Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said in an interview with Vox on Wednesday that Americans’ “enormous suffering” is her leverage to enact leftist causes such as the Green New Deal.
Vox Editor-at-Large Ezra Klein noted that Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) recently said that Republicans, not Democrats, have used leverage during the coronavirus response.
Schatz told Klein:
Democrats have had to step into the breach to minimize suffering. There are a lot of keyboard pundits who view this as a forfeiture of leverage. And I understand what they’re saying. But we have to be very clear: They’re talking about using suffering as leverage. That is what the Republicans do, not what we do.
Klein asked Jayapal what kind of leverage progressives and Democrats have to reduce “human suffering.”
Jayapal responded, charging that progressives need bold ideas to counter the spread of suffering.
That is exactly the point: How do we respond to the scale of the suffering if we are just responding to one piece of it? If we are giving away the thing that Republicans are hanging their hat on, then what brings them back to the table for negotiation?
So I think it depends on how you use the word leverage. For me, the leverage is that there is enormous suffering, and if we do not respond with the boldness and the scale that this crisis demands, then that suffering will continue. I think it’s important for us to not allow ourselves to be pulled into a place where we don’t define the agenda, given that we are the ones that seem to be put in the position of really defining what the solution is going to land on. [emphasis added]
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) slammed Jayapal’s move to use Americans’ suffering as “political opportunism.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.