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-CortezOvernight Energy: New Interior rule would limit scientific studies agency can consider | Panel battles over tree-planting bill | Trump to resume coal leases on public lands Ocasio-Cortez reads entire Green New Deal into congressional record Ocasio-Cortez meets with 'Roma' star to discuss workers' rights MORE (D-N.Y.) and veteran Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyKennedy, Markey neck-and-neck in Massachusetts primary: poll Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development 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 HarrisBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. House passes historic legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. The Hill's Campaign Report: Gloves off in South Carolina Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandNow is the time for a US data protection agency The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate Ginsburg, accepting lifetime achievement award, urges working fathers to take an active role in kids' lives MORE (N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersDNC warns campaigns about cybersecurity after attempted scam Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Biden looks to shore up lead in S.C. 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 SimpsonMLB, Congress play hardball in fight over minor leagues On The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers MORE (R-Idaho), a senior appropriator. Wyoming Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Senators to meet with Zelensky after impeachment trial GOP senators defend Sondland, Vindman ousters: They weren't 'loyal' MORE labeled it the new “socialist manifesto.” And, of course, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes 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.”