OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the leading progressive voices in the Democrat Party, is furious with fellow Democrats for not wanting to spend as much taxpayer cash as she does.
She spoke to The New York Times and expressed her frustration that the Build Back Better bill, which was originally around $3.5 trillion, has been whittled down to $1.9 trillion and could be made lower in the Senate.
“I think the stakes are really, really high,” she said. “The entire reason that the Progressive Caucus gave their votes [for the infrastructure bill] was based on direct promises from the president, as well as direct promises from more conservative Democratic holdouts. And from House leadership as well. So if those promises don’t follow through, it’s going to be very, very difficult for them to get votes on anything moving forward, because the trust that was already so delicate will have been broken.”
She said the process of negotiations had been “demoralizing to her and she believes Democrat leadership broke promises to her.
“I think that if we pass the Build Back Better Act as the House passed it, that we have a shot to go back to our communities and say we delivered. But that’s not to say that this process has not been demoralizing for a lot of folks, because there were enormous promises made. Not just at the beginning, and not just during the election, but that continued to be made,” the representative said.
“And this is where I have sounded the alarm, because what really dampens turnout is when Democrats make promises that they don’t keep.
“With the bipartisan infrastructure plan, there’s all of these headlines going around. And I understand the political importance of making a victory lap. But I think that the worst and most vulnerable position we could be in is to over-promise and under-deliver,” she said.
“So let’s not go around and say, ‘We’re going to replace every lead pipe in this country,’ because according to the bipartisan infrastructure plan, that is not going to happen. That has not been funded. And if the Build Back Better Act gets cut even further, then that’s definitely not going to happen,” she argued.
The representative said that she felt a trust was built when progressives backed Joe Biden for president but she has not gotten back what she wanted to from that deal.
“And that created trust, because trust requires vulnerability from all parties,” she said.
“There was some good faith with the American Rescue. But after that, which was quite early, it’s been a bit of a slog.
“I actually don’t direct this critique directly at the White House. I think, in general, the party doesn’t quite fully grasp what is happening in deep-blue communities,” she said.
But The American Rescue Plan cost taxpayers $1.9 trillion, the infrastructure bill that passed was $1.2 trillion and now they are talking about another $1.9 trillion, and it is still not enough for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. How much money does she want to spend?
And she believes that Biden can spend trillions of dollars on his own, bypassing Congress.
“There is an enormous amount of executive action that they’re sitting on that I think is underutilized. On student loans. We’ve got executive action on the table with respect to climate. There are certainly things that we can do with immigration,” the representative said.
“So why are we taking this as a legislative compromise, when the opportunity is so much greater, or when Biden could do this stuff with a stroke of a pen, and is just reminding us that he’s choosing not to?
“We always try to tell people why they need to settle for less, instead of being able to harness the energy of our grass roots and take political risks in service of them, the same way that we take political risks in service of swing voters. We can do both,” she said.