Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – often known just as AOC – is a rising figure in the Democratic Party who earned her seat in the U.S House of Representatives by defeating a 20-year incumbent in Joe Crowley in 2018.
This was a major upset that shook up the political landscape. Prior to this, she was a bartender—a Boston University-educated bartender—but a bartender, nonetheless. Joe Crowley, on the other hand, was an entrenched politician who served as the House chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle are often wealthy and elite. This was not the case with rising star. Indeed the Alexandria Ocasion-Cortez net worth figure is estimated at $166,000, but how can that be?
Table of Contents
- What Did AOC Do Before Politics?
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Salary and Earnings
- Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Own Property?
- Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Debt?
- How Much Could Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Earn?
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Political Beliefs
- AOC Green New Deal
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tax Views
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Boyfriend
What Did AOC Do Before Politics?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez majored in economics and international relations at Boston University.
She graduated cum laude in 2011. In 2016, she became an organizer for Bernie Sanders and supported his presidential campaign by traveling via automobile to places across the U.S., including Flint, Michigan.
In 2018, she was still tending bar when she began her own campaign. It was the first time Crowley had been challenged since 2004, but Ocasio-Cortez received significant New York-based endorsements. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer all backed the fledgling politician.
On June 26, Ocasio-Cortez earned more than 57% of the vote during the primary election. Time magazine called it the “biggest upset of the 2018 elections.”
Once elected in November after winning the general election against Republican Anthony Pappas, Ocasio-Cortez would gain national attention for her progressive policies, her active role on social media and clashes with established Democrats.
Now that she’s made it to Congress, how much does AOC earn?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Salary and Earnings
As a bartender, Ocasio-Cortez earned a salary of about $27,000, which is just under the nationwide average for bartenders.
Once elected to Congress, her salary increased to $174,000, which is the standard annual salary for most senators and representatives.
This salary is the largest contributor to her net worth, but she does not have many assets yet, which is why AOC’s net worth is estimated at $166,000.
Indeed a big reason her net worth is so low can be seen by comparing her assets to her liabilities. More on that in a moment…
Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Own Property?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez House: As of this writing, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does not own property. She was involved in a multiyear probate battle with Westchester County concerning her father’s home after he died of lung cancer.
The family almost lost their home during this period but eventually won the battle and sold their home for more than $300,000 in 2016.
Some portion of the profits from that sale went to Alexandria, and this inheritance from her father is among the largest influencers of her net worth thus far.
After the sale, she rented an apartment in the Bronx with her partner. Once elected, she moved to Washington, D.C., and rented an apartment there. She expressed concern over affording the area’s high rents, which suggested she had little in terms of capital reserves.
Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Debt?
Yes. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is in debt, which is student debt from attending Boston University.
She has cited her personal experiences with being a student and incurring debt as motivation to cancel all student debt and establish a system for free tuition to a public college or trade school.
Her student debt could be considered another factor contributing to her net worth of close to $166,000.
As someone running for public office, Ocasio-Cortez was required to file a federal disclosure regarding her finances. This disclosure is public record.
She listed between $15,000 and $50,000 owed to the U.S. Department of Education for her enrollment from 2007 to 2011. During a 2019 House committee meeting, she stated that her student loan was down to $19,000.
She listed no credit card debt, and when you consider that the average tuition at Boston University is more than $50,000 a year, she has done well with her finances.
Perhaps even more impressive is that her income as a bartender was about $27,000 in 2017 and just $3,600 in 2018.
Ocasio-Cortez did sell her parents’ home in 2016, but her personal savings were “well below $7,000” according to a spokesperson due to the toll the campaign had taken. However, her disclosure form also listed at least $17,000 combined in her checking, investment and retirement accounts.
How Much Could Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Earn?
Nothing has contributed more directly to Ocasio-Cortez’s net worth – or at least potential net worth – than being elected to Congress.
U.S. representatives serve two-year terms and are up for election every even year. As of this writing, Ocasio-Cortez is only guaranteed a seat in 2019 and 2020.
The annual salary for a U.S. representative is $174,000. The Government Ethics Reform Act of 1989 allows U.S. senators and representatives an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA).
However, Congress can and often has blocked the COLA from taking effect. There was a push in mid-2019 to allow the COLA for 2020, but the momentum was short-lived, and the adjustment seems unlikely at this point.
That means that Ocasio-Cortez will earn $174,000 in 2019 and most likely earn $174,000 in 2020. Presuming a 20% tax obligation, she would take home a total of $278,400 over that two-year period. If she opts to clear her student debt, she would take home approximately $259,400.
It is possible to estimate her living expenses based on the monthly medians for Washington, D.C.: $2,700 for her lease, $1,000 for food and drinks and $500 for transportation and entertainment.
At those reasonable spending levels, Ocasio-Cortez would be able to save about $6,608 every month.
Over the course of two years, that amounts to $158,592. A 5% return is all but guaranteed even targeting just safe investments. That would give her a net worth of about $166,521.
Of course, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a very popular politician in her home state of New York and has gained notoriety nationwide as part of the “Squad”—a group of four congresswomen who advocate progressive policies to the point that they have even clashed with the old guard of their own party.
Ocasio-Cortez is, therefore, a rising star in U.S. politics. She seems likely to be reelected at this point, and it would take her only about three terms in Congress to become a millionaire—and that assumes a reasonable lifestyle, no pay increases and only low-risk investments.
Per her financial disclosure form, it is also known that Ocasio-Cortez has a Charles Schwab checking account worth between $1,000 and $50,000. She also has a Charles Schwab investment account worth between $1,000 and $15,000 and a National Hispanic Institute 401(k) plan worth between $1,000 and $15,000.
Ocasio-Cortez is expected to have a long and prolific political career and may eventually vie for the presidency. However, even if her political career is shorter than expected, it would still provide her earning opportunities after leaving office, and she has her Boston University degree to fall back on as well.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Political Beliefs
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The DSA is the main socialist organization in the U.S., and Ocasio-Cortez sees it as an integral aspect of her political identity. She is one of the two DSA members in Congress. The other is Rashida Talib of Michigan.
Ocasio-Cortez sponsors progressive policies. Examples include canceling outstanding student debt, tuition-free public college, a federal job guarantee and single-payer health care. She wants to enact stronger gun laws, abolish ICE, end prison privatization and guarantee family leave.
She is not, however, in favor of state socialism and has rejected such politics and economics on many occasions.
Ocasio-Cortez has said she favors policies similar to those enacted in Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The congresswoman has called for more hardliners in Congress when it comes to combating climate change, and she has proposed high tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.
AOC Green New Deal
The Green New Deal is the first legislation Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez submitted to Congress. This legislation was a joint effort with Senator Ed Markey and entered on February 7, 2019.
The document outlines a 10-year plan through which the U.S. infrastructure can evolve in order to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. It includes aspects that were present in the plan by the Obama administration and contains strategies to create jobs and bolster the economy in the process.
Ocasio-Cortez and Markey asserted that the Green New Deal would allow the U.S. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gases in a decade. The plan gained some notable support within Congress, including backing from presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Republican opposition was expected, but the legislation garnered in-party challenges as well.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disparaged it as the “green dream.” The bill was defeated 57-0 in the Senate on March 26, 2019, but the U.K. Labour Party developed a similar plan and cited Ocasio-Cortez’s ideas as inspiration.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tax Views
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a proponent of marginal tax rates, which are tax rates that are set higher for taxpayers in higher brackets. In fact, she is in favor of a marginal tax rate as high as 70% for incomes greater than $10 million and has cited this rate as a means of funding the Green New Deal.
She has opposed PAYGO, which stands for pay as you go. The PAYGO rules require that any proposed legislation be budget-neutral.
Balancing expenses with spending cuts and tax increases is popular among many Democrats, but Ocasio-Cortez argues that it restricts progress, and she supports that position with the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).
MMT favors whatever budget deficit is necessary to realize full employment.
Ocasio-Cortez successfully opposed a new Amazon headquarters in her district. New York had attracted Amazon by offering $3 billion in state and city tax breaks and subsidies. She wanted that money spent directly, but her critics asserted that New York did not have $3 billion in liquid assets to spend.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Boyfriend
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in 1989 in the Bronx to Sergio Ocasio and Blanca nee Cortez.
She has remained rather private about her personal life beyond her parents. She has not married and does not have any children. A notable partner is Riley Roberts, with whom she has had a long-term relationship.
Much of what is known about Roberts was revealed in the Netflix documentary “Knock Down the House.” He was born in Arizona and attended Boston University where he majored in sociology and finance. Roberts and Ocasio-Cortez were college sweethearts but broke up prior to graduation.
They got back together and had been together four years when Ocasio-Cortez was elected.
The documentary shows Roberts and Ocasio-Cortez together in their then Bronx apartment. He covets his privacy, but people in her inner circle call them a team and him a “grounding force” for Ocasio-Cortez.