Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked political observers in June after defeating 10-term incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th District by nearly 14 points.
The 29-year-old self-described socialist who has become known as the “Sarah Palin of the Left” has used her new national voice to stump for left-wing challengers to establishment Democrats in primaries across the country.
As the fresh face of the progressive left heads to Washington, here’s a look back at some of the congresswoman-elect’s hot-button statements made in media appearances along the campaign trail.
1. Capitalism in the Crosshairs
“Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs,” said Ocasio-Cortez in an interview on PBS’ “Firing Line with Margaret Hoover” in July when pressed on why the unemployment rate was low in a capitalist system. “Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their kids.”
Ocasio-Cortez continued to argue the days of capitalism are numbered:
And so I do think that right now we have this no-holds-barred, Wild West hyper-capitalism. What that means is profit at any cost. Capitalism has not always existed in the world, and it will not always exist in the world. When this country started, we were not a capitalist [nation], we did not operate on a capitalist economy.
2. Backpedaling on Israel
In the same interview, Ocasio-Cortez also referred to the situation in Palestine as an “occupation” by Israel.
When Hoover asked Ocasio-Cortez to clarify her position after pointing out the term “occupation” was controversial, Ocasio-Cortez, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations from Boston University, struggled to explain her comment.
“I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “You know, for me, I’m a firm believer in finding a two-state solution on this issue.”
3. Explaining the Extinction of the Middle Class
In another interview, speaking with former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett on the liberal podcast “Pod Save America,” Ocasio-Cortez claimed the “upper-middle class doesn’t exist anymore.”
Ocasio-Cortez was discussing the political ideology of the country’s different socioeconomic classes when she made the claim:
I think that politically, this upper-middle class is probably more moderate, but that upper-middle class doesn’t exist anymore in America, and thanks to the continued deregulation of Wall Street, thanks to the continued gutting of working- and middle-class people, we need stronger champions.
4. A Simple Payment Plan for Progressive Medicare
When asked in an interview with Jorge Ramos last week about how to pay for Sen. Bernie Sanders’, I-V.T., “Medicare for All” proposal, which Ocasio-Cortez has put at the center of her campaign, Ocasio-Cortez responded, “You just pay for it.” She continued:
People often say, how are you gonna pay for it? And I find the question so puzzling because, how do you pay for something that’s more affordable? How do you pay for cheaper rent? How do you pay for—you just pay for it.
During this election cycle, Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive Democrats like Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who lost the Florida gubernatorial race, have claimed Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan would save the country $2 trillion if implemented, but the claim has been criticized by fact-checkers as inaccurate.
In fact, a study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows the plan would cost more than $32.6 trillion over 10 years, requiring historic tax hikes.
5. Comparing Climate Change to World War II
In a speech on her economic plan, Ocasio-Cortez likened combating climate change to the challenge posed by Nazi Germany in World War II, surmising the United States confront the issue with the same amount of resources.
“So we talk about existential threats, the last time we had a really major existential threat to this country was around World War II, and so we’ve been here before and we have a blueprint of doing this before,” Ocasio-Cortez said, adding:
What we had was an existential threat in the context of a war. We had a direct existential threat with another nation, this time it was Nazi Germany, and the Axis, who explicitly made the United States as an enemy, as an enemy. And what we did was that we chose to mobilize our entire economy and industrialized our entire economy and we put hundreds if not millions of people to work in defending our shores and defending this country. We have to do the same thing in order to get us to 100 percent renewable energy, and that’s just the truth of it.
6. Shutting Down Debate on Fossil Fuels
According to Fox News, Ocasio-Cortez declared at a campaign fundraiser there was “no debate” that fossil fuel production should be stopped.
“There’s no debate as to whether we should continue producing fossil fuels. There’s no debate,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
7. Carrying the ‘Organizer’ Torch to Washington
When asked by Chris Hayes on MSNBC about what she plans to do once she gets to Congress in two months, Ocasio-Cortez struggled to develop a coherent response and failed to offer any specifics. Instead, Ocasio-Cortez delivered this message on air:
Well, I think a lot of it has to do with changing our strategy around governance. You know there’s a lot of inside baseball and inside the beltway as you, you always hear that term thrown around. But there are very few organizers in Congress. And I do think that organizers operate differently. It’s a different kind of strategy. And what it is, is really about organizing and, and really thinking about that word: organizing. Segmenting people. Being strategic in their actions in really bringing together a cohesive strategy of putting pressure on the chamber instead of only focusing on the pressures inside the chamber.
To which Hayes responded, “That’s a really interesting thought.”