Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called Joe Biden’s refusal to take executive action on the American Rescue Plan — a $1.9 trillion (£1.4 trillion) social-spending bill that was signed in March — a “slog.”
In an interview published by The New York Times on Sunday, the Democrat congresswoman from New York said “there was some good faith with the American Rescue Plan. But after that, which was quite early, it’s been a bit of a slog.”
“I actually don’t direct this critique directly at the White House. I think, in general, the party doesn’t quite fully grasp what is happening in deep-blue communities,” she added.
She pointed out that the Democrats needed to keep to promises made by the president and the more conservative Democrat holdouts because “if those promises don’t follow through, it’s going to be very, very difficult for them to get votes on anything moving forward, because the trust that was already so delicate will have been broken.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC as she is informally known, said that the “stakes are really, really high.”
She added that the “entire reason that the Progressive Caucus gave their votes [for the infrastructure bill] was based on direct promises from the president, as well as direct promises from more conservative Democratic holdouts. And from House leadership as well.”
She said that if Democrats pass the Build Back Better Act, of which the American Rescue Plan is a part, as the House passed it, “that we have a shot to go back to our communities and say we delivered.”
But she cautioned that this was “not to say that this process has not been demoralising for a lot of folks, because there were enormous promises made. Not just at the beginning, and not just during the election, but that continued to be made.”
She said that she has sounded the alarm “because what really dampens turnout is when Democrats make promises that they don’t keep.”
“I think that the worst and most vulnerable position we could be in is to over-promise and under-deliver,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez added.
When asked what was missing in the White House’s approach to the progressives, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said just the “talking points are not enough.”
“Yes, is childcare great? Absolutely. Universal pre-K [a policy that will enable families to enrol children of pre-school age in publicly funded kindergarten], this is something I’m deeply, deeply supportive of,” she said.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, however, attacked what she called the party’s “top-down strategy when it comes to our base”.
“We’re always giving them the medicine and telling them what they need to accept, as opposed to really monitoring where the energy is, and being responsive to it. And allowing that to shape our strategy,” she explained.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said the infrastructure plan was the kind of investment that was “deeply needed in underserved communities like the Bronx”.
But she slammed what she termed as every single person in the party doing “a victory lap” in front of the smaller problems that faced their electorate, while not actually fixing such problems.
“…if we as a party are asking every single person in this party to take a victory lap, and do a news conference in front of a bridge or pothole, and we aren’t funding and actually fixing that pothole, I’m very concerned about how people are going to interpret that a year from now,” she said.