Folks have pointed me to mocking memes regarding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, e.g., “It’s so cold, I had my hands in my own pockets,” in connection with her “Green New Deal” that “offers economic security for those unwilling to work.” (original draft)
But why not respect her for ably representing the interests of her constituents? Census data show that median household income in her district is about $58,000/year. That means more than half of the people she represents are eligible for welfare (less than $83,450 for a family of 4 entitles a New Yorker to public housing). More than half would also qualify for health insurance welfare (either Medicaid or subsidized Obamacare for those who earn less than 4X the official poverty line).
“Unwilling to work” should probably be understood as “unwilling to work given the existing system of incentives.” As of 2013, six years before Ms. Ocasio-Cortez took office, welfare in New York paid 110 percent of median income (CATO) and therefore it wouldn’t be rational for the typical person in her district to work. Why is it Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s fault that Americans have voted to create a system in which work is irrational for anyone who can get welfare or child support after having sex with a high-income partner? She wasn’t old enough to vote when these systems were created.
Mitt Romney stated in 2012 as a simple fact that the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income tax weren’t going to vote for him (Politifact):
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said in the video. “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
He didn’t say that these folks were stupid, irrational, or evil. They were rationally voting their interest. (Politifact says that the proportion with no federal income tax liability may actually have been as high as 51 percent.) Why can’t folks who disagree with AOC and who are differently situated in life compared to her welfare-qualified constituents credit her for faithfully representing her voters’ interests in Congress?
Personally, I’m kind of a fan. Her tweet that health insurance as a waitress was twice as costly as health insurance for a member of Congress was an inspired way to wake people up to absurdity of our health care and health insurance systems (my proposal for reform is different from hers).
Readers: Given her welfare-qualified constituents, is it fair to slam this young member of Congress for advocating for expanded welfare?