Did U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is popularly known as AOC, propose a $10.5 billion cut to Social Security? No, that's not true: The Democratic congresswoman from New York never made such a proposal. The author of the post is trolling conservatives into believing and sharing these satirical stories as though they were real.
The claim originated from an article published by bustatroll.org on February 11, 2020, titled "AOC Proposes $10.5B Cut to Social Security: 'We Need to Sock It to the Boomers'" (archived here). It opened:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is at it again. AOC can't stand the support Boomers give President Trump. So, in an ultimate act of retaliation and revenge, she is going after Social Security.
In a statement from her studio apartment in the Bronx, she said of the Social Security 2020 Act:
"The Boomers have empowered Donald Trump. Since impeachment failed, I see no other recourse than to issue sanctions on the Boomers. Those sanctions translate to a $10.5B cut to social security which will be effective later this year."
Users on social media only saw this:
"Since impeachment failed, I see no other recourse than to issue sanctions on the Boomers."
The story is fabricated. Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, never proposed these types of cuts. However, President Trump's proposed fiscal 2021 budget, which his administration released on February 10, 2020, calls for $45 billion in cuts to the Social Security program.
Trump's proposal is not expected to be approved by the full Congress, according to The New York Times.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised not to touch Social Security and Medicare. Even so, he told CNBC in January that he'd "take a look" at the entitlement programs.
Trump took to Twitter to deny he was breaking a campaign promise:
We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget. Only the Democrats will destroy them by destroying our Country's greatest ever Economy!-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020
However, Trump's proposal would slash part of the program that offers benefits to about 8.5 million disabled workers. Monthly Social Security retirement benefits would not be impacted.
The bustatroll.org site making the original claim is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run by self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair. The Maine resident works with a loose confederation of friends and allies. Blair recently rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages, so they carry visible disclaimers everywhere.
Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":
The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.
Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites that often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down, but new ones keep cropping up.
Here is a video of Blair explaining how his process works:
If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.
If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer, it is, of course, also fake news.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalists to rank the reliability of websites, describes bustatroll.org as:
A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.
According to NewsGuard, the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about bustatroll.org before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Mel Gibson Did NOT Say, 'The Only Reason Liberals Hate Trump Is They Hate God'
- Fake News: Trump Did NOT Invoke Article 9 To Begin Prosecution Of Democrats For Treason
- Fake News: Attorney General William Barr Is NOT About To Announce Federal Regulations Banning Sharia Law In USA
- Fake News: AOC's Grandfather Was NOT An Illegal Immigrant From Val Verde
- Fake News: AOC Does NOT Suggest the Earth May Be Flat