Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's staff says a document that supported paying Americans 'unwilling to work' was accidentally released

  • On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her allies unveiled their roadmap for the Green New Deal, an ambitious policy proposal to fight climate change, spur economic growth, and improve social welfare.
  • Alongside the five-page nonbinding resolution, Ocasio-Cortez’s office published a six-page document of Green New Deal talking points that differed in some key ways from the resolution and that was later deleted from the congresswoman’s website.
  • Confusion ensued after Ocasio-Cortez’s team appeared to back away from their claims that the document was doctored or mistakenly published.

This week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey unveiled their roadmap for the Green New Deal, an ambitious policy proposal to fight climate change, spur economic growth, and improve social welfare.

Alongside the five-page nonbinding resolution, co-sponsored by 9 senators and more than 60 House Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez’s office published a six-page document of Green New Deal talking points.

The “FAQ” talking points differed in some key ways from the resolution.

Critics, including right-wing media, quickly jumped on one vague proposal in Ocasio-Cortez’s document: “Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.”


Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveiled a Green New Deal that will force 2020 Democrats to take an aggressive stance on climate change

“‘Green New Deal’ suggests welfare for those ‘unwilling to work.’ Is that a mistake?” The Daily Caller’s headline read.

Later on Thursday, the talking points were deleted off of Ocasio-Cortez’s site.

Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, said the document was “bad copy” that was mistakenly published on the website.

On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez retweeted screenshots of clearly doctored versions of the FAQ that had been making the rounds online.

Robert Hockett, a Cornell University law professor and adviser to Ocasio-Cortez, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Friday evening that the document with the “unwilling to work” line was “doctored” and that Ocasio-Cortez had “never said anything like that.”

But the document with the “unwilling to work” provision was also sent to reporters, including NPR, which also published it.

On Saturday evening, Chakrabarti acknowledged that his team had authored the document and that the “unwilling to work” provision was written with specific recipients in mind, including retired coal miners.

“We were essentially thinking about pensions and retirement security,” he said. “E.g. economic security for a coal miner who has given 40 years of their life to building the energy infra of this country, but who may be not be willing to switch this late in his career.”


Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and team attempt damage control after a fumbled Green New Deal rollout that included a line about paying Americans ‘unwilling to work’

The talking points also differed from the resolution in a few other areas, including the role of nuclear power, the use of carbon capture, and the proposed timelines for many of these policies.

Liberal supporters also expressed confusion about the conflicting messages.

“I feel like I am reading a different Green New Deal document from most of the rest of the internet,” progressive commentator and Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias tweeted. “The one I see appears to back away from a whole range of specific policies (without ruling them out) in favour of aspirational goals, which does not seem like a particularly radical approach to me.”

Chakrabarti responded, “I’d read the resolution. That’s the actual thing introduced. We’ll put up an actual FAQ since this bad copy is floating around.”

The resolution includes much more vague language calling to provide “all people of the United States with economic security.” Chakrabarti confirmed in another tweet on Friday that the resolution doesn’t call for a universal basic income.

(Note: The headline to this article has been updated and a section discussing the concept of a universal basic income has been removed.)

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