Before she was the Democratic Party’s latest darling, the self-described Democratic-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was busy putting her economics degree to work by working as a bartender in New York City.
She worked at The Coffee Shop, an iconic business in Union Square, which recently announced that they’d be going out of business. While the announcement was recent, they won’t be closing their doors for good until October, and Cortez gave her former employer a visit one last time. In a Twitter post, she also somehow managed to politicize visiting a local bar, adding “I’m a normal, working person who chose to run for office because I believe we can have a better future.”
The restaurant I used to work at is closing its doors.
I swung by today to say hi one last time, and kid around with friends like old times.
I’m a normal, working person who chose to run for office, because I believe we can have a better future.
You can do it too. We all can. pic.twitter.com/WeNsFm4eTt
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) August 20, 2018
But if we’re really going to politicize the closure of The Coffee Shop, we can blame the exact sort of policies that Cortez supports. The Shop’s co-owner and president Charles Milite told the New York Post that climbing rents, as well as minimum wage hikes, were responsible for the closure. “The times have changed in our industry,” he told the post. “The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees.”
Cortez supports a $15 an hour minimum wage nationally, which is over double our current federal minimum of $7.25. New York City will have a $15 minimum wage take effect on December 31st of this year for firms that employ 11 or more people, and $13.50 for those that employ 10 or fewer (but that will increase to $15 by the end of 2019).
The city’s minimum wage hikes have been constant year-over-year, and it’s not hard to see why some firms would go out of business in the face of annual $2 minimum wage hikes (or $1.50 for smaller businesses).
Milite told the Post that “Ocasio-Cortez’s desired ‘living wage’ of $15 an hour has been a living hell for many small business owners in New York, who’ve been unable to offset the cost through higher prices.” He continued, specifically referencing Cortez’s tweet, “It’s fine to mourn the impending closure of your former employer—it’s better to understand the misguided minimum-wage mandates that contributed to that closure.”
Given her prior interviews, there really isn’t much economics (or much else in politics) that she does understand.