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Ocasio-Cortez’s policy knowledge lacks substance

| Monday, February 11, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is like a massive train wreck — so hard to watch, yet you cannot look away. Watching her attempt to answer even elementary questions is like watching Paula Abdul try to stay awake during an episode of “American Idol” — I’m on the edge of my seat wondering if today is the day she does it. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has offered so many cringe-worthy blunders that I could write an entire column about her political gaffes. So I did.

My first indication that Ocasio-Cortez might not be the sharpest political mind within the Democratic Party was her massive fumble on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During an interview on PBS’s “Firing Line,” host Margaret Hoover asked Ocasio-Cortez to explain what she meant by the Israeli “occupation of Palestine.” You have to be living under a rock to not understand what Democrats mean when they wail about the “Israeli occupation of Palestine.” Yet, Ocasio-Cortez, then the Democratic candidate for New York’s 14th congressional district, seemed to lack even a basic understanding of one of the most prominent political conflicts in modern history. After taking a pause that lasted longer than Idina Menzel’s final note in “The Wizard and I,” Ocasio-Cortez came up with: “Oh, um, I think what I meant is like the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where, uh, Palestinians are experiencing, uh, difficulty in access to, uh, their housing and homes.” Even enthusiastic supporters of Ocasio-Cortez must have face-palmed after that borderline-comical response. Ocasio-Cortez then dumped one final jug of gasoline on her dumpster fire of an answer by explaining, “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.” No kidding, Alexandria. Later, in that same interview, Ocasio-Cortez tried to explain changes in unemployment. Consistent with her previous attempts at understanding basic concepts, she failed so miserably that even Politifact had to rate her remarks as “pants on fire.”

So we’ve established that “geopolitics” is not Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s area of expertise. Perhaps her constituents are willing to overlook her complete lack of knowledge on the issue because resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not a core promise upon which she campaigned. Rather, Ocasio-Cortez built her entire campaign upon supporting massive socialist programs — Medicare for all, free college, a federal job guarantee, housing as a federal right, guaranteed income for people unwilling to work, etc. Surely, then, Ocasio-Cortez can answer rudimentary questions about those programs. Well, to quote President Trump, “Wrong.”

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Ocasio-Cortez was asked how she planned to finance her grandiose social programs. Tapper confronted the Representative with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Tax Policy Center’s (two organizations that Tapper noted were left-leaning and sympathetic to Ocasio-Cortez’s policy proposals) estimates that her proposed programs would cost more than $40 trillion over the next 10 years. As Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to tax the rich and corporations into oblivion would only bring in $2 trillion over the same time period, Tapper was interested from where the remaining $38 trillion would come. In her barely intelligible response, Ocasio-Cortez claimed that government-run programs would be more cost-effective than systems left to the private sector (the efficiency for which the federal government is so well-known) and, therefore, the costs for the proposed public programs would be reduced. Let’s join Alexandria in fantasyland for a moment and pretend turning over these massive systems to the government would reduce costs. In fact, we’ll pretend that they will reduce costs by a full $10 trillion. Even in fantasyland, Ocasio-Cortez is still missing $28 trillion. Ocasio-Cortez’s full-time job is working through these questions and the best answer she can formulate is: “Just trust me, it’ll work.”

Why does Ocasio-Cortez struggle so much with basic facts and concepts? Because she admittedly isn’t interested in precision, facts or accuracy. In a now-famous interview with Anderson Cooper, Ocasio-Cortez said, “I think there’s a lot of people more concerned with being precisely, factually and semantically correct than being morally right.” You can’t write this stuff, folks. Ocasio-Cortez quite literally said: my feelings are more important than your facts. This is the danger posed by progressive Democrats. They admittedly throw evidence, logic, rationale and reason out the window for the sake of feeling warm and fuzzy. And these are the people we’re supposed to trust with our healthcare?

Americans are, by definition, anti-socialist. So if the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is going to attempt to sell socialism to the American people, they might want to choose a representative with an intellectual capacity greater than that of Ocasio-Cortez.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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