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Socialist members represent growing force within new Democratic House majority


Agendas include guaranteed jobs, climate change initiatives

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The seating of the new Congress this week brings with it new members who represent a growing socialist segment of the Democratic Party.

What are the main issues?

Among the party's socialist agendas are "Medicare-for-all," guaranteed jobs programs and a "green" agenda that would spark an overhaul to the economy and the energy sector, Fox News reports.

Although it's uncertain if any of the initiatives could pass the House, the proposals represent an "astonishing" rise in socialist beliefs and a major party shift, the report notes.

During his 2016 presidential run, Sen. Bernie Sanders helped popularize the term "Democratic Socialist." Two outspoken proponents of that philosophy — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — are now joining Sanders in Congress. Although the numbers of openly socialist reps remains relatively small, there is no doubt that they will exert a lot of force on the Democrats' agenda in the House.

Both Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, for example, support the "Green New Deal." The plan targets climate change and "income inequality."

"We are calling for a wartime-level, just economic mobilization plan to get to 100% renewable energy ASAP," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

A draft text for the plan calls for a select committee to study how to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and agriculture, and create energy sources that are 100 percent renewable. The proposal also includes "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," Fox News reports.

Specifically, the plan demands a job with "a living wage job to every person who wants one." According to supporters, that is a "just transition" for workers impacted by climate change, basic income programs, universal health care. It would also include any other issues the select committee believes is necessary to promote "economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism."

What about Medicare-for-all?

Another socialist issue that's gaining traction within the Democratic congressional caucuses is Medicare-for-all. An analysis by the New York Times found that one-third of Senate Democrats and more than one-half of House Democrats support Medicare-for-all proposals. The plan would likely result in more government involvement in health care, including the advent of a socialized system more like the British National Health Service, the report states.

Medicare-for-all could cost "tens of trillions of dollars over a decade," but supporters say that would "replace out-of-pocket expenses already being shouldered by millions of Americans," according to Fox News.

Supporters believe the program could be funded by:

"...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."
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