The Other Side of the Green New Deal

courtesy of science matters

courtesy of science matters

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The Green New Deal is the Bigfoot of the House of Representatives. Many have heard of the legend that is the Green New Deal’s policy, but few have been lucky enough to actually see it. Akin to the lack of clarity and credibility that often accompanies Bigfoot sightings, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been content to keep clear policy off the table in regards to her New Deal. The Green New Deal aims to address climate change and economic inequality in the United States. Like Bigfoot, the Green New Deal has the potential to be believable and even exciting – but looking at it face-to-face is rather disturbing.

For Ocasio-Cortez, the logistics of the Green New Deal are probably best left unclear to the public. Let’s start from the beginning: in early February, Ocasio-Cortez and her team published a six-page list of responses to frequently asked questions regarding the programs within the Green New Deal. One of the first proposed policies in the publication was the transition in the United States to 100% renewable, zero-emission energy sources by 2030. For starters, this means no nuclear energy, no cars, and no planes. It seems slightly bold for a ten-year plan, perhaps even impractical, but I digress.

Next, the webpage mentions gutting “every building in America” and rebuilding them to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Wait, what? The importance of saving energy and reacting to the incontrovertible evidence that supports climate change does not outweigh that lack of clarity in what gutting every building entails.  Third, the Green New Deal also guarantees “a job with a family-sustaining wage” for every American. Great! Perhaps a few of these guaranteed jobs could help out with the aforementioned gutting of every building in the nation. In reality, that might not pan out. Ocasio-Cortez also plans to give handouts to willfully unemployed Americans. She proposes “economic security” for all Americans, including those “unwilling to work”. I am unaware of a successful society wherein the government subsidizes citizens who simply do not want to work. Scratch the idea about some of these new jobs rebuilding everything in America. It’s not necessary; instead, Americans can sit on the couch and expect a nice check from AOC every month.  

According to several estimates, the Green New Deal sports a mighty $93 trillion price tag. Such a program would require immense funding, which AOC has provided meager guidance for. Some of her guidance includes a plan to implement a marginal tax rate of 70% to the highest earning Americans to help pay for the deal. If this rate was implemented, it would yield about $700 billion. Can this be even be considered a drop in the bucket? AOC has also stated that she aims to cut military spending in order to help pay for the Green New Deal. However, the United States’ military spending tends to lie within $400-$700 billion each year. Even if $93 trillion is an upper-end estimate, AOC is not close to meeting the type of funding that the Green New Deal actually requires.

With the facts of the Green New Deal slowly rising to the surface, there has been some uncertainty regarding Democratic support for the deal. However, most Democratic representatives still speak in support of the Green New Deal because that’s what Democratic voters want to hear. General polls show that a majority of Democratic voters support the deal entirely. In a clever attempt to get Democratic representatives to support the deal on record, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the Green New Deal to a vote. Truly clever, as many Democrats have now come out to indicate they will vote against the deal, creating a divide in the Democratic party. These representatives understand that the Green New Deal is too radical to ever pass, especially with Trump in office. Some of the deal’s staunch Democratic supporters include those who plan to run for President in 2020: Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Their support for the Green New Deal has little to do with actually pushing the deal through; instead they are trying to win over Democratic voters. It is a race to become the most radical Democrat, and support for the Green New Deal is the next checkpoint to find out who remains in the running.

The house of cards in which the Green New Deal resides is currently under pressure. Democratic representatives are going to have to put their money where their mouth is regarding the deal, signaling potential trouble ahead for AOC’s bold ten-year plan. Whether or not the rumblings of uncertainty will be enough to crumble the cards remains to be seen, but the popularity of the Green New Deal is not justified. Steps must be taken in order to react to climate change and stunt its impact in the future, but zero-emission policies and a ten-year rebuild of America is not conceivable. Nor is it achievable by merely taxing the rich. The best time for America to go green was yesterday, and the second best time is today – but a green America shouldn’t mean taking the green from its people.