Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old who surprised a city and nation by upsetting Queens Congressman Joe Crowley last June and becoming the youngest woman elected to Congress, spoke with Anderson Cooper in a highly publicized interview on 60 Minutes Sunday night.
Of the historically high number of women entered the 116th Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has arguably become the face of a progressive female wave set to hit Washington.
During the interview on Jan. 6, Ocasio-Cortez revealed some insights into how her first years in political life might go.
Trump ‘a symptom of a problem’
Cooper brought up that Ocasio-Cortez has been tight-lipped when it comes specifically talking about President Trump. She quickly responded that she hasn’t said much about Trump “because he is a symptom of a problem.” That problem, she said, is racism in the United States.
“The president certainly didn’t invent racism but he has certainly given a voice to it, expanded it and created a platform for those things,” said Ocasio-Cortez. When Cooper responded to her by asking her if she thinks that Trump is a racist, she responded without hesitation, “Yes, absolutely.”
“When you look at the words that he uses which are historic dog whistles of white supremacy, when you look at how he reacted to the Charlottesville incident where Neo-Nazis murdered a woman versus how he manufactures crisis like immigrants seeking legal refuge on our borders, it’s night and day,” Ocasio-Cortez tells Cooper.
She is willing to work from within the party to enact change…
Some media outlets are latching on to a particular quote from Ocasio-Cortez where calls herself “a radical.” But Ocasio-Cortez tells Cooper that is she is willing to compromise within the party in order to enact change.
“Are you willing to compromise?” Cooper asked.
“Yes, absolutely. It’s just about what we choose to compromise,” the congresswoman responded.
…but she believes the Democratic Party has compromised too much
Ocasio-Cortez further explained that she is willing to compromise in order to get things done in Washington, she criticizes the Democratic Party for not staying more true to its ideals.
“My personal opinion, and I know that my district and my community feels this way as well, is that we as a party have compromised too much,” she said. The 14th District, which she represents, covers a swath of northwest Queens including all or parts of Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Long Island City and Woodside, and much of the Bronx.
“I think that we have compromised things that we shouldn’t have compromised. Whether it’s judgeships, with Mitch McConnell, whether it’s compromising on climate change,” she added, “I think there are some things that we have compromised a little bit too much on.”
Plans for making her ideas a reality still pending
At one point during the interview, Ocasio-Cortez spoke about her support for a Green New Deal, an ambitious economic stimulus program that aims have the country running on sustainable energy in 12 years while also provide a huge amount of jobs.
When Cooper asked her how she plans on getting enough funding to make the plan a reality, she struggled to come up with a concrete answer and instead made a general statement about how the rich should pay more taxes.
“This would require raising taxes?” Cooper asked.
“Well, yeah, people are going to have to start paying their fair share of in taxes,” Ocasio-Cortez responded.
“Do you have any specifics on the tax rate?” Cooper questioned.
“You know, you look at our tax rates back in the ’60s and when you have a progressive tax rate system, your tax rate, let’s say from zero to $75,000, may be 10 percent or 15 percent, etcetera,” the congresswoman elaborated. “But once you get to like the tippy tops on your 10 millionth dollar sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent that doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate. But as you climb up this ladder you should be contributing more.”
Growing up in ‘two different worlds’
At the beginning of the 60 minutes episode, Ocasio-Cortez and Cooper travel to Westchester County where the young Congresswoman grew up. The pair walk by Ocasio-Cortez small childhood home and talks about her predominantly suburban childhood gave her more opportunities than close family members that lived in the nearby Bronx.
Cooper: “What was it that brought your parents here?”
Ocasio-Cortez: “Schools, yeah, my mom wanted to make sure that I had a solid chance and a solid education.”
Cooper: “Did you feel like you were living in two different worlds? Because you were spending a lot of time with your family in the Bronx but also here.”
Ocasio-Cortez: “Yeah, and just growing up that way with my cousins who are all my age too feeling like we all had different opportunities depending on where we were physically located.”