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Socialism Rising: Dems take House pushing massive government expansion, as party lurches left

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Insight from Kelsey Harkness, fellow with The Independent Women's Forum and a senior producer at The Daily Signal, and Ben Kissel, radio talk show host and political commentator.The growing socialist wing of the Democratic Party will flex its muscle Thursday with the seating of the new Congress, as more self-described Democratic Socialists join the ranks and dozens of sitting and incoming members – including likely 2020 hopefuls – embrace a massive government expansion that would make FDR look like a penny pincher.The party agenda is increasingly embracing big-government policies like “Medicare-for-all” and guaranteed jobs programs -- as well as an aggressive “Green New Deal” that would include all this and more as part of a fundamental overhaul to America’s economy and specifically its energy sector.It’s unclear when and if any of them will make it to the floor, let alone pass the House. Championed by groups such as the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats, the plan would aim to combat both climate change and income inequality – and has been picked up by lawmakers such as Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez.“We are calling for a wartime-level, just economic mobilization plan to get to 100% renewable energy ASAP,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.A draft text circulated around Congress calls for a select committee to be formed to create a plan, and lays out a framework that includes eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and agriculture and “dramatically” expanding energy sources to meet 100 percent of power demand through renewable sources.If that wasn’t ambitious enough, the proposal describes this as “a historic opportunity to virtually eliminate poverty in the United States and to make prosperity, wealth and economic security available to everyone participating in the transformation.”On the economic front, it also demands a job guarantee program that offers “a living wage job to every person who wants one,” a “just transition” for workers affected by climate change, basic income programs, universal health care “and any others as the select committee may deem appropriate to promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism.”In at least a partial nod to the presumably mammoth cost that overhauling the nation’s economy and energy sector would entail, it says that the financing of “the Plan” would be accomplished by “the federal government, using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks, public venture funds and such other vehicles or structures that the select committee deems appropriate, in order to ensure that interest and other investment returns generated from public investments made in connection with the Plan will be returned to the treasury, reduce taxpayer burden and allow for more investment.”Indeed, the question that has long dogged such proposals is how to pay for it all. Roll Call reported that Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who is set to be the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, said he supports the idea of Medicare-for-all but doesn’t think the votes are there.Earlier this week, House Democrats formalized proposals for a new committee on climate change, but without the features that proponents of a Green New Deal have sought -- such as the power to subpoena and the authority to vote on legislation and send it directly to the House floor.A sign of possible tensions within the party was on display in November, when environmental activists took part in a sit-in outside Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi’s, D-Calif., office, demanding leadership do more to promote the Green New Deal.Joining the protesters was Ocasio-Cortez, who said: “We need to tell her that we’ve got her back in showing and pursuing the most progressive energy agenda that this country has ever seen.”This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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