Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tears Into Republicans Painting Green New Deal as “Elitist”

“Tell that to the kids in the south Bronx…tell that to the families in Flint.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Tuesday delivered an impassioned defense of the Green New Deal, the ambitious Democratic proposal aimed at fighting climate change, after a Republican congressman attacked the resolution as an elitist plan he claimed had been created by out-of-touch “rich liberals from New York of California.”

“I think we should not focus on the rich, wealthy elites who will look at this and go ‘I love it, cause I’ve got big money in the bank. Everyone should do this!'” Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) said.

“It’s kind of like saying ‘I’ll sign onto the Green New Deal but I’ll take a private jet from DC to California—a private jet—or I’ll take my Uber SUV, I won’t take the train, or I’ll go to Davos and fly my private jet,'” he continued. “The hypocrisy!” 

Ocasio-Cortez swiftly rejected the characterization. She also denounced the overall Republican strategy to portray climate change concerns as an issue of privilege.

“This is not an elitist issue, this is a quality of life issue,” Ocasio-Cortez responded, her voice rising in exasperation. “You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the south Bronx which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint.”

The fiery exchange came as the Senate blocked a measure to advance the Green New Deal. Republicans, who have so far offered no plans to combat climate change, repeatedly mocked the Democratic plan as unserious and “socialist” during Tuesday’s debate. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) made a splash of his own by relying on various charts that included images of babies, Ronald Reagan, and cartoon sea creatures for his criticism.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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