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Stephen Ross: AOC is 'taking us totally in the wrong direction'

Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor

Since being elected to Congress in 2018, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been no stranger to controversy. She received significant criticism after her vocal opposition to Amazon (AMZN) opening its second headquarters in Long Island City, N.Y., a deal that eventually fell through because of backlash.

Billionaire and Republican donor Stephen Ross said it was “tremendously” a mistake for AOC to oppose Amazon HQ2.

“Who was she really representing?” Ross said. “I mean, herself, I think, and her own agenda and popularity. She’s become, in a very short time, a very powerful person. I think she’s taking us totally in the wrong direction.”

Ross shared these comments with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer on an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks to the media about Amazon scrapping its plans to build a new headquarters in Queens, New York, on Capitol Hill February 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

‘I don’t think America is ready’

Bronx-born billionaire investor Mario Gabelli previously expressed similar disappointment about the failure of the Amazon HQ2 deal to Yahoo Finance, although he did not mention Ocasio-Cortez by name.

“The screwup in New York City was the financially illiterates [who] didn’t understand that you have to bring Amazon in,” Gabelli said. And like Gabelli, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon also lamented the failed move without mentioning anyone by name.

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President Donald Trump did single out AOC, however, blaming her for Amazon’s decision to scrap its HQ2 plans.

“Tens of thousands of jobs,” Trump said. “Would’ve been a great thing. And she kept Amazon from going — would’ve been a good deal.”

AOC’s defense for her skepticism of the proposal was the fact that the retail giant would have possibly received $3 billion in tax incentives. Amazon had already faced heavy criticism after it was revealed it would pay $0 in federal income taxes on $11.2 billion in profit for 2018.

Protestors unfurl anti-Amazon banners from the balcony of a hearing room during a New York City Council Finance Committee hearing. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“We can create those jobs without marginalizing people,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a Queens town hall event in April. “Are those the jobs that they’re giving the folks in NYCHA, are those jobs going to our community? Or are we just importing already wealthy people to displace us?”

Ross saw her attitude as more of a detriment to the economic prosperity of New York City, though.

“I think if you ask the people in Queens and New York City, her being against Amazon was probably something that was very detrimental to them and the city,” he said. “But she wants to be out there, she wants to be upfront, and she wants to take us in a direction that I don’t think America is ready for or ever will be.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Amazon generated $11.2 trillion in revenue for 2018 instead of $11.2 billion in profit.

Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.


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