Fact Check

Did U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Say 'We Pay Soldiers Too Much'?

A routine review of content labeled satire.

Published Jul 17, 2019

Updated Jul 22, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pauses while speaking during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying if they're not happy in the United States "they can leave." (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images) (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
Image Via Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
In July 2019, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, "We pay soldiers way too much."

A frequent publisher of junk news and inflammatory misinformation targeted U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in July 2019, falsely claiming that she had said the United States pays soldiers "way too much."

On July 16, Taters Gonna Tate posted an article with the headline "Ocasio-Cortez on the Budget: 'We Pay Soldiers Too Much,'" which reported that:

"... Alexandra [sic] Ocasio-Cortez is fairly well-known for spouting out little 'ideas' that most people would figure out were, well, dumb.  This time, it seems the Baby Boss has been perusing the proposed budget sheet for the upcoming months, and had her little mind blown by what she saw, leading her to proclaim in an open session of Congress that : 'Wow! We pay soldiers WAY too much!'"

As of July 2019, Ocasio-Cortez has never said this, either in a session of Congress or in any other forum. The source of the fabricated article, Taters Gonna Tate, is part of a network of sites and social media accounts operated by Christopher Blair, who produces a high volume of junk news and misinformation, much of it inflammatory, which he presents as “satire."

On July 22, the Gretna Police Department in Louisiana fired two officers for their role in promulgating the article on Facebook along with a message that appeared to encourage gun violence against Ocasio-Cortez.

Officer Charlie Rispoli was fired after he posted the Taters Gonna Tate article, writing with it: "This vile idiot needs a round ... and I don't mean the kind she used to serve." A second officer, Angelo Varisco, was fired after he "liked" Rispoli's post. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson announced the firings at a press conference, adding, "This incident, we feel, has been an embarrassment to our department, that these officers have certainly acted in a manner which was unprofessional, alluding to a violent act to be conducted against a sitting U.S. Congressman, a member of our government. We're not going to tolerate that."



Taters Gonna Tate.  "Ocasio-Cortez on the Budget: 'We Pay Soldiers Too Much.'"   16 July 2019. 

Palma, Bethania.  "Fake News Purveyors Apologize for 'Satire' Story Calling Fallen Soldier a Deserter."   Snopes.  30 October 2017. 


[Updated] 22 July 2019: Added reference to the firing of two Gretna, Louisiana police officers.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.