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Ocasio-Cortez defends $40 trillion price tag for progressive proposals

Washington(CNN) Progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday defended what could accrue to a $40 trillion price tag for progressive policy programs, including Medicare for all, over the next 10 years, citing the success in some European countries that have similarly developed health care models.

CNN "State of the Union" anchor Jake Tapper asked where that estimated $40 trillion -- which would include the costs for Medicare for all, jobs guarantees, student loan forgiveness, free college programs, paid family leave, and Social Security expansion -- would come from. Medicare for all would be the costliest initiative, coming in at about $32 trillion, according to the Mercatus Center, a free market-oriented think tank at George Mason University, as well as an earlier study by the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for a congressional seat in New York, referred to the publicly funded health care systems in Western Europe and Canada, calling such programs "generational investments" toward the future of a country.

"Medicare for all would save the American people a very large amount of money," she said. "What we see as well is that these systems are not just pie in the sky. Many of them are accomplished by every modern, civilized democracy in the Western world," she said. "The United Kingdom has a form of single-payer health care -- Canada, France, Germany. What we need to realize that these investments are better and they are good for our future."

But asked again where that $40 trillion would come from, aside from her proposed increase in taxes on the wealthy and corporate taxes, which she has said would raise $2 trillion over the next 10 years, Ocasio-Cortez said the taxpayer-funded programs would free people up to increase economic activity in other areas, adding that the Medicare for all program is part of "a broader agenda."

"We do know and acknowledge that there are political realities," she added. "They don't always happen with the wave of a wand, but we can work to make these things happen."

She added that "when you look at the economic activity that it spurs, for example, if you look at my generation, millennials, the amount of economic activity that we do not engage, the fact that we delay purchasing homes, that we don't participate in the economy and purchasing cars, et cetera, as fully as possible, is a cost.