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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials AOC (1989–), is an American social democratic politician and activist who is currently a United States Representative from New York's 14th Congressional district. She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and Justice Democrats. In addition, her campaign was endorsed by political action committees Brand New Congress and MoveOn, and by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Born in the Bronx, New York City, Ocasio-Cortez graduated cum laude from Boston University's College of Arts and Sciences in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in economics and international relations. Joe Crowley was her chief rival for the Democratic primary before being defeated in June and endorsing Ocasio-Cortez's run for the House of Representatives. Following the results of the 2018 midterm elections, which saw a record-breaking number of female candidates, she became the youngest woman ever elected to the House. She was an aide for Ted Kennedy towards the end of his life and worked for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in the 2016 election.
Ocasio-Cortez is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist but later interviews show that what she means is social democracy though her rhetoric is further to the left of historical social democrats.
Generally her political bread and butter are economics and enviromental policy which are tightly interconnected. She has described climate change as "the single biggest national security threat for the United States" and stated that "The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change". She proposed an environmental economic stimulus program know as the "Green New Deal" to combat climate change. The program has been endorsed and praised by numerous members of Congress.
Her economic policies include universal healthcare, postal banking,[note 1] (the United States previously had a Postal Savings System from 1911 to 1966) reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act,[note 2] a Federal jobs guarantee, basic income,[note 3] tuition-free public college and trade school and wants to cancel all of student debt.
She favors reducing the military budget, and wants only Congress to have the power to declare war. Additionaly she advocates the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She argues that the creation of ICE is an example of unchecked executive powers at the expense of civil rights and points to the family-separation policy of Donald Trump. She wants to provide immigrants with a clear path towards citizenship.
She has clarified that she does not support stopping all deportations. This was after a bit of controversy over the deportation of a former Nazi living in New York being deported back to Germany. On LGBT issues Ocasio-Cortez endorses the Equality Act,[note 4] Every Child Deserves a Family Act,[note 5] and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.[note 6] Ocasio-Cortez supports the release of nonviolent drug offenders, banning private prisons, the abolition of cash bail, and automatic, independent investigations for killings of individuals by law enforcement. Finally she also supports the federal legalization of marijuana and the end to the War on Drugs.
Crankery and misleading claims
An eager political newcomer, AOC has made some blunders including the misleading claim that the Pentagon was responsible for "massive accounting fraud" worth $21 trillion from 1998 to 2015, and that money could be used to fund Medicare for All. In reality, while the Pentagon did fail an audit test, indicating a serious accounting problem that needs to be addressed, its actual combined budget during those years was $9.2 trillion, less than half the alleged fraud. The number $21 trillion came from the adjustments made to the Pentagon's financial records. Money that cannot be traced is not the same thing as money spent or wasted.
Green New Deal and Healthcare
Her non-binding Green New Deal resolution was undermined by a FAQ sheet posted on her website containing some of the more extreme ideas not included in the actual resolution itself, such as offering "economic security" to those "unwilling to work," and halting the construction of new nuclear power plants. It was later retracted. Her chief of staff said that it was released prematurely and that people should pay attention to the "big picture" instead of "little typos." In any case, this has created confusion for the tens of Democrats who voiced their support for the Green New Deal, including declared presidential candidates for the 2020 election, such as Elizabeth Warren, and her former boss Bernie Sanders.
In February 2019, she stated in an MSNBC interview that "70% of Americans believe in improved and expanded Medicare for All." This is regarded as a half-truth by PolitiFact, noting that she got this figure from a Reuters poll. 
A poll conducted by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation (A foundation started by the healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente) in January 2019 found that while 71% of Americans agree that healthcare should be a human right, support for Medicare for All drops to 37% if it means higher taxes and 26% if it leads to longer wait times. One sees that political discourse on this proposal remains in its infancy; public opinion is not yet stable. Estimates for the cost of the plan varies from $25 trillion to $35 trillion over a ten year period, according to various independent studies. An independent study by a libertarian think tank suggests that Medicare for All could cost $32.6 trillion over ten years. By 2019, Medicare for All has become a major political issue for Democrats in Congress, as well as in state and local governments. Many try to control costs and expand coverage, including for illegal immigrants.
In a 2018 interview on PBS, Ocasio-Cortez claimed that: "Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family." This statement about US unemployment is misleading on several counts. First, obviously, when the unemployment rate is computed a person is counted as employed if they have at least one job. They do not get counted multiple times if they have more jobs. So multiple job holding and long hours do not affect the unemployment rate. Second, people who might be working 70 or 80 hours a week amount to a tiny percentage - 310,000 people at most in a pool of employed Americans totalling more than 150 million. Also, on average, Americans are not working more today than they have been in the recent past, they're working around 40 and a half hours a week. According to the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Statistics, only 4.9% of people in the workforce had multiple jobs in 2017. That figure has never been higher than 6.5% over the past 24 years.
Ocasio-Cortez wants a 70% marginal income tax on people whose earnings exceed $10 million, arguing that her tax scheme is hardly unprecedented. Such a high top rate has sparked a debate even within her own party, where people tend to be open to the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy. Suggested alternatives include eliminating past tax cuts for the rich and taxing foreign revenues of multinational corporations. However, experts warn that this is a most inappropriate time for letting the deficit grow, given a recent massive tax cut. In 2019, the U.S. national debt topped $22 trillion thanks to a mismatch between government spending and revenue.[note 7] While public support for higher taxes has fallen from 77% in 1992 down to 62% in 2018, according to a Gallup poll, there is rising support for tax hikes on the wealthy among liberal voters, with Democrats being twice as likely to support higher taxes on the wealthy. In contrast, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is favored by only 8% of Democrats but about three-quarters of Republicans and one-third of Independents. Meanwhile, an NPR/PBS/Marist poll showed that although only 11% of voters in the 2018 midterm elections considered tax cuts to be an important issue, 60% wanted to reverse the tax cuts in order to fund Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
While she correctly points out that income inequality is a serious problem facing the United States today, she is often careless about the accuracy of her specific statements, which undermines her message. For example, she said that the "vast majority" of Americans do not make a living wage. But according to an expert in economic geography and regional planning consulted by The Washington Post, that actual number is below 40%, which is still large, but does not justify the phrase "vast majority." This is also found in 2016 wage statistics hosted by the Social Security Administration. However, 27.3 million Americans work part-time and 19.2 million are between the ages of 16 and 24, which may help to explain why the number of workers not earning a living wage is so high.
Her plan is to have United States run on 100% renewable energy within ten years of the passage of her Green New Deal. In fact, she wants the U.S. to be a world leader in the field of renewable energy,[note 9] even though fossil fuels amount to 80% of the U.S. energy market in 2018. Furthermore, she wants massive investments in emissions-free vehicle manufacturing and infrastructure.Notably, she made no mention of hydropower, from which came 7.5% of U.S. electricity in 2017. Although typically classified as renewable energy, hydropower is ecologically disruptive. Nor does she provide a lot of specifics.
While she does not explicitly rule out nuclear power[note 10] and carbon-capturing technology, she is incredibly inconsistent with the former. In the FAQ about the Green New Deal, it says "A Green New Deal is a massive investment in renewable energy production and would not include creating new nuclear plants." Nuclear power is a zero-emission energy source. Moreover, it says "the plan is to transition off of all nuclear and all fossil fuels as soon as possible." However, the resolution states that the plan is to meet "100 percent of the power demand in the United States through, clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources".
A point of confusion was over carbon emissions. Ocasio-Cortez wants the United States to achieve net-zero emissions, not zero emissions, which would be technologically impossible, given the necessary changes to American infrastructure and manufacturing. She makes this clear in the FAQ, saying "We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast".
Ocasio-Cortez wants to improve the resiliency of U.S. infrastructure, to maximize the energy, and water efficiency of buildings, and to upgrade to energy-efficient "smart grids." She supports more investments in public transit, and high-speed rail. She seeks to stimulate the growth of green manufacturing in the United States, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, and to provide "universal access to clean water."
At one point, her FAQ sheet called for the construction of "high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary." This is not in the final draft of the Green New Deal resolution. High-speed rail is only about as time-efficient as air travel for distances of around 400 miles (640 km) or less. Therefore, it makes sense to build a high-speed railway connecting New York City and Boston, which are 215 miles (344 km) apart,[note 11] but not New York City and Los Angeles, separated by a distance of 2790 miles (4464 km). High-speed rail is expensive but could be feasible depending on the region. For example, the annual ridership of Amtrak's Chicago-St. Louis corridor (Lincoln Service) within the last decade or so has been well over half a million and its average travel time was five and a half hours in 2017. A study conducted by the University of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation estimated that if a high-speed rail service of 220 mph (352 km/h) was provided, ridership would increase to somewhere between eight and fifteen million while travel time could drop to just about two hours.
Before she was sworn in the 116th Congress, Ocasio-Cortez participated in an orientation for new members in November 2018 where she exposed the influence of lobbyists in Capitol Hill. She went on Twitter to expose the specific lobbyists leading the orientation: "Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where's labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?"
In fact, AOC has the unique trait of having a massive media presence for someone who's not a celebrity and was virtually unknown before winning her primary. In November 2018, two months before she was sworn in, she had 1.4 million Twitter followers and by July 2019 that number grew to almost 4.8 million She has generated as much social media attention as the Democratic candidates for 2020 though some of this media attention is Alt-right trolls and Donald Trump trying to turn her into the "face" of the Democratic Party, thinking the ideas she represents would harm the Democrats.
Ocasio-Cortez wants to use her newfound fame and power to realize a vision for an America that is diametrically opposed to that of President Donald Trump. Shortly after being elected to Congress, she proposed the highly ambitious—but nonbinding—resolution, the Green New Deal, whose name came from the New Deal, the package of socioeconomic programs from President Franklin D. Roosevelt aimed at combating the Great Depression. Experts such as Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist that worked under the Obama administration, and Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, have expressed doubts about the feasibility of this proposal, given that she wants the goals met within ten years.
In an act Democratic Congressmen called a stunt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leader stated that he wants the Senate to vote on the Green New Deal should it reach the Senate to put Democrats on record for supporting it. Unlike the many bills that McConnell has stifled, he probably thinks that there is no political loss allowing a vote on it — it won't pass a Republican-controlled Senate, it will put Democratic Senators on record for supporting it which can be useful for Republican election campaigning, and even if it does pass it will have no effect because it's nonbinding.
Her fame continued well after she was sworn in; her first speech in the House, Ocasio-Cortez slammed the Trump administration over the partial government shutdown. In spite of the speech being barely four minutes long, the CN-SPAN tweet containing her speech garnered a record setting 1.16 million views. In February, a political video posted on Twitter garnered 37.5 million views in which Alexandria exposes the influence of dark money in the government.
Other actions she has taken was a sharp questioning of Michael Cohen before the Oversight Commission and tearing Mark Zuckerberg apart for allowing fake news to proliferate in Facebook for which she recieved praise.
In spite of her strongly enviromental stance, she voted alongside the rest of the Democratic House caucus for a bill allocating $580 million in federal funding over two years to public and private energy development in Europe and Eurasia, including natural gas and fracking. The bill was pushed as a policy to counter Russia's energy dominance.
Wingnut obsession and conspiracy mongering
Being a young, attractive, intelligent woman of color who is on the left made AOC a target for wingnuts. Conservative men are obsessed with her and she's a big target of hoax claims and false accusations.
Some of the notable nuttery includes:
- She's an actress paid to pretend to be a congresswoman. This one comes from a misunderstanding of what a political action committee is.
- Another manufactorversy over Ocasio-Cortez (correctly) calling the Democratic Party a "center-conservative" party with a progressive wing
- During one of her town hall meetings, a woman stands up and starts yelling that, to deal with climate change we should start eating babies
- Being accused of fake crying at an immigrant camp, suspiciously reminiscent of when President Obama was accused of fake crying about gun violence
- Calling for a ban on 9/11 images
- Fake tweet about the difficulty of refueling gasoline-powered cars during hurricanes
- Memes containing out of context quotes
- Saying that Christianity should be ignored for being superstition
- Claiming that US soldiers are overpaid
- Calling the US garbage when was actually about her criticizing both parties for abandoning the working class
- She was fired from a hot dog firm for incompetence
- Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's official House website.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 2018 House campaign website.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter
- Donald Trump's infrastructure priorities. Global Construction Review. January 30, 2017.
- Diamond, Peter, and Emmanuel Saez. "The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations." The Journal of Economic Perspectives. vol. 25, no. 4, 2011, pp. 165–190.
- Why is GERMANY such an industrial leader? VisualPolitik EN. September 11, 2017. Pay particular attention to German vocational training and German trade unions.
- Postal banking refers to allowing depositors without access to banks to save their money using post offices.
- The Glass-Steagall Act refers to the 1933 Banking Act and its four provisions that established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and separated investment banking from commercial banking, among other banking reforms.
- Finland completed its basic income trial for 2000 citizens in early 2019. Basic income boosted happiness but not employment. The economist leading the trial said this was not a surprise for economists, given that the jobless tend to lack marketable skills and have health issues or decision-making problems. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned that implementing such a scheme nationwide requires higher taxes, which could upset voters, and might even increase poverty
- A bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- A bill that would prohibit Federally assisted adoption or foster care placement entities from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- A bill aiming to protect LGBT+ students from bullying and discrimination in schools.
- U.S. GDP in 2018 was approximately $20.9 trillion. Therefore, the debt-to-GDP ratio is about 105%. Details here.
- The same expert calculated that a single parent with two children earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has to work a staggering 135 hours a week.
- In other words, a green superpower.
- Especially see Generation IV reactors.
- Such a line already exists and is part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialists of America member. Here’s what that means. Vox. June 27th, 2018.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Fights the Power The Nation. June 22nd, 2018.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez named 2017 NHI Person of the Year NHI Magazine. December 31st, 2018.
- Boston University Commencement 2011
- Ocasio-Cortez rips Crowley for not giving up Working Families Party line NY Daily News. July 12th, 2018.
- US mid-terms latest: Five key things we learned. BBC News. November 7, 2018.
- Meet the young progressive Latina trying to oust one of the most powerful Democrats in the House Mic. February 28th, 2018.
- Religious affiliations of the 116th Congress Pew Research Center
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the DSA
- AOC explains what democratic socialism means to her
- Ocasio-Cortez explains democratic socialism
- "' The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change,' Ocasio-Cortez says". USA Today. Jan 22, 2019.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez leads push for Green New Deal as the way forward on climate change Boston Herald. January 8th, 2019.
- Cosponsors - H.Res.109 - Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal. Library of Congress.
- ‘Medicare for All’ Gains Favor With Democrats Looking Ahead to 2020 The New York Times. December 29th, 2018
- Twitter Post January 15th 2019.
- Creation of the Postal Savings System under the Act of June 25, 1910
- Discontinuance of Postal Savings System.
- Curb Wall Street Gambling: Restore Glass Steagall
- Why Democrats Should Embrace a Federal Jobs Guarantee The Nation. March 20th, 2018.
- Progressive Populism Can Save Us From Trump The New York Times. July 7th, 2018.
- Twitter post May 3rd, 2018
- A Peace Economy
- Ocasio-Cortez wants to abolish ICE CNN.
- 2018 Platform. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Accessed February 13, 2019.
- Twitter post. August 21, 2018.
- Support LGBTQIA+
- Criminal Justice Reform, End Private Prisons
- The Misleading Claim That $21 Trillion in Misspent Pentagon Funds Could Pay for ‘Medicare for All’. The New York Times. Fact Check. December 3, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2019.
- Ocasio-Cortez retracts erroneous information about Green New Deal backed by 2020 Democratic candidates. The Washington Post. February 11, 2019. Accessed February 12, 2019.
- Poll cited.
- PolitiFact clarification of claim.
- Poll: Support for 'Medicare-for-all' fluctuates with details. Associated Press. January 23, 2019. Accessed February 3, 2019.
- Democrat-led cities and states move toward universal health care on their own terms. PBS NewsHour. February 13, 2019. Accessed February 13, 2019.
- https://www.pbs.org/video/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-barhhq/ about 5:50
- "". https://www.cnbc.com.
- Worker Stats for Multiple Jobs in 2017.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrong on several counts about unemployment. politifact.com, 18 July 2018.
- Ocasio-Cortez sparks debate with talk of 70 percent marginal rate. The Hill. January 12, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2019.
- Ocasio-Cortez boosts progressive theory that deficits aren’t so scary. Politico. February 6, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2019.
- National debt tops $22 trillion for the first time as experts warn of ripple effects. USA Today. February 12, 2019. Accessed February 13, 2019.
- Why 2020 Democratic candidates are pushing more progressive tax proposals. PBS NewsHour. February 19, 2019. Accessed March 7, 2019.
- Wage Statistics for 2016
- Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Ocasio-Cortez's misfired facts on living wage and minimum wage. Fact-checker. The Washington Post. January 24, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2019.
- Ocasio-Cortez To Unveil Ambitious Plan To Combat Climate Change. NPR. February 7, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2019.
- McCombs, Brady (May 30, 2019). "Energy secretary: US aims to making fossil fuels cleaner". Associated Press. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
- Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal. United States Congress, 7 February 2019.
- Five things to know about Ocasio-Cortez’s 'Green New Deal'. The Hill. November 24, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2019.
- 7 questions about the Green New Deal. PolitiFact. February 12, 2019. Accessed February 12, 2019.
- Green New Deal: Fact Sheet and FAQ
- See the Wikipedia article on Green New Deal.
- Derek Markham, Planet Green. 8 Benefits of High-speed Trains - Number 4. August 29, 2012. Accessed February 14, 2019.
- Wikipedia contributors. "Lincoln Service." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Updated December 13, 2018. Accessed February 17, 2019.
- High-speed can succeed: Study says bullet trains in Illinois costly but feasible. Crain's Chicago Business. October 2, 2013. Accessed February 17, 2019.
- Ocasio-Cortez and House freshmen protest orientation
- AOC rips presence of lobbyist at Congress orientation
- AOC twitter followers November
- AOC followers July
- Stats on how Trump is pushing AOC as the Dem's face
- Democrats shun GOP-forced vote on Green New Deal
- McConnell Plans To Bring Green New Deal To Senate Vote by Danielle Kurtzleben ( February 12, 20195:43 PM ET) NPR.
- AOC first speech sets record
- AOC's remarks about dark money goes viral
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivers devastating analysis about dark money's influence
- 10 big moments from Michael Cohen's hearing
- "So you won't take down fake news?"
- Shields and Brooks on Cohen testimony, North Korean summit
- House Democrats voted for a natural gas future and nobody noticed
- Why Republicans obsess over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Guardian, 31 March 2019.
- No, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez probably didn't say that. politifact.com, 27 March 2019.
- Dan Evon, Is U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez an Actress Playing a Congresswoman? Snopes, 15 March 2019.
- Ryan Saavedra, Ocasio-Cortez Promotes Unsubstantiated Conspiracy Theory About Trump. dailywire.com, 22 July 2019.
- Chrissy Clark, Ocasio-Cortez Calls The Democratic Party ‘Center-Conservative’ thefederalist.com, 20 January 2020.
- Allyson Chiu, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's town hall was interrupted by a stunt planned by a pro-Trump fringe group. The Washington Post, 4 October 2019.
- Bethania Palma, Does an Image Show Ocasio-Cortez Fake-Crying at a Migrant Camp? Snopes, 27 June 2019.
- German Lopez, The Daily Show rips Fox News for accusing Obama of fake-crying about gun violence. vox.com, 7 January 2016.
- Corky Siemaszko, Obama: We Are Here to Prevent the Next Mass Shooting. NBC News, 5 January 2016.
- Bethania Palma, Did AOC Say the Public Shouldn’t See 9/11 Photos Because They’re ‘Triggering’? Snopes, 13 September 2019.
- David Mikkelson, Did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tweet About Electric Cars in Hurricanes? Snopes, 30 August 2019.
- David Mikkelson, Is This a Transcript from a Radio Interview with U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez? Snopes, 19 July 2019.
- Did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Submit a Bill that Bans Open Carrying of Guns? Snopes, 21 October 2019.
- Did AOC Say Christianity Should Be Ignored as ‘Superstitious Nonsense’? Snopes, 6 January 2020.
- Dan Macguill, Did U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Say ‘We Pay Soldiers Too Much’? Snopes, 22 July 2019.
- Bethania Palma, Did AOC Refer to the U.S. and Its People as ‘Garbage’? Snopes, 22 July 2019.
- Dan Evon, Was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Once Fired from Hot Dog on a Stick? Snopes, 14 February 2019.