Green New Deal: Deliberately unrealistic?
Ocasio-Cortez: Take her seriously, not literally.
Progressives have finally unveiled their “Green New Deal” for fighting climate change, said David Roberts in Vox.com, and it’s “about as strong an opening bid as anyone could have asked for.” The plan, outlined in a nonbinding resolution introduced by Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, calls for the United States to become carbon neutral by 2030 through a massive national mobilization “on a scale not seen since World War II.” The plan calls for upgrading all existing U.S. buildings to make them more energy efficient, constructing a high-speed electric rail network they hope will replace carbon-spewing jet airplanes, and “dramatically expanding” clean energy sources like wind and solar. Millions of high-paying green jobs would be created in the process, easing the transition from a fossil fuel–based economy. Obviously, the resolution has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, said Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic. But with four presidential hopefuls already coming out in favor of the plan, the Green New Deal is well on its way to becoming “as much a part of the mainstream Democratic agenda as health care.”
If that happens, Democrats will have truly lost their minds, said David Harsanyi in The Federalist. The Green New Deal “is likely the most ridiculous and un-American plan that’s ever been presented by an elected official to voters.” It’s filled with environmental-extremist pipe dreams, such as weaning Americans off beef and entirely getting rid of combustion-engine vehicles, and contends that fighting climate change somehow also requires passing a laundry list of far-left social programs like free education and health care for all. How can we possibly pay for all of this? Democrats just confirmed “every Republican suspicion of what global-warming alarm is really all about,” said Ross Douthat in The New York Times. Liberals have for years laughed off the charge that they’re using climate change as an excuse to justify taking over the economy and imposing full socialism. But with the Green New Deal, they’re turning around and saying, “Yes, that’s absolutely correct.”
Don’t take this proposal literally—but do take it seriously, said Eric Levitz in NYMag.com. While virtually every Democratic interest group considers climate change a problem, “relatively few see it as their top problem.” The Green New Deal was designed to make climate the top progressive priority. The final result will no doubt be far less grand after being filtered through congressional negotiations. But if your goal is to actually get something done on climate, the Green New Deal is “actually pragmatic.”
Hope is not a strategy, said Mike Pesca in Slate.com. When President Kennedy vowed to put a man on the moon within a decade, scientists were telling him that it was possible. Right now, renewables make up only 18 percent of the country’s total power generation. Even the most optimistic climate scientists think it’s impossible to get to 100 percent renewables by 2030. The Green New Deal is similar to President Trump’s promise of a border wall paid for by Mexico—an unrealistic fantasy that “strikes me as much less clever than its adherents would have us believe.” The point isn’t to be practical, said Karl Smith in Bloomberg.com. Climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to humanity, and “it is government and government alone” that can institute the “sweeping reforms” needed to battle it. “The Green New Deal is best seen not as a policy proposal but as a political manifesto.” ■