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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tells rich guy Stephen Colbert why her 70% tax isn’t scary

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

Stephen Colbert is rich. You don’t have a couple of network shows and a cameo in a freakin’ Hobbit movie without raking in the long green. So welcoming first-year Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Monday’s Late Show was a bit awkward. Well, faux-awkward anyway, as the famously charitable and modest Colbert made a show of querulously quizzing the Democratic Socialist from Queens about just how much extra he would have to shell out should Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent marginal tax rate be enacted (and should the government ever function again thanks to Donald Trump’s current racist Maginot Line fantasy).

Ocasio-Cortez, calling out those intellectually dishonorable right-wing propagandists at Fox News for misrepresenting her plan as a dirty socialist plot to steal 70 cents out of every hard-earned American dollar from working-class ’Muricans, noted that a marginal tax rate of 70 percent means that you pay a higher tax rate only on dollars starting with the 10 millionth and one dollar you make in a single year. Colbert, not entirely placated, responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s example of rich people with “Uber helipads” versus people working “80-hour weeks who can’t feed their kids” by asking about those Uber helipads. (“The traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel suuucks,” deadpanned Colbert.) She also noted that such tax policy was the norm until the 1980s, when an even-higher, 90 percent marginal tax rate was enacted under noted dirty socialist... Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The pair toasted to Ocasio-Cortez’s groundbreaking upset election win (where she became the youngest woman ever elected to the House Of Representatives) with matching pints of Cortez’s favorite ice cream—Colbert’s own, charity-generating Ben & Jerry’s flavor, as it turns out. (By the way, Colbert is also selling a “shutdown coffee mug,” which is raising money to feed involuntarily furloughed government workers.) Colbert asked about some Democrats’ opinion that she and her first-year colleagues wait their turn, phrasing his question as “From zero to some, how many fucks do you give?” Miming pulling something from her pocket, Ocasio-Cortez held up a zero sign, before explaining how she’s been giving those same elder statesmen and women Twitter lessons. (“Don’t meme if you don’t know what a meme is,” should be required learning.)


She also outlined how Trump’s shutdown has left her and her whippersnapper peers with plenty of unwanted time on their hands, which she used to start the hashtag #WheresMitch, as she publicly went hunting for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ask why he isn’t allowing a vote (which is guaranteed to pass) to reopen the government. On her Martin Luther King Day appearance, Ocasio-Cortez told Colbert, “Social movements are and should be the moral compass of our politics.” She explained to rich old white guy Colbert that she has no intention of slowing down, or listening to rich old white guys who think that “activism is inherently divisive.”

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