Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared in a new interview the American upper middle class does not exist anymore while she criticized the advanced age of Democratic lawmakers.
The self-described democratic socialist stunned Rep. Joe Crowley (D., N.Y.) in a Democratic primary in June and has rankled some of her likely future House colleagues with calls for a sub-caucus of strongly progressive Democrats. She is almost sure to win her seat in November, given the strong Democratic bent of her district.
"The whole country is further left than Congress. The whole country," she said on the liberal podcast "Pod Save America," citing polls showing popular support for stronger gun control laws and single-payer health care. "The electorate is way further left than Congress, and we have low voter turnout."
Host Jon Lovett said Democratic critics of Ocasio-Cortez might think she was pushing too hard.
"We have not had a party that has been investing in its own future," Ocasio-Cortez said, noting the average age of a House Democrat is 65 years old. "There's no investment in future leadership."
"For me, I think what's happening is a lot of these folks were in their political heyday in Third Way, '90s politics, and they were campaigning and were really kind of connected most to an electorate when they were fighting for these seats … when we had more of an American middle class," she added. "I think that politically, this upper middle class is probably more moderate, but that upper middle class doesn't exist anymore in America, and thanks to the continued deregulation of Wall Street, thanks to the continued gutting of working- and middle-class people, we need stronger champions."
CNN reported in 2016 that the upper middle class grew to 29.4 percent of the population in 2014, more than double the 12.9 percent it occupied in 1979, according to an Urban Institute report. The organization defined "upper middle class" as having household income between $100,000 and $350,000 for a three-person family. The American Enterprise Institute also found in 2016 the upper middle class was growing.
Ocasio-Cortez claimed in another interview that the unemployment rate in the U.S. is low because "everyone has two jobs." The claim earned her a "Pants on Fire" rating from PolitiFact for being "off in multiple ways."