Earlier this week, an anonymous Twitter account posted a (since deleted) video of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez dancing in college. Almost everyone with a brain instantly realized that the clip reflected much worse on the person or people who thought it constituted strong material for mockery than it did on her. If anything, the episode strengthened her and diminished her critics. She looked normal, they looked obsessed and weird. This was yet another example of some conservatives' self-defeating penchant for pursuing petty, personal critiques of AOC, rather than politely confronting her bad ideas or exposing her vast ignorance.
Similarly, those Republicans who have supposedly gotten the vapors over a House freshman Democrat using the word "motherf***er" to describe the president should focus far more on her impeachment message than on the vulgarity of her formulation. President Trump himself is a committed vulgarian, and the GOP has no claim on the mantle of decorum defense these days. The more politically damaging part of this woman's profane eruption was her immediate vow to impeach the president, to cheers. Democratic divides on the I-word, and the prospect of vendetta-driven overreach is a far bigger headache for Nancy Pelosi than someone using a curse word. (By the way, just as it's silly to see Republicans suddenly acting like comportment sticklers, it's also fun to watch liberals -- who practically fainted over Rep. Joe Wilson's accurate-but-inappropriate "you lie!" outburst -- minimizing or even defending this one).
Basically, in a target-rich environment, conservatives would be best served to prioritize fights on substance over fleeting 'outrages.' Who cares if AOC had some fun in college? Look at what her terrible proposals would do to taxpayers and the economy. Who cares if a new Congresswoman said a naughty word? Look at the hard-edged attitude she represents, which flies in the face of Pelosi's poll-tested platitudes. And look at her knee-jerk fetish for impeachment, which most Americans oppose -- despite the fever dreams of quite a few members of her caucus. The biggest gift Ocasio Cortez gave Republicans this week was going on CBS and announcing her endorsement of a "radical" (her word!) environmentalist scheme that would hike the top [marginal] tax rate to 70 percent:
'60 MINUTES' SUNDAY:— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) January 4, 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggests taxes as high as 70% on the wealthiest to pay for a "Green New Deal."
"If that's what radical means, call me a radical," @AOC tells @AndersonCooper. pic.twitter.com/fcw2YtdeSD
(1) The vast majority of Americans oppose a tax system in which anyone would have 70 cents out of any dollar they earn confiscated by the federal government (update: see this point about the marginal rate argument, and this point about the supposed good ole days of much higher rates). That is not a "fair share;" that is punitive, and it obviously punishes success, heaping unjust obligations on the top earners who already shoulder a hugely disproportionate share of the nation's tax bill.
(2) When it comes to combatting anthropogenic climate change (some of my views on this subject are here), the Left predictably demands massive governmental intrusions and coercion. Many went ballistic when President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate agreement, calling it reckless and ruinous. And yet...
Bloomberg: U.S. Meeting Paris Climate Goals Without Being Part of the Agreement https://t.co/7hc08S3zIK— Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) December 30, 2018
The biggest decline [in carbon emissions] came from the United States, mainly because of higher deployment of renewables...The U.S.'s performance contrasts with that of the European Union, whose carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.8 percent last year. This, even though many E.U. countries participate in a carbon market and are engaged in vast efforts aimed at replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar power. Although the Trump administration is generally hostile to international climate change agreements, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that the U.S. reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 2 percent in 2016. This drop is largely attributable to a continuing market-driven switch from coal to natural gas, to more renewable generation, and to a relatively mild winter.
Perhaps centrally-planned government intervention frequently fails to deliver results as intended? Just a thought.
(3) Notice that AOC's idea is to jack up the top tax rate to 70% to "pay for" just one relatively small element of the Left's sprawling agenda. She also wants "free" college, and -- the big one -- single-payer healthcare. As we have explained before, there simply is not nearly enough money from rich people and big businesses to pay for so-called Medicare For All (narrator: Medicare as it exists is already going insolvent). Expanding this program to 320 million people would involve throwing more than 150 million off of their current plans, ceding overwhelming control to government bureaucrats, and inflicting gigantic tax increases on every single American worker and family. Here's the menu of pain, based on the generous math:
The Mercatus Study -- like others -- shows that "Medicare for All" would require a federal tax hike of roughly 10% of GDP even after capturing state govt. savings.— Brian Riedl (@Brian_Riedl) July 30, 2018
But capturing the savings to families into a "single-payer tax" is not easy -- which is why Sanders comes up short pic.twitter.com/Etfjk22sQc
Nobody should care about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's fashion choices, her personal bank statements, or her college-era exploits. They should care that she's willing to say out loud what an ascendant faction of her party believes, which would make the country much poorer and much more dependent on the dysfunctional and incompetent federal government.