The California representative has some ideas for how to broaden the appeal of progressive policy.

by David Dayen, The American Prospect

In 2017, Rep. Ro Khanna entered Congress, and in his first year began speaking out about a price-gouging defense contractor named TransDigm that ultimately returned $16 million in overcharges to the Pentagon. A War Powers resolution he introduced in his first year to end U.S.-backed involvement in the war in Yemen eventually passed the House—the first War Powers Act vote to pass a chamber of Congress in U.S. history. A bill he sponsored in the House called the Endless Frontier Act was modified to become the CHIPS and Science Act, which invests in semiconductor manufacturing and basic research, and passed the House this year.

For a backbench Democrat, Khanna has had an outsize impact, whether in the minority or the majority. And he’s been at the forefront of not only the policies of the Progressive Caucus, but areas of bipartisan cooperation on national security and industrial policy. Khanna has been unique in going into red areas to talk about his goals for broadly shared prosperity, which to him is rooted in bringing back industrial jobs onshore and investing in America.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) speaks before a group of youth at the Capitol on Building Back better and how the pending infrastructure bill would impact the environment.

At a coffee shop near the Capitol earlier this month, Khanna and I talked about his economic agenda, the role of public investment, his recent public opposition to internet censorship, the Progressive Caucus’s role in the next Congress, antitrust, crypto, and more. An edited transcript follows.

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