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Ocasio-Cortez on Biden hopes: We can likely push him in a more progressive direction

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Though she supported Sen. Bernie Sanders, the socialist independent from Vermont, during the Democratic presidential primaries earlier this year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she now backs the voters’ choice, Joe Biden, and believes he can be persuaded to pursue similar left-wing policies.

In an interview with Just The News, the self-described ‘Democratic socialist’ responding to reports that Sanders has voiced concerns to the Biden campaign that the nominee is not left-wing enough at this point.

Asked whether she agreed with that assessment, Ocasio-Cortez responded, “Of course, I do.”

“We’re different people, and clearly I, in the primary, one of the reasons why I was supportive of Senator Sanders was because of how progressive his stances are, but, you know, the primaries are over, and right now what is most important is to make sure that we ensure a Democratic victory in November and that we continue to push Vice President Biden on issues from marijuana to climate change to foreign policy,” she said.

She then said she believes the ‘progressive’ wing of the Democratic Party, which is expanding, can push Biden further left.

“I think, overall, we can likely push Vice President Biden in a more progressive direction across policy issues,” she said during a Tuesday interview on Capitol Hill.

”I think foreign policy is an enormous area where we can improve; immigration is another one. There are some areas where we just fundamentally disagree, but that’s okay,” she continued.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that we can have, in some cases, very large disagreements — it doesn’t mean that we’re trying to undermine the party or undermine each other. It means that we’re trying to do what’s best for people in the country,” she claimed.

Ocasio-Cortez is one of the House’s most left-leaning members. A member of a group of other left-wing lawmakers known as “The Squad,” she has advocated for massive new government spending on programs like the “Green New Deal,” healthcare-for-all measures, and other new benefits like free housing and education.

On healthcare, in particular, the New York freshman lawmaker disagrees with Biden, whose campaign, she says, has been “pretty stubborn” about the issue. She said that while Biden’s federally-managed ‘public option’ is better than the current Affordable Care Act, which Democrats — including Biden and then-President Barack Obama — hailed at the time as the final solution to all healthcare-related problems in the country.

“One concern I’d say that I have with a public option is that it very easily allows insurance companies to just kind of bump off their more expensive patients onto a public option, thus making an increase in the costs on a public option and kind of them keeping healthier people that require less insurance coverage for themselves,” she said.

Insurers generally charge more to cover people with preexisting health conditions because they require more frequent care, which is more expensive.

“The whole purpose of insurance is to even out those costs, which is why I believe single-payer is a better policy, so in terms of that we do disagree,” she said. “But either way, I do think that a public option is likely a better scenario than we have right now.”

AOC, as she is popularly known, also discussed other policy initiatives she would like to see the former vice president address if he wins.

“We’ll see what progress that we’re able to make on issues like immigration and criminal justice reform,” she told Just The News, adding she also hoped that a Biden administration would push for full legalization of marijuana.

“One perfect example is that I believe in the legalization of marijuana, not just decriminalization, but full legalization, regulation, etc.,” she said. “But, you know, we will hash those out. Our main priority is to make sure that the vice president is successful and victorious in November so that we can have those kinds of conversations in the first place from a more effective stance with him in the White House.”

Jon Dougherty

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