Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Opens Up About How Her Salary Has Changed How She Lives

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The most followed member of the Freshman Democrats in the House has seen her life transform in the past year. She went from serving food and drinks to serving more than 690,000 people in New York's 14th congressional district. On Saturday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about how her financial situation has changed — and what that says about working class Americans who are struggling. Poor character, she says, has nothing to do with it.

"It’s a huge myth designed to keep people from empowering themselves," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about the connection some make between poor character and financial struggle.

"When I was waitressing, I used to jerk awake in the middle of sleep worried that I may have forgotten if a bill cleared, or if I had enough [money] to pay a Dr in cash," Ocasio-Cortez wrote, giving an example and using the sack of money emoji. "Was that bc I was 'irresponsible?' No. It’s bc I wasn’t being paid a living wage as cost of living skyrocketed."

Ocasio-Cortez's examples turned into a nine-tweet thread about credit, pay, GDP, taxation, and more, using her personal life as an example. More than 150,000 people liked the first tweet in the thread as of Sunday morning.

"Now I’m going through a huge income transition compared to living off tips (which diff pay every week, very hard)," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, adding that she also has "HEALTH INSURANCE" and therefore fewer expenses.

"According to banks, I’d be more 'responsible,' but my character hasn’t changed. Just my math," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "The myth that bad credit or struggling w bills = irresponsibility is a heinous myth. Paying people less than what’s needed to live is what’s actually irresponsible. GDP + costs are rising, wages are not. That doesn’t mean YOU’RE bad. It means working people are set up to fail."

Ocasio-Cortez went on to criticize the Chase #MondayMotivation tweet that suggested spending on "any expense beyond mere animalistic survival" — as AOC puts it — was the reason Americans have low bank balances. Ocasio-Cortez argued that Americans shouldn't have to choose between spending on things like a cab home after work and paying their rent.

"US GDP is at an all-time high. As a nation, we are more prosperous than we ever have been," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "But that’s simply not the lived truth." Wages, when adjusted for inflation, have stayed about the same over the last 40 years, according to the Pew Research Center. The cost of living in 2018, meanwhile, was rising faster than the previous 10 years, CBS News reported, which could erode any recent wage growth.

Ocasio-Cortez wrote that her push for new taxes on the rich are not aimed at people like her, who make around what a doctor or corporate lawyer makes. Rather she says that she's focused on the level of rich that "is simply not good for society."

She also talked about what a "moral society, a good nation" would need to do to establish basic standards of dignity. She points to public healthcare, a minimum living wage, public education (including college), and "all people having power in the economy."

Her final tip to her followers was to unionize their workplaces. "Demand a raise," she tweeted. "And don’t stop until you get one."