AOC Calls Biden’s Progressive Outreach ‘Almost Insulting’

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
April 13, 2020

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) said in a New York Times interview published Monday that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden may be even more hostile to progressives than failed candidate Hillary Clinton.

The socialist congresswoman called Biden's newly released Medicare eligibility plan—the centerpiece of his attempt to win over Sanders supporters—"almost insulting."

"They floated this olive branch to the progressive left of lowering the Medicare age to 60," she told the Times. "And it's almost insulting. I think Hillary [Clinton] was looking at policies that lowered it to 50. So we're talking about a 'progressive concession' that is 10 years worse than what the nominee had in 2016."

Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in October, bolstering his candidacy shortly after he suffered a heart attack. Her remarks underscore the tensions within the Democratic Party over Biden's primary success. Democratic strategists saw the defection of many Sanders supporters as playing a crucial role in Donald Trump's 2016 victory.

Ocasio-Cortez supports Medicare for All, a single-payer health care program championed by Sanders and popular with Democratic voters. Biden announced Thursday he wants to lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60, and he supports keeping Obamacare and adding a public option. Hillary Clinton proposed allowing Americans as young as 50 to buy into Medicare when she ran for president in 2016.

Sanders suspended his campaign Wednesday, and Biden has made several overtures to the left since becoming the final candidate for the Democratic nomination. In addition to his pivot on Medicare, he has called for canceling student debt for most undergraduate borrowers. Yet these moves are not enough for Democratic socialists including the 30-year-old Ocasio-Cortez, who is popular among the younger voting bloc that favored Sanders over Biden by large margins.

"While Biden is the nominee, we also know that he didn't win because of policy—I don't think he won because of his agenda, he won because of different factors. In state after state after state, Democratic voters support a progressive agenda," she said.

She said Biden should be made "uncomfortable" on issues such as the Obama administration's deportation of three million illegal immigrants. Biden apologized for the deportations during the primary race.

Ocasio-Cortez, who has never spoken with Biden, said she intends to support him because of her desire to oust President Trump. This is not the first time she has lashed out at the former vice president.

She groaned during an interview with New York magazine in January when asked about her role under a Biden presidency.

"Oh God," she said. "In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are."

In 2019, Ocasio-Cortez attacked Biden over his failure to embrace the Green New Deal.

"I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need to find a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives," she said. "That is too much for me."