By Negin Owliaei and Sarah Anderson
“We are one of the wealthiest countries in the history of this world. And yet millions of adults in the United States still don’t have health insurance,” Rep. Ilhan Omar told her Minnesota constituents at a July 18 town hall.
A day after the president of the United States incited rally goers to chant “send her home,” the congresswoman was in her home district, hosting a policy-heavy discussion of Medicare for All.
The president’s name wasn’t mentioned once. After a week of vile attacks, Omar announced she wouldn’t let the president — or the often dismissive Democratic Party leadership — distract her from doing what she was sent to Washington to do.
She’s not alone. Despite the frenzy, Omar and Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley — popularly referred to as “the squad” — are keeping the focus on policies to bring justice to their constituents.
Omar and Tlaib have sponsored bills that run the gamut from canceling student loan debt to forbidding auto insurance companies from discriminating based on credit scores.
Ocasio-Cortez has earned praise for her masterful questioning during House hearings, and for introducing the enormously popular framework for a Green New Deal.
Meanwhile, Pressley has been one of the Green New Deal’s leading advocates, speaking at one of the country’s first town halls on the issue about its focus on “equity and economic justice” and the opportunity it provides to “transform the economy.”
The same day Omar received standing ovations at her Medicare for All town hall, Tlaib was surrounded by laid-off workers as she spoke out about how private equity funds have looted companies in her Detroit district, destroying the jobs and pensions of workers who’ve spent decades building up their firms.
“People who’ve worked hard their whole lives to earn a pension deserve to be able to rely on that money still being there,” Tlaib said.
She was speaking in support of the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, which would create protections for workers and communities against the vulture-like private equity firms that have plundered Toys R Us, Payless, and many other companies to line investors’ pockets.
Pressley was also busy that day, releasing an op-ed in Teen Vogue co-authored with Rep. Pramila Jayapal that explained why raising the minimum wage was a women’s issue. “All women — whether they are sports champions in the limelight or the caregivers, servers, and others at the low end of the income ladder — deserve fair pay,” the congresswomen wrote.
Hours later, the House voted to pass the Raise the Wage Act, which would incrementally boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour and end exclusions that kept tipped workers, people with disabilities, and young people from earning equal pay.
Earlier in the week, Ocasio-Cortez used yet another House hearing as a public education opportunity while questioningFacebook exec David Marcus about the tech giant’s recently announced new cryptocurrency. Ocasio-Cortez connected Libra to corporate-controlled currencies of the past that allowed companies to price-gouge their own workers.
“We are discussing a currency controlled by an undemocratically selected coalition of largely massive corporations,” the congresswoman said, proving again her adeptness at finding the heart of concern when it comes to complicated financial topics.
While people across the country have vocalized their support for the women, their districts in particular are paying attention. “That’s my congresswoman,” Detroiter Chris McClain told news outlet MLive.com about why the president’s attack felt personal. “Truly, she represents me.” Local news outlets found Pressley’s constituents felt the same.
And Omar’s constituents provided the most fitting tribute of all. As the congresswoman stepped off the plane in Minnesota on Thursday, residents of her district greeted her with a moving chant: “Welcome home, Ilhan.”
Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, where Negin Owliaei is a researcher. They co-edit Inequality.org, which ran an earlier version of this piece. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
I can respect your choice to be a Democrat, but not if you are supporting the squad.
Michael Cocchiola says
The only answer that racist conservatives will understand is an overwhelming vote for the Squad and a Democratic president on November 3, 2020.
Randy Jones says
“We are one of the wealthiest countries in the history of this world. And yet millions of adults in the United States still don’t have health insurance.”
Somebody should be sued because the Bill of Rights says all who reside in the U.S. should have health insurance.
“I was shocked that so many candidates in the party whose nominee I was planning to support want to get rid of the private health insurance covering some 250 million Americans and have “Medicare for all” instead. I think we should strengthen Obamacare and eventually add a public option.
I was shocked that so many were ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country. I think people should have to ring the doorbell before they enter my house or my country.
I was shocked at all those hands raised in support of providing comprehensive health coverage to undocumented immigrants. I think promises we’ve made to our fellow Americans should take priority, like to veterans in need of better health care.
“But please, spare me the revolution! It can wait. Win the presidency, hold the House and narrow the spread in the Senate, and a lot of good things still can be accomplished. “No,” you say, “the left wants a revolution now!” O.K., I’ll give the left a revolution now: four more years of Donald Trump.”
Let Trump and his bootlickers define the squad as the face of the left and he wins in 2020.
The “Squad” appears to be truly representing their constituents. . . they are “active” in proposing/supporting legislation. What a concept!
They have said many times that they LOVE their country. . . Why is it that those words are NOT heard or repeated by Republicans?
When The TRUTH about Omar is finally EXPOSED, all will see what LIES and Breaking the LAW really is. Facts Trump Feelings.
Michael Cocchiola says
Yep, Randy. Let’s use the Constitution to deny health care to children, the working poor and those who are not yet eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. That’s American!
I saw this morning where a video from 2018 has resurfaced where Ihlan Omar tells Al Jazeera that Americans should be more fearful of White Men than Jihadist terrorism. But it’s the conservatives who are racist. Okey dokey. On a beautiful, clear morning in September 2001, 3000 people routinely went to work at the World Trade Center. They were all somebody’s mother, father, son, daughter, brother or sister. Before the time for their morning break rolled around, many of them were incinerated alive while many were deciding whether to be burned alive or jump 100 floors to their death. When asked about this, Ilhan Omar said “Yeah, some people did something.” Correction for you, Omar. It wasn’t some people, it was some ANIMALS. Muslim trash. So I would not tell you “go back where you came from” – I would tell you, and your husband/brother, “Go to HELL.”
Pierre Tristam says
Of course we should be more fearful of white men than jihadists, if evidence matters at all to you. Take 2018: “2018 was a particularly active year for right-wing extremist murders: Every single extremist killing — from Pittsburgh to Parkland — had a link to right-wing extremism,” the ADL’s annual report finds. See the full report here. Or this. Or this. Or this. Caution: it’s factual.
I guess saying you want to impeach that M….F…. is going bold and not low
Squish the Squad
Mary Fusco says
@ Michael, first of all children are not denied health care. They are on Medicaid and get better health care than those paying monthly. Secondly, most on Medicare must have supplemental policies that they pay out of pocket. Thirdly, countries that have universal health care take most of your salary in taxes. In essence, they are budgeting your money because you can’t. There are also many stipulations. Americans don’t understand “stipulations”. They just see that the grass is always greener elsewhere.
The squad representing their constituents? Why are their approval ratings so low then? Mmmm Interesting concept!
Only a liberal can praise someone for dreaming up an idea (the green new deal) so ridiculous it was roundly defeated by everyone. Don’t let reality get in the way of your fantasies.
The Squad will help get Trump re-elected.
Veteran – The Squad and the entire Democrat party with the help rom the media will not just help, they will ensure that Trump will win in 2020. Every time an article like this is published, more independents lean right and more conservatives make sure they will get out and vote……
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Veteran says it all……….
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Alphonse Abonte says
The support of the Squad by ANYONE ,supports a Socialist agenda. This is what the Democrats have morphed into, any Democrat! Democratic party is a sham. Higher taxes, control the masses, and put fear into you. But Americans will prevail as they always have done. Support AOC plus THREE, in a short time WE will all be homeless. Vote for a Democrat is a vote for Socialism. That is their 2020 platform. Americans are sick and tired of the Democratic do nothing Congress. They are out for themselves,not Americans. If you are REALLY against Trump, donate all your earnings made from investments in the last year to help the less fortunate. I didn’t think so.
The “squad” does not keep the focus on policy. They keep the focus on themselves and their antics. There’s a difference. The behaviors they display are eerily similar to those of Donald Trump.
Alphonse Abonte says
Illegal aliens sent 56 BILLION dollars back to their home countries last year. That’s after their kids enjoyed free education, free lunches,and free healthcare. All paid by the American taxpayers.
Do conservatives believe in a balanced budget? Do conservatives believe in less government interference?
GOP is now the Trump National Socialist party. $4.1 Trillion increase in national debt. that is a 20% of total national debt in just 2 yrs. Good thing Trump is experience in bankruptcies.
Does the GOP have ANY platform other than cutting taxes for the rich and watching silently as Trump picks fights with everyone in America by tweet? The rhetoric in today’s Republican Party matches perfectly to 1930’s Germany .