Feb 8, 2019 - Energy & Environment

The fight Trump and AOC both want in 2020

Democrats just gave President Trump the socialism fight he's been spoiling for with the Green New Deal — which calls for a mammoth expansion of federal investments and market interventions — and the political and planetary stakes couldn't be higher.

Driving the news: Six top-tier Democratic presidential 2020 candidates — Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders — are already co-sponsoring the non-binding resolution.

The big picture: The GND aims to reduce greenhouse gases to nearly zero, while also providing universal health care and a universal jobs guarantee. Among the objectives of the resolution:

  • "Upgrading all existing buildings in the U.S. and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency..."
  • "Working collaborative with farmers and ranchers ... to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions ... as much as is technologically feasible..."
  • "Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States."

What they're saying: The Republican political machinery immediately went after the plan.

  • The Republican National Committee called it a "socialist wish list" with huge costs.
  • Sen. John Barrasso, who's in GOP leadership, knocked the "socialist manifesto that lays out a laundry list of government giveaways."
  • “Every Republican in the country should get on their hands and knees and thank Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez," former White House official Andy Surabian told Axios' Alayna Treene.

The other side: Axios asked Ocasio-Cortez whether her proposal feeds into Trump's claims about socialism. AOC replied:

  • “I find this hilarious because this president seeks to expand government into the bodies of women. They seek to expand government to spontaneously generate detention centers all along our southern border. They seek to expand government in separating children from their parents. They seek to expand government in passing massive increases in military spending when we have no wars to fight or that we should be fighting."
  • "So this is not about who’s expanding government. It’s about who we’re working for, and we’re choosing to work for the people of the United States.” 

Between the lines: Strong majorities of both parties want Congress and the White House to focus on the economy, per a Pew Research Center poll released late last month.

  • But on climate change, just 21% of Republicans say it should be a priority, compared to 67% of Democrats.
  • But, but, but: A recent survey from Yale and George Mason Universities showed that 48% of Americans think people in the U.S. are being harmed by global warming "right now," an increase of 16 points since March 2015.
  • Patrick Murray, Director of Monmouth University Polling, to Treene: "It will certainly play well to the emerging Dem base. But, again, it’s unlikely to expand their appeal."

The bottom line: The proposal is outside the political mainstream, while the broad ambition of the idea of a Green New Deal — namely drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible— is in line with a scientific consensus.

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