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Amazon is set to benefit from over $1.5 billion in incentives.
While some of her Democratic colleagues welcomed tech giant Amazon’s decision on Tuesday to launch its new headquarters in New York City, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) protested the price the state paid to lure the corporation.
In a Twitter thread published late Monday, Ocasio-Cortez voiced the concerns of her future constituents, criticizing the “extremely concerning” tax breaks that the company will receive.
We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
The community’s response? Outrage. https://t.co/Jl4OIfa4gC
Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
When we talk about bringing jobs to the community, we need to dig deep:— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
- Has the company promised to hire in the existing community?
- What’s the quality of jobs + how many are promised? Are these jobs low-wage or high wage? Are there benefits? Can people collectively bargain?
Displacement is not community development. Investing in luxury condos is not the same thing as investing in people and families.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
Shuffling working class people out of a community does not improve their quality of life.
We need to focus on good healthcare, living wages, affordable rent. Corporations that offer none of those things should be met w/ skepticism.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
It’s possible to establish economic partnerships w/ real opportunities for working families, instead of a race-to-the-bottom competition.
Lastly, this isn’t just about one company or one headquarters. It’s about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
It’s not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community’s interests - & they‘ve requested, clearly, to voice their concerns.
Ocasio-Cortez is not alone in her outrage, however, joined in her skepticism by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-N.Y.) and others. Many are concerned not only about the tax breaks but the affect that the tech giant will have on the local cost of living and property prices.
My condolences to the people of New York and Northern Virginia, whose states have landed the new Amazon HQs. I'm sure Amazon will also enjoy all the detailed economic, commercial and infrastructure-related intel it got on every other major city & def not misuse that info at all.— Puff the Magic Hater (@MsKellyMHayes) November 13, 2018
Imagine if instead of passing the Sherman Antitrust Act, lawmakers in the "trustbusting" era instead just gave Standard Oil $1 billion of taxpayer cash.— David Sirota (@davidsirota) November 13, 2018
Now you understand the Amazon situation.
Ocasio-Cortez’s opinion contrasts severely with that of New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who welcomed the tech company excitedly.
“Today, with Amazon committing to expand its headquarters in Long Island City, New York can proudly say that we have attracted one of the largest, most competitive economic development investments in U.S. history,” the governor said in a statement.
He had joked to reporters in early November that he would change his name to “Amazon Cuomo” if it would seal the deal. Amazon is set to benefit from $1.5 billion in incentives on the condition that it can create 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of $150,000.
The company will also receive up to $550 million in cash incentives from the state of Virginia for launching a similar operation in Arlington.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.