The Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives is creating a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, charged with working with existing House committees with environment, science, and energy responsibilities, to develop many of the proposals in the Green New Deal (GND) proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
The House leadership created the committee as an alternative to the self-described democratic socialist Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to create a “Select Committee For A Green New Deal” to “develop a detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to eliminate the United States’ use of fossil fuels and replace them with select renewable sources of energy, among numerous other drastic expansions of federal government power.
Ocasio-Cortez proposed the committee to write GND legislation to end the use of fossil fuels by 2030 and require every residential and industrial building to install “energy efficiency” upgrades to “eliminate[e] greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries, … [and fund a] massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases,” as the draft text of the proposed addendum to the House rules states.
In addition, the GND would “provide all members of our society, across all regions and all communities, … a job guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one; …… [and] include additional measures such as basic income programs, universal health care programs and any others … .”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and 35 House Democrats are among those who have said they support Ocasio-Cortez’s GND.
Republicans Respond to GND
The Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC) had already examined the outline of GND Ocasio-Cortez offered on her website, arguing it would dramatically reshape the U.S. economy for the worse.
Eliminating all use of fossil fuels by 2030 would mean prematurely closing every coal, natural gas, or nuclear plant in the country, which would idle trillions of dollars in capital assets, eliminate millions of jobs, and cost the economy more than $7 trillion, the Republicans’ report found.
“The Green New Deal’s job guarantee would replace productive work with federally backed make-work jobs, distorting the labor market and hurting private businesses,” the report states. “Even with all that spending, the international nature of climate change means that the plan could fail to meaningfully affect global carbon dioxide emissions.”
As evidence for the latter claim, the report notes while the United States reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 862 million tons from 2005 to 2017, India’s carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.3 billion tons, and China’s emissions by four billion tons, during that period.
GND is the most radical proposal offered by a member of Congress in modern U.S. history, says Justin Haskins, a research fellow for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.
“Not only would GND destroy, by design, hundreds of thousands of fossil-fuel-related jobs, it would require intrusive ‘upgrades’ to every home and business in America, create a federal jobs-guarantee program, impose single-payer health care, and force Americans to spend significantly more to heat and power their homes,” Haskins said. “Ocasio-Cortez plans to pay for these radical programs by establishing a brand-new system of publicly owned banks, printing money, and raising taxes.
“If these policies were to go into effect, even in a watered-down form, they would destroy the U.S. economy, raise the cost of virtually every good and service in the country, and run up the national debt by tens of trillions of dollars,” said Haskins. “This plan is dangerous and would push the country closer than ever to full-blown socialism.”
‘New Marketing Gimmick’
GND is nothing more than old-fashioned socialism, says Heartland Institute Policy Analyst Tim Benson.
“GND is essentially the new marketing gimmick progressives are using as way to push every economic measure—universal basic income, 100 percent wind and solar, jobs guarantees, single-payer health care, large tax increases on income, and new taxes on carbon dioxide emissions—Democrats have been salivating over forever,” Benson said. “GND is a radical plan to fundamentally transform American society that would massively increase the size of the federal government, radically raise taxes, massively increase the national debt, and significantly decrease the quality of life of most Americans.
“The way technology now sits, living without fossil fuels is not something any rational American would wish to do,” said Benson.
GND is even more ambitious than the original New Deal, says Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation.
“Ocasio-Cortez’s goal is not just unrealistic, it’s impossible,” said Matthews. “President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal was a broad government takeover of the U.S. economy in an effort to counter the Great Depression.
“While Roosevelt’s New Deal was bad policy, its goal was at least achievable: to bring the United States out of the economic Depression,” Matthews said. “The GND is even more ambitious than the original New Deal, with Democrats hoping it will cure all the Left’s perceived economic ills and all the ills of social injustice as well.”
Matthews says an unbelievable number of electric cars and renewable energy power plants would have to be sold and opened, respectively, to hit GND’s 2030 target of zero use of fossil fuels.
“Despite more than a decade of government support, electric cars account for only 2 percent of current car sales, but they would be 100 percent in 10 years if [Ocasio-Cortez] gets her way,” said Matthews. “And despite eight years of the most aggressive taxpayer-funded renewable-energy push the country has ever seen, under President Obama, wind and solar power went from less than 5 percent of electricity generation to just 8 percent.
“There is simply no way the United States can transition its remaining electric power supply to renewable sources in 10 years,” Matthews said.
Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.
Addendum to House Rules for 116th Congress of the United States, January 6, 2019: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jxUzp9SZ6-VB-4wSm8sselVMsqWZrSrYpYC9slHKLzo/preview
U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, “Green New Deal: A Crazy, Expensive Mess,” December 11, 2018: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/green-new-deal-a-crazy-expensive-mess