It’s Thursday afternoon, so of course, conservatives are mad at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Today, Fox News host Sean Hannity, Fox News contributor Sara Carter, and yes, Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe, among others, took to Twitter to call out the congresswoman for selling (and promoting) a new line of campaign merch. In the collection, along with a Green New Deal “dad hat” and a T-shirt that says, “Drink Water & Don’t Be Racist,” is a $58 crewneck sweatshirt with the phrase “Tax The Rich” written across the front. “Still laughing about AOC selling ridiculously expensive swag that says ‘Tax the rich,’” Boothe tweeted. Carter followed suit, writing: “@AOC selling $65 ‘Tax The Rich’ sweatshirt. No, this isn’t @TheBabylonBee.” The Babylon Bee, a conservative and Christian news satire site, even joined in with a tweet of its own: “AOC Now Selling ‘Tax The Rich’ Caviar For Just $10,000 A Can.” Missing in both Booth and Carter’s tweets — as well as the follow-up stories Carter and Hannity wrote — was any real engagement with or explanation about why Ocasio-Cortez’s merch costs the amount it does.
Everyone: @AOC is selling a “tax the rich” sweatshirt for $58! That’s way too expensive.
Me, a former mass market apparel designer: Made in America. Union printed. Sounds about right. That’s what it costs to pay everyone a decent wage along the way. #TaxTheRich pic.twitter.com/afPZ6quQmZ
— Stephen Punwasi (@StephenPunwasi) December 3, 2020
That explanation came soon, though, in a tweet from Stephen Punwasi, the CEO of Canadian real estate site Better Dwelling. In it, Punwasi explained the actual cost to design a garment that’s made in America by union workers — as all of the items sold on Ocasio-Cortez’s website are. “That’s what it costs to pay everyone a decent wage along the way,” he wrote about the price, noting his past experience as a mass market apparel designer. According to his tweets, had Ocasio-Cortez chosen to manufacture her merch in a factory in, say, Vietnam that pays fair wages, the market price would be about $35. Make it in a sweatshop with dangerous conditions? The price would be closer to $12. “One person’s spending is someone’s income,” he wrote.
Ocasio-Cortez retweeted Punwasi’s thread, adding that if Republicans would rather receive free merch from her campaign, they can have it, as long as they volunteer first. “Oh, and by the way: Tax the Rich,” she wrote.
This feud, though, has nothing to do with a sweatshirt, of course. Rather, it’s far more likely that the launch was simply used as an excuse to take credibility away from the congresswoman — and her plans to #MakeBillionairesPay through the use of higher taxes. But, what many of her opponents got wrong was that her plans aren’t for people who can afford to pay $60 for a sweatshirt to support a like-minded politician. As she pointed out in a 2019 tweet, her “tax the rich” pleas are more pointed at the “nesting-doll yacht rich” than doctors or lawyers. “For-profit prison rich. Betsy DeVos, student-loan-shark rich. Trick-the-country-into-war rich. Subsidizing-workforce-w-food-stamps rich.” It’s not a long list, but rather a handful of mega-billionaires in the U.S. who reside in the same country as people living in abject poverty. Even so, many people hear “higher taxes” and panic.
Despite the outcry by Republicans, Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax The Rich” sweatshirt is already sold out, a result that, as one Twitter user suggested, arrived at the hands of people who both can afford a $58 sweatshirt and want to tax the rich. (Yes, they do exist.)
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