The progressive agenda seemed more likely to succeed Monday after the House approved rules that would purportedly exempt policies like "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal from a fiscal responsibility measure aimed at offsetting deficit increases with additional revenue.
Congress initially passed the "PAYGO" or pay-as-you-go rule in 1990 but it expired in 2002. Democrats later reinstated the rule in 2007 but former President Obama carved out room for the 2009 stimulus designed to absord the impact of the financial crisis.
The new exemption, approved on a party-line vote (217-206), applies to the COVID-19 response and efforts to address climate change. More specifically, H. Res. 8 allows the Budget Committee Chair to "exempt the budgetary effects of measures to prevent, prepare for, or respond to economic, environmental, or public health consequences resulting from climate change."
"This is huge," tweeted "Squad" member Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. "These reforms remove 2 structural barriers to our agenda for equity and justice and will allow us to advance bold policies like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and an equitable COVID recovery."
The House Progressive Caucus similarly cheered the idea as a way to prevent "big ideas" from getting "bogged down by procedural hurdles or harmful austerity measures."
Another rule change hinders the minority party's ability to alter legislation through a "motion to recommit." That measure prompted condemnation from Rules Ranking Member Tom Cole, R-Okla.
"With today’s changes, the majority is seeking to silence views they are afraid of with no regard for this institution or the American people’s trust in our constitutional responsibility to govern, and govern well," he said, according to Roll Call.
Monday's news came as House Democrats maintained their majority but wrestled with internal divisions over socialism policies like "Medicare for All."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has been reluctant to force a vote on "Medicare for All," she and others insisted on movement with the Green New Deal.
As a resolution, the "Green New Deal" doesn't enact any particular policies but directs Congress to pursue many goals such as universal health care, which Ocasio-Cortez seeks to achieve through "Medicare for All." Conservative groups have estimated the deal would cost trillions of dollars, create an unsustainable financial burden for the economy, and burden the average household with tens of thousands in annual costs.
The Heritage Foundation attempted to use the Energy Information Administration's National Energy Model to forecast the impact of steep carbon taxes aimed at reaching the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goal. Not only did the model crash, it failed to approach anywhere near the goal outlined in the Green New Deal. The closest Heritage was able to get was a 58 percent reduction in emissions, achieved through a $300 carbon tax – taxes above $300 crashed the EIA's model.
Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have argued that the cost of inaction on climate change is unsustainable. According to Sanders, the proposed solutions — infrastructure and investment — would boost the U.S. economy as well during a time of widespread joblessness.
During the primaries, he released details about how he proposed to pay for his version of the Green New Deal, which he says would cost $16.3 trillion. That included $3.085 trillion from penalizing the fossil fuel industry for their pollution and from eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.
He also warned that without action on climate change, the U.S. will "lose $34.5 trillion by the end of the century." He also predicts savings as high as $70.4 trillion over 80 years by "averting climate catastrophe."