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9 Aug, 2018 17:27

US can afford ‘unlimited war’ but not Medicare for all, says Ocasio-Cortez

US can afford ‘unlimited war’ but not Medicare for all, says Ocasio-Cortez

Democratic socialist and Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has slammed Republicans for funding tax cuts and America’s “unlimited war,” while refusing to provide universal healthcare.

“People talk about the sticker shock of Medicare-for-all, but not of our existing system," Ocasio-Cortez told CNN's Chris Cuomo. “This is not a pipe dream. Every other nation does this -- why can't America?” she added. The socialist candidate argued that Americans who balk at the cost of single-payer health care need to look at the hidden costs of maintaining the current, mostly-private system.

In the US, worker illness and injury costs employers $225.8 billion annually, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ocasio-Cortez went on to slam her critics in the GOP for funding President Trump’s tax cuts, and the country’s foreign wars, while neglecting healthcare and education spending.

“When it comes to tax cuts for bills and unlimited war," she said, "we seem to invent that money very easily.”

In a separate interview, Ocasio-Cortez also leveled blame at Democrats for listening to Republican arguments about the high cost of social programs, while failing to take these Republicans to task on their own spending.

“They [Democrats] start buying into conservative talking points. They get dragged into their court all the time,” she said. “They always feel like ‘okay, the right says this thing, we have to respond to it,’ and that’s why the right is winning.”

The US has spent astronomical sums of money on costly foreign policy misadventures in recent decades. Since 9/11, the US government spent an estimated $5.6 trillion on its ‘war on terror’ - including the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Homeland Security expansion and veterans’ costs.

During his presidential campaign, President Trump decried the invasion of Iraq as the “biggest mistake” of the Bush and Obama administrations, and vowed to spend money on infrastructure at home instead.

Nevertheless, Trump signed a $700 billion defense spending bill in March, an increase of $61 billion on last year.

 Opposition to the US’ ongoing foreign wars has come from the right as well as the left. Republican Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky) has blasted the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, signed every year since 9/11, for expanding the President’s war powers against terrorists and “associated forces” and codifying “forever war.”

Providing universal health care has long been a goal of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Progressive figurehead Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is perhaps the most well-known proponent of such a plan, but among some 2020 presidential hopefuls, the idea is finding traction.

READ MORE: Three out of four Democrats want ‘fresh face’ to take on Trump in 2020

Sanders’ Medicare-for-all proposal would cost an estimated $32.6 trillion for the first ten years, or ten percent of the country’s GDP, according to a recent study. According to the senator’s own figures, Medicare-for-all would cost roughly $13.8 trillion over its first decade of operation, still a roughly 30 percent increase in federal spending that would call for massive tax hikes.

Ocasio-Cortez is optimistic. Medicare-for-all is being seriously talked about by several major Democrat favorites for the 2020 election, as is government-funded college tuition, abolishing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and a $15 federal minimum wage, all positions to the left of the Democratic establishment.

“I feel really good about it,” she told Cuomo. “What we do know is that we are winning hearts, minds and an American consensus.”

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