In a viral tweet on Tuesday, progressive New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez crystallized the absurdity of arguments against Medicare for All and other bold proposals—as conservatives and centrist Democrats frequently claim the United States lacks a robust social safety net because of an inability to pay for one.
New Rule: anyone that was cool with the GOP inventing $2 trillion out of thin air for freebies for people with yachts that have tiny yachts inside doesn’t get to demand how we pay for people who need chemotherapy treatments.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) July 10, 2018
In an apparent reference to a “luxuriously obscene” indulgence Gizmodo reported on in 2014, Ocasio-Cortez mocked the notion that, months after applauding a tax law containing $1.5 trillion in cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, conservatives are now questioning her assertion that a country that can afford such benefits for the rich must also be able to provide healthcare and living wages to all its citizens.
The Medicare for All plan proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose presidential campaign Ocasio-Cortez worked on, is estimated to cost the government $1.38 trillion per year, while the current profit-based system costs about $3 trillion per year.
Ocasio-Cortez’s plan to cancel the $1.4 trillion in student debt carried by Americans “would increase GDP by between $86 billion and $108 billion per year, over the next decade” according to the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College.
Her plan to make tuition free at public universities and trade schools is also not revolutionary, she notes on her website.
“In fact, we’ve had this system before: The University of California system offered free tuition at its schools until the 1980s,” Ocasio-Cortez’s higher education platform reads. “In 1965, average tuition at a four-year public university was just $243 and many of the best colleges—including the City University of New York—did not charge any tuition at all.”
Yet with the political dialogue that’s heard in corporate media outlets dominated heavily by establishment Democrats and Republicans, many of whom rely on wealthy donors to stay in power, Ocasio-Cortez’s focus on proposals that will benefit working Americans rather than corporate interests appears radical—even though proposals to support working families and the middle class have been the basis of successful policy-making in the past.