by Craig Rucker, president and Peter Murphy, policy analyst for CFACT, www.cfact.org
More and more Democratic elected officials are espousing the notion of a Green New Deal, a policy effort designed to transform the United States into what they consider a more altruistic, earth-friendly society.
According to its draft plan introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the House would create a 15-member committee to craft a “detailed national, industrial mobilization plan.” And to what end? To establish two important long-sought goals of the far Left: (1) To transition the United States economy away from fossil fuels by dramatically lowering its “greenhouse gas emissions” and (2) to establish lofty notions of “economic and environmental justice and equality.”
In the name of combating climate change, the Green New Deal seeks nothing less than the complete decarbonization of the entire U.S. economy and the transition to 100 percent renewable energy — all to be accomplished in a little more than a decade.
The proposal currently known as the “Green New Deal Resolution” is House Resolution 109/Senate Resolution 59, presented to Congress on February 7, 2019 by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. No fewer than 626 organizations signed a January 10, 2019 letter to Congress also demanding that members act “aggressively and quickly” to avert the pending climate “disaster.” At a minimum, they insist these steps should include:
- Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the U.S.
- Providing all people of the U.S. with health care, housing, economic security.
- Providing resources to pay for training, and higher education (to include college), to all people of the U.S.
- Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the U.S. through renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.
- Eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible.
Building or upgrading to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘smart’ power grids, and working to ensure affordable access to electricity.
- Upgrading all existing buildings in the U.S. and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, and water efficiency.
- Overhauling transportation systems in the U.S. to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including pushing for zero-emission vehicles, more public transportation and high-speed rail.
- Spurring massive growth in “clean” manufacturing in the U.S. and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry as much as is technologically feasible.
- Working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the U.S. to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.
Virtually all leading Democrats have touted aspects of this radical Green New Deal at one time or another in recent years. But just how could such a plan be implemented? Only by creating a much larger government in both size and scope than we have today — one that commands regulatory authority over virtually every aspect of America’s society and economy.
The idea of a “New Deal” harkens back to the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who, in the early 1930s, began a massive expansion of government in the economic affairs of the nation to combat the Great Depression. Unlike today, this was done when unemployment reached a peak of 25 percent of the workforce. The transformation of the federal government as a result of the New Deal has been a lasting legacy of FDR, and was significantly expanded further when President Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on poverty” and launched the Great Society in the 1960s.
History has shown, however, that while the New Deal and Great Society programs temporarily benefitted millions of Americans and provided short-term solutions to ameliorate the impacts of poverty, neither ultimately worked. Both of them failed in their efforts to make the sorts of lasting changes they promised.
Today’s Democratic politicians likely view their efforts at a “Green New Deal” as merely a 21st century revamping of FDR’s New Deal or LBJ’s Great Society. But that would be way too modest.
The vision of the Green New Deal goes beyond anything FDR or LBJ proposed or envisioned. Alarmingly, it reads more like the transforming of America through expanded public ownership and the implementation of an “economic equality and justice” agenda that focuses primarily on racial and gender outcomes. Such a Deal would require a massive increase in the power and influence of the federal government to dictate societal and economic norms in the private sector and the private life of average citizens. And to what end?
The United States today is at full employment, is experiencing wage growth, has millions of jobs available and unfilled, and is growing economically at its fastest rate in more than a dozen years. The U.S. has also, with the exception of 2018, largely reduced its carbon emissions — and has done this without signing on to the Paris Climate Accord. [The Paris Climate Accord is a United Nations treaty that President Trump rightfully withdrew the U.S. from because it would attack American sovereignty and greatly damage, or worse, our economy.] Indeed, the greatest economic and societal challenge in the U.S. today is not too much fossil fuel use, but a national debt of $21 trillion and growing. The Green New Deal would only exacerbate that problem significantly.
It’s one thing to envision societal transformations with utopian-sounding rhetoric that implies a cleaner environment and millions of new jobs. Reality, however, is likely to intrude, as history is filled with such attempts at transformations that were very costly and fell well short of their goals, or backfired into national tragedies.
The radical nature and implications of the Green New Deal must be called out. It’s not enough for opponents to say it would harm small businesses as though this were some debate on raising the minimum wage. The Green New Deal is much, much bigger and all encompassing. It’s about what kind of nation and society the United States will be in the near future.