A fun look-in at the low-grade civil war within the Democratic Party over the Amazon bug-out. Maloney’s been representing part of Queens, the same borough where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district is based, since AOC was in kindergarten. It was Maloney’s district that would have hosted HQ2 and most of the jobs that it would have delivered. She’s even less excited to say goodbye to that growth, and the tax revenue it would have brought, than Cuomo and de Blasio are.
In a saner world it would be Ocasio-Cortez’s seat that’s now at risk in a primary because of her stance on the deal. (Most New Yorkers, especially in Queens, supported HQ2.) In the world we live in, because primaries tend to attract ideologues rather than casual voters — right, Joe Crowley? — it’s Maloney who has more to fear than AOC does. New York “is emerging as an epicenter of House primary challenges in 2020” thanks to the progressive excitement around Ocasio-Cortez, the NYT noted a few days ago, which is why so many Democrats in federal and local government didn’t fight harder to make the Amazon deal happen. Maloney is outspoken in support of it because it’s her own constituents that bore the brunt of the loss; she’s gambling, not unreasonably, that anger at the deal’s failure among primary voters will protect her from a progressive challenge. Other members of Congress and the state legislature might not be able to count on that same anger, though. Ben Smith:
Ocasio-Cortez didn’t have to campaign against the Amazon deal. It died not because of anything she did, but because of the primary that elected her. To be a successful American politician right now is to think obsessively about your primary, about your base, about who will bother to show up. If you represent western Queens right now, that means you’re thinking about Democratic socialists. The role of Gianaris and other local pols in standing up to Amazon means they believe their futures depend on their new friends on the left, not their new enemies in the city’s business community.
Smart local politicians are a leading indicator. The Republicans who embraced the tea party are the ones who kept their jobs; they took that lesson into fealty to Donald Trump. Here in the progressive heartland, citywide polling showed broad support for Amazon, and that is of little more significance than the polls showing nuanced views on abortion in conservative states. And the death of this deal means, most of all, that Democratic primary voters are in no mood for corporations, for moderates, or for deals.
“Now we are protesting jobs?” Maloney marvels in the first clip below, via the Free Beacon. Not exactly. They’re protesting corporate power, but yes, certainly they’re willing to sacrifice jobs — many, many jobs — to make their point about that. Like I said here, AOC serves two constituencies, the national movement of Democratic socialists which Smith mentions and the taxpayers of her own congressional district. If the interests of those two constituencies conflict, the former wins, whatever the price in jobs.
Don’t cry for Amazon, though, needless to say. Not only are they likely to end up with a sweeter deal someone else (Maloney notes correctly at one point that New York offered less sugar in the form of tax breaks than competitors did), they’re discovering how much Big Tech’s romance with the left actually means to progressives. Come 2020, Trump is going to be folding the story of HQ2 into his recitation of “The Snake” at rallies. Joel Kotkin:
The oligarchs are now reaping what they sowed from allying themselves with the progressive Left. They have been eager to promote themselves as loyal followers of the Left’s party line on issues of racial diversity, trans-awareness, and feminism, but that line now has moved toward economic policies that stress egalitarian solutions. Amazon may well be a great expression of capitalist innovation, but Ocasio-Cortez considers the very existence of billionaires like Bezos “immoral.” Rather than accommodating capitalists like Bezos, her Green New Deal envisions a socialist ecotopian commonwealth, with no place for even the most enlightened billionaires. To keep the pitchforks at bay, tech moguls might favor increased subsidies to both the middle class and the poor, but they don’t show much interest in having their own dominance constrained by meddlesome regulations or confiscatory tax rates.
Their cultural alliance with the new left on the latter’s terms doesn’t mean they’ll have a reciprocal economic alliance on tech’s terms. What that means for the tech industry’s politics going forward, we’ll see.
Note Maloney having to explain to viewers in the second clip the basics of how tax abatements work, by the way. A week ago I would have told you she was being condescending and pedantic in thinking people didn’t know that. A week later, having discovered that certain members of Congress don’t seem to understand the concept, I think she’s doing a public service.
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