Green New Deal co-author: McConnell is sabotaging the Green New Deal by making us vote on it

If only Democrats controlled part of Congress so that we could have the robust national debate Ed Markey is demanding.

Or rather, to reframe that point: There is a congressional leader who might be trying to sabotage the Green New Deal. But it ain’t McConnell.

I continue to believe that a show vote on the GND won’t be as trollish in practice as it is in theory. In fact, when I wrote about this yesterday I’d forgotten that McConnell pulled the same stunt in 2017 by adding single-payer as an amendment to a bill to see if Democrats would vote for it to please their base or against it for fear of scaring swing voters before the midterms. In the end they punted by voting “present,” which is how I assume they’ll vote on the GND bill. A few 2020 candidates might vote yes — Amy Klobuchar admitted she would yesterday on Fox News — but that’s no surprise, as they’ve already said publicly they support the bill. A vote on the Green New Deal might be knotty for the eventual Democratic nominee if it happened next summer, assuming he or she is an incumbent senator. Doing it now, though, when they’re all scrambling to show progressive primary voters how woke they are is practically doing them a favor.

Klobuchar, by the way, has emphasized in interviews that she sees the GND as “aspirational” more so than as a piece of workable legislation. That is, she’s qualifying her vote up front by recasting it as a symbolic vote that Congress should address climate change urgently. The details of an actual enactable proposal can be debated later, after that first hurdle is cleared. That’s another reason why McConnell’s ploy isn’t so painful for Dems — if the GND ends up as a political liability to them they can always justify having voted yes along the same lines as Klobuchar has, by claiming that the bill had no chance of passing and therefore they were voting “aspirationally” or whatever. Although I prefer Jeff Blehar’s rephrasing of that point:

It also makes me laugh that GND fans, including reporters who should know better, are touting a poll from December as evidence that the proposal is not only phenomenally popular with the public, it’s popular even with Republicans. Eighty-one percent of registered voters support the Green New Deal, including 64 percent(!!!) of GOPers? My goodness, I thought, I need to check that out. So I did. Here’s the poll question, verbatim and in full, that’s being cited as proof that America has a fever and the only prescription is the GND — which was still months away from becoming a bill in Congress when this survey was conducted:

Some members of Congress are proposing a “Green New Deal” for the U.S. They say that a Green New Deal will produce jobs and strengthen America’s economy by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. The Deal would generate 100% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years; upgrade the nation’s energy grid, buildings, and transportation infrastructure; increase energy efficiency; invest in green technology research and development; and provide training for jobs in the new green economy.

“How much do you support or oppose this idea?” the poll continued. In other words, they laundry-listed a series of appealing outcomes without devoting a syllable to trade-offs, cost, feasibility, or any of the other extremely basic considerations serious legislators need to deal with. Turns out when you mention only the fantasyland best-case scenario for a policy proposal, with no apparent drawbacks, voters like the idea. This Very Serious Poll came from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, in case you’re suspicious that an agenda might have been driving it.

Here’s a different new poll about another left-wing pet program. This one did consider trade-offs inasmuch as Dems have been wrestling publicly lately whether Medicare for all would mean the end of private insurance. And whaddaya know.

In lieu of an exit question, read Philip Klein on what the Green New Deal would require logistically to implement it. It’s not just a matter of cost, it’s a matter of compliance. For the feds to be able to bring everyone into line, they’d need nothing short of a revolution in how the United States governs itself. Which of course is key to the plan’s appeal to progressives. “The purported goal of the great national deployment isn’t the point,” as Kevin Williamson noted a few days ago. “The deployment itself is.”