Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) faced off with The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler in a heated battle over a fact check chiding her for playing “fast and loose” with the truth on living and minimum wages.
The statements in question came during a Martin Luther King Day Q&A last Monday with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. While discussing economic inequality, the freshman congresswoman asserted that “a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage,” lamenting that “you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids.”
“I think it’s wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage,” she added.
Debunking the lawmaker’s claim on minimum wage, Kessler turned to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, speaking to its manager, Amy Glasmeier, who noted the statement wasn’t quite accurate considering 2017′s living wage averaged just over $16 an hour. Still, Glasmeier acknowledged estimates are tough.
But Kessler gave Ocasio-Cortez credit where it was due, noting her “100 hours” remark was a low estimate, if anything.
However, when it came to her comments on Walmart and Amazon, Kessler pointed out that both corporations pay workers more than minimum wage, also contending her claim of a wealth transfer was flimsy based on a 2005 paper written by Jason Furman, who would later chair the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama Era.
Firing back at Kessler’s check, Ocasio-Cortez accused him of using “a Walmart-funded think tank as reference material for wage fairness,” raising him four Geppettos for his three Pinocchios.
That’s when Kessler clapped back, denying her portrayal of the Furman paper was even close to correct.
“She’s wrong,” he tweeted. “Don’t always believe what you see on Twitter. The article has been updated with a note explaining the provenance.”
Despite the dustup, it’s not the first time Ocasio-Cortez has come under the fact checker’s scrutiny, having scored four pinocchios last month with a broad claim regarding untraceable finances at the Pentagon.