Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Budget Comments Got Knocked By Critics & Her Response Is Everything
Ever since she achieved a surprise victory in the New York Democratic primaries, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been making waves among progressives who, like her, are fighting for universal health care, an end to immigration crackdowns, and the elimination of corporate money from politics. As a result, however, she has received numerous attacks from conservatives, the latest of which accuse her of intentionally fudging budget figures to make a point. But when Ocasio-Cortez's inaccurate budget comments were spotlighted by her critics, she had the perfect response.
In an interview with The Daily Show's Trevor Noah last month, Ocasio-Cortez argued that Congress should cut down on military and defense spending to pay for things like Medicare for all.
"Just last year we gave the military a $700 billion dollar budget increase, which they didn’t even ask for," Ocasio-Cortez told Noah. "They were like, we don’t want another fighter jet! Don’t give us another nuclear bomb. They didn’t even ask for it. And we gave it to them."
Ocasio-Cortez's critics were quick to point out that the military did not, in fact, get a $700 billion dollar budget increase. However, PolitiFact — which clarified that the military had actually only received a $61 billion increase from 2016 to 2017, not $700 billion — pointed out that Ocasio-Cortez quickly acknowledged this mistake herself. But when criticism continued to roll in, accusing Ocasio-Cortez of making a "false claim," the 28-year-old candidate to the House of Representatives argued that she was being treated unfairly:
Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter on Saturday to remark that she — a first time female candidate — had made a "small slip on a budgetary figure during an extemporaneous interview," and was bombarded with comments like "This girl is SO uninformed! She needs to stay quiet until she knows everything!" She then pointed out that Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe once brought a snowball to Congress to disprove climate change — and didn't receive nearly the same level of backlash and criticism. Instead, people simply seemed to shrug off Inhofe's inaccuracy, Ocasio-Cortez suggested using a single emoji.
PolitiFact explained in its fact-check of Ocasio-Cortez's comment that she had indeed made a slip. The figure of $700 billion was not random; instead, it represented the total 2018 budget allocated to the military, including the Department of Defense and Energy Department programs dealing with nuclear weapons.
This is also not the first time that Ocasio-Cortez has had her credibility questioned, especially with regards to her economic policy proposals. Early last month, Newsmax TV's John Cardillo tweeted a picture of Ocasio-Cortez's childhood home in order to argue that she had been lying about being a working-class woman from the Bronx. In response, Ocasio-Cortez quickly contradicted his claims, and suggested that Cardillo was "attempting to strip me of my family, my story, my home, and my identity" because he was scared "of the power of all four of those things."
But the criticism Ocasio-Cortez has routinely received for her economic proposals also reflects a stark discrepancy between media treatment of her and more experienced male politicians like Paul Ryan, according to Vox's Matthew Yglesias. In a brief Twitter thread, Yglesias pointed out that Ryan is often lauded for his "fiscal policy seriousness" — even when his proposals have contained significant fallacies.
In a column for The Independent last month, Sirena Bergman noted that this is a widespread problem. Outspoken female candidates like Ocasio-Cortez and Cynthia Nixon often come under fire for being unapologetic in their opinions, in ways that men typically do not. But as Ocasio-Cortez has made clear on a number of occasions, she will keep firing back at her critics, and fighting for the policies she and other progressives have long been advocating for.