The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a prominent left-wing organization affiliated with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other congressional members, is currently grappling with a severe financial crisis. The situation has escalated to the point where the DSA is considering substantial budget cuts and potential layoffs of its staff.
According to reports, their financial woes are so bad that the organization’s leaders are proposing to slash $500,000 from staff-related expenses. This measure includes asking for volunteers among both director-level and bargaining unit staff to have their positions cut and receive severance. If necessary, the DSA may also initiate layoffs in accordance with the union’s contract.
“DSA should be thriving, but instead we have a major deficit because we didn’t adequately seize the moment during various political crises,” the group wrote. “B&R NPC members explain why they have proposed voluntary staff layoffs as a temporary stopgap.”
The financial difficulties of the organization, initially reported by the New York Post, have left its leaders with no alternative but to reduce their budget. This could potentially result in job losses within the organization.
The proposal, driven by members of its National Political Committee, stated, “We will cut $500,000 from staff-related expenses.” It further specifies, “We will first ask for volunteers from both director-level and bargaining unit staff to have their position cut and receive severance.”
“If necessary, we will then explore initiating lay-offs according to the DSA union’s contract,” one of the members wrote.
The financial crisis is attributed to a combination of factors, including a significant deficit in the organization’s budget. DSA members Alex Pellitteri, Kristin Schall, and Laura Wadlin, in their cost-cutting proposal, highlighted that staff-related costs account for a staggering 58% of the DSA’s total expenditures and 72% of its projected income. The current deficit necessitates 7-figure budget cuts, impacting all levels of the organization.
The DSA’s support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel, particularly its response to the Hamas attack on October 7, has been partly blamed for the fiscal crisis. Jewish activists have criticized the DSA’s leadership for damaging the group’s credibility and losing support by backing extremist groups. AOC has faced backlash in the past for anti-semitic comments towards Israel as well.
In a statement from The Call, a publication associated with the DSA’s Bread & Roses caucus, DSA leaders expressed their belief that this is a necessary but hopefully temporary measure to keep the organization afloat.
AOC’s association with the DSA has been a significant part of her political identity. She has been known for advocating for policies like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and higher taxes on the wealthy, which align with the DSA’s left-wing platform.
Ocasio-Cortez’s election to Congress as a young, progressive candidate representing New York’s 14th congressional district in 2018 was seen as a significant victory for the DSA and the broader progressive movement in the U.S. Her advocacy for democratic socialism brought significant attention to the movement.
However, Ocasio-Cortez has faced various criticisms and controversies, largely stemming from her progressive policies and outspoken nature. Some Democrat party members have even expressed their concerns that her approach and policies alienate voters, impacting the party’s electoral prospects.