Parsing the Green New Deal
Lewis Kanagy, Online Editor
In early February, the increasingly popular Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released her plan for what is called the Green New Deal (GND). This plan lays out a number of lofty goals centered around cutting U.S. carbon emissions.
The GND was presented as a plan to move toward green energy usage. However, it also includes a number of items that have little to do with clean energy and a lot to do with restructuring the U.S. economy. These financial proposals are what I take issue with.
The GND is less of a plan and more a list of extremely optimistic goals with minimal explanation as to how they will be achieved.
One of the most surprising things I read on the GND’s FAQ sheet — released on Thursday, Feb. 7 by — was the claim it will guarantee “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” First of all, this has absolutely nothing to do with getting the U.S. to clean energy. But beyond that, economic security for all who are unwilling to work is nothing short of a utopian ideal.
Other guarantees on the FAQ include, “healthy food,” “high-quality healthcare,” “safe, affordable, adequate housing,” and “high-quality education.” All of these things would certainly be nice to have at no cost, but as I said before, there is no explanation of how such goals will be achieved.
The inclusion of these guarantees demonstrates that the deal is not limited to simply protecting the environment. Ocasio-Cortez has a large interest in creating a far-left economy, and this shows through in her GND proposal.
Just as the promised social welfare gains listed in the GND are a stretch, there is no shortage of preposterous proposals on the plan’s environmental side. The GND describes the need to upgrade “every building” to be energy efficient. It doesn’t say just factories, or office buildings or private residences, but “every building” — all of them. Once again, upgrading all new buildings to be more energy efficient sounds like a great idea, but these improvements don’t just magically happen, without trillions of dollars of spending.
Further down the GND’s website, the FAQ proposes to “build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.” Let’s think about this for a second. A Boeing 747 — the most common commercial aircraft in use today — flies at well over 500 mph. Currently, the fastest train in the world — the Shanghai Maglev — travels at an average speed of about 267 mph. So, in order to achieve this goal, the U.S. government, Ocasio-Cortez herself (or someone else) would have to develop a train that travels at close to double the current air speed, then build adequate rail systems that cover all of the airline routes currently set within the country. I do not see how a proposal this idealistic can be made into a serious government plan.
But here’s the best part: all of the proposals I have mentioned are intended to be completed within 10 years. Upgrading all the buildings, replacing planes with trains, guaranteeing income for all unwilling to work, and a whole slew of other lofty goals are all set to be finished within a decade..
Then, the million- — or trillion- — dollar question, how will we be, “How are we paying for all of this?” The FAQ only addresses this briefly, in a vague paragraph that ends with the statement, “the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity.” This closing statement suggests the GND will magically bring so much more wealth fulfillment that paying for each of its ideas will be an afterthought.
Before this, the paragraph essentially says that we will pay for the GND by “extending our credit” — in other words, borrowing more money. By the way, the current U.S national debt is an ever-growing $22 trillion. So, how will we pay for it? We won’t. The plan only seems functional by increasing the national debt. I suspect this is because the only way to pay for the GND would be to raise everybody’s tax rate.
I dislike being so skeptical of a popular plan that claims to want to help move us toward the use of clean energy. To me, however, the GND is nothing short of fantasy.
The GND has many ideas that I do not see as being possible within the next 50 years, let alone 10. To me, it seems like the GND is nothing more than a list of promises few believe will ever happen, and no one has planned to make possible.