Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., laid out a sweeping indictment of President Trump’s coronavirus relief plans Tuesday, accusing him of exploiting the public health crisis in order to further his agenda.
“This is unacceptable. Trump is using this public health crisis as an opportunity to push tax cuts and corporate bailouts,” she tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “This is an emergency. We need to help vulnerable people & small biz now w/ paid leave, extended unemployment, UBI, Medicaid expansion,&mortgage suspensions.”
She was responding to news that the administration’s proposed $800 billion economic stimulus would include hundreds of billions of dollars in payroll tax cuts and Small Business Association loans.
Her tweet came amid a press conference in which the administration announced it would seek to provide immediate cash to Americans facing hardship because of the coronavirus.
“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.
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While Ocasio-Cortez applauded Trump’s efforts, she argued the administration wasn’t doing enough to help.
She also advocated a federal jobs guarantee, like the one advanced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and would presumably promise employment for millions of Americans. Another tweet asserted the country needed “New Deal-style policy,” referring to the massive economic reforms passed during the Great Depression.
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The freshman congresswoman previously pushed temporary student loan debt relief in response to the crisis. Last week, she called out the Federal Reserve’s decision to inject $1.5 trillion of liquidiy into the market, saying that it was the same amount Americans hold in student loan debt.
“FYI, the amount that the Fed just injected almost covers all student loan debt in the US,” she tweeted. “There is absolutely NO excuse for not pausing student debt collections, planning for mortgage &rent relief, etc. We need to care for working people as much as we care for the stock market.”
Others, like former Obama aide David Plouffe, criticized the administration’s response as well. Plouffe tweeted on Tuesday that Democrats should push Trump to do more in response to the virus.
“We need bold action now,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., tweeted. “A plan that will ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the 2008 financial crisis. Debt cancellation. Across the board. Immediately, the Secretary of Education must take over all monthly payments during this public health emergency.”
Right-leaning think tanks accused Ocasio-Cortez of inappropriately using the crisis to push her agenda.
“The country is in a crisis that we need to work together to solve, but instead AOC and the left are trying to use the opportunity ram through bad fiscal policy that Americans don’t want. Free-stuff-for all is not a solution,” Sam Adolphsen, policy director at Foundation for Government Accountability, told Fox News last week.
Ocasio-Cortez also attacked a bipartisan relief package passed by the House on Saturday. “It is a step forward, but it is completely insufficient,” she said.
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Joel Griffith, a research fellow at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, criticized Ocasio-Cortez’ proposal but indicated spending should be more targeted than what the administration proposed on Thursday.
“Policy makers should not use the crisis as an opportunity to ram through multi-trillion dollar bailouts, regardless of the sector or special interest group … Any fiscal spending should be focused on providing transparent, temporary assistance targeting those directly impacted by the coronavirus – such as employees unable to work due to precaution or illness or emergency conditions,” he said in a statement provided to Fox News last week.
CEI senior fellow Ryan Young similarly told Fox News that the government should consider removing tariffs and speeding up regularly approval for coronavirus treatments. “The Fed should not be responding to a medical emergency with misguided ‘flash policy’ stimulus,” he said.
Both Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Todd Young, R-Ind., have proposed sending Americans a one-time $1,000 cash payment, which some have seen as an echo of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s push for a universal basic income (UBI).
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Ocasio-Cortez warned on Tuesday that some UBI proposals could have negative economic consequences.
“BE CAREFUL with UBI proposals you see popping up. They are not all created equal, & they can have large macroeconomic, inflationary & systemic effects,” she said. “Proposals should be weighed in a larger policy mix incl paymnt suspensions, jobs guarantee, unemp. expansion, paid leave,etc.”