AOC Dares to Exist Again

My favorite representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just can’t catch a break when it comes to conservatives and their hit campaigns. The most recent one? Her credit score.

Seriously.

The claims, which Snopes had to take time out of their day to clarify, are completely false. They went viral after Trump supporter John LeFevre tweeted them out on Thursday:

“@aoc has a 430 credit score, two evictions, and an empty résumé

Just two months ago, she couldn’t afford an apartment in DC

Now, the Democratic leadership has put her on the Financial Services Committee & the media is saying that her Green New Deal will “reshape” the economy”

It’ s not clear where he got that (seemingly incorrect) information, but many speculate that it came from a January 16 Facebook post by a user named “ Donn Johnson.” Snopes explains in their debunking post that it’s likely impossible “Johnson” could have gotten this information about Ocasio-Cortez, even if it were true.

The half-assed hot takes are endless. If AOC is not being accused of secretly being rich, she’s being mocked for discussing the high relocation costs associated with moving to D.C. If people aren’t alleging that pictures of her feet are circulating the internet (they’re not), they’re debating whether or not it’s appropriate that the Congresswoman once danced in a university video. She’s somehow an elitist know-it-all and stupid, naïve little girl, too rich to actually care about working-class people, and a dead-beat all at the same time.

I’m not trying to give them advice or anything, but if they could actually be consistent for a couple of minutes, maybe they at least wouldn’t look quite so stupid when they attack her.

It’s almost like they can’t figure out why they dislike her so much, or don’t want to admit why…

This credit score nonsense does touch on an important issue however. For many people in the US, having a poor credit score and/or a history of evictions is a reality.

Credit scores can impact how much you pay in utilities, your chances of being approved for a lease, or how much you pay in car insurance. If you’re living (or have ever lived) in poverty, other aspects of your life quickly become more expensive, making it all the harder to dig out of that hole.

To quote another viral tweet: “Being poor charges interest.”

In a time when 40 percent of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense, it feels especially cruel to mock people who may have a history that reflects a lack of financial freedom. A low credit score doesn’t make someone a bad person, nor does it speak to their ability to be a good or reliable employee, renter, or representative.

Shaming low-income people has to come to an end.

Ban the Billionaires?

The idea that the rich have too much wealth at the expense of everyone else has taken off in recent months. There’s even talk of “banning billionaires” and there are extremely popular policy proposals looking to significantly raise taxes on the ultra-rich coming from legislators like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Americans have supported raising taxes on the rich for a long time. But the ultra-rich, Republicans, and anti-tax extremists like Grover Norquist have kept that popular sentiment at bay. Partly with rhetoric about “freedom” and partly by philanthropic deeds, not to mention a right-wing media ecosystem (itself full of rich pundits) that portrays them as benevolent, self-made geniuses.

Then came Lord Dampnut.

With (self-proclaimed) billionaire Donald Trump occupying the White House and daily revealing what a profound moron and amoral con-man he is, the veil has been torn off. It’s easier to see that many billionaires are grifters that at best, stumbled into their wealth rather than the self-made entrepreneurs that we’ve been told they are.

Before, Americans wanted to tax the rich to pay for specific policies like Medicare-for-all, public college, and repairing infrastructure. Now, Americans are beginning to see it as a moral issue. These days, the reasoning goes that taxing the ultra-wealthy will tamp down extreme wealth inequality. They believe that someone shouldn’t start out with that much of an advantage in life, especially given what kind of people they turn out to be.

It’s a truism in American politics that there’s a natural tendency for public opinion to swing in opposition to whichever party is in power. Still, I think it’s fair to say that the public’s reaction to Trump has been more intense than it would’ve been under a President Jeb Bush. Trump has energized liberals and progressives on issues, like women’s rights, in resistance to the president, which has inspired record numbers of women to run for public office.

There are also other factors, such as outrage over the Great Recession, the Occupy Wall Street protests, and Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign which focused heavily on wealth inequality pushing the Democratic Party (the rank-and-file at any rate) to the left regarding economics. Also, our rich president, his super-rich Cabinet, and the millionaires on mainstream news TV have repeatedly demonstrated how out of touch they are with regular people when it comes to financial issues.

Finally, Trump has set himself apart from all other modern presidents by keeping his tax returns secret, bringing up daily questions about what he is trying to hide. Inadvertently shining a constant light on how the rich often get away with not paying their fair share.

Tax Ben Stein’s Money

Ben Stein is in the news again, so you know that someone is getting compared to the Nazis in a dreary, monotone voice.

Wow.

On Tuesday, Stein made an appearance on Fox Business to claim that the policies that Rep. Alexandrea Ocasio-Cortez is proposing, like the “Green New Deal” and a marginal tax rate of 60-70% on income over $10 million, would “invariably lead to bad things” like genocide.

Let’s see if he connects those dots:

“We have a society in which there are an awful lot of people who have no idea that Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung all came to power promising the same kinds of things that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is promising. And it led to mass murder, it led to dictatorship, it led to genocide. These promises are old promises and they invariably lead to bad things.”

“It’s not about ordering people around, putting them concentration camps. What do you do if a person is a richer or poorer person? What do you do? Do you take him away? Do you shoot him? Well that’s what the communists tried, it didn’t work out very well for them.”

So Ben Stein is afraid that AOC is going to take him away and shoot him? Or that paying a higher marginal tax rate is equivalent to being shot? Was the government shooting rich people during the Eisenhower Administration when the top marginal tax rate was in the 90s? Does he think that a freshman Congresswoman wields as much political power as Stalin, Hitler, or Mao did?

Stein claims the current system “works extremely well” and “allows people to make something of themselves instead of oppressing other people” as they try to earn money.

He is right in that the current system “works extremely well” if you’re already rich and you want to extract wealth from those lower on the economic scale than you are, but not so much for people who have to start at the bottom. Also, paying taxes isn’t oppression, and raising taxes on the rich isn’t the equivalent of ethnic cleansing.

Anyone who’s followed Stein’s career knows that comparing people he disagrees with to the Nazis is kind of his go-to. His intelligent design “documentary” Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is full to bursting with comparing people who don’t think that pseudo-science should be treated as if it were actual science to Hitler and the Nazis.

So I guess under Godwin’ Law, AOC wins?