Ocasio-Cortez: Trump Attacks Socialism Because He is 'Losing on the Issues'
Democratic socialist criticises president's State of the Union address
After President Donald Trump's criticisms of socialism during his historic State of the Union address on Tuesday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responded by claiming that the president says America will never be a socialist country because “he feels himself losing on the issues.”
Trump blasted socialism during his SOTU address, prompting cheers and chants of “USA, USA” from Republicans in the chamber.
Among those who didn't share the enthusiasm for Trump's stabs socialism was Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont.
After criticizing embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro’s “socialist policies” as being the cause of the South American country’s “abject poverty and despair,” Trump said he was “alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism” in the United States — a statement that prompted some boos from his audience.
The president continued: “America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free and we will stay free.”
“Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,” he declared after a pause to cheers and a standing ovation.
President Trump takes a direct shot at socialism: "Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country." Sen. Bernie Sanders is seen frowning #SOTU https://t.co/EXZ8FU2DXV pic.twitter.com/WNNYm83eGD— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 6, 2019
The room erupted to cheers and applause as network cameras zoomed in on Sanders’ face.
The 77-year-old senator, who has described himself as a democratic socialist, appeared to frown, his lips tightly pursed.
New York freshman Ocasio-Cortez, who also describes herself as a democratic socialist, said, “I think that the president was unprepared. I don’t think that he did his homework.”
She added, “There was no plan. There was no plan to address our opioid crisis.
"There was no plan to address the cost of health care, there was no plan to increase wages.
"I had to ask myself, is this a campaign stop or is this a State of the Union?”
When asked about Trump’s remarks on socialism, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said, “I think that he needs to do it because he feels like — he feels himself losing on the issues.
"Every single policy proposal that we have adopted and presented to the American public has been overwhelmingly popular, even some with a majority of Republican voters supporting what we’re talking about.
"We talked about a 70 percent marginal tax rate on incomes over $10 million. Sixty percent of Americans approve it.
"Seventy million Americans believe in approved and expanded Medicare for all.
"A large amount of Americans believe we need to do something about climate change, that it’s an existential threat to ourselves and our children.
"I think he sees himself losing on the issues, he sees himself losing on the wall on the southern border, and he needs to grasp at an attack.
"And this is his way of doing it. But what we need to realize is happening is this is an issue of authoritarian regime versus democracy.
"In order for him to try to dissuade or throw people off the scent of the trail, he has to really make and confuse the public.
"And I think that that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.”
According to Fox News, several progressives in Congress -- both before and after Trump's speech -- registered sharp disapproval of Trump's comments.
Ocasio-Cortez, for example, who was dressed in white to "protest Trump," did not applaud even as Trump praised an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, Elvin Hernandez, for breaking up a notorious human trafficking ring.
Ocasio-Cortez remained stoic through much of Trump's address.
She applauded when Trump praised women for their unprecedented representation in Congress, and as Trump discussed criminal justice reform and his decision to grant clemency to Alice Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, told Fox News she was "saddened" Trump had not discussed gun violence in his speech, and she condemned what she called his "fearmongering" on illegal immigrants.
"I’m optimistic about what the appropriators are doing," Pelosi said when asked how she felt Trump's address would impact ongoing bipartisan negotiations in Congress on border wall funding.
"The only problem is if he would stand in the way of that path."