- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accused the congressional orientation program at Harvard Kennedy School of being a “pro-corporate lobbyist project.”
- She said the event featured lobbyists and bankers who praised policies like a lower minimum wage.
- “No labour reps were there,” she tweeted. “Was this a multi-decade, pro-corporate lobbyist project the entire time?”
- She and other newly elected Democratic lawmakers protested the event and instead led a rally for policies like gun control and laws to fight climate change.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accused the orientation session for freshman lawmakers at Harvard’s Kennedy School of being a “pro-corporate lobbyist project” that hypes tax cuts for corporations and argues against increasing the minimum wage.
The Democratic congresswoman-elect and other incoming House Democrats have been protesting their own congressional orientation program over the past week.
They argue that the orientation is inherently biased, made up of lobbyists and bankers with nobody to represent workers or grassroots politics.
Ocasio-Cortez doubled down on her earlier criticism on Twitter on Sunday, saying attendees at the orientation, which has been held since the 1970s, “heard things like ‘the $US2T tax cut was great’ and ‘$US15 wage is a bad idea.'”
“No labour reps were there,” she tweeted. “Was this a multi-decade, pro-corporate lobbyist project the entire time?”
Ocasio-Cortez was responding to the Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein, who tweeted that he got a copy of the 2014 Harvard orientation schedule.
“At least 8 lobbyists are listed as panelists, several listed w/o disclosing ties to lobbying firms,” Stein said on Twitter. “CEOs of Xerox, American Express were there — no apparent labour leaders/activists.”
The three-day orientation is hosted by the Harvard Institute of Politics in collaboration with the Congressional Institute and two think tanks: the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Harvard has said the event aims to help newly elected officials “forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking just one month prior to taking the oath of office.”
A description of the event on Harvard Kennedy School’s website says: “Experts and practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds will cover topics including the federal budget process, key issues in domestic and foreign policy, Congressional reform and current issues related to technology.”
Ocasio-Cortez and other newly elected representatives including Ayanna Pressley abandoned their new-member orientation on Tuesday night to lead a rally in support of single-payer healthcare, gun control, and laws to fight climate change.
“Our ‘bipartisan’ Congressional orientation is cohosted by a corporate lobbyist group,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “Other members have quietly expressed to me their concern that this wasn’t told to us in advance.
“Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where’s labour? Activists? Frontline community leaders?”
Rashida Tlaib, another newly elected Democrat, singled out Gary Cohn, a former economic adviser for President Donald Trump who she said told the incoming lawmakers during a Thursday event that they “don’t know how the game is played” in Washington.
“Gary Cohn, former CEO Goldman Sachs addressing new members of Congress today: ‘You guys are way over your head, you don’t know how the game is played,'” Tlaib tweeted. “No Gary, YOU don’t know what’s coming – a revolutionary Congress that puts people over profits.”
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