Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Platform
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is running for Congress to create an America that works for all of us, not just a wealthy few.
- Medicare For All
- Housing As a Human Right
- A Peace Economy
- A Federal Jobs Guarantee
- Gun Control / Assault Weapons Ban
- Criminal Justice Reform, End Private Prisons
- Immigration Justice / Abolish ICE
- Solidarity with Puerto Rico
- Mobilizing Against Climate Change
- Clean Campaign Finance
- Higher Education / Trade School for All
- Women's Rights
- Support LGBTQIA+
- Support Seniors
- Curb Wall Street Gambling: Restore Glass Steagall
Medicare For All
Improved and Expanded Medicare for All is the ethical, logical, and affordable path to ensuring no person goes without dignified healthcare. Medicare for All will reduce the existing costs of healthcare (and make Medicare cheaper, too!) by allowing all people in the US to buy into a universal healthcare system.
What’s even better is that Improved and Expanded Medicare for All includes full vision, dental, and mental healthcare - because we know that true healthcare is about the whole self, not just your yearly physical.
Almost every other developed nation in the world has universal healthcare. It’s time the United States catch up to the rest of the world in ensuring all people have real healthcare coverage that doesn’t break the bank. This is very different than universal “access” to healthcare, which is lobbyist talk for more for-profit plans.
You can count on Alexandria to fight for people-centered healthcare more than any other candidate, because she’s the ONLY candidate that doesn’t accept money from Pharmaceutical lobbyists or private insurance companies.
Extending single payer to the American public has rippling positive effects: people will take less time off work, have more money in their pocket, and other issues - like mass incarceration, homelessness, and more - will also be alleviated with an increase in the number of people getting the mental and physical healthcare they need.
At this point in the US, we’ve tried almost every other system of healthcare, and we know it doesn’t work. The Affordable Care Act was a great step forward to insure the previously “uninsurable,” but for many Americans, costs are still far too high. The prices of co-pays, premiums, and deductibles are skyrocketing. We’re paying more for less every year. Improving Medicare and extending it to all Americans can fix these problems.
Housing As a Human Right
Housing in the United States has become a playground for wealthy developers instead of a leg up towards the American Dream. In New York City specifically, money from luxury real estate developers has taken over our political establishment - leading to luxury rezonings that push out small businesses and working families, and leave a wake of empty units in their place.
Working New Yorkers can’t afford to stay in the communities their families have called home for generations. Families are rent burdened, and the city is experiencing the highest levels of homelessness since the Great Depression. While shelters go up, housing actually remains empty - there are three times the amount of empty luxury units as there are people experiencing homelessness in New York City.
So, what do we do?
Alexandria believes that housing is a right, and that Congress must tip the balance away from housing as a gambling chip for Wall Street banks and fight for accessible housing that’s actually within working families’ reach.
Congress has allowed most of our existing housing investments to go towards benefitting the wealthy. Alexandria supports extending tax benefits to working and middle-class homeowners, expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, housing (not sheltering) the homeless, and permanently funding the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
By refusing money from luxury real estate developers, Alexandria can be trusted to fight for fair, inclusive housing policies that upend the overdevelopment that real estate speculators have imposed on New Yorkers.
A Peace Economy
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States has entangled itself in war and occupation throughout the Middle East and North Africa. As of 2018, we are currently involved in military action in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Hundreds of thousands of civilians in these countries have been killed either as collateral damage from American strikes or from the instability caused by U.S. interventions. Millions more have fled their broken countries, contributing to the global refugee crisis.
This continued action damages America’s legitimacy as a force for good, creates new generations of potential terrorists, and erodes American prosperity. In times when we’re told that there’s not enough money, Republicans and corporate Democrats seem to find the cash to fund a $1.1 trillion fighter jet program or a $1.7 trillion-dollar nuclear weapon “modernization” program. The costs are extreme: the Pentagon’s budget for 2018 is $700 billion dollars, all to continue fighting an endless War on Terror and re-fighting the Cold War with a new arms race that nobody can win.
According to the Constitution, the right to declare war belongs to the legislative body, and yet many of these global acts of aggression have never once been voted on by Congress. In some cases, we've even acted unilaterally, without the backing of the United Nations.
America should not be in the business of destabilizing countries. While we may see ourselves as liberators, the world increasingly views us as occupiers and aggressors. Alexandria believes that we must end the "forever war" by bringing our troops home, and ending the air strikes that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism throughout the world.
By bringing our troops home, we can begin to heal the wounds we're opening by continuing military engagement. We can begin to repair our image. We can reunite military families, separated by repeated deployments. We can become stronger by building stronger diplomatic and economic ties, and by saving our armed forces only for when they're truly needed.
A Federal Jobs Guarantee
Alexandria endorses a Federal Jobs Guarantee, because anyone who is willing and able to work shouldn’t struggle to find employment.
A Federal Jobs Guarantee would create a baseline standard for employment that includes a $15 minimum wage (pegged to inflation), full healthcare, and child and sick leave for all. This proposal would dramatically upgrade the quality of employment in the United States, by providing training and experience to workers while bringing much-needed public services to our communities in areas such as parks service, childcare and environmental conservation.
Furthermore, a federal jobs guarantee program would establish a floor for wages and benefits for the nation’s workforce. This program would provide a baseline minimum wage of $15 an hour and guarantee for public workers a basic benefits package, including healthcare and childcare. By investing in our own workforce, we can lift thousands of American families out of poverty.
Gun Control / Assault Weapons Ban
School shootings have become all too routine in America, and in urban areas like the Bronx and Queens, gun violence is a regular reality in many communities. In some states, it’s easier for teenagers to buy assault weapons than it is for families to get health insurance. Every year, more than 15,000 Americans die due to gun violence, excluding suicides. In America, gun violence is occurring at a rate 10 times higher than in other high-income countries.
With every mass shooting, we see lots of thoughts and prayers from our politicians, but continue to see no action. Republicans ban studying gun violence and write legislation designed to help gun stores that break the law. The NRA, a vehicle for gun manufacturers that disguises itself as a civil rights organization, is run by a man who helped arm narco-terrorists in what became the Iran-Contra scandal. Instead of fighting to save American lives, politicians bend over backwards to protect the billionaire-backed gun lobby and propose measures that would actually increase gun sales, such as the incredulous proposal to arm teachers.
Alexandria knows that it doesn’t have to be this way. Even in the United States, cities and states with strong gun laws have managed to cut gun violence significantly without running afoul of the Second Amendment. Thanks in part to New York City’s tough gun laws, gun crimes here are at historic lows. But New York – and the rest of the country – has the potential to be much safer. Alexandria believes that supporting common-sense gun legislation is necessary for any politician who claims to care about the lives of constituents. She understands that gun control can save lives and make communities and schools safer.
Ban Assault Weapons, High-Capacity Magazines, and Bump Stocks
It’s clear that the Founding Fathers did not have assault weapons in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment. These machines of war were brought over to the civilian market in the 1980s, alongside high-capacity magazines, and dramatically increase the death toll of mass shootings where used. Alexandria believes that the Federal Assault Weapons Ban should be reinstated, strengthened, and made permanent.
Require Domestic Abusers and Stalkers to Surrender Their Firearms
The availability of guns heightens the stakes of intimate partner violence and domestic abuse. On average, more than 760 Americans are shot to death by current or former partners each year. Yet federal laws meant to block domestic abusers from obtaining guns do not close the “intimate partner gap,” in which a partner convicted of abuse can buy a gun if they don’t live with, or have a child with, the victim of abuse. Federal laws also fail to prevent convicted stalkers or subjects of restraining orders from buying guns. Worst of all, once convicted of domestic abuse, abusers can keep any firearms they currently possess – and then continue to commit crimes with guns they would fail the background check for. Alexandria believes that anyone convicted of relationship violence has no right to own a weapon of any kind, and that stalkers or subjects of restraining orders should never be armed.
Mandate Universal and Improved Background Checks for Firearm Purchases
The federal background check system has a dangerous loophole: felons, domestic abusers, and the seriously mentally ill can buy guns off of the internet or at gun shows without going through a background check. These cases are not rare: 1 in 5 gun owners obtained their most recent gun without a background check. And unsurprisingly, those barred from buying guns gravitate towards a “private sale”—another dangerous loophole in the background check system where firearm offenders are overwhelmingly likely to obtain weapons.
Alexandria knows that closing background check loopholes will save thousands of lives, as will changing regulations to prevent gun sales from proceeding without sufficient background checks.
Require Congresspeople to take no money from the gun lobby or private equity companies that invest in the firearms industry
Gun lobby money is the number one barrier to getting any meaningful action on guns accomplished in Congress. The NRA has invested millions of dollars to make sure our politicians keep our gun laws weak and our children at risk. This is also not just a Republican problem -- many Democrats take millions of dollars from private equity companies that own large stakes in gun companies and stand to lose millions of dollars if gun laws are made stricter.
We need to make sure our Congresspeople are making laws to protect Americans and not the gun lobby, and until we take away the financial incentive for our elected officials, we will continue to have Republicans blocking any gun regulations and Democrats not having the will to fight hard enough against it.
Alexandria will work with the Democrats in Washington to overcome Republican resistance to life-saving, common sense gun reform, and ensure that policies are made for the American people—not the NRA. She will fight to end America’s gun violence epidemic caused by weak gun laws, NRA-controlled politicians, and the apathy preventing progress on addressing this issue.
Criminal Justice Reform, End Private Prisons
It is time to reform our criminal justice system to be safer for everyone. Alexandria believes in ending mass incarceration and the war on drugs, and closing the school-to-prison pipeline.
Alexandria supports the federal legalization of marijuana, ending for-profit prisons and detention centers, the release of individuals incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses, the end of cash bail, and automatic, independent investigations each & every time an individual is killed by law enforcement.
We must also fully fund the offices of public defenders, decriminalize poverty, end arbitration clauses that shield corporate abuses of everyday Americans, and provide comprehensive mental health care to both incarcerated communities and law enforcement.
Mass incarceration is the latest iteration of a long line of policies (Jim Crow, redlining, etc) rooted in the marginalization of African Americans and people of color. Comprehensive criminal justice reform is part of the work that must be done to heal our past and pursue racial justice in the United States.
Immigration Justice / Abolish ICE
It’s time to abolish ICE, clear the path to citizenship, and protect the rights of families to remain together.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was created in 2003, in the same suite of post-9/11 legislation as the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. Its founding was part of an unchecked expansion of executive powers that led to the widespread erosion of Americans’ civil rights. Unlike prior immigration enforcement under the INS, ICE operates outside the scope of the Department of Justice and is unaccountable to our nation’s standards of due process.
Now we see the consequences: young children are being ripped from their parents and kept in detention centers without due process and without accountability to Congress.
As overseen by the Trump administration, ICE operates with virtually no accountability, ripping apart families and holding our friends and neighbors indefinitely in inhumane detention centers scattered across the United States. Alex believes that if we are to uphold civic justice, we must abolish ICE and see to it that our undocumented neighbors are treated with the dignity and respect owed to all people, regardless of citizenship status.
Solidarity with Puerto Rico
Months after Hurricane Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico, our fellow Americans still suffer for want of basic utilities and billions in federal aid that they are entitled to as citizens. In that time the United States has allowed its own citizens to go without reliable electricity, potable water, and open schools. That includes Alexandria’s own family. Our friends and family in Puerto Rico thus suffer the double humiliation of being denied disaster relief from their own government on the basis of their disenfranchisement. As a member of Congress, Alex commits to championing justice for Puerto Rico on the House floor.
The US Government has done nothing while Puerto Ricans have suffered an island-wide blackout, seen public tuition double for all aspiring collegiate students, and been deprived of their humanity with under-reporting of hurricane-related deaths. A recent Harvard report stating that the real numbers are approaching 5,000, more than 70 times what is being reported. Americans would not stand for this in any other city or state, and we can’t stand for it now. Our government has a responsibility to act and pursue a just recovery in Puerto Rico.
As a Congresswoman, Alexandria intends to fight for sweeping change in the way that the United States relates to Puerto Rico, including 5 main policy priorities:
1) A Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico, helping the island not only recover from Hurricane Maria, but thrive with modern infrastructure and renewable energy systems.
2) A community-led, sustainable, and just recovery - including protections for Puerto Rico’s public education system from kindergarten to college and trade school.
3) An immediate waiver and full review of the Jones Act, which hamstrings the Puerto Rican economy with restrictions that other American communities do not have to face.
4) Cancellation of Puerto Rico’s Wall Street debt: this debt has been accrued by vulture funds using irresponsible and unjust behavior reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis.
5) Condemnation of the PROMESA Act, which handed over the island to “La Junta,” a corporate governance board installed with the support of my opponent and his private equity donors.
These issues just scrape the surface of the long and difficult history of the U.S. in Puerto Rico. In fact, many of our most pressing issues of justice today - from Puerto Rico, to Standing Rock, to Riker’s Island - are extensions of the dark histories that our nation has never fully remedied: whether that be slavery, Jim Crow, and the War on Drugs; the genocide of native peoples and the plight of modern-day reservations; or the colonization and continued disenfranchisement of Puerto Ricans and people in U.S. territories. To move forward, we must recognize that our present-day issues have deep-past roots. That healing feat is both emotionally and legislatively difficult, but ultimately, it’s the right thing to do.
Over time, we hope to continue our work with activists, community leaders, and policymakers to figure out what social, economic, and racial justice looks like in the modern day. As your Congresswoman, Alexandria will seek to make sure that everyone in the United States is treated fairly by our government, and that the unequal, traumatic relationships of the past are replaced with the true spirit of this great nation: liberty and justice for all.
Mobilizing Against Climate Change
In order to address runaway global climate change, Alexandria strongly supports transitioning the United States to a carbon-free, 100% renewable energy system and a fully modernized electrical grid by 2035. She believes renewable fuels must be produced in a way that achieves our environmental and energy security goals, so we can move beyond oil responsibly in the fight against climate change. By encouraging the electrification of vehicles, sustainable home heating, distributed rooftop solar generation, and the conversion of the power grid to zero-emissions energy sources, Alexandria believes we can be 100% free of fossil fuels by 2035.
Furthermore, Alex believes in recognizing the relationship between economic stability and environmental sustainability. It’s time to shift course and implement a Green New Deal – a transformation that implements structural changes to our political and financial systems in order to alter the trajectory of our environment. Right now, the economy is controlled by big corporations whose profits are dependent on the continuation of climate change. This arrangement benefits few, but comes at the detriment of our planet and all its inhabitants. Its effects are life-threatening, and are especially already felt by low-income communities, both in the U.S. and globally. Even in NY-14, areas like Throgs Neck, College Point, and City Island are being affected by erosion and rising sea levels. Rather than continue a dependency on this system that posits climate change as inherent to economic life, the Green New Deal believes that radically addressing climate change is a potential path towards a more equitable economy with increased employment and widespread financial security for all.
Climate change is the single biggest national security threat for the United States and the single biggest threat to worldwide industrialized civilization, and the effects of warming can be hard to predict and self-reinforcing. We need to avoid a worldwide refugee crisis by waging a war for climate justice through the mobilization of our population and our government. This starts with the United States being a leader on the actions we take both globally and locally.
Clean Campaign Finance
Alexandria believes that the only way for real reform to happen in Washington is for the means by which elections are funded to be overhauled from the bottom up. In 2010, as a result of a disastrous Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, 5 out of the 9 Justices gave the wealthiest people in this country the opportunity to purchase the U.S. Government, the White House, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, Governors’ seats, State legislatures, and State judicial branches with unaccountable dark money.
The Citizens United ruling is centered around the notion that money is speech and that corporations are people. This idea is far from any reasonable interpretation of the Constitution, and is deeply harmful to the institutions of social democracy. Not only does this situation favor those with extreme wealth, but also discourages those who are less privileged from even considering a run. After growing up in a working class family and working in Senator Ted Kennedy’s office as college student, Alexandria left thinking there wasn’t a place in politics for someone like her. As someone unable to fund her own campaign and without the connections to wealthy individuals willing to invest, she felt as though her party, the Democratic Party, had no place for her.
The first pledge Alexandria made to voters in this election was to commit herself to clean campaign finance. As a candidate, Alexandria recognizes the corrupting influence of corporate fundraising on legislative policy. Where she stands farthest apart from her primary opponent Joe Crowley is in her steadfast refusal to allow her campaign to be underwritten by lobbyist contributions. If elected, Alexandria vows to reform campaign finance laws that undermine democracy for the benefit of corporate interests. This is not a progressive or a conservative issue. It is an issue that should concern all Americans, regardless of their political point of view, who wish to preserve the longest standing democracy in the world, and a government that represents all of the people and not a handful of powerful and wealthy special interests.
Campaign finance reform can’t happen soon enough. That is why Alexandria is supportive of big ideas like the overturning, through a constitutional amendment, of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, along with other disruptive rulings such as the Buckley v. Valeo decision and SpeechNOW.org v. FEC. Sweeping legislation that moves us toward the public funding of elections is the ultimate goal.
However, Alexandria knows that constitutional amendments and the overturning of Supreme Court decisions are a long process. In the meantime, Alexandria will insist on legislation to require wealthy individuals and corporations who make large campaign contributions to disclose where their money is going. This will be enforced via legislation, action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Election Commission, and Federal Communication Commission, and federal legislation requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending.
Higher Education / Trade School for All
Roughly every 100 years, the United States expands its public education system to match its increasingly advanced economy. It’s now time to expand our national education system to include tuition-free public college and trade school.
In fact, we’ve had this system before: The University of California system offered free tuition at its schools until the 1980s. In 1965, average tuition at a four-year public university was just $243 and many of the best colleges – including the City University of New York – did not charge any tuition at all. Alexandria’s plan would make tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout the country.
In tandem with making public colleges tuition-free, Alexandria supports a one-time policy of student debt cancellation, in which the federal government cancels the loans it holds directly and buys back the financing of privately owned loans on behalf of borrowers to liberate generations of Americans trapped in student loan debt and holding back from participating in the greater US economy.
A policy of debt cancellation could boost real GDP by an average of $86 billion to $108 billion per year. Over the 10-year forecast, the policy generates between $861 billion and $1,083 billion in real GDP (2016 dollars).
Alexandria believes that Women’s Rights are Human Rights, and that all women deserve equal access to workplace safety, equal pay, paid parental leave, full access to healthcare, and more. She wants to create a society in which women - which includes Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women - are free and able to care for and nurture their families in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.
Reproductive freedom is especially essential for all individuals of marginalized genders, including cisgender women and trans people. Alexandria does not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on the ability of individuals to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion, birth control, and family planning services, as well as access to adequate, affordable pre- and post-natal care, for all people, regardless of income, location or education.
Alexandria is a firm believer in equal pay for all genders. The pay and hiring discrimination that women, particularly mothers, women of color, Indigenous women, lesbian, queer and trans women still face each day in our nation, as well as discrimination against workers with disabilities, is atrocious and must end. Equal pay for equal work will provide families with upward mobility and boost the economy.
Alexandria is a proponent of labor legislation that reduces the discrimination and exploitation of working women. She believes we should be creating workforce opportunities for caregivers and parents; and stands in opposition to gun laws that allow those convicted of domestic abuse to have firearms and the criminalization of sex work, both of which increase violence against women. In Congress she will support legislation that promotes caregiving and basic workplace protections—including benefits like paid family leave, access to affordable childcare, sick days, healthcare, fair pay, vacation time, and healthy work environments—benefit society as a whole.
Given the current administration’s attacks on LGBTQIA+ rights, one thing is clear: support for and solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community is more important than ever. At the federal level, our President has rescinded guidance protecting the rights of trans students in federally funded schools, and wants to take away the rights of trans people to serve in the United States military. Republicans at every level of government are eager to make trans and non-binary people targets for persecution, and routinely draft legislation that would deny many people their rights to basic employment, housing, healthcare and education on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. This legislation especially affects queer people from low-income communities of color.
Discrimination at both the local and federal level concretely impacts queer and trans people from an early age – among LGBTQIA+ youth, rates of homelessness, incarceration, and substance abuse are all disproportionately high. Clearly, we must do more to end intolerance and bigotry throughout our nation.
Alexandria believes in the urgency of acting to safeguard the livelihoods of LGBTQIA+ people. To this end, Alex will advocate for legislation such as the Equality Act, which would expand existing civil rights law to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. As we advocate for Universal Healthcare, we must also do more to provide affordable healthcare coverage that is gender-affirming and conscientious of the unique medical struggles faced by LGBTQIA+ patients. The issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community are not isolated from the issues facing many of us regarding race and class. It is critical in times like these that we stand together in solidarity, to build just public policy that works for all of us, not just some of us.
Alexandria is a strong supporter of Social Security, which is the most successful program for social uplift and social justice in the history of this country. She believes that everyone should be able to retire with dignity. She believes that Social Security should be expanded and that benefits should be linked to inflation. This includes raising the cap on taxable income so that everyone who makes over $250,000 a year pays the same percentage of their income into Social Security as the middle class and working families. Legislation to that effect would not only extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 50 years, but also bring in enough revenue to expand benefits by an average of $65 a month; increase cost-of-living-adjustments; and lift more seniors out of poverty by increasing the minimum benefits paid to low-income seniors. Additionally, Alexandria believes that funds borrowed from Social Security by Congress must be paid back to ensure its solvency. Without Social Security, more than 40% of seniors would have incomes below the poverty line. With this program running to full effect, only 8.8% of American seniors live in poverty, which is a number that is still too high and that Alexandria will work to reduce.
Until comprehensive universal healthcare is a reality in this country, Alexandria believes Medicaid needs expansion. It is a vital lifeline for 72 million Americans, and two-thirds of Medicaid spending supports senior citizens and the disabled. Expanding Medicaid to provide quality long term services, nursing home care, and home healthcare support is how we can best help our seniors.
Alexandria believes affordable housing should be within the means of all full-time working Americans. For the seniors who have retired, they should be able to stay in their homes without getting priced out. Seniors who are more financially secure in retirement and don’t have to contend with rising rent costs will be able to choose for themselves whether to move in with their children and families, not be forced to do so by economic realities.
Curb Wall Street Gambling: Restore Glass Steagall
Systemic risk in our banking system leads to the concentration of wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands and also leads to increased risk that individuals will lose their savings due to the irresponsible decisions of bank management. We should restore Glass-Steagall to make sure our banks can’t gamble with our money.
We also should make sure that no bank is allowed to become “too-big-to-fail” and that oversized banks are broken up to reduce the likelihood of a financial crash.
Finally, we need to make postal banking a reality in the United States, which will revitalize the United States Postal Service, provide a low-cost source of basic banking services for disenfranchised communities, and increase competition in the banking industry.