Would the Green New Deal bring the US closer to socialism?
The Green New Deal has advanced a series of sweeping proposals for government intervention in mulitple sectors of the economy, prompting concerns from critics that under the influence of the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., the U.S. will move closer to being a socialist nation.
A self-described Democratic socialist, Ocasio-Cortez has proposed a government takeover of the health care industry, ambitious mandates that business and transportation systems revamp their emissions output and infrastructure, and a series of broad guarantees like affordable housing, "economic security," and "access to nature." While the Green New Deal doesn't explicitly propose "Medicare for All," the resolution calls for a guarantee of health care for all and that particular policy is favored by Ocasio-Cortez.
Conservative groups have estimated the deal would cost trillions of dollars, create an unsustainable financial burden for the economy, and burden the average household with tens of thousands in annual costs.
After one of the conservative groups' estimates was released, Ocasio-Cortez suggested Republicans were uninformed about the legislation and read from it on the House floor.
"A tremendous amount of wild claims -- everything from saying we're seeking to ban airplanes to ending ice cream.
"As a consequence, I realized that many of my colleagues have never even read the resolution that they're speaking on. They haven't opened a single word of it," she said.
After reading it, she asked: "Why this is so controversial?" She went on to ask, "please, as a moral, economic and political prerogative, I humbly ask our country to care for our planet."
As her former chief of staff noted, the policy is more about economic transformation than it is climate change.
“The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” Saikat Chakrabarti said last year, according to The Washington Post.
He reportedly made the remarks to Sam Ricketts, climate director for 2020 hopeful and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who the Post said greeted the statement with “an attentive poker face.” “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti then asked. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”
After its initial release, the proposal faced scrutiny over a "frequently asked questions" section, which said it would provide economic security to those who are "unwilling to work." Chakrabarti later said the FAQ was published by "mistake" and didn't represent the Green New Deal resolution.
The plan has become a symbol of Democrats' drift towards the left as it was embraced by leading presidential candidates, including President-elect Biden and his Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who co-sponsored it as a senator. Like other candidates, Biden embraced the "framework" of the plan. He's differed, however, on the cost, proposing a much smaller price tag, and pushed back on Ocasio-Cortez's embrace of a single-payer system.
However, he's specifically embraced her goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 -- a goal that's also been embraced by the 27 member states of the European Union.
The Heritage Foundation attempted to use the Energy Information Administration's National Energy Model to forecast the impact of steep carbon taxes aimed at reaching the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goal. Not only did the model crash, it failed to approach anywhere near the goal outlined in the Green New Deal. The closest Heritage was able to get was a 58 percent reduction in emissions, achieved through a $300 carbon tax -- taxes above $300 crashed the EIA's model.
Biden's website claims his investments would create "millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure" in addition to "1 million new jobs in the American auto industry."
Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have argued that the cost of inaction on climate change is unsustainable. According to Sanders, the proposed solutions -- infrastructure and investment -- would boost the U.S. economy as well during a time of widespread joblessness.
During the primaries, he released details about how he proposed to pay for his version of the Green New Deal, which he says would cost $16.3 trillion. That included $3.085 trillion from penalizing the fossil fuel industry for their pollution and from eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.
He also warned that without action on climate change, the U.S. will "lose $34.5 trillion by the end of the century." He also predicts savings as high as $70.4 trillion over 80 years by "averting climate catastrophe."
Fox News' Adam Shaw and Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.