Incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., pledged to voters she would be a far-left outsider who would push her party toward adopting “democratic socialist” policies, including universal health care and free college tuition. So far, she has kept her promise.
Ocasio-Cortez has been calling for the creation of “Green New Deal” legislation, which would eliminate much of the United States’ fossil-fuel consumption. So far, Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., and 40 House Democrats have said they support the proposal.
Although the broad talking points of the plan have been circulating for months, it wasn’t until recently that Ocasio-Cortez provided any details of her proposal. On December 3, according to The Atlantic, Ocasio-Cortez spoke at a town hall led by Sanders and declared, "This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation."
The specifics have still not been worked out, but what we know so far about her plan is that it would have catastrophic economic consequences, dramatically increase America’s already skyrocketing debt, and transform the United States into a European-style socialist nation. (And no, these are not exaggerations.)
In a draft resolution to create a House select committee that would be responsible for writing the Green New Deal legislation, Ocasio-Cortez outlines the primary goals of her plan. Among them, Ocasio-Cortez proposes eliminating all fossil-fuel-powered electricity, closing every coal and natural gas power plant in the country, thus destroying the hundreds of thousands of jobs related to these businesses. Even more stunning, all this would occur by 2030, just 10 years after Ocasio-Cortez expects the legislation to be completed.
In its place, nearly all energy would be produced by renewable sources of power, especially wind and solar. This goal would create massive amounts of economic harm. Although economists have yet to provide an analysis of Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to eliminate all fossil fuels, other studies have found less-extreme policies would be absolutely devastating. A study published in October 2018 by Capital Alpha Partners on behalf of the Institute for Energy Research found a national tax on carbon dioxide would cost the U.S. economy $4.21 trillion to $5.98 trillion, depending on the tax level chosen, in just the first 10 years of the tax scheme. By 2040, as much as $12.32 trillion would be lost. Nearly one-quarter of the country’s GDP, relative to what it would otherwise be, could be lost as a result of a nationwide carbon-dioxide tax. And this far left-wing plan is nowhere near as radical as Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal.
Not only would Ocasio-Cortez’s plan destroy trillions of dollars in wealth, but it would also be virtually impossible to achieve. When the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, renewable electricity generation relies on fossil-fuel power to keep the lights on. Currently, the only way to have a 100 percent renewable-energy-powered electric grid would be for Americans to live without power when renewables aren’t producing enough energy. Among many other problems, that means there would be no stable electricity sources for hospitals and other essential services.
Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t merely want to destroy the existing energy industry, the plan also requires “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety” and “eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure, and upgrading water infrastructure.” Ocasio-Cortez’s draft resolution also proposes the elimination of “greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries.”
The radical nature of these proposals cannot be understated. “Upgrading every residential and industrial building”—not just to make them more energy efficient, but also to improve “comfort and safety”—would cost untold trillions of dollars and insert the government into nearly every home and business in the country.
The radical nature of these proposals cannot be understated. “Upgrading every residential and industrial building”—not just to make them more energy efficient, but also to improve “comfort and safety”—would cost untold trillions of dollars and insert the government into nearly every home and business in the country. Further, banning fossil fuels from all agricultural, manufacturing, and transportation would dramatically increase the cost of every product in the United States and make it difficult for American businesses to export products at reasonable prices.
Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal would also establish other extremely expensive government programs that would greatly expand the power and influence of the federal government. One such program would “assure a living wage job to every person who wants one.” Additionally, she says the Green New Deal legislation should include “additional measures such as basic income programs, universal health care programs and any others as the select committee may deem appropriate to promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism.”
How does Ocasio-Cortez propose to pay for these many trillion-dollar programs? By raising taxes, creating new “public banks,” and running up the national debt. In a “Frequently Asked Questions” section of Ocasio-Cortez’s draft resolution, she claims the way to fund her far-reaching proposals is to use the “same ways that we paid for the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs, the same ways we paid for World War II and many other wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments, new public banks can be created (as in WWII) to extend credit and a combination of various taxation tools (including taxes on carbon and other emissions and progressive wealth taxes) can be employed.”
New reports indicate the House Democratic Party leadership has said it has decided not to create Ocasio-Cortez’s committee—for now. But supporters of the plan aren’t giving up. They say they are going to continue pushing for these policies until they are transformed into legislation.
Together, Ocasio-Cortez’s proposals would effectively eliminate fossil fuels from most of society, destroy millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth, require “upgrading” every home and business in America, create a national federal jobs-guarantee program, impose single-payer health care (costing trillions more), establish a new system of publicly owned banks, run up the national debt by countless trillions of dollars, and move the United States closer than ever to socialism. If we don’t stop it, it will destroy our economy for a whole generation of Americans.