Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez goes on tear defending role in Amazon’s New York exit


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vigorously defended her role in sinking Amazon’s move to New York City on Tuesday in the face of bipartisan criticism, claiming the deal would have been "one of the biggest giveaways in state history" and would have priced people out of the local community.

"Frankly, the knee-jerk reaction assuming that I ‘don’t understand’ how tax giveaways to corps work is disappointing," she tweeted. "No, it’s not possible that I could come to a different conclusion. The debate *must* be over my intelligence & understanding, instead of the merits of the deal."


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The freshman Democratic New York congresswoman has faced days of criticism from normally friendly media voices and fellow Democrats over her role in Amazon's decision to pull back from building a $2.5 billion campus in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens.

Amazon had cited the opposition of "a number of state and local politicians" in its decision to abandon the plans. Ocasio-Cortez and others at the local level had pointed to incentives such as a $2.5 billion in tax breaks as a reason for their opposition.

"If we were willing to give away $3 billion for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves, if we wanted to. We could hire out more teachers. We can fix our subways. We can put a lot of people to work for that money, if we wanted to," Ocasio-Cortez said last week.

Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed back on that claim on Sunday. Even as he slammed Amazon for its decision, the mayor said critics wrongly suggested that tax breaks represented money that could be spent on other things. He said it wasn’t "money you had over here. And it was going over there."

The Democratic mayor said: "That $3 billion that would go back in tax incentives was only after we were getting the jobs and getting the revenue."


Fellow Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., accused those who are against the deal, including Ocasio-Cortez, of being opposed to jobs.

"It used to be that we would protest wars. Now we are protesting jobs?" she said on CNN Friday, before criticizing the economic arguments of those opposed to the Amazon move.


"I'm a progressive too, but I'm pragmatic," she said. "We are $4 billion less than we usually get and yet we are kicking out a company that would have been projected [to pay] over 10 years roughly $27 billion in taxes."

New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin ripped into critics of the deal, saying it was evidence of a "financial literacy epidemic" in America.

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"Quick lesson: NYC wasn’t handing cash to Amazon. It was an incentive program based on job creation, producing tax revenue," he tweeted. "There isn’t a $3 billion pile of money that can now be spent on subways or education."

But on Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez mocked critics, saying "there’s NO WAY that this deal - one of the biggest giveaways in state history - could possibly have been bad, right?

"Surely there can’t be anything wrong with suddenly announcing a massive restructuring & pricing out of a community without any advance notice or input from them," she asked.

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In her list of criticisms, she included claims that Amazon was selling facial recognition tech to immigration officials, and that real-estate insiders were creating rent spikes.


"Folks handling the failed deal treated community w/condescension+disdain for their legitimate concerns," she argued. "I warned early to any & all that surging NYC costs+failing subways are creating major political forces to be reckoned with."

"But I don’t know what I’m talking about, right?" she quipped, with a shrugging emoji.


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