Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is ready to take a stand — against her own party.
When Democrats take over the House on Thursday the New York Rep.-elect will vote against a rules package that includes a pay-as-you-go provision, requiring all new spending be offset with either budget cuts or tax increases.
The “paygo” provision would make implementing progressive programs such as Medicare for All or tuition-free college harder, experts warn. The rule requires a three-fifths supermajority vote to raise individual income taxes on the bottom 80% of Americans.
Ocasio-Cortez joined Rep.-elect Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) in voicing opposition to the proposal on Wednesday.
“Tomorrow I will also vote No on the rules package, which is trying to slip in #PAYGO,” she tweeted. PAYGO isn’t only bad economics, as @RoKhanna explains; it’s also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare+other leg.”
Presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has voiced interest in restoring “paygo” in recent months, drawing heat from liberals.
Ocasio-Cortez supports Pelosi’s bid for speaker, but has cautioned that she’s not afraid to go against the party to stand by her ideals.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill responded to criticism by saying that a vote against the House Democrats’ rules bill “is a vote to let Mick Mulvaney make across the board cuts, unilaterally reversing Democratic initiatives and funding increases.”
Mulvaney is the White House acting chief of staff and President Trump’s former budget chief.
Pelosi, in a statement about the rules bill, touted “paygo” as an improvement over the GOP “cutgo,” which “pretends tax cuts pay for themselves.”
At least 16 others Dems would have to vote against the rules package to block its passage.
While defenders argue “paygo” is a logical way to rein in spending, opponents believe the practice is nothing more than a way to handicap progressive programs.
“Do NOT vote for “PayGo” in the rules package,” former Clinton administration secretary of labor Robert Reich warned lawmakers on Wednesday. “It’s a brainless Republican idea that tax cuts or mandatory spending increases must be offset by tax increases or mandatory spending cuts. Totally disables fiscal policy,”
The rules package also includes sweeping changes that would make the text of bills public for 72 hours before a vote, requires annual ethics training for lawmakers and creates a select committee on climate change.
While the paygo provision won’t have much of an effect while Republicans control the Senate and the White House, progressives would like to see Pelosi move away from the policy as soon as possible.
“We shouldn’t hinder ourselves from the start,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
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