With AOC, The Dems Get Their Sarah Palin

by John Rubino

It’s easy to forget, in light of subsequent events, how terrified the Democrats once were of Sarah Palin. As an attractive Christian woman with a bunch of kids, who apparently liked to hunt moose with her hunky husband, she was an arrow aimed at the heart of a long list of liberal convictions. Watch her nail down the Republican base and rattle the left at the 2008 convention:

Palin flamed out when forced to go beyond sound bites, and is now just a strange footnote in the ongoing decline of the mainstream Republican party.

Here we go again
Fast forward to the present, and the roles have reversed. The Republicans are the Establishment and the Dems are the ideological insurgents. And they now apparently have their Sarah Palin:

Ocasio-Cortez vs. Trump, and the Winner Is…

Though just one-in-three voters have a favorable opinion of freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, if she were old enough to run for president in 2020, she’d give President Trump a run for his money.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that, if the 2020 presidential race was between Trump and Ocasio-Cortez, 43% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for Trump, while 40% would vote for Ocasio-Cortez. A sizable 17% are undecided.

Let’s consider the parallels. As with Palin, the camera loves Ocasio-Cortez:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing video leads to 192 per cent streaming spike for Phoenix song ‘Lisztomania’

After a video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went viral, the track “Lisztomania” by Phoenix – to which American congressman was filmed dancing to – has had a 192 per cent increase in on-demand streams.

According to Billboard, the song jumped from 1.07 million streams on 3 January, to 3.13 million on the 10 January in the US. “Lisztomania” also jumped 320 per cent in purchased downloads. It also managed to enter YouTube’s US Top Songs chart for the first time, coming in a 54.

The video of Ocasio-Cortez dancing to Phoenix’s song, which dates back to 2010, went viral after Republicans hoped to embarass the newly-elected Democrat.

It was filmed while the politician was a student at Boston University and depicts Ocasio-Cortez and other students performing a dance from The Breakfast Club.

After the post initially went viral, various high-profile figures tweeted out messages of support, including Phoenix, who wrote: “Congratulations on being the youngest woman ever being elected to Congress!”

Members of The Breakfast Club’s cast also reacted with amusement to the clip, with Molly Ringwald writing: “Alexandria you’re in the club.”

The politician later responded to going viral by posting a video of herself dancing and lip-syncing to Edwin Starr’s “War”, posting alongside the new video: “Wait till they find out Congresswomen dance, too!”

Also like Palin, Ocasio-Cortez has no problem wandering far from the middle with major policy ideas, including a “Green New Deal” and massive tax increases. The liberal base, of course, is thrilled:

Ocasio-Cortez’s “Not At All Outlandish” Proposal for 70% Tax Rate on Uber-Wealthy Could Raise $720 Billion Over Decade

As many historians, economists, and informed citizens were forced to point out in the wake of the freak-out over a proposal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to raise the current tax rate on the very wealthiest Americans to 70 percent, such a rate is not at all unprecedented and higher rates were the norm for a large portion of last century.

And one of the reasons that much higher rates were once very popular was because they were able to generate lots of revenue that was then put to good use. And, since most people are not extremely rich, there was popular support for such progressive taxation.

What Ocasio-Cortez is actually suggesting, said economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, is “what top public finance economists have been saying for some time” and “not at all outlandish.”

So while the newly-seat New York Democrat embraced the idea that “radical” ideas might be needed to help pay for essential policies like the Green New Deal or Medicare for All, many of her allies pointed out that there’s nothing necessarily radical about much higher tax rates on the rich and powerful.

“The top tax rate was above 90 percent during the 1950s, and while it has slowly descended,” noted the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein on Saturday, “it remained as high as 50 percent for much of President Ronald Reagan’s tenure in the 1980s.”

After talking with several economic experts from across the political spectrum, Stein’s reporting found that the 70 percent rate—if applied to the top .05 percent of income earners in the U.S. today—could generate an estimated $72 billion a year, or $720 over ten years. From the reporting:

This $720 billion in a decade is not nearly enough to fund Medicare for all, which has been estimated to increase government outlays by about $30 trillion over a decade (while also zeroing out premiums and deductibles paid by Americans).

Still, it could fund a number of other measures. It could come close to funding the entirety of Sanders’s free college tuition plan ($800 billion), fund President Barack Obama’s plan to get close to universal prekindergarten ($75 billion over a decade), forgive more than half the student debt in America ($1.4 trillion), cover Democratic leaders’ plan for boosting teacher pay and school funding ($100 billion), or come close to funding a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

As Stein details in his reporting, as you increase the top rate or broaden the number of people you include in that upper-most bracket, of course the revenue rises as well. Using different scenarios, he explains that “a 1 percent wealth tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of households above $10 million could raise about $200 billion a year, or $2 trillion over 10 years.” Separately, “a 0.5 percent wealth tax on the top 1 percent could raise at most $3 trillion over 10 years.”

Edward Wolff, a tax expert at New York University, put it this way to the Post: “You can get a hell of a lot of a money from taxing the 1 percent.”

Where is this heading? Same direction as Palin, for a couple of reasons. First, as she’s pressed on the details, philosophical/economic roots, and implications of her ideas, the obviously way too young Ocasio-Cortez will turn out to be largely unaware of them and as a result will come to look a lot less formidable.

Second and far more important, we’re past the point where any policy, from right left or center, can fix things. The amount of debt that the US and the rest of the world has taken on will, when it blows up, eliminate both the global military empire and the welfare state.

While this debt is being resolved, politics will be about survival rather than big dreams.

 

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