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-CortezThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump threatens jail time over 'treason' and 'spying' Lewandowski: Why Joe Biden won't make it to the White House — again Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag MORE (D-N.Y.) and veteran Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyTrump faces criticism for hosting Hungary's leader Bill Nye tees off on climate change skeptics: 'The planet is on f---ing fire!' Sanders to join Ocasio-Cortez in headlining Green New Deal rally Monday 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 HarrisHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off Hillicon Valley: Florida county that backed Trump was one of two hacked by Russians | Sandberg pushes back on calls to break up Facebook | Conservative groups ask WH to end Amazon talks over Pentagon contract MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Sanders unveils education plan that would ban for-profit charter schools Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharInslee gives public option first test in Washington state Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights Poll: Biden is only Dem candidate that beats Trump outside of margin of error MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — Momentum builds for federal laws enshrining abortion rights | Missouri lawmakers approve bill banning abortions at 8 weeks | Warren unveils plan to protect abortion rights 2020 Dem Seth Moulton calls for expanding cannabis access for veterans Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights MORE (N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Sanders unveils education plan that would ban for-profit charter schools Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off 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 BarrassoTrump boxed in on trade Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020 MORE labeled it the new “socialist manifesto.” And, of course, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls for Republicans to be 'united' on abortion Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution Facebook temporarily suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens 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.”