Krugman had a good piece today that we need to get smarter about our litmus tests. His central thesis is that there are many pathways to get to universal health coverage and we should not single out single payer as the only validly progressive way to achieve this. This is despite the race to the left in the Democratic primary to embrace that very specific and exceedingly difficult to implement policy agenda. He contrasted this purity test with the fear some Democrats have about the Green New Deal, even though it is more pragmatic than single payer. The GND arguably just a throwback to the big spending bills of the FDR-LBJ era.
He writes on the GND:
how do you make climate action politically feasible? The G.N.D. answer is to bundle measures to reduce emissions with a lot of other stuff people want, like big public investment even in areas with only weak direct relationships to climate change.
You could call the G.N.D. a proposal for economic transformation that includes climate action. But you could also call it a “Christmas tree,” the traditional term for legislation festooned with lots of riders unrelated to the ostensible purpose in order to win political support.
Despite many Democratic candidates hedging their bets when asked about it, the Green New Deal will win back Obama-Trump voters far more than a hard to stomach carbon tax. AOC is often portrayed as a far left Latinx millennial who is either the most dangerous women in America and too incompetent to do anything. I think the Latina from the Bronx is channeling the Mick from Barry’s Corner.
The same older white voters who defected from Obama to Trump also remember the New Deal and recognize its legacy for working people. The same unionized workers in Western PA, Michigan, and Wisconsin who pulled the lever for Trump would recognize the shovel ready union jobs, especially construction jobs, this policy is going to provide.
Instead of running away from the Green New Deal, Democrats should be running on it as a jobs and wages lunch pail agenda for the 21st century. Jobs and wages are a much easier sell than totally restructuring health care for the second time this decade. Even if it polls well in the abstract, people like their insurance and want to keep it. What they might not like is their farms continuing to flood, their communities continuing to shed jobs, and their wages continuing to stay flat. The GND gets the government back in the build big things make new jobs business. That’s a good business for Democrats to be in too.