The Green New Deal Takes the Wrong Approach


Rep. Ocasio-Cortze’s Green New Deal will cripple the U.S.’ economy for years to come and should not be implemented. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Dane Salmon

Newly-elected Democratic representative from the Bronx Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) recently proposed a Green New Deal, likely meant to evoke images of FDR’s New Deal. The deal has so far garnered 84 co-sponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate.

A poll conducted by Business Insider claims that 43.7 percent of respondents support the proposal as whole. This idea seems to be wildly popular amongst Americans, but what is the Green New Deal really?

The Green New Deal entails a complete overhaul of the American economy, infrastructure and energy sector in order to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and, in turn, mitigate the effects of climate change.

To do this, all existing buildings in the United States would be renovated to be more energy and water-efficient, zero-emission transportation systems would be invested in, the agricultural economy would be completely overhauled, with the government working collaboratively with family farmers and ranchers and the entire energy sector would be converted to be clean, renewable and zero-emission.

The Green New Deal also includes provisions for less-green policies, like public single-payer healthcare, a guarantee for a job with an undefined “family-sustaining wage” and paid medical leave, family leave, vacations and “retirement security” for all Americans and the strengthening of unionization and labor unions.

All public projects require funding and expenditures, of course. The projected cost of the Green New Deal, according to Ocasio-Cortez herself? Between 40 and 50 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. As of today, government spending accounts for a measly 21 percent – nearly $4.5 trillion annually. That’s about $2.5 trillion more than the approximately $1.9 trillion the United States collects in tax revenue.

This obviously could not be paid for without ridiculous taxes – not just on the rich, but on every American. For context, if the entirety of the wealth of the 10 richest Americans was confiscated, it would amount to about half a trillion dollars. The Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans’ total net worth amounts to only $2.9 trillion – around 30 percent of the annual expenditure needed to finance the Green New Deal.

The calculated cost for the social programs proposed by the Green New Deal (universal basic income, paid leave, living wage, etc.), as calculated from progressive and nonpartisan sources, would amount to between $46 and $81 trillion over 10 years, depending on who receives universal basic income.

The only way this could be paid for, short of confiscation of between half and three-quarters of the entire wealth of the United States, is through massive loans from public banks. Not only is this outlandish, it is irresponsible. The United States has no money in its treasury because it spends more than twice as much as it makes.

Environmental action is needed. It is imperative that steps are taken to ensure the continuing health of the planet and the existence of the human race, but there are better ways to do it. One of the most ridiculous aspects of this outlandish proposal is the complete lack of consideration for nuclear power – miles more efficient than any source of renewable energy or fossil fuels we have today and hardly pollutant.

Another aspect which this bill fails to consider is the fact that fossil fuels are not economically viable in the long run. They are a finite resource and will eventually run out. The easiest and most sustainable solution to the fossil fuel problem is to cut subsidies for the fossil fuel sector.

Now, after all the facts have been laid out and analyzed, we must conclude that AOC’s Green New Deal will do nothing short of crippling the U.S. economy for years to come should it be implemented in part, let alone in its entirety.

Neither will it affect meaningful change in the right direction should international pressure not force Asian countries to reduce their own emissions. The goal of restoring and preserving the Earth is noble and just, but this is the wrong way to go about it. We would not only take a step forward, but a bound and a leap backwards.

Climate change is real and must be addressed – woe to those who deny it – but a government takeover of the much more efficient private sector is a misguided crusade. Climate action can be taken authentically within the United States. It’s only a matter of letting it bloom on its own.


Dane Salmon, FCRH ’21, is an economics and philosophy major from Coppell, Texas.