Ocasio Cortez: Grassroots politics for a brighter future in Bronx and Queens

An amazing result for Ocasio Cortez @Ocasio2018 who has just beaten Joe Crowley in the #NY14 primary at just 28 years of age. It’s an incredible result for a self-described ‘girl from the Bronx’ and avowed Democratic Socialist who is likely to win in November on the most ambitious climate platform of anyone in her party.  Erik Sandberg interviewed her.

Post-partisan was a new word to me before I interviewed one of the most refreshing people I’ve chatted with about U.S. politics and current affairs: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Listen to the full interview in our weekly Newsvoice Think podcast.

In a complex political environment across the globe. Young activists and politicians are finally waking up to the fact that common ground must be met if an ailing, depleted planet is to be saved from a very Corporate ‘get rich first and worry about it tomorrow’ attitude that pervades the U.S. today. Ocasio-Cortez is just one of the many normal — everyday working people — that Brand New Congress is supporting to inject new life into a political system that has for too long been dominated by a two-party, partisan system.

Going up against an opponent — a man: Joe Crowley, who has worked in government and politics for longer than Alex has been alive — doesn’t faze Ocasio-Cortez whose short, yet varied and fulfilling life experience has more than prepared her for the challenge that lies ahead of the NY-14 Primary in June ‘17.

Public road infrastructure, draconian voter registration systems in New York State and the role corporations play in the media were just a few of the subjects we discussed as a new generation of activists — emboldened by the Sanders ’16 campaign — look to change America for the better.

Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez started her career working for the late Senator Kennedy, but what made her drop out, only to make a dramatic comeback for the Bronx and Queens area where she is from? She told us.

 


Her family is from Puerto Rico, and as we discussed road infrastructure in the U.S., why it is important as a public facility rather than in private hands, Alex told us that Wall Street “practically own Puerto Rico” and described how road tolls are hammering residents there with up to $30 passage fees.

Going up against the seasoned veteran in NY–14, Joseph Crowley, she tells us how her team — with such a strong, grassroots movement — has corporate candidates like Crowley on the back foot. Alex decries the way private-equity and pharmaceutical companies have their foot in practically every door within the Democratic Party and that her campaign is about real people: better lives for families who have for too long suffered at the hands of U.S. conglomerates.

However, corporate influence doesn’t begin and end at the doors of oil companies et al. The media, a place where the public should hope at least to look to for a modicum of impartial information on their public offices and politicians, are equally embroiled in a profit-comes-first attitude over the lives of millions of U.S. citizens who just want basic, clean and affordable amenities.

Check out Alex’s campaign for the June 26 congressional primary at her website, with thanks to Daniel and her team who helped us arrange the interview.

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  1. Derek Henry says:

    Excellent News !

    This is the way forward and why the US grass roots are years ahead of us in Scotland. A point I raised last weekend at the Democracy 21 event.

    Looking at Ocasio’s platform she has been listening to Stephanie Kelton who was Bernie Sanders economic advisor and Chief Economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee.

    I talk with top enders of the MMT movement all the time and it would be great if Ocasio could confirm if what I am hearing is correct. That is when these “new type” of Democrats who are running for congress are asked

    ” How are you going to pay for it ”

    They refuse to answer this question and call it a trap. I’ve heard over 20 Democrats who are running no longer answer this question as it is designed to trap them.

    They simply answer by saying.

    “We pay for it by spending the money as all government spending pays for itself with any positive tax rate. We are no longer on the gold standard or use fixed exchange rates so your question is out of date by decades.”

    ” The reason we want to tax the rich more is not for tax revenues per se as taxes don’t fund government spending at the national level. We are going to tax the rich more to take their political power away and create a level playing field and try and keep money out of politics ”

    Is it possible for Daniel who arranged the interview with Ocasio to ask her if this is true ? As I’ve heard from the horses mouth that Democrats are asking MMT’rs all the time how not to fall into that trap.

  2. Derek Henry says:

    If Scotland became independent and introduced our own currency and own central bank then currency does not become an issue.

    ” How are you going to pay for it ” – Vanishes !

    From the top down as an independent country we need to Replace the Budget Constraint with an Inflation Constraint.

    The correct constraint is whether or not a particular budget position will raise inflation beyond an official target rate (say, 2%, which seems to be the choice of most central bankers).

    So instead of the IFS and the other gold standard fools who now evaluate government budget proposals regarding their effects on the budget stance which is utterly pointless. They could easily recognise we use a sovereign fiat currency and instead shift focus on evaluating these proposals against the inflation target.

    An inflation constraint provides more fiscal space than a budget constraint, but in no way does it provide unlimited fiscal space.

    First, it’s quite clear that economists don’t have much expertise in modeling how to use the government’s budget stance to manage the macroeconomy via a functional finance rule—but this is largely because they have come to view monetary policy as the main macroeconomic policy tool, not because it’s not possible.

    Supply side monetarism has been a complete failure.

    Note, though, that functional finance isn’t less specific than, say, the Taylor Rule—Taylor’s Rule says to adjust the interest rate to manage the macro economy; functional finance says to manage the budget position to do this by using fiscal policy instead.

    Consider the never ending debate among policy makers at the BOE, BOE watchers, and economists on what the BOE should do next, when it should do it, how it should communicate what it’s going to do, and so on. If Taylor’s Rule were really that useful, we wouldn’t need most of this debate and there wouldn’t be so much disagreement among the various parties.

    Let’s stop pretending that replacing a budget constraint with an inflation constraint is so hard. It involves a change in perspective, nothing more and nothing less. It doesn’t give license to policy makers to do whatever they want. It does mean the Scottish budget office will finally be doing something useful with its deficit projections—namely, building models to understand how deficits will affect the macroeconomy.

    While the IFS and the other loons current practice is to assume our economy is always at full employment and warn of impending financial ruin as a result of fiscal deficits. Which is complete and utter madness.

    Replace the current budget constraint with a fiscal policy inflation constraint and the problem is solved.

    Once that has been resolved from the Bottom up we introduce both a job guarentee and a Universal basic income to get things done. We don’t have to run about trying to find funding from the lottery or the EU or businesses or wealthy individuals. Funding is not an issue.

    The only constraint we would have is do we have enough resources and skills to get the job done. A new deal that instead of being top down has a bottom up approach instead.

    One of the issues raised at the Democracy 21 event was how do we get more people involved at the grass roots level. The answer seemed to be if we introduced a UBI people would have more time to get involved. That’s true but a UBI on its own does not solve the problem.

    You build teams within the communities paid for by the Monopoly issuer of the currency. These teams ask the local community what do they need and what do they want and then you make a list of those demands

    You then check that

    a) You have the skills and resources

    b) Ask will it cause inflation

    Then you have list of things that can be done and you ask the unemployed in the local communities to provide them via a job guarentee with good benefits and a decent pension. This creates competition with the private sector that helps productivity that lifts all boats. Whilst those on the job guarentee learn new skills that makes them more attractive to the private sector in the future. All paid for by the monopoly issuer of the currency.

    So what do you do with the list ?

    JD Alt has been thinking about this and what would be the best approach. He says you could put the final list to a swiss style referendum within the local community. You get the local community involved at every level and then ask them to vote on what’s on the list. The top 2 winning outcomes after the vote are the things that get done at the grass roots level.

    The local communities

    i) Form a group

    ii) Ask the community

    iii) Make the list

    iv) The community votes on the list

    Rinse and Repeat.

    At the moment in Scotland we spend all of our time hopping on one leg with our hands tied behind our back.

    Nicola thinks she’s running something other than a glorified county council. The difference is that the bank account the Scottish government uses will bounce cheques when they reach their overdraft limit. Payment authorisation would be refused without HM Treasury permission. Just like any other local county council area in the UK.

    The UK does the tax collection across the UK. Scotland is nothing more than a glorified county council. If you did the accounts for North Yorks County Council you would find it too has a ‘deficit’ that is filled by the block grant and whatever ‘borrowing’ HM Treasury permits.

    Here’s the gory details: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/479717/statement_of_funding_2015_print.pdf

    So the leakage out of the arbitrary line of the Scottish border within the Sterling currency zone is to anywhere else in the world (including the rest of the UK) – and the rest of the UK saves a lot of Sterling. That leakage, plus any net savings within Scotland, is what causes the Scottish government sector deficit.

    Ultimately in the same way that Greece needs to tax German savers, Scotland needs to tax UK savers. To have the power to do that you need UK savers saving in Scotland’s currency which the Scottish government can control and if need be tax. Otherwise Scotland will run out of money as it all drains to the rest of the UK.

    Foreigners save your currency if they want to sell you more things than they want to buy from you. The floating rate would make sure that

    Export+foreign savings = imports in terms of the Scottish currency.

    You can tax it because it is the Scottish currency, and therefore to transfer it to anywhere where it is anything other than inert it would have to go through banks that are licensed by the Scottish authorities to deal in that currency. They will do as they are told if they want to retain their licence.

    Oil is a hug red herring. An enormous canard. It becomes important because although all the dealings are essentially in US dollars and most of the balance sheet is in US dollars, when it is reported in the national accounts it is declared in the reporting currency – which is the Scottish currency. So it’s an accounting trick mostly to make the figures look ‘good’ superficially. The actual Scottish effect is just the fraction of the oil income that has to be physically exchanged for the Scottish currency – to pay staff, suppliers and of course the licence fee and other taxation for the resource.

    Spending only comes back if you have your own currency. If you use somebody else’s then it leaks into a different banking system. Greece spending ends up under the control of the Bundesbank. Similarly Scottish spending ends up under the control of the Bank of England, which is owned and directed by the UK government. As long as that arrangement stays in place, Scotland is owned and directed by the UK government – like any other county council.

    That is the key issue with fixed exchange rates. You end up with control of the money under some other entity which you have to follow the directions of.

    If Scotland became independent then what happens depends upon whether it floats its own currency or not. That is the only way to ensure that Scottish money doesn’t leak anywhere. What the size of the government deficit is will still depend upon how many people want to net save in that currency.

    All the funding problems the grass roots face simply disappears. The problems after that are real resource constraints and an inflation constraint.

  3. Derek Henry says:

    CROWDSOURCING the COLLECTIVE “WE”

    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2016/09/crowdsourcing-the-collective-we.html#more-10658

    Also has some very interesting ideas and is thinking outside the box.

    And

    Millennial Agenda― (and how to pay for it!)

    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2017/12/millennial-agenda%e2%80%95-pay.html#more-11184

    Once you realise the only constraints would be resource and inflation constraints. The oppertunites are endless.

  4. Derek Henry says:

    As you can see

    https://twitter.com/NoahCRothman/status/1011965424081268736

    It has all kicked off as the mainstream media try to trap Ocasio. With the

    ” How do you pay for it ” question

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