Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke with her constituents in The Bronx on Sunday about a public housing plan under the Green New Deal. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Not 'Free Stuff,' But Public Goods: Ocasio-Cortez Denounces Neoliberal Talking Points on Publicly-Funded Education and Housing

"I never want to hear the term 'free stuff' ever again."

Julia Conley

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won applause and cheers from her constituents on Sunday at a town hall in the Bronx where she expressed deep frustration with the routine dismissal of investment in public goods as "free stuff."

"I never want to hear the term 'free stuff' ever again," Ocasio-Cortez told the audience.

The progressive first-term Democrat explained her vision for newly proposed legislation—the Green New Deal for Public Housingfor a $180 billion investment in upgraded public housing that would prioritize communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, retrofit units with energy-efficient insulation and appliances, and create 250,000 jobs. The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Like public roads, schools, and libraries, Ocasio-Cortez said, public housing should be recognized as a public good funded by taxpayers, particularly the wealthiest people and corporations.

"It is possible and it's not that we deserve it because it's a handout," the congresswoman said. "People like to say, 'Oh, this is about free stuff.' This is not about free stuff... These are public goods."

Ocasio-Cortez won applause from members of the audience for her plan, including one who shouted of housing, "It is a human right!"

Watch:

On social media Monday Ocasio-Cortez said public services for the use of all people "are worth investing in, protecting, and advancing for all society and future generations."

At Sunday's town hall, Ocasio-Cortez denounced the term "free stuff" to dismiss progressive proposals for benefits already available to people in many developed countries as a "neoliberal" talking point.

"I'm already hearing some of these neoliberal folks who are trying to flip the script on us and say...'Oh, I don't want to pay for a millionaire's kids to go to college,'" she said.

The argument makes no more sense, Ocasio-Cortez suggested, than saying publicly-funded infrastructure unfairly benefits the rich.

"I believe all people should be able to go to a public library," she said. "Everyone can drive on our roads, everybody should be able to send our kids to public school, and every person who needs it should have access to public housing that looks like this."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

As End of Roe Looms, US Doctors Say 'Abortion Is Essential Healthcare'

"Although ACOG's long-standing abortion policy supported safe, legal, evidence-based abortion care, the current reproductive health crisis calls for revisions which make it unmistakably clear that ACOG trusts doctors and patients," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Biaggi to Primary 'Selfish Corporate Democrat' Sean Patrick Maloney in NY

The New York state senator says she's running "to protect and defend our democracy, to halt the climate crisis, to grow our supply of affordable housing, and to transform our government and economy to serve us all."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Not About Nostalgia': Poor People's Campaign Marches in Memphis Ahead of DC Gathering

"It's been 54 years since the sanitation worker's march," said Bishop William J. Barber II, "and right here in Memphis they still don't have union rights."

Kenny Stancil ·


Greenhouse Gases Trapped Nearly 50% More Heat Last Year Than in 1990: NOAA

"Getting hot in here," said one climate campaigner. "Gotta get congressmen and senators to do more midday outdoor events in their dark suits."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Perverse' Supreme Court Ruling 'Effectively Ensures That Innocent People Will Remain Imprisoned'

"This is radical. This is horrifying. This is extremely scary," said one public defender.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo