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."

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SOURCECommon Dreams
Image Credit: Corey Torpie/Courtesy of the Ocasio-Cortez Campaign

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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Jessica’s writing has been published by The Nation, In These Times, The Ithaca Voice, London’s Peace News, and Common Dreams. Her work in journalism primarily explores the intersection of politics, public health, and environmental policy. She also writes about human and civil rights, gender, and labor issues.

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