Press response to ‘Tax the Rich’ dress proves AOC point of view



It’s as Lenin said: there are decades where nothing happens, and there are dresses where decades do.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” dress at the Met Gala (Vogue, 9/16/21) could have gone through the media as a simple photo opportunity or class conscious performance art act, but given that this happened near the 10th anniversary of the first day of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the event may be an indicator of how much Occupy has pushed the public towards policies of aggressive taxation of the rich to pay for necessary social programs, education, public employment, and infrastructure.

And the response from corporate media indicates they fear the story is on Ocasio-Cortez and her dress side.

“Wrong message”

David Harsanyi (New York Post, 09/17/21) argues that the rich should not pay more because our tax system is already progressive, which is neither logically nor empirically true.

Murdoch’s property New York Post (9/17/21) led the charge against his protest, with David Harsanyi complaining: “Despite perceptions, the wealthiest layers of taxpayers are the only ones paying a greater share of taxes than their share of income . ” This message was echoed by the TV shock Bill Maher (Daily mail, 09/18/21), even if a ProPublica An investigation (6/8/21) found that the super-rich – like Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos – pay next to nothing in taxes, demolishing “the fundamental myth … that everyone pays their fair share and that the richest Americans pay the most. “

The new York To post (9/21/21), on its front page, highlighted a response to the AOC from Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams, which the newspaper (5/10/21) had enthusiastically endorsed. Adams said Ocasio-Cortez sent the “wrong message for New York City,” offering austerity logic as an alternative: “Instead of impulsively advocating for raising taxes for wealthy residents of the Big Apple … budget.” In addition to supporting Adams, the To post (07/27/21) hastily announced that Adams had told his supporters he had declared “war on AOC socialists”.

Matthew Yglesias (Bloomberg, 9/19/21), himself the product of Manhattan patrician society, berated the second-term congressman representing the Bronx and Queens for casting a wide net on the upper class, rather than focusing his message specifically on tax loopholes. The Washington postMegan McArdle (9/14/21) echoed Yglesias’ criticism, adding that wearing such a dress at the Met Gala is “kind of like wearing a ‘tax the rich’ t-shirt for your job. bespoke tax lawyer, “Because taxing the rich just creates more tax lawyers,” so the traveling billboard is less a case of ‘speaking the truth to power’ than an endorsement by the whole business. “

The Washington To postKathleen Parker (9/14/21) denounced the downfall of the gala from her elegant past – “today’s Met Gala is not the playground of Diana Vreeland, Pat Buckley and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis” – and said she was at a loss for words to describe the party’s “parade of political demonstrators whose eccentric dress sometimes blurs the message” of the party, as the theme of the event was to explore the fashion “lexicon” of her. -same.

Many points of sale (Forbes, 09/13/21; Daily News, 09/14/21; Fox news, 09/14/21; United States today, 9/14/21) overstated criticism that Ocasio-Cortez was acting hypocritically in attending the gala because it is an expensive event attended by the wealthy, a point that fails to bring the message to tax the rich to the rich was, in fact, the idea. Like a Washington PosThe writer (09/14/21) correctly perceived, the audience of the gala was now discussing “the embarrassment of under-taxed wealth in a social season marred by disease and misery”.

Media allergic to taxes

NYT: Taxing the rich seems easy.  It's not.

Not surprisingly, the idea of ​​a wealth tax has been derided by “Wealth Matters” (2/1/19), a New York Times column offering “Paul Sullivan’s ideas on the state of mind and strategies of the rich”.

While Ocasio-Cortez is not the first center-left politician to demand more taxes to fund social programs, as leader of the “Squad” – a group of House Democrats broadly aligned with the Senator Bernie Sanders – she became the punching bag for the establishment media in a campaign to quell pro-tax rhetoric.

Since her ascension to Congress, the New York Times (01/28/19, 02/01/19, 02/07/19) responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s fiscal rhetoric with a sort of “yes, but it’s more complicated than that”, adopting a watered-down version of tax escalation, while Barron (01/23/19) and the Wall Street newspaper (01/21/19, 01/23/19) went further by suggesting that its proposed 70% marginal tax rate would destroy the U.S. economy. Factcheck: The US economy thrived with a 91% top marginal tax rate under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower (PA, 01/31/19).

McArdle, who is part of the recent AOC bashing, scorned the idea of ​​taxing the rich more generally in one piece (Washington post, 6/9/21) which carried a photo of the newspaper’s owner and the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos.

This reluctance about new taxes in the media reflects a general concern about progressive taxation in the political class. Anti-tax ideology may be the glue that binds the various factions of the Republican Party, which passed sweeping tax cuts under the Trump administration (NBC, 12/22/17). Unlike Republicans, who can unite to keep taxes low, however, Democrats find it difficult to unite when it comes to tax hikes for the rich (Bloomberg, 09/14/21).

Some Democrats besides Ocasio-Cortez also agree with a new federal tax system (SCS, 9/13/21), and polls show that “taxing the rich” is a popular idea (Gallup, 6/04/21; Reuters, 1/10/20). But there was resistance within her party to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for a new wealth tax (The hill, 08/09/19). The the Wall Street newspaper (4/7/21) blasted then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for giving in to state lawmakers who pushed for more state taxes, a move he had successfully resisted until its various scandals eroded its political capital.

FAIR noted that the Washington post (, 5/11/16, 12/11/17, 7/29/19) and New York Times (, 25/02/20, 15/4/21) —dpapers owned in whole or in part by billionaires — have systematically sided with politicians who resist aggressive taxation of the rich.

The powerful arguments of Occupy

CNBC: AOC to introduce bill to extend pandemic unemployment insurance until 2022

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (CNBC, 09/15/21): “We have just let the unemployment assistance completely expire in the event of a pandemic, while we are clearly not fully recovered from the consequences of the pandemic.”

It’s not just “taxing the rich” that has become more popular with voters. Other social democratic ideas like single-payer health care (Pew Research, 9/29/20) and a minimum wage of $ 15 / hour (Reuters, 02/25/21) have broad support, and “Americans view unions more favorably now than they have since 2003” (Reuters, 12/7/21).

Yet it is still difficult for politicians and the media to realize that this is becoming the mainstream. That’s why someone like Ocasio-Cortez, besides doing things like introducing legislation to extend UI (CNBC, 09/15/21), feels the need to draw attention to the issue of taxation of the rich in a very public way, so that corporate media can talk about it. (The proposed tax increases for the rich have become a major obstacle to passage of the $ 3.5 trillion social spending bill proposed by the Biden administration.New York Times, 7/9/21.)

When then – New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Guardian, 11/15/11) defended himself by using brutal police force to expel OWS protesters from Zuccotti Park in the city’s financial district, he defied the movement by saying: “Now they will have to occupy space with the power of their arguments. That AOC’s publicity stunt around “tax the rich” as OWS’s tenth anniversary approaches caused such an uproar is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the life and success of power. ideas from Occupy. The rise of Democratic Socialist candidates across the country and Bernie Sanders’ impressive presidential performances in 2016 and 2020 are examples of how these arguments can be more powerful than Bloomberg, the media mogul who appeared in the aforementioned magazine. . ProPublica report on billionaires who avoid paying taxes, might have realized.

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