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Ocasio-Cortez: If US Has $5.7 Billion for Trump's Border Wall, What About Education, Healthcare, and Green Jobs?

"And just like that, GOP discovers $5.7 billion for a wall," says the incoming congresswoman. "But notice how no one's asking the GOP how they're paying for it."

Jessica Corbett

Then-congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, hosted a town hall with healthcare activist Ady Barkan on Aug. 7, 2018. (Photo: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez/Facebook)

As President Donald Trump continues to throw a temper tantrum and threaten a government shutdown if he doesn'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 looms, the incoming congresswoman highlighted the other ways—from increasing teacher pay to replacing water pipes—that lawmakers could spend the money:

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."

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.

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:


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