Rising Democratic socialist star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained to Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” Thursday how she planned to pay for the ideas that she campaigned on in her stunning primary defeat over fourth-ranking House Democrat Joe Crowley (NY).
After Ocasio-Cortez went through the main things she wants government to pay for, including Medicare for all and education, Noah brought up the more practical side of things.
“You always see people coming in with economic arguments, and they say, look, these numbers don’t really add up,” he argued. “You know, in order to get healthcare for everybody, this is what it would cost. That’s going to be troubling. Even if you reverse the Republican tax deal, that’s only going to make up 5% of what we need to pay for Medicare for all. How do you pay for education- how do you pay for all these ideas?”
Ocasio-Cortez responded first by saying she had “sat down with a Nobel Prize economist last week,” laughing, “I can't believe I can say that, it's really weird.”
A meeting with a Nobel Prize economist was likely warranted given that Ocasio-Cortez faced intense criticism for getting basic facts about the unemployment rate wrong in a PBS interview earlier this month. She later tried to walk back her remarks.
However, having met with this prize-winning economist, Ocasio-Cortez presented a plan for getting money for her proposals, arguing first for raising the corporate tax rate.
“One of the things that we saw is, if people pay their fair share,” she said, “if corporations and the ultra-wealthy -- for example, as Warren Buffett likes to say, if he paid as much as his secretary pays, 15 percent -- if he paid a 15 percent tax rate; if corporations paid -- if we reverse the tax bill, but raised our corporate tax rate to 28 percent, which is not even as high as it was before, if we do those two things and also close some of those loopholes, that's $2 trillion right there.”
“That's $2 trillion in ten years, and it's -- one of the wide estimates is that it's going to take $3 trillion to $4 trillion to transition us to 100 percent renewable energy economy,” she continued. “So we got $2 trillion from folks paying their fair share, which they were not paying before the Trump tax bill. They weren't -- like they weren't paying that before the Trump tax bill. If we get people to pay their fair share, that's $2 trillion in ten years.”
She then argued for implementing a carbon tax claiming that would make “a large amount of revenue.”
“Now, if we implement a carbon tax on top of that so that we can transition and financially incentivize people away from fossil fuels,” she said, “if we implement a carbon tax, that's an additional amount of a large amount of revenue that we can have.”
She concluded by calling for a “reprioritization” of funds away from defense spending.
“The last key, which is extremely, extremely important, is reprioritization,” she argued. “Just last year we gave the military a $700 billion budget increase, which they didn't even ask for! They're, like, we don't want another fighter jet! They're, like, don't give us another nuclear bomb, you know? They didn't even ask for it and we gave it to them. And so a lot of what we need to do reprioritize what we want accomplish as a nation.”
“That is a decision that requires political and moral courage from both parts of the aisle,” she emphasized.