Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has drawn plenty of criticism over a speech she delivered to the predominately black audience at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network event in New York — but it was a panelist at the event that the dealt the New York Democrat her strongest blow.
The freshman congresswoman championed the push against Amazon’s proposed new headquarters in New York, a move that president and chief investment officer of Advent Capital Management, Tracy Maitland, said showed that she and others like her are “financially illiterate.”
AOC sends Amazon out
“The people campaigning against the Amazon campus are financially illiterate,” Maitland told the crowd during a panel discussion titled “The Black Economic Agenda: Driving Capital into the Hands of Black Asset managers and Housing Developers.”
Maitland later told the New York Post: “This was a disgrace. I partially blame AOC for the loss of Amazon. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. That’s scary. We have to make sure she’s better educated or vote her out of office.”
Another panelist in that discussion, City University of New York (CUNY) chairman Bill Thompson, also complained that jobs had been “snatched away” from New York residents with the cancellation of the Amazon deal.
“We were at the table talking to Amazon on how students could get jobs… Those opportunities were snatched away,” Thompson said. “Those students look like us… We’re talking thousands of high-paying jobs. It was a disappointment from a CUNY perspective.”
Tax credits vs. tax subsidies
For his part, Maitland took particular exception to how Ocasio-Cortez and others were either mistaken about — or purposely mischaracterized — the $3 billion in tax incentives the city and state of New York had offered Amazon to build a headquarters in Queens.
Folks like Ocasio-Cortez falsely portrayed the $3 billion as taxpayer money that would have been given to Amazon as a subsidy, when in reality, Amazon would merely have been awarded $3 billion in tax credits — that is, Amazon would’ve been let off the hook for $3 billion in taxes they would have owed, in the hopes that the company would reinvest the money back into the business.
That credit could have created an estimated 25,000 new jobs, which would have generated an estimated $30 billion in additional tax revenue over time.
Gotham’s new villain
Ocasio-Cortez was most certainly a driving force behind the activist effort to kill the Amazon deal.
But it remains unclear if she purposely mischaracterized the offered tax credits to malign the proposed deal or simply doesn’t understand the difference between tax credits and tax subsidies.
If the former, then she truly is a “villain” — as a recent poll of disappointed New Yorkers called her — but if the latter, then she is indeed “financially illiterate” and not fit to be a member of Congress who makes decisions on how the nation spends its money.