Call it the Ocasio-Cortez Effect! Just two days after the freshman congresswoman announced on “60 Minutes” that Democrats should soak the rich with a 70 percent marginal tax rate, presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris said on “The View” that she is open to it. Drawing on her experience as a teacher, Harris commended Ocasio-Cortez for “challenging the status quo,” and promised to “explore new ideas.”
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) January 8, 2019
Among these new ideas, on which Meghan McCain questioned Harris, were more than just the confiscatory tax rates AOC put on the table. They included plans to end carbon emissions by 2030, including all cars. Yes, that’s right, Harris would not even say that ending private ownership of cars was off the table. Presumably, not having to shell out for car payments and gas will help Americans afford the new tax regime.
For weeks now, those on the left and some on the right have chided conservatives for being obsessed with Ocasio-Cortez. She’s just a freshman congresswoman, why are your knickers in a bunch? A manufactured story about conservative anger at her dancing in a video in college emerged this week. Surely conservatives are just put off by a powerful young woman of color.
Actually, what conservatives are put off by is socialism, which includes a life of 70 percent tax rates and being told they can’t own a car.
When one of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, particularly one trying to represent the left wing, endorses this kind of thinking? It’s not just conservatives being shook by a radical young woman, it’s Democrats embracing her ideology in a significant way.
So far in this emerging cycle, the two most talked about potential candidates putting themselves out there are Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren has stated that Ocasio-Cortez’s plan for a New Green Deal is in her own platform. So far, AOC is two for two in moving the Democrats radically left. Radical isn’t my term, it’s the one she chose for herself.
Tyler Cowen writes that a 70 percent tax rate narrative couldn’t be better chosen to split the Democratic coalition and re-elect President Trump. That’s because “the Democrats would be giving some of their most influential supporters a huge pay cut. The party also would be telling them they can’t ever hope to build up much of a financial cushion for the future.”
In the wings, Uncle Joe Biden is waiting to be the moderate, sound voice of experience that carries the Democrats to victory over Trump. But is he going to have to do some Thanksgiving dinner-style mansplaining to his erstwhile competitors of the fairer sex? That has the potential to be, well, awkward. But with Democrats facing not only Trump, but now defending the purple suburban districts they won in 2018, is this the winning formula?
For now, it doesn’t really matter. Until Biden announces (if he does), and is faced with similar questions as Harris faced on “The View,” AOC’s radical agenda will not be challenged by the more progressive potential nominees. Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez is calling the plays for the Democrats right now.
How long will that last? Can Republicans take advantage? This game is just getting started. But so far, Ocasio-Cortez is winning.