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Blue/Green New Deal #1

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
May 19, 2020 at 6:00 AM
Climate Change
Green New Deal Presser 2/7/19Photo by Senate Democrats

A group of climate change activists and anti-capitalists has sent an “Open Letter and Call to Action to Members of Congress entitled “A Green Stimulus to Rebuild Our Economy”. The green stimulus they propose is built upon the Green New Deal developed by the Green Party in the US and the Blue New Deal developed by the New Economics Foundation in the UK. The authors of the Open Letter acknowledge that the ideas in the Letter draw on proposals put forth or supported by eight of the candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The group asks for a mere $2 trillion in the first year of the Green Stimulus, followed by allocations equal to 4% of US GDP (~$850 billion) in succeeding years “until the economy is fully decarbonized and the unemployment rate is below 3.5%. A rough estimate of the total funding requested for these efforts is $27.5 trillion, which represents approximately 25% of the total cost of the proposed programs. These funds would be in addition to the $2.2 trillion authorized by Congress to assist the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic response in the US and any such future additional recovery funding.

The Letter presents a Green Stimulus Policy Menu comprising eight sections:

  1. Housing, Buildings, Civic Infrastructure, and Communities
  2. Transportation Workers, Systems, and Infrastructure
  3. Labor, Manufacturing, and Just Transition for Workers and Communities
  4. Energy System Workers and Infrastructure
  5. Farmers, Food Systems, and Rural Communities
  6. Green Infrastructure, Public Lands, and the Environment
  7. Regulations, Innovation, and Public Investment
  8. Green Foreign Policy

The authors assert that the US faces “three converging crises: the COVID19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession; the climate emergency; and extreme inequality. While the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be a true emergency, climate change is not an emergency and the actions proposed by the authors would not “protect” the US from the impact of climate change. Extreme inequality is not defined in the Letter, but inequality pre-existed the pandemic and its relationship to climate change, if any, is unclear.

The programs proposed represent a transition toward bigger and more intrusive government, socialism/communism and authoritarianism and away from liberty and freedom. The individual elements of each of the policies listed above will be discussed in a series of commentaries following this broad introductory commentary.

It seems highly likely that the policies presented in the Letter will form a substantial portion of the Democratic Party platform for the 2020 presidential election regarding these issues, since they have been supported earlier in the campaign by nearly half of the early candidates and are similar to the proposed policies of the remaining candidate. However, the substantial underestimate of the funding required to achieve the stated objectives suggests that the costs would be downplayed during the campaign. Those costs could expect to increase dramatically as the programs are rolled out, as is typical with government programs in the US.

The fact that the proposed programs would not protect the US from the impacts of climate change, if that were necessary or possible, seems of little concern relative to the opportunities for societal restructuring.