The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked some of the recent statements by the media’s favorite new socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And as I suggest in the title, it ain’t pretty.
Below are five of the claims she’s made and their facts about those claims.
“Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family.”
— interview on PBS’s “Firing Line,” July 13, 2018
This is an example of sweeping language — “everyone has two jobs” — that can get a rookie politician in trouble. She may personally know people who have two jobs, but the data is pretty clear that this statement is poppycock.
First of all, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the percentage of people working two jobs has actually declined since the Great Recession — and been relatively steady at around 5 percent since 2010. The percentage bounced around a bit but it was as low as 4.7 percent in October 2017 and was 5.2 percent in the July jobs report, the most recent available. That hardly adds up to “everyone.”
“ICE is the only criminal investigative agency, the only enforcement agency in the United States, that has a bed quota. So ICE is required to fill 34,000 beds with detainees every single night and that number has only been increasing since 2009.”
— in an interview with the Intercepted podcast, May 30
As our friends at PolitiFact documented, this is an urban legend. There is language in the 2016 appropriations bill that requires ICE to have 34,000 beds available — ICE “shall maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds through September 30, 2016” — but it is not required to fill them. The main point of such language, a version of which dated to 2009, is to make sure the money is not spent on something else.
“They [national Democrats] were campaigning most when we had more of an American middle class. This upper-middle class is probably more moderate but that upper-middle class does not exist anymore in America.”
— interview on “Pod Save America,” Aug. 7
Here’s some more sweeping rhetoric. In knocking the current leaders of the Democrats, stuck in “ ’90s politics,” Ocasio-Cortez said the “upper-middle class does not exist anymore.”
But the data show that while the middle class overall may have shrunk a bit, the upper-middle class has actually grown. In a 2016 paper published by the Urban Institute, Stephen J. Rose documented that the upper-middle class has grown substantially, from 12.9 percent of the population in 1979 to 29.4 percent in 2014. His analysis showed that there was a massive shift in the center of gravity of the economy, with an increasing share of income going to the upper-middle class and rich.
“In a Koch brothers-funded study — if any study’s going to try to be a little bit slanted, it would be one funded by the Koch brothers — it shows that Medicare for all is actually much more, is actually much cheaper than the current system that we pay right now.”
— interview on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” Aug. 8
We recently gave this sort of claim Three Pinocchios. Some Democrats have seized on a reference in a study released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which receives some funding from the Koch Foundation, that a Medicare-for-all plan advanced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would reduce the country’s overall level of health expenditures by $2 trillion from 2022 to 2031. That’s because the Sanders plan would slash payments to providers by 40 percent.
But the study makes clear that this is an unrealistic assumption and in fact the plan would raise government expenditures by $32.6 trillion over 10 years. Without the provider cuts, the additional federal budget cost would be nearly $40 trillion. So, no matter how you slice it, the study does not say it would be “much cheaper” than the current system.
“The reason that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act is because they ruled that each of these monthly payments that everyday American make is a tax. And so, while it may not seem like we pay that tax on April 15th, we pay it every single month or we do pay at tax season if we don’t buy, you know, these plans off of the exchange.”
— interview on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” Aug. 8
This appears to be an example of not understanding policy nuances.
In the 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the Affordable Care Act was deemed to be an appropriate exercise of the government’s taxing power. But Roberts was not referring to the monthly premium payments, as Ocasio-Cortez claims. Instead, Roberts was referring to the individual mandate to buy insurance — and the requirement to pay an annual penalty when filing a tax return if one did not buy health insurance.
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Roberts wrote. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”
To be clear, they didn’t fact-check anything that wasn’t FALSE. Which looks pretty bad for her, to be honest.
But I don’t remember seeing the media run with this Wapo fact-check article at all. Perhaps because they think she’s a shoe-in and it won’t matter. Or maybe because she’s not Republican – or not Trump.
I leave you guys and gals to speculate about that.