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A 21st-century take on Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ Communist Manifesto was introduced in the form of a nonbinding resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The resolution effectively does nothing other than express the sense that Congress should pass a so-called “Green New Deal” whose wholly unattainable goals would almost certainly wreak havoc on the economy and drive the United States further into debt.
The term “insane” understates how bad the ideas presented in this resolution really are. Both the Green New Deal resolution and the FAQ document released with it read like something concocted in a drunken haze in a college dorm room. Although it’s certainly imaginative, it’s not remotely close to serious public policy. Perhaps that explains why Rep. Ocasio-Cortez removed the documents from her congressional website.
Although the resolution isn’t a serious public policy proposal, conservatives and libertarians do need to take it seriously. Why? Because this is how far to the left the Democratic Party has drifted. Although some wave the banner of “democratic socialism,” others who share socialist ideals avoid the label that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez claims by identifying as “progressives” who support green policies. When one peels back the initial layer of green, the same tired and failed ideas of socialism are there.
The resolution begins with basic findings. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey take the most recent report from the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as though it was handed down from God to Moses on Mount Sinai on stone tablets. Although humans do contribute to climate change, many of the IPCC’s previous claims have been proven wrong. Remember, it was just 2007 when the IPCC warned that the world had only eight years to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The most recent report, released in October 2018, claims that we have 12 years to avoid the worst of climate change. When proven inaccurate, just move the goalposts.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey complain that the United States is “responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions, having emitted 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014.” Well, during periods of increased prosperity, emissions have been higher. Emissions have declined during periods of slow growth and recessions. As recently as 2017, the United States saw a decline in greenhouse gas emissions.
Eventually, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey offer a long list of things Congress should do in a so-called “Green New Deal.” The resolution is chock full of policy recommendations that radical environmentalists have long demanded. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey want the United States to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” by eliminating fossil fuels. The Green New Deal FAQs document also states that the United States should also eliminate nuclear energy, although the resolution itself doesn’t include such language.
The goal of this aspect of the Green New Deal is to transition the economy to renewable energy. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Under the Paris Agreement, from which the United States withdrew, Americans were expected to see $2.5 trillion in lost gross domestic product (GDP), the loss of some 400,000 jobs, and an increase in energy costs between 13 and 20 percent. On top of that, the U.S. has led the world in carbon emissions reduction since withdrawing from the agreement. The difference between the Paris Agreement and the Green New Deal is that the Paris Agreement, by comparison, wouldn’t have been nearly as economically destructive.
Americans have a love affair with their vehicles. But under the Green New Deal, that car you’re so proud of would be banned. Since the economy will transition away from fossil fuels, your gas-powered vehicle must be given up for an electric vehicle. Forget about the trade-in value; it’s not like the dealership can resell your old car.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey would have Congress invest heavily in high-speed rail. Again, that may sound great, but high-speed rail has proven to be nothing short of a boondoggle in the United States. Take California’s high-speed rail system. This project is years behind schedule and far more expensive than originally projecting, now estimated to cost $100 billion. Although the Green New Deal promises to ensure that the power of eminent domain doesn't abuse, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey fail to explain how they expect to protect private property while also building costly high-speed rail lines across the country, which would require land acquisition through eminent domain on a massive scale.
International travel would, presumably, become impossible. Those occasional steak dinners you enjoy might be a thing of the past, too. Although the resolution doesn’t explicitly say this, the Green New Deal FAQs document, no joke, states that the sponsors of the resolution “aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.” Cows, by the way, emit methane primarily through belching, not flatulence. Livestock represents nearly 3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Another wild idea from the resolution is the goal of “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings.” The FAQs for the resolution are more straightforward. That document states that the goal is to “[u]pgrade or replace every building in U.S. for state-of-the-art energy efficiency.” There are, uh, a lot of buildings in the United States. The resolution doesn’t specify which buildings would need to be upgraded or rebuilt. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “there were 5.6 million commercial buildings in the United States in 2012, comprising 87 billion square feet of floorspace.” The cost of this would be immense.
The Green New Deal resolution also includes other leftist policy priorities, such as guarantees of “high-quality health care,” “safe, affordable, and adequate housing,” and “economic security.” The resolution doesn’t explicitly state this, but the FAQs document states that the federal government will provide “economic security” to those who are “unwilling to work.” This is socialism. If you’re completely able-bodied, but you’re too lazy to work, the producers in the economy -- well, the few who are left under the Green New Deal -- will pick up your tab. That’s not okay.
Finally, there’s the cost of this incoherent, ridiculous monstrosity. The Green New Deal resolution calls for heavy “investments” by the government, claiming that “World War II and the New Deal created the greatest middle class that the United States has ever seen.” Well, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey are very wrong about the New Deal. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., told the House Ways and Means Committee in May 1939, “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.”
The FAQs document claims that the United States “invested 40-50% of GDP into our economy” during World War II. It’s true that federal spending rose dramatically between 1942 and 1945, peaking at 42.7 percent of GDP in 1944. Of course, the United States was fighting a major war at the time. Spending declined immediately after the war ended. By 1948, federal spending was 11.3 percent of the economy. Federal spending as a percentage of the economy didn’t rise above 20 percent again until 1975.
In 2019, the Congressional Budget Office projects that federal spending will consume about 20.8 percent of GDP, or about $4.4 trillion. It appears that the sponsors of the resolution are suggesting that Congress more than double federal spending, pushing federal spending around $9 trillion to cover the cost of this unrealistic, incoherent, and absurd plan.
The Green New Deal has already drawn the support of several Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D- N.Y.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). After reading through the Green New Deal resolution and FAQs document, one has to wonder if these Democrats regret that decision.