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The Green New Deal is Not Environmentalism: It is Insanity

Mike Kozinski ’21, Opinion Columnist

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On February 12th, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would allow the Senate to vote on the proposed Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is no longer a mere slogan: it is now actual legislation. It has been introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate as H.R. 109 and S.R. 59, respectively. 

In response to McConnell’s announcement, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey tweeted that McConnell bringing the proposed legislation to a vote was “nothing but an attempt to sabotage the movement we are building.” Markey added that: “He [McConnell] wants to silence your voice so Republicans don’t have to explain why they are climate change deniers. McConnell wants this to be the end, this is just the beginning.” 

The fact that the primary sponsor of the bill in the Senate was so adamantly opposed to bringing it to a vote it is peculiar, and it raises an obvious question: Why would the primary sponsor of a bill be so adamantly opposed to having his colleagues vote on it? If his legislation is so important that efforts to pass it into law are buttressed by “the movement we are building,” then would a vote not be welcome? 

Senator Markey – indeed, the entire Democratic Party – would theoretically benefit if their plan passes or is rejected. If their plan passes, then they would achieve their goal of passing legislation to combat climate change; if their plan is rejected, they can characterize their opponents as “climate change deniers” as per Senator Markey. Given that they would achieve a political victory in either scenario, it again raises an obvious question: Why would the primary sponsor of a bill be so adamantly opposed to having his colleagues vote on it? The answer is in the bill itself: it is a Democratic Party wish-list masquerading as environmentalism. 

The Green New Deal is less of a plan to combat climate change and more of a plan to expand the size and scope of the federal government. The bill itself contains provisions that have nothing to do with combating climate change. For example, while the bill states that “climate change constitutes a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” it proposes measures such as the U.S. government creating “millions of good, high-wage jobs” in order to “ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States.” 

Neutral observers may wonder what creating jobs has to do with fighting climate change, and again, the answer is in the bill: it explicitly states that it recognizes the potential for government action on climate change as  “a historic opportunity— (1) to create millions of good, high-wage jobs in the United States; (2) to provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States; and (3) to counteract systemic injustices.” 

Bloomberg estimated that an earlier version of the bill would cost “$6.6 trillion a year,” which is “more than three times as much as the federal government collects in tax revenue, and equal to about 34 percent of the U.S.’s entire gross domestic product.” While specific details have changed, the overall goal has not. Again, the reason that Senate Democrats do not want the Green New Deal to be put to a vote is simple: it would expose the Green New Deal for the leftist wish-list that it is. 

Should Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic Party actually become interested in combating climate change, they should consider a proposal that has support from economists of all political affiliations: carbon dividends. The idea is simple: impose a fee on carbon that increases every year and rebate the revenue back to taxpayers. This would incentivize people and businesses to make more environmentally conscious decisions by making less environmentally conscious decisions more costly. 

The beauty of a carbon tax is the simplicity: one miniscule change in tax policy, and the economy gradually shifts to combat the negative externalities associated with carbon emissions. Unlike the Green New Deal, a carbon tax would naturally encourage people to make better choices for the environment without expanding government to unaffordable levels. 

Moreover, politicians will not be able to abuse the tax to raise funds for their agenda: the revenue is given back to the people. This also ensures that people will be able to bear the costs of transitioning away from fossil fuels. 

Climate change is a substantial problem that will require action to solve. The American people deserve better than trifle measures about important issues: they deserve real solutions. The Green New Deal is not environmentalism: it is insanity. 

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1 Comment

One Response to “The Green New Deal is Not Environmentalism: It is Insanity”

  1. Jan Freed on February 22nd, 2019 1:13 pm

    There is no debate among published climate scientists! Why even bother with the paid deniers and front groups who thrive by creating the delay of a false climate debate?
    Consider a revenue neutral carbon fee but with a 100% dividend, as part of the Green New Deal, without growing government.
    Conservative and liberal economists (including dozens of Nobels) say it is the best way to create healthy pollution free communities and limit climate change. It is not a tax. This way citizens would RECEIVE the carbon fees as a monthly check, for example. That would protect us from price spikes in dirty energy.
    Polluters PAY the fees, so it holds fossil fuel corporations responsible for the damages. or “externalities”, they cause, hundreds of billions of dollars per year (Harvard School of Medicine).
    It would more rapidly limit further pollution than by regulations alone, as happened in BC Canada with a similar, popular policy. BC lowered emissions and also lowered taxes with their fees.
    A study by respected non-partisan Regional Economic Modeling, Inc. found the dividends would help to create 2.9 million additional jobs in 20 years, while reducing carbon emissions 50% in that time, as fees stimulate low carbon technologies . http://citizensclimatelobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/REMI-National-SUMMARY.pdf
    To those who reject the science: perhaps nothing will change your mind. But what have you got against cleaner air, less asthma in our kids, fewer heart attacks, and more money (the dividend) in your pockets?
    Elon Musk was asked “what can we do? ” Musk: “I would say whenever you have the opportunity, talk to the politicians.,,,,. We have to fix the unpriced externality [social cost]. I would talk to your friends about it and fight the propaganda from the carbon industry.”

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The Green New Deal is Not Environmentalism: It is Insanity