that bill—at odds with a Senate-approved measure that lacks wall funding—seems unlikely to get through the upper chamber without Trump’s favored “nuclear option” of changing the Senate rules.
As the threat of a government shutdown loomed, the incoming congresswoman highlighted the other ways—from increasing teacher pay to replacing water pipes—that lawmakers could spend the money:
And just like that, GOP discovers $5.7 billion for a wall.
What if we instead added $5.7B in teacher pay?
Or replacing water pipes?
Or college tuition/prescription refill subsidies?
Or green jobs?
But notice how no one’s asking the GOP how they’re paying for it. https://t.co/jXdm1w9bpy
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 21, 2018
Stony Brook University public policy and economics professor Stephanie Kelton, a former chief economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, responded to Ocasio-Cortez by homing in on one of the key policy items backed by the incoming representative, tweeting: “Congress authorizes the spending. Period. The mechanics of paying for a #GreenNewDeal are exactly the same.”
Notice how it’s all about finding the VOTES. It’s how *everything* is paid for. Congress authorizes the spending. Period. The mechanics of paying for a #GreenNewDeal are exactly the same. https://t.co/EuJUfRrVck
— Stephanie Kelton (@StephanieKelton) December 21, 2018
A Green New Deal, supported by climate advocates nationwide and a growing number of House Democrats, would couple measures to address the global climate crisis with policies to create jobs and a more just economy. While Ocasio-Cortez has called for the creation of a House Select Committee to craft such a deal, top Democrats including presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.) have been accused of trying to kill it.
Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)—which endorsed Ocasio-Cortez’s successful bid to oust long-time Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) last summer—responded to news of the potential $5.7 billion in border wall funding with a focus on healthcare. Along with a rising portion of the public, both DSA and Ocasio-Cortez support Medicare for All—a proposal championed by, among others, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would guarantee healthcare for all Americans.
Meanwhile, 30 million people still don’t have healthcare https://t.co/KEAaDAiTm3
— DSA for Medicare for All (@dsam4a) December 21, 2018
Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein responded to Ocasio-Cortez with some figures—suggesting that the U.S. could implement universal pre-K or provide coverage to more than 800,000 uninsured Americans with the money the House GOP wants to give Trump to bolster his anti-immigrant policies and fulfill one of his key campaign promises:
With $5.7B, you could:
— Cover 852,017 uninsured Americans
— Fund universal pre-K plan (options b/w $2B-$12B)
Granted you’d want these be recurring expenses rather than annual, but GOP also wants $25 billion for wall
— Repairing Flint’s water pipes: $55 million https://t.co/c4Gkht3kFV
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) December 21, 2018
WAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.