Rep. Ocasio-Cortez: 'We Can Be Audacious'; 'We Need to Return to Our FDR Roots'

Susan Jones | February 8, 2019 | 5:41am EST
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joins other Democrats in announcing her vision for the transformation of the country as we know it. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was the star of the show Thursday, as she and some of her fellow Democrats introduced their "Green New Deal" resolution, which says "the United States must take a leading role in reducing emissions through economic transformation."

The plan envisions the United States meeting 100 percent of its power demand in ten years through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.


The ambitious resolution is an "organizing play," Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Thursday.

"We can be audacious," she said. "I think we need, in order to overcome this moment, we need to return to our FDR roots as a party. That's what I believe."

Among other things, the Green New Deal calls for "upgrading all existing buildings in the United States" and building new ones to achieve "maximal energy efficiency"; "building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food"; and "overhauling transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas much as is technologically feasible."

Woven into the plan are calls for social and economic justice, which means free education and training; "high-quality union jobs"; a guarantee that jobs offer "a family-sustaining wage"; and "providing all people of the United States with high-quality health care; affordable, safe, and adequate housing; economic security; and access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature."

Ocasio-Cortez said it's important to be "as aggressive as possible now" in promoting the Green New Deal so Democrats can "maximize our majorities" in Congress 2020.

"How do you envision financing this?" Chuck Todd asked Ocasio-Cortez:

"So there's a couple of things," she responded.

One is that -- I think one -- one way that the right does try to mischaracterize what we're doing as though it's like some kind of massive government takeover.

Obviously what we're trying to do is -- well obviously, it's not that because what we're trying to do is release the investments from the federal government to mobilize those resources across the country.

So how do we get there? It can come across a wide range of things. It could be Tennessee Valley authority style public programs but it could also be public private partnerships.

It can work down on a municipal level. There could be some potential contracting involved. So it's not as though the federal government's going to wave a wand and say we're going to do it all ourselves.

Secondly, I think one of the big issues too is that we have to really address the fact that there's been this broken metaphor of the government as this 'one in, one out' piggy bank that Republicans like to say applies to Democratic programs but when it's their turn at the helm, they just cut whatever check that they want to cut, which is what they did with the tax cut bill.

However, the tax cut bill they lied about in terms of saying that it will generate economic activity. We know that for every dollar you -- you cut in taxes you get just a couple cents back. But for every dollar that you invest in infrastructure and building and jobs you get more than a dollar back.

'Our resolution is not a plan, it's the scope of a plan'

"What I introduced today was a resolution, not a bill," Ocasio-Cortez explained. "A resolution just has to pass the House and the substance of our resolution is not a plan, it's a -- it's the scope of the plan.

"And so I think in terms of the scope of the plan, I think -- I think we're going to get there. We have -- we launched with over 60 cosponsors in the House. That is pretty crazy. And so we were able to launch on day one with 60 cosponsors. We have more rolling in. And I -- I think we may even get a majority of the Democratic caucus on board.

Ocasio-Cortez says she's a "Democratic Socialist." She told Chuck Todd, "I believe in a Democratic economy," but she said she agrees with Elizabeth Warren that there have to be "hard rules for the game."

Todd also asked Ocasio-Cortez if there's anything the private sector does better than government:

Yes, I think there's a lot of things," she responded. "There's a lot of consumer goods where the private sector works. And by the way, I think it's important to delineate that just because you're in the private sector doesn't -- you can be in the private sector and be a democratically socialist business.

Worker cooperatives are a perfect example of that. It's not about government takeover, it's about how much do workers have a say in your business. Do you have workers on the board? Do workers enjoy a decent amount of the wealth that they are creating.

Or is the majority of these profits going to shareholders while you're paying a worker $15 an hour to live in a New York City apartment. And to -- that to me is the difference. It's not that public -- the public sector is democratically socialist and the private sector is not. It's really about a more nuanced understanding of how our economy should work.

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