Things That Matter

AOC Called Out Rep. Steve King For Willfully Risking Pink Eye Instead Of Admitting Migrants Deserve Better Treatment

@SteveKingIA / Twitter

The migrant detention sanitary debate has reached new depths this week when Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) tweeted a video of himself drinking water out of water fountain attached to a toilet at a migrant detention center. In the tweet, King accused Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of lying to spin “#FakeNews” about the border in order to create “click bait for Snowflakes!” You bet AOC fired back.

In case you forgot, earlier this summer, members of Congress, including AOC, toured migrant facilities in El Paso and Clint, Texas. Every member of Congress that visited the centers recalled the story of one woman who was told by an agent to drink water out of the toilet when the faucet stopped working. Rep. Ayanna Pressley even tried to open the faucet, and fiddle with it to make it function, but it simply wouldn’t work.

Rep. Steve King told a town hall meeting that he actually visited the facility and filmed himself drinking from a toilet fountain at a migrant facility and it was “actually pretty good.”

Credit: @SteveKingIA / Twitter

In the video, Rep. King is seen taking a sip from the fountain, pulling away for a couple of seconds, and going back in to finish drinking the water. Then, he swishes it around his mouth, swallows, snaps his fingers and blurts, “Not bad.”

Maura Barrett of NBC reports that Rep. King told the town hall this story: “I actually went into that cell where it was reported that they were advised they had to drink out of the toilet. I took a drink out of there. And actually pretty good! So I have a videotape and I smacked my lips, but I didn’t send it out because I thought, ‘You know, this subject just needs to go into the rearview mirror.’ Why do I bring it up now, you ask? That was a little personal experience.”

Then he started referring to migrants as “inmates” in a “prison,” that necessitate “semi indestructible” toilets.

“There’s these toilets in these prisons, are stainless steel,” he went on to say in the same report. “They’re built so that they are semi indestructible by the inmates that are there. And in the back where the lid would be on our toilet, that’s also sealed.” According to King’s understanding, “There’s a water fountain there, you push the button, the water comes out and you take a drink. It’s how it is. It’s not drinking out of the toilet, it’s drinking out of the water fountain that’s integral with the back of the toilet. But I think there was a little language barrier there and so that’s how come we got that misinformation.”

After King effectively called AOC a liar, AOC mocked what she sees as King’s proof of arrogance on the issue.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

“There is a genre of videos where GOP House members – who clearly didn’t read sworn testimony that detention sinks were broken – filming themselves drinking out of toilet sinks,” she tweeted back. “They’re so anti-immigrant they risk pink eye to show off that they didn’t do the reading. #CloseTheCamps.”

Meanwhile, the rest of Twitter is like, “que que?”

Credit: @donmoyn / Twitter

“That’s not where the water, the women were told to drink, was” tweeted  @iTibbi. “In their cell, the sink above the toilet was broken. They were told to drink the water in the toilet. What he does in that video mocks those women and the conditions they were put in. Never expect better from him.” Steve King is making zero points when he drinks out of a functioning water fountain because that was never the challenge posited to the detained women. Officers told the women to drink from the toilet bowl when the fountain stopped working. 

King was removed from the only committee assignment he ever held after he questioned why being called a “white nationalist” or “white supremacist” was so offensive.

Credit: @SteveKingIA / Twitter

In an interview with The Times Steve King actually said: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” While President Trump never condemned King’s statement, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell suggested “another line of work” was in King’s future. King never apologized or offered another opinion on white supremacy, and simply said he was misunderstood. 

One Twitter user rightly asked, “Wait, how could he get a tour but not members of the House Oversight Committee? Steve King literally sits on no committees; there is no reason for him to review migrant facilities.”

READ: Racist Congressman on National Television: What Have Non-White People Ever Done For Civilization?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Made A Student Loan Payment During Meeting To Prove A Point About Corruption

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Made A Student Loan Payment During Meeting To Prove A Point About Corruption

One of the least talked about topics on the realm of American politics has to be the corruption of financial student loan institutions. The immigration crisis, climate change, and even healthcare are discussed more extensively, but when it comes to education and the high cost of college, the voices aren’t enough. However, it should be known that in the United States, the student loan debt is currently at $1.5 trillion. More than 44 million people are drowning in student loan debt, and one of them is a United States representative. 

During a committee meeting, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated that she made a student loan payment, but she wasn’t slacking off.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was in the middle of a House Financial Services Committee hearing and said — to make a very valid point — that she had made a roughly $200 payment on the remainder of her student loan, which is now more than $19,000.

“I literally made a student loan payment while I was sitting here at this chair, and I looked at my balance, and it was $20,237.16,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said during the hearing. “I just made a payment that took me down to $19,000 so I feel really accomplished right now.”

The youngest lawmaker in the House of Congress wanted to show the corruption by student loan institutions and how several of those companies have ties to United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. She added that she feels strongly against the Republicans view on this topic, saying, “I’m hearing people on this committee say it’s not our job. This is our job.” 

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only lawmaker making student loan payments. There are 70 other members of congress that are still paying off their student loans.

The New York Post is reporting that “70 members of Congress who are still paying off student loans for themselves or a dependent — with an average debt burden of $37,000. Eight lawmakers are said to have more than $100,000 in debt.”

This is not the first time, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has spoken out about the student loans that paid for her college education at Boston University. Back in June, on the steps of Capitol Hill, she said this fight is personal for her“It was literally easier for me to become the youngest woman elected to Congress than it is to pay off my student loan debt.”

People who are making monthly payments to their student loans, on average, contribute about $300 a month, which is not enough if they owe at least $35,000. According to a report by CNBC, “About one in four Americans has student loan debt, with the average balance just over $37,000. The average student loan payment is $393 a month, which is almost 20 percent of the typical American’s monthly household income.”

Student loan debt is one of the contributing factors as to why people are postponing getting married, starting a family, and purchasing a home. They simply cannot afford to get into the next chapter in their life because they’re drowning in debt.

That is why Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and other politicians are fighting to forgive student loan debt and make college tuition-free.

Some may say people should have to pay their own debt, but others such as presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders said that millennials shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of corrupt student loan institutions.

“It is time to end the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation—the millennial generation—to a lifetime of debt for the ‘crime’ of doing the right thing: getting a college education,” Sanders wrote in Fortune

Furthermore, Sanders and the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates are also running on a promise to make college tuition-free, mainly state schools. New Mexico just announced they are offering free college education for state universities. Other states that are now offering a free college education includes Oregon, Nevada, Arkansas, New Jersey, Maryland, Tennessee, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware, Kentucky, and Indiana.

“This program is an absolute game-changer for New Mexico,” Governor Lujan Grisham said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “In the long run, we’ll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents.”

READ: It Is So Hard To Pay Back Student Loan Debts In The US That American Borrows Are Fleeing To Live Abroad To Avoid Paying

Could This Young Woman Of Color Be The Next AOC? This Progressive Political Group Hopes So

Things That Matter

Could This Young Woman Of Color Be The Next AOC? This Progressive Political Group Hopes So

MeetMcKayla / Instagram

Inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mckayla Wilkes of Maryland has got her sights set on 2020, challenging House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for his seat. In fact, Wilkes has been influenced so much by AOC’s run for Congress in 2018, she’s now secured backing from Brand New Congress – the same progressive group that supported Ocasion-Cortez’s campaign way back when.

That’s swell and all, but why do we care?

Instagram / @meetmckayla

There’s plenty of reasons to care about Wilkes and who she is: she’s a black, working-class, 29 year-old mother-of-two studying political science in Waldorf, Maryland. When you compare her to Steny Hoyer and his background – essentially an old, white man serving his 20th term in office – you can definitely imagine that Wilkes would be more familiar with the everyday struggles that most of us face, than Hoyer. “He’s not for people that are my family, my friends, my coworkers,” Wilkes said in an interview with Buzzfeed. “It shows in the policies that he sponsors and that he endorses, and it shows in the donors that he gets his contributions from.”

Wilkes has been extremely candid and open about her past and her struggles.

Twitter / @MeetMckayla

It’s easy to see that Wilkes is as genuine as it gets, as she’s also been upfront about her past. “I just don’t want any secrets … I want everything to be out there. It’s not like I’m the only person who goes through these things,” she said, having publicly spoke about her time in jail as a teen and young adult. Wilkes has admitted to going through a rough patch, and also spoke about the abortion she had when she was 19: “It’s not like it’s something easy to do,” she told BuzzFeed recently. “It’s not an easy decision to make. But I feel like women should have that right. … My body is not a political playground. There’s no room for [politicians] in the room with me and my doctor.”

Sure, she’s more representative of the population, but what does Wilkes stand for?

Instagram / @meetmckayla

In short, it seems as if Mckayla Wilkes is running on a platform that’s kinda similar to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Things like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, affordable housing, overhauling the criminal justice system and even initiating impeachment proceedings against Trump are all on her to-do list, should she be elected. And yeah: none of these policies are gonna be easy to institute, especially as the Democrat’s current position doesn’t support impeachment. But, whoever said that running for office – and getting things done – would be easy?

She is committed to raising money for her campaign directly from her constituents.

Instagram / @meetmckayla

However, Wilkes is clearly driven by her morals, and isn’t afraid of a challenge. She’s also committed to staying away from PAC money and is seeking funding through other means. It’s meant that, since launching her campaign in June, she’s raised $70,000 from door knocking. To put it in perspective, Hoyer raised just $185 in the first quarter of 2019 from grassroots donations … and over $650,000 from other sources. What this means for Wilkes is that, having fundraised exclusively through donations from the community, her decisions and policies are tied directly to her constituents – and not other interests. More power to her, right?

It sounds like Wilkes is definitely for the people – but what is she up against?

Instagram / @leaderhoyer

Well, there is the obvious: Wilkes is running against an incumbent, and one who’s got plenty of funding and connections to boot. It’s not easy to run against someone who’s in that position. Especially when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) made an announcement earlier this year that if an organization supports candidates challenging an incumbent House Democrat, the party would cut them off from business. It means that even simple things like securing advertisers becomes that much harder for someone in Wilkes’ position.

Wilke’s campaign will be a challenging one to win but she’s got her eyes on the prize.

Instagram / @meetmckayla

Chances are that Wilkes’ campaign will face more challenges than what Ocasio-Cortez saw, too. The population of Maryland’s 5th District is 60 percent white. However, New York’s 14th District, where AOC ran for her seat, is 18 percent white. Political pundits speculate that because 2020 is a presidential election year, it’s highly likely that younger and more diverse voters will show up to have their say – which in turn should help Wilkes.

Mckayla Wilkes is no fool, and she knows that she needs to lean into the fact that she not only represents a more diverse face in the race for Congress, but also a deeper, more tangible connection to the average Joe. “That’s … what sets me apart from Hoyer and also the majority of people in Congress,” Wilkes said to the media, “because I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that I’m denying my sister health care or that I’m denying my friend a place to live or that I’m denying my classmate a place to live. So, for me, it’s personal.”