The Washington Post Editorial Board criticized the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and supported by several Democratic presidential candidates as being unachievable while endorsing their own plan that they believe is.
WE FAVOR a Green New Deal to save the planet. We believe such a plan can be efficient, effective, focused and achievable.
The Green New Deal proposed by congressional Democrats does not meet that test. Its proponents, led by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), are right to call for ambition and bold action. They are right that the entire energy sector must be reshaped.
But the goal is so fundamental that policymakers should focus above all else on quickly and efficiently decarbonizing. They should not muddle this aspiration with other social policy, such as creating a federal jobs guarantee, no matter how desirable that policy might be.
And the goal is so monumental that the country cannot afford to waste dollars in its pursuit. If the market can redirect spending most efficiently, money should not be misallocated on vast new government spending or mandates.
The Post believes that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is the right thing to do, but disagrees with Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal on how to do it because of the tremendous cost.
The Green New Deal that some Democrats have embraced is case in point. In its most aggressive form, the plan suggests the country could reach net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030, an impossible goal. Christopher Clack, the CEO of analysis group Vibrant Clean Energy, estimates it would cost $27 trillion to get there by 2035 — a yearly price tag of about 9 percent of 2017 gross domestic product. (Total federal spending is currently a bit more than 20 percent of GDP.) Put another way, that would be more spent every three years than the total amountthe country spent on World War II. The plan’s proposal to retrofit all existing buildings is also astonishing in its implied scale, and its promise to invest in known fiascos such as high-speed rail reveal deep insensitivity to the lessons of recent government waste.
At the same time, the Democratic plan would guarantee every American “high-quality health care” and “a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security.” These expensive aspirations, no matter how laudable, would do nothing to arrest greenhouse-gas emissions. As ostensible parts of a Green New Deal, they divert money and attention from the primary mission: rapidly eliminating emissions between now and midcentury.
A new study released by the American Action Forum calculates the cost of the Green New Deal at $93 trillion, or approximately $600,000 per household. Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow Democrats have not provided their own cost estimates but have said the cost of inaction would be more expensive.