Ocasio-Cortez Issues New ‘Living Wage’ Demand For Congress; Critics Point Out A Few Problems
Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t officially in office just yet, but that doesn’t mean she’s not already calling on her future colleagues to take action on her initiatives. Her newest agenda item: a “DC living wage” for everybody on Capitol Hill.
In a series of posts Monday, Ocasio-Cortez said that after meeting “several” people employed in Senate and House offices working side jobs in order to make a living, she believes it’s time for Congress to set the example for the nation by providing a “DC living wage” to all people working on Capitol Hill.
“This week I went to dive spot in DC for some late night food. I chatted up the staff,” she wrote in the first tweet. “SEVERAL bartenders, managers, & servers *currently worked in Senate + House offices.* This is a disgrace. Congress of ALL places should raise MRAs so we can pay staff an actual DC living wage.”
She followed that tweet with another describing her own salary of $174,000 as a “living wage” and calling on Congress to right this injustice, which she suggested was the Republicans’ fault.
“It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about ‘fiscal responsibility,'” she wrote. “If that’s the case, they can cut down on staff to pay them well. Or raise the MRA.”
In response to questions about how to pay for her proposed across-the-board living wage, she wrote: “Gotta love the rich irony of Congressmen asking ‘How are you going to pay for it?’ suddenly grow awfully quiet when called out on their expectation that part-time workers magically invent money to work for free.”
This week I went to dive spot in DC for some late night food. I chatted up the staff.
SEVERAL bartenders, managers, & servers *currently worked in Senate + House offices.*
This is a disgrace. Congress of ALL places should raise MRAs so we can pay staff an actual DC living wage.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 3, 2018
It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about “fiscal responsibility.”
If that’s the case, they can cut down on staff to pay them well. Or raise the MRA.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 3, 2018
Like everything she posts, the democratic socialist’s new demand was instantly met with pushback. Some noted the problem with her description of her $174,000 congressional salary as a “living wage” (h/t Twitchy):
You're making $174,000 a year as a member of Congress. That's not a "living wage," that's a damn good living! Almost $500 PER DAY. You're an embarrassment to Congress.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) December 4, 2018
Men and Women in Congress are overpaid at $174K per year.
— allimama7 (@amdenijs7) December 3, 2018
Others suggested she should set the example by spreading the wealth around using her own sizable salary:
Start by making an example and give away your salary to those workers.
— Kalvin McClain (@Kalvin_McClain) December 3, 2018
You can feel free to redistribute your new found wealth to your staffers.
I know you won't though.
— Chris Rogerson (@chris_rogerson_) December 4, 2018
Others focused on the problematic idea of paying unpaid interns a living wage, including Town Hall’s Beth Baumann. “My last semester of college, I interned for the American Conservative Union and guess what? I wasn’t paid monetarily,” wrote Baumann. “I was paid with experience. It was a trade off. I was given opportunities that seriously helped my career. Building contacts and relationships with other people was what I was paid with. That also meant that I had to live off of savings and a few hundred dollars that my parents sent me each money. It was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself. If nothing else, I learned what it was like to work and live on Capitol Hill.”
Some made the same point a little more bluntly:
Hello! It is a privilege to get an unpaid internship. That is how people move up in the world. EXPERIENCE!!!! Pharmacy residents and doctors who are residents get paid very little. That is part of the moving up process. Snowflakes want everything for no work.
— Monogamous Apostate (@MApostate) December 4, 2018
As for her suggestion that somehow this was now a Republican issue, some critics noted that Democrats have a worse track record on not paying their staff than the GOP:
Hey AOC, more Republicans pay Hill interns than Democrats.. we can all agree Hill staff are overworked and underpaid but don’t try to score political points for your party on this issue.
— Christopher Zhen (@chrismzhen) December 4, 2018
All the buzz online over Ocasio-Cortez’s “DC living wage” tweets follows a stir caused by another tweet this week in which she cited a misleading report about the supposed $21 trillion unaccounted for in the Department of Defense’s budget.
“$21 TRILLION of Pentagon financial transactions ‘could not be traced, documented, or explained,'” she wrote, quoting from an article by left-wing outlet The Nation. “$21T in Pentagon accounting errors. Medicare for All costs ~$32T. That means 66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon. And that’s before our premiums.”
$21 TRILLION of Pentagon financial transactions “could not be traced, documented, or explained.”
$21T in Pentagon accounting errors. Medicare for All costs ~$32T.
That means 66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon.
And that’s before our premiums. https://t.co/soT6GSmDSG
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 2, 2018
But, as the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl pointed out, the representative-elect’s claim has one glaring problem. “In the original study, $21 trillion refers to transfers back-and-forth between accounts,” he tweeted. “So the same $1 can be counted 1000’s of times. It *does not* mean that $21 trillion in total spending was mis-spent. AOC should have realized $21T *spent* is crazy.”