Ivanka Trump occupies a different reality from most working women

Kate Aronoff

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was right to criticize the first daughter’s ill-informed comments on a job guarantee

‘Much of IvankaTrump’s brand has been constructed around the concept of #WomenWhoWork.’ Photograph: Kerstin Joensson/AP

Responding to a question about Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal and its call for a federal job guarantee, Ivanka Trump this week offered sage wisdom: “I’ve spent a lot of time traveling around this country over the last four years,” she said. “People want to work for what they get. So, I think that this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want.”

The statement sparked outrage, including from Ocasio-Cortez. She tweeted in response: “As a person who actually worked for tips & hourly wages in my life, instead of having to learn about it 2nd-hand, I can tell you that most people want to be paid enough to live.”

In light of this recent controversy, it’s worth revisiting Ivanka Trump’s views on work through the lens of her now defunct, eponymous website dedicated to building her personal lifestyle brand – think Goop for the recently lobotomized, with fewer jade eggs and a hint of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

Much of Trump’s brand has been constructed around the concept of #WomenWhoWork. Her site describes itself as “a celebration of women working at all aspects of their lives … building careers, raising children, nurturing relationships and pursuing passions”, as all human women do. Judging by the kinds of women highlighted on her site, the working women she has in mind mostly are CEOs for jewelry and wellness companies, including her fellow bootstrapping go-getter Lauren Bush Lauren, niece of George W Bush.

Unfortunately, she seems to be less concerned about the women doing the hard work of making Ivanka Trump garments. As a 2017 Guardian investigation found, many of those products were assembled by women in Indonesia and China, who the journalist Krithika Varagur found are subjected to verbal abuse, grueling production quotas and poverty wages.

Trump’s reality couldn’t be further from that faced by most working women, whether in the US or in the factories her company outsources production to. As the recipient of an ever-mysterious post as White House senior adviser, Ivanka Trump is one of the few Americans who enjoys a job guarantee of any kind, whether that’s for her position in Washington DC , at the Trump Organization, her line of jewelry and fragrances or her rumored promotion to be the head of the World Bank.

Most of her professional endeavors were made possible by her family’s fortune, itself at least in part the product of elaborate tax-avoidance schemes. Like most people beyond a certain net worth, though, Ivanka’s wealth has much less to do with what she does on a day-to-day basis than with how much money her investments are earning in the form of rents and capital gains. As an heir to and purveyor of her father and grandfather’s shady real estate empire, this is especially true.

There’s ample public policy dedicated to keeping people like Ivanka Trump and kin extravagantly wealthy, and very little helping to level the playing field for everyone else. The ultra-rich are free to hide their money in far-flung tax havens like the Cayman Islands, or to park it in luxury real estate markets like the ones on which the Trumps and Kushners – the family Ivanka married into – have built their empires. The top marginal tax rate currently sits at just 37% in the US, down from above 90% in the mid-20th century. And the country’s biggest corporations frequently pay no taxes at all.

Working women, meanwhile, face decades of wage stagnation amid soaring corporate profits, and a lack of social services considered basic in many parts of the world, including paid family leave and quality childcare.

From raising taxes on the wealthy to guaranteeing every American has a well-paid job to strengthening this country’s beleaguered social safety net, the policies Ocasio-Cortez has put forward would drastically improve the lives of men and women around the country – in large part because she’s actually had to work for a living.

Ever her father’s keeper, Ivanka spends her days helping ensure everyone else’s lives get worse. In the #wisewords of IvankaTrump.com: “Seize the moments as they come” (Anonymous).