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As New York City suffers an economic crisis on top of the coronavirus pandemic, some are looking back with regrets at the left-wing campaign that forced Amazon to scupper a plan to bring tens of thousands of jobs to the area – arguing this project could have helped the Big Apple weather the storm.
“At this time when coronavirus is ravaging incomes across New York, wouldn’t it be nice if the city and state at least knew that one of the world’s largest companies, one of the rare concerns positioned to thrive through the crisis, had made a long-term commitment to locate between 25,000 and 40,000 high-paying jobs here?” an editorial in the New York Daily News said.
The criticism from the local paper this month comes amid estimates from the city’s Independent Budget Office that New York City could lose 475,000 jobs by next March and see a $9.7 billion decrease in tax revenue over the next two years, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Amazon had planned to build a second NYC headquarters in Long Island City in Queens, but community activists and left-wing lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., and state senators rallied to block the move in 2019. In particular, they had zeroed in on the estimated $2.5 billion in incentives that Amazon would receive in order to tempt them to the area.
“Now what I DON’T want is for our public funds to be funding freebie helipads for Amazon + robber baron billionaires,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at the time, “all while NYCHA and public schools go underfunded & mom+pops get nowhere near that kind of a break.”
It was a battle that AOC, and other anti-Amazon local politicians, won when in February 2019, Amazon announced it was taking its jobs elsewhere.
“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. “While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”
It infuriated even fellow Democrats like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who blasted “a small group politicians [who] put their own narrow political interests above their community.”
Now, with Amazon still going strong as they have become an essential service for Americans trying to get their goods while avoiding brick-and-mortar stores, some are questioning that lobbying effort once again.
“The impact of AOC’s reckless scuttling of the Amazon deal cannot be overstated. Not only did AOC cost New York 25,000 good-paying jobs, she sent a message to job creators everywhere that they were no longer welcome in her city,” Alfredo Ortiz, CEO of Job Creators Network, told Fox News.
“With New York City expected to lose 500,000 jobs due to the pandemic, AOC’s brand of left-wing politics has no place in New York or anywhere else,” he said. “Only by unleashing the spirit of free enterprise can our economy recover, something AOC would never understand.”
Meanwhile, AOC is also taking heat from a Democratic primary challenger, who is citing the Amazon case as an example that Ocasio-Cortez is out of touch and doesn’t care about the people she was sent to represent.
“If she really cared, she wouldn’t drive away 25,000 jobs like she did,” Michelle Caruso-Cabrera told Yahoo News recently.
The Daily News, meanwhile, which is traditionally more representative of left-wing views in its editorials, didn’t mention Ocasio-Cortez by name – but clearly had her in its sights when it ripped into “smug” elected officials in its editorial this month.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if elected officials hadn’t been so smug and shortsighted as to insist that our great metropolis had so much going for it that it could easily look the best economic development opportunity in the modern history of the city in the mouth?” its editorial asked.
It went on to note that critics of Amazon were right to raise concerns about the company, including complaints about safety, data handling and the threat to traditional stores.
“But we do know that our great city’s tax revenue outlook would look a lot rosier right now if a handful of posturing pols hadn’t run one of the world’s top companies out of town on a rail,” it said.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this report.