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  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow Congressmembers-elect were sworn into office Thursday.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow Congressmembers-elect were sworn into office Thursday. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 January 2019

"She's actually saying what top public finance economists have been saying for some time. Not at all outlandish," Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman tweeted.

United States House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for a sharp tax hike on the highest income bracket to fund a Green New Deal that would phase out fossil fuels by 2030.

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Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic-Socialist and the youngest woman elected to Congress, said in an interview with 60 Minutes that the proposal of a Green New Deal to tackle climate change and income inequality, was ambitious and necessary. On the issue of cost, she said: "Once you get to the tippy-tops, on your $10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 percent or 70 percent ... As you climb up this ladder you should be contributing more."

“It’s going to require a lot of rapid change that we don’t even conceive as possible right now,” she said.

One such change she suggested was to increase the amount that the super-wealthy pay in taxes.

She referenced previous marginal rates in the U.S.during the 1960s and 1970s that reached as high as 70 percent. That all changed with the tax reforms in the 1980s. In fact, the highest top tax rates in the U.S. were at 94 percent during World War II. The current top income tax rate is 37 percent.

Chris Martin, a spokesman for the House Republican conference was quick to respond: “This all begs the question: What really are the top priorities for House Democrats -and does their caucus support a 70 percent income tax?” 

She has also received support from social media users:

And fairly mainstream economists:

Proposals for income tax hikes tend to go nowhere when Republicans control the Senate and White House, and many congressional Democrats aren’t likely to find a steep increase too appealing either.

So far it seems Ocasio-Cortez is not backing down. “Call me a radical,” she said when asked if the proposal was too extreme for the current political climate, which includes a U.S. president who withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords in 2017 and has weakened environmental protections in favor of the coal industry.

The young Latina legislator has shown already this week that she is not one to back down from criticism when she shot back with an unapologetic response after a video of her dancing in her early 20s was shared in an attempt to humiliate her.

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