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The first-term progressive Democratic congresswomen, from New York and Minnesota, respectively, call for the removal of a “profit motive” from lawmakers’ decisions and the “nationalization” of the nation’s health care system.
They and other Democrats have been critical of President Trump’s decision to allow the governors and legislatures of the nation’s 50 states, as well as U.S. territories, to largely set their own strategies for reacting to the virus – which has affected regions to varying degrees.
The videos were posted on Twitter by The Hill but it was unclear exactly when they were recorded. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar each present their views on how they would alter the current federal efforts to combat the spread of the virus.
Their remarks came as President Trump’s job-approval rating reached a record high in a Fox News Poll released Thursday. The same poll showed a majority (51 percent) specifically approved of Trump’s handling of the federal coronavirus response effort.
“For some reason we have an enormous problem with enacting the Defense Production Act for saving lives and guaranteeing health care,” Ocasio-Cortez says in her video, referring to the Korean War-era legislation that allows the president to order private companies to produce goods deemed as vital to national interests.
In late March, President Trump invoked the act to direct General Motors to begin producing ventilators for the nation’s hospitals.
Nevertheless, Ocasio-Cortez claims the U.S. faces “a much deeper problem with the systemic priorities that we currently have in the United States.
“But it’s never too late to change it,” she adds. “We must organize to change those priorities from our budget to our production.
“We have to start demanding and organizing from the bottom up — from grassroots movements, from nurses to warehouse workers to grocery store employees to the halls of Congress, demanding that we strip profit motive out of our decisions and reprioritize for the public good and the health of everyday people.”
Omar: States ‘at disadvantage’
Meanwhile, Omar takes aim at the Trump administration’s policy of promoting state autonomy.
“The states themselves are being put at disadvantage when we have the federal government bidding against them” for medical equipment, Omar argues.
“Big corporations may not want to produce necessary items because it’s not profitable for them. That’s already, I think, understood right now by many of the public and we’re hearing so many people raise their voices every single day and we’re actually addressing the systematic problem that we have where we create a hierarchy and profits are always placed above people.”
In mid-March, Omar uncharacteristcally praised Trump for suspending mortgage foreclosures and invoking the Defense Production Act, calling the moves “incredible and the right response in this critical time.”
But by early April she was back to criticizing the president, comparing the daily White House coronavirus briefings to a “train wreck.” Her recent video continued the criticism.
“As a federal government we have the proper tools to deploy and it’s deplorable, really, and unconscionable that every single tool that we have is not being deployed right now and it’s shameful that we continue to put lives at risk.
“And so it is important for us to nationalize the supply chain, it’s important for us to take action in nationalizing our health care system. It’s important for us to really the make the call for the nationalization of our supply chain and our health care system.”
Both Ocasio-Cortez and Omar endorsed self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for president but Sanders this week announced the suspension of his campaign following a string of Democratic primary losses to former Vice President Joe Biden.