Opinion by James Taylor
When democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) formally introduced a congressional resolution for a “Green New Deal,” Republicans were handed a powerful, unexpected political gift. Leave it to weak-minded congressional Republicans to find a way to screw it up.
The Green New Deal would re-make the United States via a “new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal.” Those aren’t just empty words. The free-market American Action Forum conducted an economic analysis of the Green New Deal and found it would cost as much as $94 trillion, or approximately $780,000 per U.S. household. The green-energy components alone would cost as much as $12.3 trillion.
Ocasio-Cortez’s asserted justification for the Green New Deal is a mythical U.S.-caused global warming crisis. She and Al Gore tell us the “science is settled,” yet global temperatures have risen less than half as much as U.N. climate models predicted, and almost exactly by as much as global warming “skeptics” have long predicted.
Moreover, during the past 150 years, as Earth emerged from the Little Ice Age, the warming climate has brought immeasurable benefits that continue today, including record crop yields, a significant increase in global plant life, and a reduction in persistently cool temperatures that kill 20 times more people than higher temperatures. At the same time, extreme weather and climate events have become less frequent and severe in recent decades.
Despite all this, a small number of congressional Republicans are vigorously pushing a Green New Deal-Lite. A Green New Deal is a wonderful thing, they say, so long as we just moderate it a little bit. Showing little daylight between themselves and Gore on climate alarmism, this cadre of Republicans is attempting to sell out President Donald Trump and his conservative voting base on the signature political issue of the day.
Just how foolish can these Republicans be? Much has been made of the 2018 midterm elections, but the most impactful lesson is that Republicans commit political suicide by embracing climate alarmism. Of the 198 House Republicans who didn’t belong to the congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, 177 (89 percent) of those seats remained Republican after the election. Of the 43 House Republicans belonging to the Climate Solutions Caucus, just 23 (53 percent) of those seats remained in Republican hands. Republicans who stayed true to their conservative base fared quite well in the midterms, while Republicans who sided with Gore on climate alarmism lost support from their political base.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)—is drafting a “Green Real Deal” as a 10-percent-less alternative to Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is calling for a “Manhattan Project” to force Americans to utilize expensive, unreliable energy sources.
The biggest difference between Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and Alexander’s “New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy” is that Ocasio-Cortez calls for a “moon shot” program and Alexander calls for a “Manhattan Project.” Big deal.
While Gaetz and Alexander claim to offer a better version of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, the asserted differences are mere window dressing. Gaetz and Alexander emphasize that they would be more willing than Ocasio-Cortez to include nuclear power as part of their proposals.
Yet when the American Action Forum determined the Green New Deal’s energy components would cost Americans $12.3 trillion, AAF was already giving the Green New Deal the economic benefit of having nuclear power as a core component. Gaetz and Alexander’s Green Real Deal would still impose new government programs costing at least $8.1 trillion, or $68,000 per American household. By comparison, the entire federal budget in the 2017–18 fiscal year was merely $4.1 trillion.
Ultimately, Gaetz, Alexander, and their small cadre of Republican climate alarmists are seeking to undermine the conservative Republican voter base and Trump on one of his most important policy principles. Their betrayal of Trump and the conservative Republican base will almost certainly—and justly—come back to haunt them.
James Taylor is senior fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute.