2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand claimed in an interview this week that, if done using market forces, there is “nothing socialist” about the Green New Deal -- a proposed vast government-led overhaul of the nation’s economy and energy use.
Gillibrand made the comments in an interview with New York Magazine, where she was asked about her support for the controversial plan that has shot into Democratic mainstream thought after spending years as a fringe, far-left idea.
“I love the framework of the Green New Deal, and the reason is this: I believe that global climate change is the greatest threat to humanity that exists in our generation, and it needs a bold and powerful set of solutions to actually attack it, and to solve it,” she said.
The non-binding resolution was introduced last month by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., for what Ocasio-Cortez called a “wartime-level, just economic mobilization plan to get to 100 percent renewable energy ASAP!”
The resolution includes calls for “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;” infrastructure investment; guarantees of clean water, healthy food and sustainable environment; and a curiously undefined “access to nature.”
It envisions a 10-year mobilization that would upgrade and expand power sources and power grids to meet 100 percent of power demand via clean energy sources, as well as overhauling transport systems to “eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible.”
On the economic front, the plan bundled together a host of liberal wish-list items. Among the most ambitious components is a plan to guarantee a job “with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.” The plan also calls to provide health care, affordable housing, economic security and access to clean water, air, food and nature to all “people of the United States.”
The rollout was marred, however, by the release of two FAQs that suggested the plan would aim to make air travel obsolete, upgrade or replace every building in America to ensure energy efficiency and give economic security even to those "unwilling" to work.
Republicans have called the proposal a "socialist wish list" that would kill at least 1 million jobs and disrupt global trade -- while costing trillions.
But Gillibrand isn’t so sure, telling the magazine that she would add a “price on carbon” to the deal, arguing this could spur innovation.
“The best thing about putting a price on carbon is you allow the market to work as it’s intended to work,” she said. “People will innovate because they want to save money, and they want to have an economic advantage.”
“Let’s use market forces to create investment and, you know, there’s nothing socialist about it,” she said. “You’re saying we need to do this to protect humanity.”
The call by Gillibrand to inject some form of market-based activity to the plan may be an effort to make it more palatable to moderates. She recently said she believes she could get Republicans to vote for the deal.
The ambitious plan has seen opposition not just from conservatives, but even some environmentalists. Patrick Moore, the co-founder of the environmentalist group Greenpeace, ripped into Ocasio-Cortez over the weekend as a “pompous little twit,” saying the Green New Deal plan she’s advocating is “completely crazy.”
“If fossil fuels were banned every tree in the world would be cut down for fuel for cooking and heating," Moore said in a tweet Saturday directed at Ocasio-Cortez. “You would bring about mass death.”
Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.