WASHINGTON ― Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) had some fighting words for President Donald Trump after he seemingly took a swipe at her and her fellow progressives who describe themselves as democratic socialists.
“We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,” Trump said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, drawing boos and chants of “USA” from GOP lawmakers in the House chamber.
Democrats in attendance had a more varied response, however. Ocasio-Cortez, the newly elected millennial progressive from New York, flashed a big smile but remained seated. Fellow democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sat stone-faced.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also remained seated behind Trump but clapped politely. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, stood up and clapped along with several of his fellow Senate Democrats.
Asked later about the president’s dig at socialism, which he tied to the recent unrest in Venezuela, Ocasio-Cortez told reporters that she had touched a nerve.
“I think it was great. I think he’s scared. ... He sees that everything is closing in on him. And he knows he’s losing the battle of public opinion when it comes to the actual substantive proposals that we’re advancing to the public,” she said, citing polls that showed a majority of the public in support of her proposal to dramatically increase the top marginal income tax rate to 70 percent.
The congresswoman further said that Trump had no “substantive proposals to counter” her ideas and that he further “has no vision” for America.
“Everything is about what he doesn’t want. Everything is about the boogeyman,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez has been drawing heat from the right and self-styled centrist Howard Schultz, the billionaire former Starbucks CEO who is considering an independent run for president, for her idea that those making over $10 million should pay a marginal tax rate of 70 percent to fund climate change initiatives. Her remark questioning whether “a system that allows billionaires to exist” is immoral has also attracted criticism from conservatives.