Press: Democrats dare to think big

Here’s an interesting exercise: Take your own little survey. Ask your friends and fellow workers, ask anyone who you meet on the subway or street, “What’s the greatest thing our government has done for the American people?”

I guarantee you, they’re not going to say: “Another big tax cut for the rich,” which is all Republicans can brag about accomplishing in the last two years. Instead, among other bold moves, they’ll cite the New Deal, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act: historic legislation that improved the lives of millions of Americans and changed the course of history.

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And someday they’ll be talking about the Green New Deal, also.

Introduced last week by House and Senate Democrats, led by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezPhiladelphia mayor: Trump would 'go to hell' if he had to go back to where he came from Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout The four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's tweets MORE (D-N.Y.) and veteran Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHead of miners union calls Green New Deal's main goal 'almost impossible' Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Warren reintroduces bill mandating climate disclosures by companies MORE (D-Mass.), the Green New Deal is breathtaking in its scope and vision, maybe the most far-reaching legislative proposal since Medicare. It tackles head-on the dual problems of income inequality and climate change. Encompassing at once a total restructuring of our environmental, energy, social and economic policy, it’s so big and bold it staggers the imagination.

Imagine an end to dependence on fossil fuels in 10 years, with 100 percent of our work, home and transportation needs supplied by renewable sources of energy. Imagine a nation criss-crossed by high-speed train service, just like France and Japan. Imagine every building in America retrofitted to be energy efficient. Imagine every young American guaranteed a college education. Imagine every American family provided basic, quality health care, family and medical leave, a family-sustaining wage and retirement security. Wow!

Yes, it’s a big dream. No, it won’t happen all at once. Nobody expects it to. At this point, it’s only a nonbinding resolution. It will take time to translate the bold ideas into specific legislation. And some of it may not happen at all. But it’s the right set of goals we should be striving for, especially in light of NASA’s urgent warning last week about the reality and danger of climate change.

And how did members of Congress, unaccustomed to challenges more demanding than passing another continuing resolution or naming a new post office, react to such a bold idea? In predictable fashion. Democrats rushed to embrace the New Green Deal, led by at least seven presidential hopefuls or potential candidates: Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris slams DOJ decision not to charge police in Eric Garner's death Harris vows to 'put people over profit' in prescription drug plan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' Trump says administration will 'take a look' after Thiel raises concerns about Google, China Thiel calls Warren the most 'dangerous' Democratic candidate MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Fundraising numbers highlight growing divide in 2020 race Critics slam billion Facebook fine as weak MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Fundraising numbers highlight growing divide in 2020 race Five things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing MORE (N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' Sanders slams decision not to charge officer who killed Eric Garner Cardi B says voters let Bernie Sanders down MORE (Vt.), Rep. Julian Castro (Texas) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Republicans, meanwhile – who, in the last 10 years, have come up with no bold ideas of their own – could only respond by poking fun at it. “It’s crazy. It’s loony,” said Rep. Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith SimpsonHouse passes Paycheck Fairness Act Press: Democrats dare to think big Dem chairwoman seeks watchdog probe of Park Service’s shutdown operations MORE (R-Idaho), a senior appropriator. Wyoming Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoHouse passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' GOP senator: US should 'reevaluate' long-term relationship with Saudis Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia MORE labeled it the new “socialist manifesto.” And, of course, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE weighed in with a sarcastic “Brilliant!” How predictable. How pathetic. And how out of step with what Americans want from government.

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Early polls show that the Green New Deal may be the most popular public policy people have not yet heard of. In a recent survey conducted by Yale and George Mason Universities, 82 percent of respondents said they had heard “nothing at all” about the Green New Deal. Yet 81 percent said they either strongly or somewhat endorsed its key provisions – including 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans.

The fact is, Americans, especially younger Americans, have had enough of a do-nothing Congress and a baby-step Congress. They’re hungry for big and bold new ideas worthy of the 21st century. A Green New Deal may not be the best Congress can offer. But it sure beats a wall.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”