News and Commentary

AOC Floats New Poverty Line, And It’s Full-On Insane
US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on stage during the 2019 Athena Film Festival closing night film, "Knock Down the House" at the Diana Center at Barnard College on March 3, 2019 in New York City
Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Athena Film Festival

Open socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) believes the poverty line needs to be readjusted, pushing the new threshold to $38,000 per year for one person. That’s more than triple the current federal poverty line for one person and over $10,000 more than the threshold for a family of three. 

“Forty million Americans are living in poverty right now, and if the poverty line was … at what some people think it should be — about $38,000 a year — we would be shocked at how much the richest society on the planet is allowing so much of its people to live in destitution,” AOC offered on Thursday, as reported by The Hill. 

The New York City Democrat has been all over the media pushing her new six-bill proposal dubbed “A Just Society.” According to Fox Business, the bundled proposal calls for the poverty line to be readjusted, taking into account factors like “geographic differences, costs related to health insurance, work expenses for families, child care needs and new necessities, such as Internet access.”

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage in the United States in the first quarter of 2019 is $47,060, roughly $9,000 more than AOC’s proposed poverty line. 

Ocasio-Cortez pushed the number on her massive Twitter account earlier in the week, too. 

“Did you know our Fed poverty line is based on 1955 spending, & the way we calculate it hasn’t changed since 1964?” she wrote. “It assumes 1 earner & a mother home full-time. It doesn’t include cost of childcare, geographic cost of living, or healthcare. Some predict it should be *$38k/yr.*”

“I think one of the things that that we can get done is build popular support in acknowledging how bad the problem already is. In doing so we can actually begin to fundamentally address those problems,” the freshman congresswoman told NPR on Tuesday. “If we can acknowledge how many Americans are actually in poverty, I think that we can start to address some of the more systemic issues in our economy.”

AOC was widely criticized online from people who are making the same or less than her proposed poverty line, mockingly posting that they “just found out” they are poor. Others criticized the socialist for living in a so-called “New York City bubble” and noted her past efforts in thwarting an Amazon deal that would have employed tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

Fox Business outlined other changes included in the bundled “Just Society” plan from the progressive congresswoman: 

  • A bill to protect tenants by capping monthly rent increases at 3 percent and forbidding landlords from evicting people unless they haven’t paid rent for two consecutive months, among other provisions. 

  • Under “The Embrace Act,” undocumented immigrants would gain access to federal public benefits, including Medicaid, unemployment benefits, welfare and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly referred to as food stamps). 

  • Similarly, individuals who have been convicted of a criminal offense would also have access to federal public benefits in the “Mercy in Re-Entry Act.” Currently, convicted felons are not allowed to apply for federal or state grants, live in public housing, or receive food stamps in some states

  • Another bill requires the Department of Labor and the Office of Management and Budget to include paid-family leave, scheduling predictability, a $15 minimum wage or an “otherwise prevailing wage,” and union membership for federal contractors. 

  • Finally, Ocasio-Cortez calls for the U.S. to join a slew of other nations and ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966. It states that all persons have the right to work, and just conditions of work, Social Security, an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing, housing and health care.