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-CortezEx-GOP lawmaker Handel to run for her former Georgia seat in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Mueller report is huge win for President Trump This week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight MORE (D-N.Y.) and veteran Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGreen New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Overnight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars 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 HarrisJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC Ex-GOP lawmaker Handel to run for her former Georgia seat in 2020 MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC Poll: Biden, Sanders lead Trump in Iowa MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar pressing Barr on release of Mueller report Green New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate Why do so many Democrats embrace hate speech? MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Klobuchar pressing Barr on release of Mueller report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Mueller report is huge win for President Trump MORE (N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Treason narrative collapses; who bears responsibility? Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC 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 SimpsonPress: Democrats dare to think big Dem chairwoman seeks watchdog probe of Park Service’s shutdown operations House votes on 10th bill to reopen government MORE (R-Idaho), a senior appropriator. Wyoming Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' This week: Trump set for Senate setback on emergency declaration We should end tax giveaways to electric vehicle owners MORE labeled it the new “socialist manifesto.” And, of course, Donald Trump 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.”