Ocasio-Cortez explains why a living wage for staff is 'common-sense' policy

Ocasio-Cortez explains why a living wage for staff is 'common-sense' policy
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez/Wikimedia Commons
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez/Wikimedia Commons
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Add Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) paying a living wage to staffers to the ideas Fox News considers "communism."


On Sunday, "Fox & Friends" host Pete Hegseth railed against a report that Ocasio-Cortez will start staff salaries at $52,000 a year and cap salaries at $80,000 a year. The cap will allow the Congresswoman to pay interns $15 an hour, a pledge she made in December.

"Everyone's between 52 and 80," said Hegseth. "It's actually socialism and communism on display."

Hegseth's comments came on the heels of a Saturday tweet by Fox News contributor Dan Bongino, who took issue with the fact that Ocasio-Cortez’s office is funded by taxpayers. "She's NOT paying this 'living wage,' YOU are," wrote Bongino.

Ocasio-Cortez fired back on Twitter Monday morning, saying that the Republican Party’s reaction to her paying her staffers a living wage, through its mouthpiece Fox News, revealed the GOP is "disconnected from the basic idea that people should be paid enough to live."

The Congresswoman expanded on the idea in a longer post on Instagram, saying that her office was constrained by its allotted budget but that she wanted to ensure her staff could survive in one of the nation’s most affluent cities.

"Only people who work 80+hr weeks w/ multiple jobs without an outside life, or whose parents can supplement their pay can have the opportunity to work in the nation’s capital," wrote Ocasio-Cortez. "That has real consequences for government being out of touch w/ the people we serve on all levels."

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I announced that no one who works for me full-time will make less than $52k and Fox News called it communism ? . In my office, we do our best to practice what we preach, and pay a living wage to all: $52k minimum for all full-time staff. To be honest, I wish our budgets allowed us to make it higher. . It’s a very unusual move on the Hill and likely one of the highest entry-level salaries in Congress. I do it because I was outraged at how many staffers I saw on the Hill work FULL-TIME leave their day job for a second shift as a barista or elsewhere afterwards **just to afford the basics** - not even to get ahead or save up for something big. It’s totally wrong. . Low pay is also a big reason for lack of socioeconomic diversity in DC, aka why many spaces in government can feel like a silver spoon club: only people who work 80+hr weeks w/ multiple jobs without an outside life, or whose parents can supplement their pay can have the opportunity to work in the nation’s capital. That has real consequences for government being out of touch w/ the people we serve on all levels. There’s a TON of work that needs to be done when it comes to the workplace (parental leave, hiring practices, living wage, healthcare as a right and not a perk, etc), but it starts with paying people enough to live as a minimum requirement, and not a luxury (and I guess that gets you called a communist these days ?).

A post shared by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@ocasio2018) on

The salary increases were generally praised on the left, though some commentators like author Jacob Bacharach pointed out that the pay, while generous, is still below what’s needed to live in the capitol. "Let's not forget that that's something like $34K take-home, or around $2,800/month in a city where average rent is $2K+," wrote Bacharach in a Twitter thread detailing the issues with the DC housing market. "DC's problem is less absurdly underpaid government workers than a deranged speculative housing market!"

If Ocasio-Cortez tries to address the latter issue, the same attacks on "socialism" will likely be leveled against her. After all, as the Congresswoman noted in her tweet, that’s their "go-to attack for any common-sense, humane policy."

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