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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Harvard orientation is ‘lobbyist project’

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accused the orientation session for freshman lawmakers at Harvard’s Kennedy School of being a “pro-corporate lobbyist project ” that hypes tax cuts for corporations and argues against increasing the minimum wage.

The Democratic congresswoman-elect and other incoming House Democrats have been protesting their own congressional orientation program over the past week.

They argue that the orientation is inherently biased, being being made up of lobbyist and bankers, and with nobody to present workers or grassroots politics.

Ocasio-Cortez doubled down on her earlier criticism on Twitter on Sunday, saying that attendees at the orientation, which has been going on since the 1970s, “heard things like ‘the $2T tax cut was great’ and ‘$15 wage is a bad idea.’

“No labor reps were there,” she tweeted.

“Was this a multi-decade, pro-corporate lobbyist project the entire time?”

Read More: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez promises to pay her interns $15 an hour or more, after slamming unpaid internships in Congress

Ocasio-Cortez was responding to Washington Post reporter Jill Stein, who tweeted that she got a copy of the 2014 Harvard orientation schedule.

She said it showed: “At least 8 lobbyists are listed as panelists, several listed w/o disclosing ties to lobbying firms.

“CEOs of Xerox, American Express were there — no apparent labor leaders/activists,” Stein tweeted.

The three-day orientation is hosted by the Harvard Institute of Politics in collaboration with the Congressional Institute and two think tanks: the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

It aims to help newly elected officials “forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking just one month prior to taking the oath of office.”

A description of the event on Harvard Kennedy School’s website says: “Experts and practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds will cover topics including the federal budget process, key issues in domestic and foreign policy, Congressional reform and current issues related to technology.”

Ocasio-Cortez and other newly elected representatives like Ayanna Pressley abandoned their new-member orientation last Tuesday night to lead a rally in support of single-payer healthcare, gun control, and laws to fight climate change.

Newly elected House Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, Ayanna Pressley, right, and Lori Trahan, second from right, at a rally outside an orientation meeting for incoming members of Congress at Harvard.
Michael Dwyer/AP

Read More: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other new House progressives are tweeting their dissatisfaction with orientation at Harvard

She tweeted on Tuesday that “Our ‘bipartisan’ Congressional orientation is cohosted by a corporate lobbyist group. Other members have quietly expressed to me their concern that this wasn’t told to us in advance.

“Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where’s labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?”

Rashida Tlaib, another newly elected Democrat, singled out Gary Cohn, a former economic adviser for President Donald Trump, who she said told the incoming lawmakers during a Thursday event that they “don’t know how the game is played” in Washington.

“Gary Cohn, former CEO Goldman Sachs addressing new members of Congress today: ‘You guys are way over your head, you don’t know how the game is played,'” Tlaib tweeted. “No Gary, YOU don’t know what’s coming – a revolutionary Congress that puts people over profits.”

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