The United States House of Representatives has seen a youth movement over the past few years, with millennials beginning to take some of the seats that were once filled by members of the Boomer generation and Gen X. Many of these younger representatives have been part of the Democratic Party, with nine in particular often joining forces on topics that appeal to younger liberals.
This group of nine representatives is known as “The Squad.” The Squad was spearheaded by New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and originally also consisted of Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), and Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts). Since then, several other members have been added, including Cori Bush (Missouri) and Greg Casar (Texas).
This group has received a lot of criticism from the right side of the aisle. Republicans have said that The Squad has ideals that are “too extreme” to the left, and The Squad has proven to be a thorn in the side of older right-wing politicians. If you’re not familiar with The Squad, here’s a look at some of their basic economic policies:
Student Loan Forgiveness
In 2022, student loan debt became one of the biggest news stories of the year. There were many that were above their eyes in debt, and the COVID-19 pandemic saw a lot of relief in terms of that debt as payments were postponed each month. President Joe Biden then said that he wanted to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for those making less than $125,000 per year.
Members of The Squad were strongly in support of Biden’s ideas, including Squad leader AOC. “I’m 32 years old now, I have over $17,000 in student loan debt,” she said when the idea was being floated around. “And I didn’t go to graduate school because I knew that getting another degree would drown me in debt.”
AOC wasn’t the only member that shared their personal stories about student loan debt. All of the members said that put together, their debt was between $180,000 and $400,000. Of course, there were members of the Republican Party that criticized The Squad for not paying off their student loan debt sooner.
Build Back Better
One of the more divisive bills that has been introduced in recent memory is the Build Back Better Act, which was introduced as part of President Biden’s plan to rebuild American infrastructure in every state. The bill wouldn’t be a cheap one, as the budget for the project was said to have been $3.5 trillion from the start.
There was a lot of in-fighting in Congress about the infrastructure bill, with members of the Republican Party wanting a separate infrastructure bill passed. The Squad didn’t want any of the bills to be passed until there was more spending on battling climate change and supporting American citizens financially. In the end, members of The Squad voted against a bipartisan bill that was put in place of Build Back Better, with AOC correctly predicting that the latter would be ultimately blocked by Joe Manchin.
Universal Basic Income
Members of The Squad feel that it’s too hard for Americans to earn a living wage, and the future use of AI and robotics will leave many people unemployed. With that in mind, they support the idea that was introduced by Andrew Yang of a universal basic income. This was amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people lost their jobs.
“This is not the time for half measures,” Ocasio-Cortez said during the height of the pandemic. “We need to take dramatic action now to stave off the worst public health and economic effects. That includes making moves on paid leave, debt relief, waiving work requirements guaranteeing healthcare, UBI, detention relief.”
Medicare For All
There are a lot of people in the United States that don’t have any health insurance at all, with more than eight percent of the country falling into this category. Members of The Squad have been supporters of the Medicare For All Act, which would allow everyone in the country to receive medicare, no matter their employment status, healthy history, age, etc.
More than 120 Democrats have cosponsored the bill, but it has never been brought to a vote. At one point, AOC even said that she wouldn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House until she brought the Medicare For All Act to the floor. The act would allow for a single-payer healthcare system in the US, but it seems that it’s dead in the water for now. Still, Squad members want it to be a big part of the country’s future.