Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Monday boasted about winning the Pentagon a $16.1-million refund from a military contractor – seemingly without realizing that she had made a strong argument against big government.
TransDigm voluntarily gave back the money after lawmakers grilled its chairman, Nicholas Howley, last month in a House Oversight Committee hearing. They drew on a damning report by the Defense Department inspector general that showed TransDigm marked up sole-source products it sold the government by as much as 45 times.
In her celebratory tweet about the windfall, Ocasio-Cortez shared a NowThis video of her questioning of Howley, which has since been viewed nearly 1 million times. The congresswoman focused on 149 “non-vehicular clutch disks” that the company sold the Pentagon for $1,443 each, though they only cost $32 to make. She then detailed some of the things “she” could have done with the $210,239 profit.
The list comprised: buying insulin for over 1,500 people, sending 21 kids to college and enrolling 18 toddlers in the most expensive city in America.
“So my question to you is, ‘Why should we give you another dime?'” Ocasio-Cortez asked Howley.
Howley boldly suggested that TransDigm’s products are worth the price.
“We believe we provide the government with well-designed, well-manufactured, high-quality product,” he said. “We deliver it in a timely fashion, and we support it when there’s a problem.”
“Today is my lucky day”
After a back and forth, Ocasio-Cortez decried the lack of free-market competition for government contracts.
I find this interesting because this term “free market” comes up very often. But I don’t think people really understand what that means because so often it’s not a free market at all. It’s a captive market. It’s one where we’re forced to choose between two to three people. Often times in these processes there is significant argument and there’s significant evidence that there’s collusion in these markets, that it’s not a perfectly competitive market because a perfectly competitive market requires a large amount of competitors.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to clam vindication for her argument that reducing government waste could fund government-sponsored healthcare and other progressive dream programs.
“Today is my lucky day because for ages we’re consistently told that single-payer healthcare is too expensive,” she said. “We’re told constantly, ‘How are you going to pay for it? How are you going to pay for covering the insulin costs of everyday Americans, and I seem to have found part of my answer here today.”
Ocasio-Cortez continued her commentary in her Monday tweet. Extrapolating from the single case of TransDigm, she declared: “For all their talk of “free markets,” CEOs actually work *against* them. They want CAPTIVE markets + monopoly power.”
As a result this hearing (chaired by @RoKhanna!), we were able to secure $16 million in refunds from TransDigm for egregious price gouging in military contracts.
For all their talk of “free markets,” CEOs actually work *against* them. They want CAPTIVE markets + monopoly power. https://t.co/jOtKPtRWGv
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 3, 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fails to defend socialism
Although Ocasio-Cortez didn’t acknowledge it, the May 15 public shaming of Howley was a bipartisan populist affair. Freedom Caucus leaders Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, lambasted the executive alongside her fellow progressives, hearing chairman Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Rep. Tashida Tlaib, D-Mich.
However, Ocasio-Cortez ultimately brought her performance home for her left-wing Twitter base – and thereby veered into factual and ideological incoherence.
Factually, she was wrong to suggest – once again –that better accounting by the government could ever pay for the massive government spending she has advocated. In its 2018 annual report, the fiscally conservative advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste outlined $3.1 trillion in purportedly unnecessary government spending that it anticipated over the next five years.
By comparison, the kind of “Medicare for All” she supports would cost taxpayers an additional $32 trillion over a decade, according to the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The American Action Forum estimated that Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal proposal – which includes a promise of universal healthcare – would cost $51-$94 trillion during the same time period.
In other words, eliminating government waste would at best cover 6 percent of Ocasio-Cortez’s democratic socialist agenda.
Ocasio-Cortez proved equally confused when it came to economic theory. In the House hearing, she implicitly advocated greater market competition for government contracts, which is something any good conservative would support. However, she didn’t seem to realize that her argument was odds with her prior insistence that capitalism is “irredeemable” or her subsequent claim that CEOs “work *against*” free markets.
Nor did Ocasio-Cortez acknowledge any tension between her complaints that the government is bloated and her calls to dramatically expand it.
Maybe, as she infamously said in January, what really matters is that she was “morally right.”