Amazon vs Ocasio-Cortez: 25K NYC job promise had holes
After Amazon decided to pull the plug on its planned New York headquarters earlier in the week due to fierce opposition from lawmakers and some residents, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned whether the local community would really have benefitted from the e-commerce giant’s new location.
“When you actually try to extract the details of this deal, all of a sudden the math got really fuzzy and it felt, to the community, that the details were falling apart,” Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told Fox News.
As part of the agreement – which has since been scrapped – to build the “HQ2” in the Long Island City neighborhood of the Queens borough, Amazon said it would create 25,000 high-paying jobs, while the area would receive a $2.5 billion investment and benefit from an estimated incremental tax revenue of more than $10 billion. In return, Amazon would receive performance-based direct incentives of more than $1.5 billion – if the company didn’t create the promised amount of jobs, it would not receive the money.
“They say it’s 25,000 jobs. Is it? And that’s what the public wasn’t convinced of,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The freshman congresswoman said when Amazon was asked for more details about the jobs – such as the type of occupation and whether they would hire locally – the Seattle-based e-commerce giant failed to respond.
“We got no answers,” she said. “There was no guarantee that those 25,000 they were going to hire were New Yorkers. Are they just going to import people to displace existing New Yorkers? Are we going to be driving up the cost of rent?”
Concerns were also triggered by the tax breaks and subsidies Amazon – one of the world’s most valuable companies by market cap and owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos – would be given for building its second headquarters in New York. Last year, Amazon did not pay a single dollar in federal income taxes despite nearly doubling its profit from 2017 ($5.6 billion to $11.2 billion), according to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
Despite the resistance from Ocasio-Cortez and other state and local elected officials, polls show a majority supported New York’s deal with Amazon. Fifty-six percent of New Yorkers said they approved of the agreement, according to a survey from Siena College, while 36 percent disapproved.
“For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term,” the company said in a statement.
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Amazon said it will not re-open its search for another HQ2 but will continue as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville.
Fox News' Kelly Phares contributed to this report