Rising Democratic star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told CBS News' “60 Minutes” in an interview broadcast Sunday that she is “a radical” who wants to use her newfound position in Congress to make new progressive laws in America.
“If that’s what radical means, then call me a radical,” Ocasio-Cortez said, when questioned about her “radical agenda.”
She also responded to critics who have pointed out factual errors in some of her tweets. Interviewer Anderson Cooper noted that her claim the Pentagon's accounting errors could have funded most of "Medicare for All" received "Four Pinocchios" from The Washington Post.
Ocasio-Cortez fired back: "I think that there's a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right... Whenever I make a mistake. I say, 'Okay, this was clumsy,' and then I restate what my point was. But it's-- it's not the same thing as-- as the president lying about immigrants. It's not the same thing, at all."
She said “it’s only been radicals” like Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt who have altered the course of history and made progress in America.
The Democrat said she was working as a waitress and bartender when she decided to run for Congress. “When you can’t have health care, that is not dignified,” she told Cooper, noting like many millennials, she had student loans and no health insurance.
Ocasio-Cortez also said she didn't think it was unrealistic to bring her ideas into action, perhaps radical for America, but mainstream in Europe: “We pay more per capita in health care and education for lower outcomes than many other nations. And so for me, what’s unrealistic is — is what we’re living in right now.”
She also said it was problematic which ambitious policies in American politics were pursued based on funding: “No one asks how we’re gonna pay for this Space Force. No one asked how we paid for a $2 trillion tax cut. We only ask how we pay for it on issues of housing, healthcare and education.”
Ocasio-Cortez, sworn in as Congress’ youngest member on Thursday, is one of a number of Democrats who backs the Green New Deal — which aims to combat both climate change and income inequality with a massive and costly economic overhaul.
Ocasio-Cortez has called the aim — funded in part by slapping a tax as high as 70 percent on top earners — “a wartime-level, just economic mobilization plan to get to 100% renewable energy.”
Its framework includes eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and agriculture and “dramatically” expanding energy sources to meet 100 percent of power demand through renewable sources.
Organizers with the Sunrise Movement activist group have framed The Green New Deal as a make-or-break issue for Democratic voters, particularly young voters.
Stephen O'Hanlon, Sunrise’s spokesman, told Fox News via email Sunday night: “This is a question of priorities. Instead of spending billions subsidizing oil and gas corporations and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, we can choose to put that money toward giving my generation a livable future and providing every a good job to every American ready to get to work making our country stronger.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she is willing as a representative to compromise, however: “It’s just about what we choose to compromise.”
She said the centrism of Democrats has damaged the lives of everyday Americans: “We as a party have compromised too much, and we’ve lost too much of who we’re supposed to be and who we are.”
When asked about President Trump, she spoke raw.
“Yeah. Yeah. No question,” Ocasio-Cortez replied when asked if Trump is racist.
She called him “a symptom of a problem.”
Ocasio-Cortez added: “The president certainly didn’t invent racism, but he’s certainly given a voice to it and expanded it, and created a platform for those things.”
The White House responded to CBS News: “Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s sheer ignorance on the matter can’t cover the fact that President Trump supported and passed historic criminal justice reform.”
Fox News' Ben Florance contributed to this report.